First Steps

There are many resources with plenty of advice on the before-you-arrive stage. In essence, there are a few things to remember:

  • try to come with a job if possible – this will make everything a lot easier
  • have financials to support yourself/family for at least six months. Better yet, try to arrange for some income which works behind your back such as some online business, telephone support etc.
  • learn English and improve it as much as possible. Write and initiate conversations as opposed to read and listen
  • try to create some connections in advance using social media or industry associations of your interest. Sometimes joining the local branch of an area of interest is the way to go. More on this in the networking post/page
  • arrange a place to stay in advance – Craigslist, Kijiji, hostels, university campuses in the summer, friends etc. Avoid making long-term commitments before you see a place. Having someone check it out for you is also an option.
  • have emergency medical insurance. An option is to buy it from Canada on the day of arrival. It would be more expensive from here, however, it is almost guaranteed to work as opposed to oversees travel insurance where they expect you to cover costs first and then reimburse you. There will be a separate post on this too.

Upon Arrival

Once landed, there are a few priorities. Landed immigrants typically come in on a single-entry visa. Once they are in the country – they apply for their resident card and they are clear to re-enter the country as needed. Have a mailing address ready since this is arranged at the airport immigration counter shortly after you get off the plane. They will need to know where to send your PR card. It takes up to a month or so to get it.

Next steps:

  • get a social insurance number
  • get a local drivers license or at least an ID,
  • medical insurance
  • start building credit

-Social insurance number (SIN) is done at Service Canada centers. Go to one closest to where you live and apply. The social insurance number is generated in matter of minutes. Actual SIN card follows in the mail over th next few weeks or so.

-Medical insurance costs money in British Columbia meaning there will be monthly payments for the provincial medical plan. They tend to be 50-60 dollars a month. British Columbia’s medical service is old-school – a form has to be printed and filled out. Then physically mailed out in an envelope to the state capital in Victoria. They are meticulous about details on the application sheet and will return it if it is incorrect and cause delays. New arrivals are entitled to health insurance after a three month period. If you arrive at the end of a month, it is still counted as one of the three months. Example, if you landed July 28th, your insurance will become effective October 01. This is providing all forms were filled out correctly.

-Vancouver has the almighty ICBC which is Insurance Corporation of British Columbia. It is a government-run corporation which regulates auto insurance, drivers and vehicle licensing. If you have a license from US, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Japan and South Korea as well as other Canadian provinces, you are entitled to get your license transferred into a BC license at time of application. Other countries. When transferring a license from one province to another, ladies may have more problems since ICBC requires a birth certificate or a Canadian passport plus a marriage certificate to verify proper change of name.

Establishing and building credit will be covered in the page on financial planning in Vancouver.

Apparently, newly landed immigrants used to be issued with a Newcomer’s Guide but this no longer seems to be the case.  This book is available in electronic format for download at and contains some useful information.

Next look in the Vancouver expectations page.