You made a huge step in your life to move to a completely new country. Here is a helpful checklist of items you should get off your list before landing and during your first week in Canada. This will set you up for a successful start on your Canadian experience.
Highly recommend joining the Facebook group IEC Working Holiday
1. Have accommodation set up before landing
Good old Airbnb should cover you for the first month or two. If you have friends here already even better. Renting a place on a lease could be challenging due to credit score and job offer requirements. Start small, rent a room if your budget is tight - it is only temporary anyway. You can also find rentals on Facebook Marketplace or Kijiji, just be very careful and DO NOT send money for viewings or any other scams. Once your credit score is in a good shape, getting a real estate agent or visiting these sites (rentals.ca, condos.ca or tridel.com) will make your hunt easier.
Wherever you are staying make sure you have the address ready for immigration.
2. Have your documents ready at the customs check
If you are thinking about what the officers check at the airport, the answer is - they can check everything. Be over-prepared, have everything printed and ready to show:
your Port of Entry (POE) Letter
a valid job offer (this was mandatory during the pandemic, check recent IRCC updates) or proof of vaccination
proof of funds (recommended is at least $2,500 to show in your bank statement, however, have a lot more than that, Canada is very pricey), must also cover sufficient funds to purchase a ticket back to your country
proof of health insurance ( must cover your entire visa length)
copies of the documents you provided in your work permit application
For the complete list click here.
3. Get SIN
You cannot open your bank account without SIN so your first walk around your new town/city should lead to city hall and getting SIN number. Bring your passport and all your visa-related documents. Call in advance for wait times or how to book an appointment.
4. Open a Canadian Bank Account
Many banks in Canada have plans suited for newcomers. Start with free checking and savings account but also research credit cards to build your credit score - this is very important down the line for rental, buying a car, or other credit check-related purchases.
As a newcomer, stick to the big guys as they have the most ATMs and branches across Canada.
CIBC offers Credit card for newcomers for free. TD lets you put your own money as a safety net for a credit card so you can build credit called Secured Card. Lastly, Scotiabank also offers a credit card for newcomers making it super easy and convenient.
5. Get a phone plan
There are many phone companies but not all have a great service. Check the coverage in your area and pick a plan that best fits your lifestyle. The most optimal will be pre-paid card where you pay a monthly fee but no strings attached. The most popular phone companies here these: Freedom, Rogers, Telus, Bell, Fido, and Public Mobile
6. Register for OHIP
Even if you have your travel insurance with most doctors and medical related appointments OHIP card is required. The good news is it's free, takes a couple of hours, and gives you access to free healthcare. On your card, you will have an expiration date tight to your visa length. Bring all your visa documents with you printed just like you would at the customs check at the airport.
You all set, hope you enjoy your 1-2 year-long stay or fall in love with this country and start your permanent residence journey, which we can happily help you with. Whatever you decide, welcome and make every day count.