Getting your permanent resident visa is a big deal. Don’t let anyone talk you into believing otherwise. This calls for celebration. Many people dream of being where you are now but do not have the courage to pursue the dream. If you are reading this before you land in Canada, this is great. Otherwise, it is still good. You will still find this useful. This post focuses on what to do in your first week in Canada after landing starting from the airport. Please note that this post also applies to those on temporary work permit or student visa. If you are not yet in Canada, you can read about what you need to do before you arrive in Canada.
1. Get Your SIN
The first thing on your list should be to get your Social Insurance Number (SIN). This is a nine-digit number that you will need to work in Canada. This is similar to the National Insurance Number in the United Kingdom. Your SIN will begin with a ‘9’ if you are in Canada on a temporary work permit.
If you arrive in Canada early in the day, you might be able to do this at the airport. Otherwise, you can visit any of the Service Canada offices in your location to apply. This process should not take you more than 60 mins even with long queues. Ensure you take Be sure to bring your work or study permit with you.
2. Register For Your Provincial Healthcare Insurance
If you are a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, you may apply for public health insurance. This will give you free access to most health-care services. Each province and territory has their own health insurance plan. There may be restrictions on what you have access to depending on your immigration status.
In some provinces you must wait, sometimes up to three months, before you can get government health insurance. If this is the case with your province, we suggest you get a private health insurance before you arrive in Canada. This is to ensure you are covered in case of health emergency. So, make sure you have private health insurance to cover your health-care needs during this waiting period.
3. Set Up A Bank Account
Another critical item on your “what to do in your first week in Canada” list is the opening of a bank account. Most bank accounts in Canada are not free. In fact, many account types will have charges that may be higher than you are used to. However, some of the banks have newcomers bank accounts where you are charged zero fees for some months.
Before you decide on the bank account, you should seek more information on the best bank accounts for newcomers in Canada. Your friends and family in Canada might be able to help.
4. Get A Local Cell Phone Plan
Some people may continue to use their home phone for some days. While this is okay, you may miss out on some important calls if what you rely on is WIFI. So, the earlier you can get a local cell phone plan, the better. You can chose between a pre-paid or post-paid plan. For some of the providers, you will be expected to have a credit card for the sign-up process. Otherwise, you might only be able to get a pre-paid plan.
If you want a good deal and you have a friend who can add it to his plan, you explore that option.. We cannot over-emphasize the importance of having a local phone. Some potential landlords are more likely to answer call from a local number. This same applies to when you are searching for jobs. So, you see the reason why this is on the list of what to do in your first week in Canada after landing.
5. Continue Your Apartment Search
If you chose a city where you have a friend or family member, they can start the search for you before you arrive. Some might even be able to move into their apartment or house immediately they land. Most new immigrants without Canadian credit history and local references may be at a disadvantage. Some landlords give preference to applicants who can provide these.
One of the best ways to go about this is to offer to pay for 6 months ahead or get your friend / family to co-sign the agreement. A friend actually paid for one year rent ahead. To make your search easier, you can use websites like Rentfaster, Craigslist and Kijiji. You can also check Padmapper which is a good aggregator.
6. Start The Process for Your Driving License
While you can survive without driving in Canada, it is a good idea to get your driving license. Your immediate plan may not include getting a car but you never know if you will need to rent a car one day. In order to legally drive a car in Canada, you will need a driver’s license issued by the government of your province or territory. Without it, you cannot drive anywhere in Canada.
Most new immigrants with a valid license from their home country should be able to use this to drive in Canada for a short time after you arrive. Check with the government of your province or territory for details. The process to get a driver’s licence in Canada depends on the province or territory where you live and on your driving background. It may include:
- a written exam on the rules of the road (you can get a study guide to help with this)
- one or two driving tests
This is why you should add this to your list of what to do in your first week in Canada.
7. Enroll Your Children In School
If you are married with children, you need to enroll your children in school asap. This should be a priority on the list of what to do in your first week in Canada. In Canada, parents have to make sure their children get an education. This is not optional. So, preparation for this should actually begin before you arrive in Canada.
Although education systems are much the same across Canada, there are some differences among provinces and territories. So, check out the website of the education board in your province or territory for further details.
8: Reach Out To Your Family and Friends
This should actually be the second on your list after you get your SIN. Your friends or family will always be there for you. So, you should prioritize reaching to them once you arrive in your new location. Ask them questions and also support if required. They are there to make your transition into your country smooth.
Now, settle in and enjoy your stay in your new country. You have hit a new milestone.
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