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To be prepared for your life in Canada, there are important things to do before and after you arrive. Not every item will apply to you, but it can give you an idea of how to get ready.
If you are a refugee, you will receive information and help from the Government of Canada during the immigration process.
Get and bring to Canada all official documents belonging to you and the family members who are immigrating with you.
Common documents include:
If you have family members that will be immigrating at a later date, you should also bring copies of their documents with you.
You may not need these documents immediately, but it is better to bring all your official documents in case they are needed in the future. It is often much more difficult to obtain these documents after you have left your country of origin.
Translate your documents
If your original documents are not in English or French, you will need to get them translated. The language and type of translation (general, certified, notarized, etc.) will depend on the place you chose to live and what you need the translations for (education, health, legal, work, etc.).
Make an effort to improve your English or French if neither one is your first language.
Communication skills may be your most important tool to settle successfully in Canada and find a job.
Plan where you will stay during your first days in Canada. Make arrangements to stay with family or friends, or book a hotel in a central location. For information on temporary accommodation as well as how to rent or buy a home in Canada, read the section on Housing.
Get ready to find a job in Canada by doing the following:
For an introduction on what you need to know about finding employment in Canada, read the section on Employment and income.
Learn about the education system in Canada. Take note of deadlines for applying and registering at schools, colleges and universities. For information about schools for your children as well as education opportunities for you, read the section on Education.
Learn about health care in Canada, and get private health insurance. Private insurance pays for emergency medical costs until you obtain government health insurance in Canada.
Learn more about the province and the city or town where you will settle.
Learn about seasons as well as the weather in Canada and bring appropriate clothes with you.
You must have some documents with you enter Canada. Without these documents, you will not be allowed into Canada.
Do not pack these documents in your luggage. Keep them with you at all times.
Disclosure of funds
Tell a Canadian official when you arrive in Canada if you are carrying more than CAN $10,000. If you do not, you may be fined, and your funds could be seized. These funds could be in the form of:
Find out more about your responsibilities to disclose funds.
Customs declaration card
Before you arrive in Canada, you may be asked to complete a Customs Declaration Card. You must complete this card before you meet with customs and immigration officials, even if you are not a Canadian citizen. If you are travelling by air, it is a good idea to complete the card before you leave the airplane.
What to declare
Use the Customs Declaration Card to declare the following:
Do not use this form to list the personal and household goods that you are bringing with you or are following you to Canada. You will show your lists of those items separately to a customs officer.
Declare all items
If you do not tell an official that you are carrying items that should be declared, you may be fined or put in prison. The money you declare can be in the form of cash, securities in bearer form (for example, stocks, bonds, debentures or treasury bills) or negotiable instruments in bearer form (for example, bank drafts, cheques, travellers cheques or money orders).
Visit the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) website to find more information about Moving to Canada.
When you arrive in Canada, you will have to go through two screening interviews. If all your documents are available and in order, your interviews should be over quickly:
First interview — official documents
An officer from the CBSA will greet you. The officer will ask to see your visa and travel documents. The officer will also check to make sure that you and any family members travelling with you have the proper travel documents. The officer will inquire about your health and will ask you questions similar to those on the immigrant application form.
Be prepared to answer these questions:
After you complete your first interview, you will meet with another officer from the CBSA. This officer will check the items you are bringing with you. At some ports of entry, you will work with the same officer twice.
Second interview — personal goods
The second interview is for you to declare what you are bringing with you into Canada.
The officer will ask to see your declaration card. You must tell the officer you have arrived in Canada to immigrate. At this point, the officer may direct you to another area for the customs procedure.
You must give the officer the list of goods you are bringing with you and the list of goods that will be arriving later. The officer will go through both lists with you and may ask questions about some of the goods. The officer may also inspect your luggage.
Be prepared to answer these questions:
Do not give false answers
You must answer all the questions truthfully. It is a serious offence to make a false statement. If you make a false statement you may not be allowed to stay in Canada. If you are well prepared and you have no items that are not allowed in Canada, the process will go quickly.
If there are no difficulties, the officer will sign your Confirmation of Permanent Residence and authorize your entry into Canada as a permanent resident.
Learn about the different resources and sources of information available to help you settle in Canada.
Call or visit an immigrant-serving organization in your city or town to learn about the services they provide.
Apply for important documents like:
Give us your new Canadian address, so that you can receive your permanent resident card in the mail.
Open a Canadian bank account.
Explore your city or town, and learn about the transportation options available.
Learn how to make telephone calls and access the Internet.
Memorize the national emergency telephone number: 911. If you experience a medical or other type of emergency, call for help.
If you do not have a job, you should start looking for one quickly. You can get information on job postings, on how to adapt your resume for Canadian employers, on mentorship programs, etc., at local immigrant-serving organizations.
Improve your English and French.
Learn about housing and how to search for a place to rent or buy.
Read about education in Canada to learn things like how to register your children in a school and options available to improve your qualifications and skills.
Obtain a Canadian driver’s licence if you plan to drive in Canada.
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