Preparing For Canada

Preparation is Critical to Success

It is said that preparation, when combined with opportunity, leads to success. We have found preparation to be critical for success as a newcomer to Canada. Preparing for your new home should begin prior to arrival, and you should expect this to be an all-round process that can involve psychological, financial, emotional and physical preparations.

Our aim is to help you navigate the myriad matters that are of interest to new arrivals in Canada. Based on our experience, we have listed below some pre-arrival topics that we believe will be helpful to you. Please contact us if there is any other topic you would like covered.

Pre-Arrival Services

Several agencies offer free online and in-person services to help you prepare and adjust to life in Canada. The Canadian government with the aim to make settling in Canada easier than ever funds these agencies. Having benefited from many of these services as new immigrants ourselves, we do not hesitate to attribute much of our success to the knowledge and support gained from agencies like Canadian Orientation Abroad.

Some pre-arrival organizations offer services to new immigrants who intend to reside in specific provinces. A good example is Immigrant Centre Pre-Arrival Centre (PAC), which offers remote pre-arrival services exclusively for new permanent residents who intend to reside in Manitoba. 

Click on the link below for a list of accredited authorized pre-arrival services.






Travel Day

The travel day is usually hectic for most immigrants, especially if you are travelling with children. Below are some tips to help make the process 

    • Ensure you have all your travel documents. For newcomers on their “landing visit” (i.e., first 
    • certificates and credentials. 
    • Carry cash for emergencies, to book a taxi or to make telephone calls. Note that foreign exchange conversion rates at airports can be steep.
    • Travel with a pen, and keep the phone number and address of your contact person and destination handy. You will be completing paperwork at different points during your travel and on arrival in Canada.
    • Where a parent that shares custody of children is travelling alone with minor children, they should be in possession of legal custody documents as well as a consent letter.
    • Stay hydrated. When travelling with children in particular, and where you have a long transit, obtain extra bottles of water on the airplane (or other transportation) or purchase water while in transit.

Find below some links that will help you prepare for your trip.

  • visit upon obtaining an immigrant visa), travel documents will include a valid international passport containing the immigrant visa, Confirmation of Permanent Residence (Form IMM 5292 or 5688) and tickets for travel (dependent on your means of transportation).
  • If this is a subsequent visit to Canada following a landing visit, then in addition to a valid international passport and tickets for travel, it is imperative that you are in possession of your permanent residence card. Ensure you obtain your permanent residence card after your initial arrival. If your permanent residence card is lost, you will need to obtain a visa for single entry into Canada prior to your trip.
  • Ensure that you have all items on your personal travel checklist, including 


What to Bring to Canada

Migration signifies a new beginning with huge financial implications. Therefore, the usual first instinct is to take along as much as you can to your new home. Unfortunately, depending on the means of travel, luggage size limits, excess luggage costs, border restrictions and several other factors play a major role in determining what you should take along with you and how best to do so.

You will be required to complete a customs declaration card. The ultimate rule of declaration is “when in doubt, declare!” 

Click on the links below for more information on the various topics listed:


Housing is a very important aspect of your migration. When you get to Canada, you will need a temporary place to live until you can rent or buy your own place. There are several options available, including staying with friends and family or booking in advance to stay in a hotel, hostel or short term furnished rental. Whatever option you select, it is advisable to conduct proper research, including ensuring the location is accessible to public transportation.Where possible, check reviews about the location.

If you have children, your choice may be determined by schools within the location.




The costs of moving and settling can be significant for newcomers to Canada. In many cases, the desire is to be employed as quickly as possible in order to start earning income.

However, if your profession is regulated, it may not be sufficient to arrive your new home with that otherwise impressive portfolio of qualifications, work experience and personable skills. You may find that you need to obtain a certification, license or undertake a conversion program to make you eligible for employment in your field. Refer to the “careers that require licensure” section of the career page.

Depending on your profession, there may be several steps involved in the process towards licensure. For instance, a lawyer’s preliminary step is to have their educational qualifications sent by relevant institutions directly to the National Committee on Accreditation (NCA) where they are assessed over several weeks. After a determination of eligibility to sit accreditation exams is made by the NCA, the candidate has a choice of only 4 different times in a year to write the exams. Upon completion of these exams, licensing can then begin according to requirements of the Law Society in the candidate’s province of choice. That stage will require more exams, a potential period of articling (experiential training with a principal) and various other requirements. The entire process takes several months to put it lightly!

The good news is (and there’s always good news, thankfully) the Canadian government has established various pre-arrival services, such as Planning for Canada by “Canadian Orientation Abroad” and “Canadian Immigrant Integration Program”, that assist new immigrants to navigate their options before arrival and determine the steps you will be needing to take. Furthermore, where it is necessary to undertake a “bridging” program (these are training courses that assist internationally trained individuals in their transition to eligibility in the Canadian labor market), some of these programs are eligible for government financial assistance by way of grants and/or loans. At the time of writing, the Ontario Bridging Assistance Program gives bursaries of up to $5,000 to cover costs of courses, books and equipment. One of us had their entire program costs refunded in this way! Note that you may need to initially bear the costs and then receive a payout during refund season.

Our recommendation is that once you are certain of moving to Canada, you should begin to plan your educational/career journey by working with the pre-arrival service to identify the steps that may be required for your entry into the labor market. By beginning the process several months in advance of travelling, you will save valuable time and resources on arrival. Also explore the option of online bridging programs (if applicable) prior to arrival.

One final tidbit is that in the event that pre-arrival you were admitted to a graduate school or other educational program that charges higher fees to international students, on arrival you should have the institution modify your status and get an instant reduction in tuition!


 Education For Children

The educational requirements for children varies across the different provinces. In almost all cases, children are guaranteed a place in the school based on the school associated with your address. Your child’s grade is usually dependent on your child’s age at the beginning of the school year. Once you get a house in Canada, contact the school district in your region to find out which school your children will attend.

The school district may schedule your child for an assessment before or shortly after they resume school. As a parent, it is important to travel with all of your child’s most recent health records (immunization records, allergies etc.) as this is a requirement in most schools. To be on the safe side, you should also travel with your child’s most recent grade report (although this was never a requirement in our case). 

If you would like your child to attend a religious school in Canada, you may be required to bring a document to show proof of religious denomination e.g. a catholic school may request for the baptismal certificate of the child or parent/ guardian).