What you need to know as you make Canada your home.
After 15 months of waiting due to the COVID-19 pandemic border closures, all valid Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR) holders are now able to complete the process of calling Canada home.
While the world has come a long way since the start of the pandemic in early 2020, Canada still has several COVID-related immigration regulations in place that newcomers should be aware of, like proof of a COVID test for all travellers five and older. The following tips will help you navigate finalizing your Canadian residency.
Pre-arrival tips to make the transition seamless
Canadian borders are open again, and if you are fully vaccinated, you may not need to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. If you are experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms before you leave, play it safe by rescheduling your arrival date.
It is also essential to check with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) if you have any questions or concerns. Ensure that your Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR) is still valid and not expired. IRCC has helpful resources to get your COPR reinstated so that you can move and travel to Canada once again.
Have your living situation established before you arrive, especially if you will need to quarantine for 14 days. Landlords check your credit score before signing rental agreements, but as a new Canadian, you may not have a credit score. Some landlords will accept proof of your country’s credit score as an exception. You may also want to travel with a copy of your resume, your educational transcripts or proof of a degree, your driver’s license and your birth certificate to further prove you are not a risky tenant.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation suggests looking for rental listings through local newspapers and real estate offices in your desired province. Remember, your first place doesn’t have to be permanent or perfect. This is your landing pad so you can figure out where you will set down roots. Even individuals who know the country well might want to consider setting up a short-term apartment lease or long-stay hotel reservation rather than purchasing a new home sight unseen.
Setting up your finances as a newcomer
Book an appointment to meet with an advisor at a bank you trust as soon as you can. Not only can an advisor help you set up your bank account as a newcomer, but they can also be an invaluable resource to help you learn some financial basics like how to build your credit history quickly or qualify for a new vehicle loan. Many of Scotiabank’s advisors are immigrants themselves, so they have walked the same path as you, while also helping hundreds of newcomers do the same.
Scotiabank’s advisors can help you set up a savings account, get access to credit and complete no-fee international money transfers with the Start Right Program designed for newcomers1. Additionally, newcomers will pay no monthly fees for the first year with the Preferred Package chequing account2.
As soon as you have a bank account established, it is a good time to set up a realistic budget. A budget calculator can quickly help you set dollar amounts for needs versus wants. The top needs you will have to budget for on arrival are your rent or mortgage, transportation costs, utilities and grocery costs. Some wants that might not fit into your new budget right away might be a gym membership, cable TV and new home decor.
It is also wise to set aside additional funds each month to get adjusted to your new cost of living. Groceries and utilities might cost more in some provinces than your home country and the extra funds set aside can help you adjust to this change without coming up short in your budget.
If possible, get a credit card as soon as you can to start building up your new credit history. In Canada, landlords, utilities, lenders and potential employers look at your credit history and credit score to establish if you are financially stable. For example, if you are applying to a job position that requires you to handle money or sensitive information, a potential employer might want to check to see that your own finances are in order. Newcomers, even those without credit history, are eligible for an unsecured credit card at Scotia3. You can start building your credit as soon as you arrive.
Getting important documents
As soon as you arrive, focus on getting your documents in order. A new Canadian resident will need:
- Permanent Resident (PR) Card: This card should be obtained through your immigration process and sent to you before traveling. Use this card for traveling and for obtaining a bank account and other government documents.
- Provincial Health Card: This health card is a necessity for seeing a doctor, visiting a hospital or taking care of other medical needs. Without this card, you will be expected to pay your costly medical bills out of pocket. Many provinces offer access to medical coverage right away, but some provinces and territories require a three-month waiting period. If you are moving to one of the following places, you will need to get temporary private insurance to cover the gap:
- British Columbia
- Northwest Territories
- Social Insurance Number (SIN): At the moment, you can only apply for SIN cards online or via mail. Use your PR card to apply for your SIN as soon as you arrive. You will need your SIN to pay taxes, apply for interest-earning bank accounts and investments and to find employment.
Additional resources for newcomers to Canada
You are so close to establishing your permanent residency in Canada. To answer any additional questions you may have, the Canadian Government has a Welcome to Canada eBook that covers everything from housing to employment to your rights and civil protections. Scotiabank also has a huge library of newcomer resources, including how to thrive in Canadian life and how to navigate Canada through COVID-19 restrictions.
Scotiabank is one of the top Canadian banks and a leading bank in the Americas. Guided by our purpose “for every future”, we help our customers, their families and their communities achieve success through a broad range of advice, products and services.
Launched in 2008, the Scotiabank StartRight Program is designed to simplify banking for Canadian Permanent residents, International Students and Foreign Workers who have recently landed in Canada. We can help ease your transition to Canada by getting you started with a Scotiabank International Account that allows you to transfer up to $50,000 before you arrive to help you feel more prepared knowing you have proof of funds ready. We can even help fast track your study permit with the Scotiabank Student GIC Program.
Our Scotiabank Start Right program can also help you start banking in Canada with 12 months of free banking, access to credit with no credit history, unlimited no-fee international money transfers, and expert help from Financial Advisors.
We also launched ScotiaRISE – for our new, 10-year, $500 million community investment program designed to help promote economic resilience among disadvantaged people and communities. In particular, this program is centered on using funding and partnerships to increase graduation rates and postsecondary enrollment, help newcomers feel at home faster and secure meaningful employment and senior opportunities for underrepresented groups. It’s all part of why Scotiabank is the bank for newcomers.