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10 things to do after reaching Canada

Congratulations!!! Finally, you have received your COPR or work visa or student visa, packed your bags, said good byes to family and friends and boarded the flight to your dream country - Canada. There are few essential activities to do immediately after reaching Canada, which puts you in a better position and gives you the much needed peace. I am listing 10 such activities to accomplish, preferably within the first few weeks.

1. Finding an accommodation: Accommodation is the first thing you would need to head straight from the airport. So better to get it sorted before leaving for Canada. 
  • If you have relatives or friends at Canada, then it would be the best option to stay with them for a week or two, find an accommodation and move out.
  • Alternatively you can consider staying at Airbnbs until you hunt a house. Airbnbs are budget-friendly compared to hotels. 
  • Check out websites like kijiji, craiglist, facebook, indianeverywhere etc. You will get lot of options like shared accommodation, paying guest, apartments, condos, basement etc. to choose from, based on your requirement and budget. 
  • If you are a student, enroll with your college group on facebook or instagram. You will get a lot of feed on rentals along with other useful information.
2. Getting your PR and visa validated/ stamped: After your land, head straight to the immigration counter and get your CoPR/ work visa (open or closed)/ student visa verified and activated. You will receive a stamp on CoPR and permits if you are on work or student visa.

3. Apply for SIN: Social Insurance Number (SIN) is a prerequisite to apply for a job, open bank account, register for health card and almost everything. You can apply for a SIN either in person at any Service Canada Office or online. Both doesn't involve any cost. All that is required is your permit and passport.  Along with these, you have to provide an address proof if you apply online, so that it can be mailed to you. I would suggest to apply at a Service Canada Office (preferably in the airport), as you will get SIN in hand. This helps you to perform other crucial activities sooner. 

4. Get a Canada SIM card: Obtaining a SIM is a breeze at Canada and is very important to have one as you have to provide a contact number for bank account, college, work place, enroll with doctor's office and most importantly to have mobile data for your GPS navigations in the new country. Walk into any stores like Walmart, Dollarama, Sobeys etc. and buy a prepaid or postpaid SIM. For prepaid connections, you can choose a mobile number online, activate and start using. If I am you, I will first start with an essential prepaid package and later on port to post paid with or without a phone contract. This will be advantageous as you have time to figure out the best provider with wider network coverage, great tariff and deals.

5. Open a bank account: Canadian banks charge you for maintaining an account with them. Yes, you read it right. If you maintain a certain amount in your account, those charges will be waived off. Few banks provide offers to new comers and students, which waives off the monthly fees. Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC), Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), Bank of Montreal (BMO), Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD) and The Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS) are the major banks at Canada. Compare prices involved in maintaining the account, banking activities like cash withdrawals, issuing checks etc. before you get an account with any of these. All that you need is SIN, ID proof and permit document to set up an account. Also apply for a credit card with the bank you are opening your current & savings account and start using, so that you build credit history.

6. Register for Health Card: Health services can burn your pocket without health card and insurance. You can apply for health card for yourself and accompanying family members at any provincial service office providing your passport, address proof and permit copy. There are no charges involved. You will receive the card via mail to the address you provide. Generally there will be a cooling time from the moment you land till your health card is activated. For example, if you live at Ontario or British Columbia, you have to wait for 90days before you could use the health card. So try to have a private coverage for this interim period.

7. Enroll with a family doctor: Browse online or check with neighbors/ friends in your locality and enroll with the nearest doctor's office. Chances are likely that, you might be marked on their wait list due to huge demand. So try to apply at couple of places. Until you have a family doctor, you may walk into any nearby walk-in clinics or urgent care centers. In case of any emergency, you can go to the nearest hospital. You will need your health card or private insurance to avail services at all these places. Otherwise you have to pay out of pocket. 

8. Apply for Driver's License: This should be another important activity on your to-do list to be completed within first 2 weeks of landing. Canada follows right hand driving like the US. If you have an active driving license from US and similar countries, there are chances that you will be given the Canadian license, immediately without any test. If you are from India, try to get your driving extract from RTO. Few offices may provide you DL based on your Indian DL and extract. Nothing harm in trying out. Isn't it? Otherwise, they will ask you to give a written test, followed by an on road test. This is still time saving. Without these, the road to become fully licensed in Canada is very long and time consuming. For additional details, check out this website .

9. Apply for photo ID: Photo ID serves as an ID proof in the absence of a DL. You can apply for it in the driver licensing office specific to your province (like Driving License Office or Service Ontario at Ontario, ICBC at British Columbia, AMA at Alberta etc.) by presenting proof of residence (such as a bank statement or utility bill), your permit and passport. Generally, photo ID will be valid for 5 years and will be mailed to your postal address.

10. Get a library membership: Canada has great public library system which comes at absolutely zero membership fees. They support new immigrants by facilitating in search for employment, with related news, constructing your resume and resources. You can access their online learning resources, printing services, computer/laptop with free wifi etc. Libraries are a very effective starting point in knowing in your community better. Check out this post to know more about the library system and the benefits you can avail.

If you know any other activity to be included in the above list to facilitate future immigrants, please feel free to mention them in comments. 

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  1. Very useful 🙂👍

  2. Wow, Awesome info, covered every required detail.

  3. This would help new comers to Canada... Thanks for sharing


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