What to Do When You Arrive in Canada

Settling in Canada is a dream many immigrants have worldwide. Many people from across the world dream of immigrating to Canada, but as with any journey across international borders, entering Canada has many difficulties. However, there are several things you have to do that are essential for your preparations to arrive in Canada.

Ensure you’re well-equipped for your move to Canada by discovering the key things to do after you arrive in Canada!

Arriving in Canada

Arriving in Canada

When arriving in Canada by air, land, or boat, there are certain steps you need to take to ensure a smooth transition to your new home.

Arriving in Canada By Air

If you are arriving in Canada by air, you can expedite the processing of declaring your customs and immigration documents at Canada’s borders by submitting an Advance Declaration online during the 72 hours before your arrival in Canada.

If you cannot or simply choose not to submit an Advance Declaration online, you can complete and submit it at one of Canada’s eGates or airport kiosks. If you arrive at an Airport with no eGates or kiosks, you must complete and present a Declaration Card to a Canadian border official.

You’ll receive the Declaration on board your airplane. Every person arriving in Canada must submit an Advance Declaration or Declaration Card informing Canadian immigration authorities what they need to know about you and your family, what you’re bringing to Canada, and your travels.

Please note

First-time newcomers to Canada for work or study may be asked to provide further identification and travel documents, such as a Canada work or study permit.

Arriving in Canada By Land

If you are coming to Canada by land, go to the primary inspection checkpoint. At this first checkpoint, a Canadian border services officer will inspect the validity of your identification and travel documents and receive your verbal declaration.

Arriving in Canada By Boat

If you are traveling to Canada by boat, go to the marine telephone reporting site once you arrive. You must call the CBSA Telephone Reporting Centre (TRC) to receive clearance. If you own a private boat, you may report and receive clearance from CBSA using your cellphone in Canada’s international waters. You can learn more about the reporting requirements for private boaters arriving in Canada via the Canadian government site.

Please Note

Ensure to submit all required immigration documents to ArriveCan. ArriveCAN is an online platform used to submit travel information before entering Canada. It is required for all travelers entering Canada, including Canadian citizens and permanent residents.

What to do in Your First Two Weeks After Arriving in Canada?

what to do in canada in your first two weeks

The first two weeks after arriving in Canada are crucial for settling in and taking care of important tasks. Here are some things you should prioritize during this period.

Obtain and Submit Your Canadian Address to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC)

Upon arrival, it is important to obtain a Canadian address and submit it to Immigration, Refugees, and, Citizenship Canada (IRCC). This address will be used for all official correspondence, including the delivery of your permanent resident card if applicable. You will have 180 days to receive and update your Canadian address online.

Apply for a Canada Social Insurance Number

A Social Insurance Number (SIN) is essential for working and accessing government benefits in Canada. You can apply for a SIN online or at a Service Canada office. Some of the key benefits and services of having a SIN include:

  • Getting hired by a Canadian employer,
  • Conducting credit checks,
  • Completing your income tax information,
  • Opening a Canadian bank account,
  • Paying your taxes, and
  • Receiving permanent residency government benefits such as universal access to healthcare and basic education.

Find out more about Canada’s Social Insurance Number (SIN).

Open a Canadian Bank Account

Opening a Canadian bank account is essential for managing your finances in Canada. Research different banks and choose one that suits your needs. The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada is a great source of information about Canada’s banking system, providing data on the leading banks in Canada which include:

  • Royal Bank of Canada,
  • Toronto-Dominion Bank,
  • Bank of Montreal,
  • Bank of Nova Scotia, and
  • Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce.

Apply for a Canada Health Insurance Card

Canada has a publicly funded healthcare system. Each province or territory provides its distinct health insurance plans with varying waiting periods. If you're going to settle in a province with long health insurance plan waiting times, we recommend applying for private medical insurance in the meantime for you and your family.

To apply for a health insurance card, also referred to as a Care Card, you must meet the eligibility requirements and how-to-apply guide outlined healthcare insurance plan of the Canadian province or territory you’re settling in. Examples are provided in the table below:

Canadian Provincial and Territorial Healthcare Insurance Plans/Cards
Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan British Columbia (BC) Services Card
Manitoba Health Card and Coverage New Brunswick Medicare Card
Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Care Plan Northwest Territories (NWT) Healthcare Plan
Nova Scotia Health Card (MSI) Nunavut Health Care Plan
Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) Prince Edward Island (PEI) Health Card
Québec Health Insurance Plan Saskatchewan Health Card
Yukon Health Care Insurance Plan  

Learn more about health insurance in Canada.

Get a Canadian Phone Number

Having a Canadian cellphone number will make it easier to stay connected with friends, family, and potential employers. Research different cellphone providers and choose a plan that suits your needs. Visit a store with your identification documents to get a SIM card and activate your number. To begin your search, you can contact the following leading cellphone providers in Canada.

  • Bell Mobility,
  • Eastlink Wireless,
  • Québecor,
  • Rogers Wireless, and
  • Telus Mobility.

What to do in Your First Two Months After Arriving in Canada?

what to do in canada in your first two months

Within the first two months of your stay in Canada, it is vitally important that you complete the following tasks.

Find and Secure Your Home in Canada

Finding a suitable place to live is a top priority when you arrive in Canada. Research the housing market in your desired location and start looking for rental or purchase options. Consider factors such as:

  • Proximity to amenities such water and electricity supply,
  • Transportation,
  • Safety,
  • Access to community center services, and
  • Municipal government.

You can also visit the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) site to obtain helpful housing information in different languages for newcomers to Canada. Furthermore, you can also use CMHC’s real estate agents to help you buy or rent an apartment or house in Canada.

Register Your Accompanying Dependent Children in School

If you have children who will be attending school in Canada, it is important to register them as soon as possible. Basic education in Canada is mandatory for all children from ages 5 and 6 to 16 and 18 depending on the province or territory.

Research the local school boards and find out the registration process. Make sure to gather all necessary documents, such as birth certificates and proof of address, to complete the registration.

Find out more about what you need to know about Canada’s education system.

Find Your Personal Dentist or Doctor

Maintaining good health is essential, so you must find a trusted dentist and doctor for your family. While searching for your dentist or doctor in Canada, ask for recommendations from:

  • Friends,
  • Colleagues,
  • Neighbors, and
  • Healthcare providers in your area.

Schedule appointments for regular check-ups and establish a relationship with your healthcare professionals.

Get a Canadian Driver’s License or International Driving Permit

If you plan to drive in Canada, you will need a valid driver's license. Depending on your country of origin, you may be able to exchange your existing license for a Canadian one. If not, you may need to take a written and practical driving test.

Obtaining a driver’s licence in Canada will depend on the transportation department of the Canadian province or territory you settle in. Alternatively, you can obtain an International Driving Permit (IDP), which allows you to drive in Canada with your foreign license.

Find out more about Canada’s driver’s licence.

Improve Your English or French By Enrolling in a Language Training Center

Proficiency in English or French is important for integration into Canadian society and the job market. Consider enrolling in a language training center to improve your language skills. Prominent language training centers for English and French you can enroll in Canada include:

  • BLI Canada,
  • EC English,
  • BLI Bouchereau Lingua International,
  • Clic Montreal, and
  • Language International.

You can put your English or French language skills to the test by taking the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or TEF Canada test.

Find a Local Settlement Service Provider

Settlement service providers offer valuable support and resources for newcomers to Canada. They can help you with various aspects of settling in Canada, such as:

  • Searching for a job in Canada,
  • Taking English or French language assessments,
  • Registering your children in school,
  • Learning about and exploring your community’s services, and
  • Finding a home in Canada.

There are over 1,200 settlement service providers that you can contact in Canada which include, among others,

  • Acces Employment,
  • Brampton Multicultural Community Centre,
  • Carizon Family and Community Services,
  • DIVERSEcity, and
  • Economic and Social Council of Ottawa-Carleton.

With the clarity provided by the information above, you can begin making your preparations for arriving in Canada.


How Long Can I Stay in Canada as a Visitor, Student, or Temporary Worker?

The duration of stay in Canada as a visitor, student, or temporary worker depends on the specific Canada visa or permit you hold. Visitors are typically allowed to stay in Canada for up to six months, students for the duration of their study program, and temporary workers for the duration of their work permit.

How Can I Prepare Before Arriving in Canada?

Before arriving in Canada, we recommend you learn about free pre-arrival services and important tasks to do after arrival and familiarize yourself with Canada’s laws, health care, and community connection.