Expats Guide to Canada

Canada’s population is nearly 36 million with the immigrants and refugees moving to the country, with each of the territories and provinces in Canada having its own government which creates its own laws. Although the country has a close relationship with the United States it has its own unique division from its southern neighbours. All the cities in the country are progressive and also feature on the best places to live in.
The weather in Canada varies and you’ll be surprised to know that it is not cold all year round; winters can be very cold in the country from temperatures dropping below −40 °C but the south western coast is mild. During the summer temperatures will be over 30oC with high levels of humidity. For more information please read our guides below.

General Information

Population There is a population of about 35 million people
Capital of Canada Ottawa
Official Language English and French
Major Cities Toronto, Edmonton, Vancouver, Calgary, Waterloo and Montreal
Popular Expat cities Toronto, Vancouver, Waterloo and Montreal
Provinces Alberta, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Manitoba, Prince Edward Island, Saskatchewan, and Newfoundland and Labrador
Territories Northwest Territories, Yukon and Nunavut
Time Zone There are six different time zones in Canada which range from GMT 8 in the west to GMT -3.5 in the east.
Money The Canadian dollar CAD – divided into 100 cents
Nearest Neighbours United States of America
Popular attractions Niagara Falls, Rocky Mountains, Banff National Park, Canadian Rockies and CN Tower
Religions The main religion in Canada is Christianity
Public Holidays New Year’s Day, Good Friday, Canada Day, Labour Day and Christmas Day
International Dialling code The international dialling code in Canada is +1. For Ottawa it is (1) 613, and for Toronto it is (1) 416 or 647
Emergency contact 911
Canada Travel Advice Canadian Embassy or Consulate

Popular Destinations

The main cities in Canada are Toronto, Ottawa, Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver and Montreal. Here is some more information on these cities.


Toronto is a popular city where expats choose to move to in Canada, due to this it is now one of the most diverse cities in the world. In addition it is now home to about 2.6 million people with most residents who have come from around the world.
This city is not only great to live in but the popular sites attract holiday makers with thousands of tourists visiting the country to hike, swim and boat along the shores of the lakes which are one of the continents unique features. The city has major events for leisure, entertainment and culture so there won’t be a time where you will have a dull moment.

If you are looking for work when in the city, there are many banking institutions as well as IT companies which are great companies to work for where one can develop a career and gain valuable experience. The medical system in Toronto is of high quality with fantastic health facilities and qualified doctors as well great public transport options.

Popular Attractions in Toronto

  • CN Tower
  • Royal Ontario Museum
  • Casa Loma
  • Hockey hall of fame
  • Ripley’s Aquarium

Toronto Weather

The weather in Toronto has a continental climate with a humid summer and cold winters. The lake ensures the cities weather in winter is warmer and the weather in summer is cooler than it actually is.
July is the hottest month with an average temperature of 21°C (70°F) and the coldest is January being -3°C (28°F)


The largest city in eastern Canada and the second largest French speaking city in the world. Montreal is located on an island at the junction of two rivers – St Lawrence’s and Ottawa.
The official language in Montreal is French, and most residents have emigrated from France. Expats who are not able to speak French could live here too but it may be more challenging to get a job or to even interact with people.

To work legally in Montreal, expats will be required to speak both French and English and individuals will have needed to meet certain requirements. Expats should note that employment opportunities will be limited

With its own underground city with interconnected tunnels beneath the city, expats will have no problem in travelling around without a car with the tunnels connecting shopping malls, 7 metro stations, universities and banks as well as other places of leisure.

Popular tourist attractions

  • Mont Royal
  • Old Montreal
  • Parc Jean Drapeau
  • Botanical gardens
  • Places Jacques-Cartier
  • Notre-Dame Basilica

Montreal’s Weather

Temperatures in the winter are cold averaging –3°C (23°F) with snowfall falling every year. The months from December to March will be below freezing with snow, rain and ice. Summer can be hot and humid with temperatures rising to 11°C (52°F) in April or October.


Vancouver is rated one of the most liveable cities in the world with it being the fastest growing cities and largest city in British Columbia. This city has scenic views and friendly people all around with many tourist attractions.

The city is known for hosting the winter 2010 Olympics and the Paralympics as well as international events. There is a multicultural environment in the city with people from different countries and cultures, some of which include Chinese, French, German and Punjabi. Expats will have the opportunity to enjoy festivals and events held annually. Majority of the Canadians enjoy hiking and mountain biking in the parks and local mountains.

Expats looking for property may find it expensive and highly challenging with the rents being high and properties in demand. Though, Vancouver is one of the world’s foods capitals with high quality dining experiences.

Vancouver’s Popular tourist attractions

  • Stanley Park
  • Capilano Suspension Bridge
  • Granville Island
  • Science World
  • Grouse Mountain
  • Museum of Anthopology

Vancouver Weather

Vancouver’s weather consists of August being the hottest month with average temperatures of 18°C and the coldest month being January at 4°C. In the month of November, expats will experience about 200mm of rainfall making it the wettest month.


Ottawa is Canada’s capital which is near the border of the US city and situated near the city of Montreal. Expats moving here will find that this is a popular destination to move to due to its academic and employment opportunities which are available.
The city is the most educated in the country being home to post secondary, research and cultural institutions with a diverse mix of ethnic population.

With 35 major festivals in Ottawa, expats will be able to enjoy events annually from entertainment events and fine dining. Getting to these events will also prove easy with its public transport system making it straight forward to travel across the city.
Expats moving to Ottawa with children will be able to provide them with an excellent standard of schooling options offering clean and healthy environments.

Ottawa’s Popular tourist attractions

  • Parliament Hill
  • ByWard Market
  • Unesco Rideau Canal
  • National gallery of Canada
  • Canadian War Museum
  • Peace Tower

Ottawa Weather

Temperatures range from 33C in summer being warm and humid whereas winters are severely cold in January at -10°C (15°F).


Another popular city in Canada is Calgary which is home to many permanent residents. Located near the sunny eastern hills of Canada’s Rocky Mountains the environment is surrounded by beautiful natural resources.

The quality of life is high with great assets such as healthcare, education, affordable housing, employment and great public transport. The city has the youngest and best educated workforce with majority of the residents having post secondary education.

Besides this, the city is known for having national and international businesses which includes IT, agriculture, financial and oil and gas industries opening up opportunities for people moving here. Expats move to Calgary to take advantage of low taxes when opening up their own businesses so employment opportunities are available in many fields

Calgary’s Popular Tourist Attractions

  • Heritage Park Historical Village
  • Glenbow Museu
  • Fort Calgary
  • Calaway Park
  • Telus Spark
  • Canada Olympic Park
  • The Hangar Flight Museum

Calgary Weather

With Calgary being a mountain high city the climate is usually dry. When comparing the weather to the rest of Canada, it is quite mild with the sun being out when it is cold. Temperatures range from 17°C in July and the coldest month being January at -7°C


A city which is the capital of the province of Alberta with a population of over 1 million people and one of the sunniest Canadian cities. Edmonton is a good place for employment, with good salary and career prospects.

Expats living here will enjoy 30 festivals which are held all year round from music festivals to arts and crafts events. With the least traffic congestion and lowest commute people will chose public transport to travel to events and work. The city has great locations for strong retail and leisure sectors.

The costs of living in Edmonton are fairly reasonable and affordable, with brilliant healthcare facilities but housing may be expensive. There are also low provincial income tax rates making it affordable for middle class income earners. Expats moving to Edmonton with children will have the choice of schools and higher educational institutions which are competitive and high in demand.

Edmonton – Popular tourist attractions

  • West Edmonton Mall
  • Edmonton Valley Zoo
  • Muttart Conservatory
  • Fort Edmonton Park
  • Telus world of science
  • Art gallery of Alberta
  • Elk Island National Park

Edmonton Weather

Edmonton has four distinct seasons, with a hot summer, a cold and snowy winter, autumn and spring. Temperatures range from 17C in the summer and -15C in the winter.

Utilities – Water, Electric, Gas & Waste

3Expats, who have found property to rent in Canada, should ask if utilities such as electricity, gas and water are included in the payment, this way they will know what they are paying for and will know what services they will need to consider setting up in their new home.


If you are required to find an electricity provider in Canada, expats can obtain information from their landlord or their local authorities. The electrical system uses the same volt system as the United States which is 110 volts.
Setting up electricity in your home is fairly straight forward and you will only need to make a call to the company. Individuals may be required to provide information such as, proof of address and an ID as well as visa status and a deposit for the connection.
Meters will be read quarterly and a monthly bill will be sent to your home. Paying for electricity bills can be done in different ways with the most popular choice being direct debit which takes the payment from your account each month or customers can choose to pay for the bill online.


The houses in Canada are usually on a water meter so you will only be required to pay for the water that you use. However some choose not to be on a meter. The costs of water will vary depending on which province you live in although the supply is reasonably priced.

To get connected to the water supply, you will need to contact your local department in your provincial government. When connecting to water supply, you will be asked to show proof of address, ID and visa documentation.

Bills for water supply are received on a monthly basis, and are usually paid for by individuals on a direct debit or by sending a cheque to the company. Depending on where you are living you may be able to pay the water bill on a quarterly basis.


Gas in Canada is required due to the heating system, gas appliances and fires. In areas such as NW territories expats will find there is no mains for the gas so they will need to run appliances from bottled gas.

Each region will have their own natural gas supplier, so it is recommended to contact local authorities to find out who the local gas supplies are.
When opening an account you will need to contact the company that serves your area and you may be required to pay an administration fee along with a security deposit. Fees vary on where you live. In addition to this a connection fee may need to be paid for. Gas meters are usually read every 2-3 months and there are different ways a gas bill could be paid for such as, direct debit, cheque payment and online banking payment.

Waste Disposal

When moving in to your property, you should ask your landlord, previous homeowner or local authority to find out what the collection service is. Most areas will have weekly collections but in some areas you may be required to take your rubbish to a drop off point.

The area you are living in will have a landfill site where you are able to recycle items which cannot be put into the bins at home. The landfill sites will have facilities for mobile phones, electrical items, tins of paints as well as other things.

Formal Requirements

Visitors and expatriates who have arrived in Canada must be able to show a valid travel document i.e. passport or electronic travel authorisation. If you are from the United Kingdom, United States or any other European country, you may not need a visa if you are visiting for a short time only but will need an Electronic Travel Authorisation before travelling. If you plan on staying for a longer time, you will need a visa and may need to contact the Canadian High Commission office.

Some of the basic requirements you must meet to visit Canada are:

  • Have a valid passport
  • Have no criminal or immigration related convictions
  • May need to prove you will be returning back to your home country with proof of financial assets, a job or home
  • how proof that you have enough funds to support yourself whilst in the country.
  • May need a medical exam
  • Letter of invitation from someone who lives in Canada

Expats will discover that there are different visa applications but Canada’s citizenship and immigration online department will be able to provide information that is easy to understand and will assist individuals on their visa applications.

Visa Types

Whether you are going to Canada to visit, to live or even work you will be required to have the correct visa to get into the country.

Tourist (Visitors) Visa

Expats visiting Canada for six months or less from Australia, United Kingdom, United States, New Zealand and other European countries will not be required to have a visa.
If you are not from any of these countries you must apply for a temporary visa before you are allowed entry into Canada. Individuals wanting to stay longer than the amount of time should have been authorised and they will need to apply for an extension visa 30 days before the authorised visa expires.

There are two types of temporary visas:

  • Single Entry Visa – This visa allows expats to come to Canada only once. After you leave Canada you will need a new visa to re-visit
  • Multiple Entry Visa – This visa will allow visitors to come and go from Canada for six months at a time. Expats will not need to re-apply and this is valid for 10 years or one month before your passport is due to expire. Individuals must arrive in Canada on or before the expiry date on the visa
  • Note: Both of these visas are for a fixed period and cannot be used after they have expired.

A temporary resident visa should be applied for six weeks before leaving to go to the country. Applications are usually made at a Canadian embassy or consulate in your home country.

Work Permit

A temporary work permit is given to individuals who are coming to the country to complete a job that a Canadian citizen is unable to do due to their lack of experience and skills. These will expire after a certain amount of time.
When applying for a work permit it must be done in advance in your own home country and expats must have a job offer confirmed in the country. Employers will also need to prove that the job cannot be done by a local employee or show that no one is available with the certain types of skills that are required for the position.

To prove this, employers will need to get a confirmation from the HRSDC department called ‘Positive Labour Market Opinion’. This will need to show information that the employer of the company has advertised the job position in Canada for 90 days or more. After the visa application has been received applicants may need to have an official interview where they will be required to show certificates and may need to undertake a medical exam.

Expats who are planning on working in Canada for four years or more will need to get permanent residency.

There are two types of work permit:

  • Open Permit: This allows you to work for any employer in Canada
  • Employer Specific Permit: You are only allowed to work for the employer which is featured on your permit for the length of the time that is stated

The application process could take one – three months for it to be approved.
Permanent Resident Visas

Expats who want to immigrate to Canada on a permanent basis should do so legally and should have a permanent residence visa.

Permanent resident status is given to citizens of other countries and will be given this by immigrating to Canada.

To apply for permanent residency you can do this through Canada’s federal program or through a provincial program, if this is the case the province will need to nominate the individual to have permanent residency.

There are also different types of permits

  • Skilled workers and professionals: This permit is valid for individuals who wish to settle and work in Canada and also to qualify to be an advantage to the economy
  • Canadian experience class: Permit can be applied for if you have Canadian work experience
  • Investors, entrepreneurs and self employed class: Permit for individuals who want to start a business in the country
  • Provincial Nominees: Individuals who have the skills needed in their province and if they wish to settle in Canada
  • Family Visa: Individuals joining a spouse or family member

Once you have become a permanent resident you will be required to have a Permanent Resident card, this is proof you are a resident of the country. If at some point you leave the country, you will need to show the PR card to re-enter the country to prove your status. If you do not have a PR card, you must obtain a permanent resident travel document before returning into Canada.

As a permanent resident you have the right to:

  • Live, work or study in Canada
  • Get most of the social benefits including health care coverage
  • Apply for citizenship in Canada
  • Have protection under the Canadian law

As a permanent resident you cannot:

  • Vote or run for political office
  • Hold a job which needs high level security clearance

Permanent residents are able to live outside of the country, but must live in Canada for 2 years or more within a five year period. You may lose your residency status if you live outside of the country for a longer period of time.

Other ways of losing your permanent residency status:

  • Not living in Canada for 2 out of 5 years
  • You become a citizen of the country
  • If you have been convicted of a serious crime

Electronic Travel Authorisation

An ETA is a travel document which is required from individuals from specific countries along with their passport to enter Canada.
This authorisation is valid until your passport expires or for five years, and will be linked electronically to your passport.

An ETA is not expensive and can be applied for online easily. Individuals will be required to submit an online form and pay a fee before getting authorisation.

Young Workers Program

Young workers who are under the age of 35 are able to apply for a working holiday visa which will allow them to get some work experience in Canada.

The government has made agreements with specific countries to assist in work permits which are valid for 12 months. Expats, who want to get work experience, will need to apply for this visa well in advance.

Becoming a Canadian Citizen

To apply for Canadian citizenship, you will need to be able to meet the requirements.
You must be:

  • Over 18 years old
  • Able to show proof that you can speak English or French
  • A permanent resident
  • Lived in Canada as a permanent resident for 4 years out of 6 years
  • Must be in Canada for 183 days minimum
  • Able to apply for citizenship within Canada

You will then need to fill out the application form accurately and correctly providing all the required information. Individuals must ensure that the application has been signed, the correct fee is sent, certified photos have been attached and all the support documents have been attached when sending the application.
After the citizenship form has been submitted, you may be asked to fill out a residence questionnaire; this will help determine if you have lived in the country for four out of six years. Again you will need to show travel documents, bills, school records, leases and work history.

It can then take at least 12 months to process a citizenship application. Expats must ensure that they have a good knowledge of the country including politics and history as people applying for citizenship may be required to take a citizenship test.

Working in Canada

Expatriates moving to Canada will find that when looking for work in the country the chances are quite high. To find a job and be allowed to work you must apply for a work permit (permanent residency or temporary work permit). An employer who you have secured a job with may apply for this on your behalf. Individuals who wish to work in Canada should be fluent in English or French and if you are working in Quebec you will most likely be required to have good communication skills in French as well other qualifications.

You will also be required to have a Social Insurance number which can be applied for when you are in the country.

To find work in Canada, there are many things that can be done.
Employers can be contacted directly to ask if there are any positions available

  • Look on job search websites
  • Newspapers
  • Job Fairs
  • Employment agencies

A popular website used by Canadians is www.jobbank.gc.ca, this website is run by the government and has more than 2000 jobs posted daily allowing individuals to look through a list based on their area. To apply for jobs, you will need a CV and a cover letter which shows your qualifications and work experience as well as filling out a company’s application form.

Some other websites which are available

  • Canada Jobs
  • Monster
  • Work O Polis

Expats will possibly be able to find jobs in real estate, financial services, IT and communication industries as all these have been growing throughout the years. The only drawback of working in Canada is that if you have moved from the UK or the US you may be on a lower wage and most of that salary will go towards taxes you are paying.

It is strongly recommended that expats should try and find a job in their home country before moving as it can be a time consuming process once in the country. Some of the positions in different provinces will want different skills and experience to those in the city centre.

Facts about working in Canada

Business Hours The working hours in Canada are Monday – Friday 9am-5pm. Many people work overtime
Business language English is usually spoken but is useful to be able to speak some French
Dress Code Business dress is semi-formal but formal for important meetings and depending on where you work.
Meetings It is important to be prepared with facts, figures and documents over meetings.
Time Keeping Punctuality is important and in Canada it is rude to be late

Social Insurance Number

Expats who are planning to work in Canada will be required to have a Security Insurance Number. This is usually needed by non-residents as well as Canadian residents to get jobs, to apply for tax refunds and also to receive any benefits.

To apply for a SIN you will be required to show an official document which proves your legal status and identity such as a passport. You can also contact your local service Canada centre. Individuals who earn money in the country will be expected to make contributions to the social security system and this is generally deducted from your salary each month and individuals who are self employed will need to do this when completing tax returns.

Opening your own business

Expats moving to Canada may want to open their own business from scratch. There will be legal implications involved so you must ensure you have the correct information and documents required. You will need to decide how your business is going to be run and if you want to own the business as a sole proprietor or if you want to have a partnership business.

Many others prefer to buy an existing business as this will reduce costs in advertising, there will already be a customer base and they won’t have the hassle in finding employees. Before taking ownership, you should ensure any debts and legal issues for previous owners have been cleared.

For advice on opening your own business as well as funding then you can contact your local government advisory service which is based in each province.

Housing and Accomodation

Expats moving to Canada will want to buy or rent their own house or apartment. This guide will show you on how this can be done when moving to the country.

Firstly, if you are unsure on what accommodation is like in Canada, it is recommended to get in contact with a real estate agent. They will be able to give you the correct information and advice about what properties are available and in what areas.

There are different types of properties available for expats depending on the city they are moving to.

  • Apartments: These are the most popular property options and have 1-2 bedrooms with no outdoor space.
  • Condominiums: A building which has a number of individual apartments and are separately owned.
  • Town Houses: A terraced house with possibly more than two storeys. Outdoor space is limited
  • Detached/ Semi-detached houses

Finding Property

When moving to Canada, expats should look for property before they arrive. This will give an idea of what city they want to move to, what cities are offering property for the best prices and also keeping budget in mind. Start off by looking online and also contacting real estate agents through the websites, this will allow you to see what is available.

Other ways of looking for property when you have arrived in Canada include driving around and looking for ‘Rent’ signs. This way you can contact the estate agent who is responsible and you can ask for a viewing. Newspapers and online publications is another good place for searching property.

Real estate’s are highly popular when individuals are searching for property, as most Canadians prefer to go through this when selling a property or when looking for tenants. Expats will be required to pay a fee to the real estate agent which will roughly be between 10% of the monthly rent.

Remember: When going for a property viewing, to dress smart and be on time as the final decision will be decided by the landlord for each application.

Expats moving to Canada may prefer to rent a property when they first arrive. The quality of accommodation in Canada is very high therefore the rental price will vary from the different regions and major cities depending on the popularity of the area.

Renting an apartment in the city centre could cost between $850-1800 but if you are living in the outskirts of town it will be cheaper costing between $750-1000. Same with a three bedroom apartment, in the city centre it could cost around $1700-2500 whereas if in the outskirts of town it could range from $1200 to $1800.

When expats have found a property to rent, it is strongly advised that the contract is read carefully as the lease agreement is very important. The agreement could cover, the duration of the lease, financial responsibilities, what is included in the rental charge, deposit and forfeiture conditions.

Landlords will usually want a deposit at the start of the contract which is normally one month’s rent.

Expats should note that in Canada there is a difference between a lease agreement and a rental agreement.

  • Lease agreement: This usually offers more stability and security. When signing a lease agreement, you will be agreeing to stay in the property for a fixed period of time. During this time, the contact can’t be changed so the rent will stay the same and tenants must stay in the property until the lease has ended.
  • Rental agreement: A rental agreement will offer more freedom to the landlord and the tenant for a month to month arrangement. Both the tenant and the landlord are allowed to end the contract at the end of any month. This will usually be renewed automatically at the end of the month unless given a due notice.

When you rent a property be sure to ask if utilities such as electricity and water are included in the payment.

Buying property

Expats wanting to buy property will find the process straightforward and easy as Canada has an open door policy for foreign property ownership. Non-residents will have the same rights as permanent residents and Canadian citizens. You will be considered a non-resident if you have been in Canada for six months or less each year, so the government will allow you to buy a property.

Where to look for property

Have a look online to see what properties are available after deciding on what location and what type of house you want

  • Check in newspapers – Local community papers will have a section
  • advertising properties
  • Drive around the local area
  • Real estate agent websites

House buying process

The process of buying your own house will be the same in all Canadian provinces and the process could take 90 days or less.

Contact a real estate agent- They will have a database of all the properties in Canada. By taking your requirements, location details and what your budget is, they will be able to provide you with properties of your preferences. They will also be able to help in liaising with the seller, take you for viewings and will assist in completing the transaction.

Get in contact with a bank to prequalify for a mortgage and see how much you are able to afford

Locate a appropriate house by viewing properties with a real estate agent
When you have decided on what property you want to purchase, the realtor will write a contract of sale and agreement. Once signed, this will be given to the seller’s realtor.The contact should have information about the property
The real estate agent will contact the real estate lawyer for information on mortgage, transfer of money and registration on the property.

Financial Information

Financial help is available for non-residents at 65% of the purchase price and 35% being putting down as a payment. To apply for a loan and to qualify for mortgage requirements expats will be required to get in contact with a bank.
Expats may need to be interviewed to get important information from them including tax returns, credit information and liabilities.

Mortgages will need to be raised by a Canadian broker or bank. The lawyer or notary public will then prepare the mortgage documents and registration.

Education & Study

The standard and quality of education in Canada is very high so expat parents usually enrol their children into state public schools. Education for children is important until the age of 16 and in some regions up to the age of 18.

Expat parents who are legally recognised to study or work will be able to send their children to school without a study permit. A study permit will be required for children to attend school if parents have not been permitted to work.
The structured system in Canada is as follows:

  • Kindergarten: Ages 4 – 5 years old
  • Primary School: Ages 6-12
  • Middle School: Ages 12-14
  • High School: Ages 14- 18 (Age 18+ in Ontario)

Admission in Schools

Getting children admitted into a public school may prove difficult depending on the area you will be living in. Parents should ensure that they try and enrol their child into the school before the beginning of a new term due to the competition and less availability.

What is required to get admission in a school?

  • A document which proves your child’s age (passport or birth certificate)
  • Proof of address (Bank statement or electricity bill)
  • Proof of guardianship if child is under the age of 18 and not living with parents
  • Immunisation records
  • School reports along with samples of past school work

Public Schools

Expat children are able to attend public schools for free and day care opportunities are available throughout the country for children from the age of five.

The public schools in Canada have an excellent high score in international student assessments making the quality of the schools exceptional. Therefore, parents may want to choose which area to live in depending on the schools in that particular area after doing their research about the best suited schools available to their children around them.

Expats will find that many public elementary and secondary schools are free of charge for students with a residence permit, however those without a PR will need to pay tuition fees which is determined by what region you are in and this can start from around 8,000 to 14,000 CAD per year.

In different regions of Canada the same schooling system does not take place and the curriculum will differ. The curriculum is a reflection of the area where children are taught the history, geography and culture of that particular area.
In public schools, children will be taught some of the same subjects as their own country which includes English, Maths, Science, Art, and Social studies as well as many others.

Private Schools

Many parents in Canada prefer to send their child to a private school because of the better facilities and range of extracurricular activities as well the highly trained teachers that are available. Private schools are funded by student tuition fees and private sources. With small classes and a more prominent standard of education each
school offers its own curriculum and teaching styles.

Private schools fees range from CAD 8,000 per year up to 40,000 CAD for private boarding schools. This is another factor which will depend on the location and how good the school is.

Majority of the private schools are based in the cities and near the Canadian border which all have their own admission criteria. You should ensure that you have all of the documents required as well as proof of immunisations and previous school records.

International Schools

As well as public and private schools, expats will find that there are also international schools in the country that they are able to send their child to. Expat parents may want their child to continue learning in their own foreign language, with the same curriculum and some international schools will offer this.


Students who have graduated from high school choose to go to college or university and Canada has more than 90 colleges and universities. The most popular universities in Canada are – The University of Toronto, The University of British Columbia in Vancouver and the McGill University in Montreal. Other students may decide after high school that they want to do a full time job or attend community colleges.
University may not be cheap but tuition fees compared to other countries can definitely be afforded. Also keep in mind that there will be other costs for books, accommodation, school administrative fees, travel and other expenses.

Health and Medical Care

Canada’s healthcare system is of a high quality with highly experienced medical staff with the option of having your own private healthcare insurance as well public health insurance for permanent residents and citizens of the country.
Expats who are permanent residents of Canada and all citizens are able to apply for public health insurance where they are able to get low cost medical access to doctors and health practitioners or even free medical care.

Each region in Canada will have its own health services and health insurance card which residents will need to obtain. If you have moved to the country to work, you will notice that many Canadian employers offer additional healthcare coverage to employees and families i.e. physiotherapy, chiropractic treatment and prescription drugs. These costs are covered by the employer but the costs which are not covered; the employee will be required to pay a few hundred extra per year. Expats will also be considered for the public health care insurance if their visa is for more than six months, but there might be a waiting period of three months before you are included in this health care.

The inconvenience of the healthcare system that Canadians experience is usually the waiting times which can be very long, where people are waiting up to four weeks just for a consultation and then at least six months or more for surgery.
The public healthcare system is provided by Medicare who is funded by the government for all medical services i.e. Doctors, Nurses and hospitals mostly which are privately run. Temporary residents will not meet the requirements for the same benefits.
In some cases the rules of Canada may require expats to go through a medical examination before entering the country. This will be done by Canadian authorities or in a Canadian embassy. This is typically done if you are a long term immigrant in Canada.


Medicare is an insurance system which is very well known and where people are able to get public and private healthcare when in the country. However, in Canada expats will discover most medical practices and hospitals are only private.
A health insurance card will be required if you are being treated by Medicare and foreign nationals are able to apply for this when they have a permanent resident status in the country. To get a Medicare insurance card, it can take up to three months, so again it is highly recommended that private insurance coverage is taken out.
Below is a list of some of services that are covered and not covered by the health insurance Medicare. Please note this can vary in each region

What is covered by Medicare What is not covered by Medicare
Visits to family doctor or specialist Dental services
Medical procedures which are necessary Ambulance services
Drugs given by the hospital Optician care / Glasses
Hospital stay Prescribed outpatient drug
Physician Services
X-Rays, Most Immunisations and Lab Test

Non-insured services are services which are also not covered by Medicare or the government. Some of these include but are not limited to:

  • Circumcision of newborns
  • Cosmetic procedures – i.e. removals of skin tags, moles etc
  • Medical examinations as part of an annual check up
  • Immunisations
  • Examinations and diagnostics or other services at the request of third party purposes such as employment, travel or immigration

Private Healthcare

If you are temporarily in the country, it is advised that you invest in private health insurance to cover any medical costs where you will receive high quality treatment from well trained professionals. Furthermore residents in the country will also have private healthcare for the services that are not covered by the public health insurance.
Private healthcare insurance can help pay for a broader cover including hospital rooms, glasses, dental care and more, but the insurance policies do vary so please check this with where you are living or your local GP. The most popular private insurance services are: ETFS, TIC and Blue Cross.

Insurance for private health care is from $50 to $70 a month for individual coverage and can go up to $200 per month to cover two dependents. However, premium cover does tend to be more expensive.
Applying for a health insurance card

When expatriates are moving to the country, it is highly recommended that a medical card is applied for straight away.
To apply for a health insurance card, an application form will need to be filled. These can be obtained from a local pharmacy, doctors surgery or even online. Expats will be required to show proof of identification – i.e. a birth certificate or passport as well as the documents confirming permanent residency. Expats will then be eligible to receive Medicare treatment. As well as this, in some territories each family member will receive a unique personal identification number with a health card.
Do note that there is a standard three month waiting period to receive a health insurance card.

Emergency Medical Services

In the case of an emergency an ambulance can be called for by dialling 911. A highly trained paramedic will provide an excellent service at the scene of an emergency.

Pharmacies and Medicines

In Canada pharmacies are located in all cities and can be easily located. Pharmacies are located in drug stores, large department stores and grocery stores as well hospitals and medical clinics.
Most prescription medicines are provided at many pharmacies but they can be expensive, so receipts should be kept so that costs can be claimed from Medicare or your private health care insurance company.

Banking in Canada

Banking in Canada is safe and secure being ranked the world’s best systems in the world with 8,000 branches and 18,000 ATM’s across the country. Expats are able to connect to their home country bank accounts with most of them having international banking options and with some allowing expats to open a bank account before arriving in the country.

Expats who have set up their account before moving to Canada must make sure that they activate their account when they have arrived. When you do this, you will need to provide details of the address you will be staying at and original immigration documents.
There are many banks in Canada, some of the popular and largest ones include: Royal Bank of Canada, Bank of Montreal, Deutsche Bank and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce all offering many services such as online banking and access to all accounts.
As an expat you should ensure that you open a bank account as soon as possible to assist transactions from your home country. Major bank accounts will have offers for new arrivals in the country as well as monthly fees attached to current accounts.

Documentation required by Banks

The documents required when opening a bank account:

  • Passport and Work Permit
  • Drivers license
  • Letter from employer to verify income
  • Letters of reference from a bank in your home country
  • Social Insurance Number
  • If you are activating your account you will need to show an IMM 142 document (temporary residents) or an IMM 5292 (permanent residents)

Candian Money

The currency in Canada is the Canadian Dollar (CAD) divided into 100 cents

Coins Notes
5 cents 5 CAD
10 cents 10 CAD
25 cents 20 CAD
1 CAD 50 CAD
2 CAD 100 CAD

Taxation System of Canada

When working in another country, expats are required to find out information about how much taxes they will pay and how it will be calculated.

Paying tax will also depend on your residency in the country – For example:

  • Expats who have been in Canada for longer than 183 days will be considered as a resident. This means they will be taxed on money earned anywhere in the world.
  • If you are not a resident (Been in the country less than 183 days) you will only need to pay income tax on the money you have earned in Canada.
  • Tax is calculated based on your income; Expatriates who have a higher bracket will pay more tax, whereas those who are in a lower bracket will pay low tax.

    Please note: You will not be expected to file a tax return when earning money as there is a PAYE system in place unless you are self employed.

    When expats are submitting a tax return, both systems can be calculated on one form unless living in Quebec.

    The two systems in place are:

    1. Federal taxation
    2. Provincial taxation

    If you file a tax return, you need to make sure that the return includes all income that is earned worldwide. These must be submitted by 30th April each year, if this is submitted late you will be expected to pay a small fine.

Transport and Travel

Expats in Canada will have a variety ways of travelling around the country with a first-rate system for public transport.
Canada has many transport services – Railways, Buses, Trains, Ferry networks as well as long distance bus services. These are all available in the major cities such as Toronto and Vancouver.

Using a train is a comfortable way of getting to places and a good way of seeing Canada’s scenic views and countryside. With the different services from economy class to business and sleeper plus people of Canada would say a train journey is of a very high quality.

The national train provider is ‘Via Rail’ which will take you to many Canadian cities and small towns comfortably providing a reasonably priced, comfortable and efficient service as well as free WIFI.

Train costs are fairly reasonable but the fees will be more than using a bus, however if you are booking in advance or there is a group of you travelling, you may be able to get discount.

Larger cities in Canada all operate on an urban railway system, with majority of them being underground metro.

Bus and Coach Travel

As well as train services, there are many bus services that you will be able to use in the country. With the traffic in some large cities, expats may prefer to use the bus as it is safe and cheaper than taking a car. Furthermore, the bus services are of good quality with a comfortable and reliable travel system every city has its own transport.

Canada’s major bus system provider is ‘Greyhound Canada’ which operates in nearly 1,100 locations offering on board toilets, free WIFI, air conditioning as well as other things to make your journey comfortable and more efficient. Expats may find the same services on other bus networks in their own cities.

Coach travel is generally used when travelling long distances, and this is alternative way to plane travel. Many of the routes for coaches are in the south eastern between Windsor and Quebec City. Coach companies include: Greyhound, Orleans Express and Coach Canada.


If you would rather travel on a plane around the country when travelling long distances this is possible with the 26 airports that are part of the national airport system. Tickets are usually bought in advance for domestic travel and could be a little cheaper than buying it on the day. Canada has the second largest fleet of civil aircraft being known for having a safe and successful civil aviation.

Air Canada is the national air line with domestic flights going around the country. Other airlines include WestJet and Porter but however only cover a few routes in Canada as well as local and regional airlines.

Ferries and Ships

Travelling on ferries and ships is very convenient when travelling between the Atlantic Provinces, from the mainland to the island off the coast of British Columbia. Ferry services are available all year round connecting the mainland and islands.

Booking in advance is recommended for drivers, but pedestrians and cyclists will be able to go on without booking in advance.
Some of the ferry services in include: BC Ferries, Traversier and Bay Ferries all being reasonably priced.


Many people prefer to get a taxi due to public transport not being so reliable or not coming on time.
To get a taxi in Canada they can be booked over the phone, called for on the street or caught from a taxi rank.
In most of the Canadian cities, there are more than a few taxi companies around. The charges of a getting a taxi are fairly expensive and drivers will expect a 10-15% tip along with the metered fares.


Cycling is another popular means of transport in Canada when the weather conditions permit it. Expats will find that most cities and towns will have cycling paths making this a convenient way of getting around.
The same rules and road regulations are followed by cyclers and you are required to wear helmet for your own safety.

Driving in Canada

Driving in Canada is very widespread; in fact in majority of the countries driving is the most preferred transport method that is used to get around.

The qualities of roads in Canada are excellent with some routes being unpaved and driving on the right hand side will be something you may not need to adjust to if it is the same in your home country. The Trans Canada Highway spans the entire country and expats will discover that there are many toll roads in Ontario, most of them being bridges crossing the border into the United States of America. There are also hazards driving in the evening as there is a danger of running into wild animals on the road.

Requirements for Expats

Expats wanting to drive in the country will need a valid license; however they may be able to use their foreign driving license for a few months. Eventually they will need to take a driving test to get a Canadian driving license, taking the test in the region that they live in as well as having an eyesight test. When applying for a driving license you will have to pay a fee, this can be expensive depending on your driving record, once a license has been received, it will need to be renewed regularly.

Young adults will start learning to drive at 16 years of age and then can drive without supervision at the age of 17; this may be different based on where you live. Drivers are expected to carry their driving license when on the road as well as carrying a copy of their vehicle registration and insurance.

All Cars must be insured and registered with individual’s provincial or territorial government. This will protect the driver financially in an accident case. Insurance costs can be expensive but will vary so it is advised that expats do their research on different insurance companies regarding the policy.

Canada has a lot of snowfall especially in the winter so you must drive safely, slowly and carefully. The government attempts to maintain the roads and larger Canadian cities are usually prepared. Some bridges and roads may be closed due to the weather and drivers are usually prepared for this by keeping supplies in their car.

Here is a list of some of the supplies that should be kept in your car during heavy snowfalls

  • A shovel
  • Blankets, emergency food and water
  • Snow chains that fit your car tyres
  • Windshield washer fluid
  • Ice scraper
  • Snow brush
  • Cell phone
  • Salt or sand
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • A fuel system de-icer
  • Warning device i.e. emergency lights

Speed Limits

The speed limit varies in Canada and clear signs will be displayed on the roads indicating them

  • Highways: 60 mph
  • Rural Highways: 55 mph
  • Municipal Streets: 30 mph
  • Major urban roads: 37 mph

Note: If you are caught speeding you can expect a fine and points on your license

Removal Services in Canada

Most expats moving to Canada will want to ship their furniture or personal possessions. However, people will find that shipping is quite expensive and most items can be purchased again for a less price than shipping. Expats who choose to ship their items will through either the east or west coast as they are home to big efficient ports.

Before making an agreement with shipping companies, expats are advised to research and get quotes from different providers.

Expats moving to Calgary or other inland Canadian destinations will find that a combination of delivery methods will be required so therefore will be prove very costly.

Communications in Canada

Expats moving to another country will want access to communication methods to contact their loved ones; Canada offers a variety of services for you to use.


In Canada, expats will come across different companies offering telephone services providing different packages.

One of the popular and largest companies used by Canadians is ‘Bell Canada’, This company offers all the telephone, internet and TV system services so this could be done as a package if you are looking for a company for access to the internet. You may find that in the province you are living in, they might have their own local companies offering similar services such as Telebec, Sasktel and many more.
To set up an account with a telephone company, you will need to contact them and give them your general details. The company may ask for an ID and proof of address as well as an installation fee. Before the telephone line is set up, expats will undergo a credit check or will be asked for a deposit.

Payment of telephone will then be taken on a monthly basis through direct debit. If you have more services with the same company such as Internet and Satellite, you will receive one bill which will cover the cost of everything.

The telephone numbers have 10 digits, which includes the 3 digit area code and then the further 7 digits of your own personal number. Expats using a mobile phone will need a local area code. When dialling to another country, you must dial 011 and then the country code.

Mobile phones are highly used by everyone, whether it is to ring people or to use the internet you may find a wide range of good packages to suit you with the local mobile phone companies.

Some of the mobile phone providers include: Bell Mobility, covering the whole country, Bell Aliant which covers the eastern part of Canada and Sprint Canada which covers Ontario as well as a few others covering the whole of Canada.

Please note: In remote areas of Canada, mobile phone coverage may be limited with a poor connection


Using the internet is very widespread across the country with companies offering affordable and reliable broadband services. Canada has a few internet providers covering the whole country and some will cover your local area only.

Majority of the internet companies will offer packages including telephone and television which expats could get at a discounted rate. Speak to your local internet provider to see what they have to offer before deciding on different companies for each service in your house.

The largest internet provider is Bell and Rogers. These both have a nationwide coverage offering other services. When opening a new account with Bell they will have many benefits as well as offering new customer free equipment and installation. Rogers may also offer free installation depending on what promotions are available at that time.

To open an account with an internet provider, you will be required to show documentation and complete a service agreement showing original copies of an ID and utility bill as well as paying a deposit for the service. Payment for internet services will be also taken monthly, if you go over the usage of internet you have then an extra charge will be added.

Post Office

Post Canada is one of the national postal services in the country sending post for both residential and business purposes. The rate of sending packages will depend on the weight and the size of the parcel as well as the address of where it is being sent. Expats sending to their home country will have to pay much more for sending the package.

Many Canadians, who live in a remote area, will prefer to open a mailbox in the post office due to post being delayed. This will ensure that mail is received quicker and there is a less chance of losing post. You will be charged a small fee for this and to get this opened you will need to speak to your local post office or local depot.

Leisure Activities in Canada

In your spare time you may want to see or do something different and Canada offers a variety of things with 36 national parks, skiing, renting holiday homes and much more. Whatever territory or province you are living in you will definitely find something to do.

Winter Sports: Winter sports in Canada can be enjoyed all year round with going skiing, snowboarding and curling in Banff and Whistler attracting people from around the world.

Ice Hockey: If you are a fan of sports Canada is the place to be with Ice hockey being the most popular and most played sport in the country for both adults and children. Other sports include Canadian football, Basketball and Baseball all ways to keep fit and busy.

Golf: Another popular sport in the country which is laid back and enjoyable by many. There are quite a few golf courses with most of them being governed by the Royal Canadian Golf Association. Expats will meet many members who take part in competitions and golf tournaments. Majority of the golf courses will offer lessons if you are new to the sport.

Tourist Attractions: There are many places that you can visit in the country which are very popular. One of them being Niagara Falls which is one of the most popular natural wonders of the world.

Expats will also have the opportunity to attend events and festivals which are held annually with each area having their own having a variety of things to see. Some of the festivals held are:

British Colombia: If you are a fan of Jazz and folk music, you will find many music festivals around British Colombia. Vancouver Island has its own festival each year also hosting the largest Alcan Canadian International Dragon Boat Festival in North America.

Expats will come across arts and other multicultural celebrations which they can be a part of and enjoy.

New Brunswick: New Brunswick holds a Lameque International Baroque Music Festival where you can enjoy music through period instruments with choirs, orchestras and soloists.
Another popular event here is the Shakespeare by the Sea Festival which is community based and promotes artistic work focussing on William Shakespeare.

Quebec: Festivals in Quebec showcase a collection of music and film festivals in the year. There are lots of things to enjoy at the events including theatre productions, arts and concerts. Expats can join in competitive boating events and also the Regina Dragon Boat Festival which is attended by nearly 20,000 people every year.

Ontario: Ontario has most of the festivals and events in the year which include music festivals, grape and wine festivals where people can sample wines and cuisines as well as other entertainment.

Prince Edward Island:
As well as music and theatre festivals, here expats who enjoy food can take part in the International shellfish Festival. You will get the chance to learn from celebrities and gourmet cooks on how to prepare your favourite dishes

Canada’s Cuisine

Canada offers a variety of dishes and cuisines with the same types of food eaten around the world. The Canadian cuisine comes from English, French and Scottish routes having many different dishes. Dinner could range from meat to vegetables, pizzas and stir fry or any other specialities from other cuisines.

One of the popular dishes Canadians enjoy is Quebecois dish poutine, this is a dish which has crispy French fries with fresh cheese curd and a meaty gravy. Enjoyed throughout the country, it is available in restaurants and also made by people at home.

Tourtiere is another well-liked dish throughout the country but traditionally eaten at Christmas or New Years Eve. This dish is available all year round in restaurants

Other Canadian National dishes:

  • Beaver Tails: A deep fried dough pastry dish served warm and topped with butter, fruit, sugar and cinnamon.
  • Montreal Style Bagels: A sweet wood fired bagel
  • Yellow Pea Soup: Made with yellow split peas and a ham bone
  • Figgy Duff: Boiled pudding which contains flour, butter, sugar and raisins.
  • Maple Syrup

Canada’s Event Calendar

Canada has many events where expats will be able to meet others and socialise with other expatriate families. These are all celebrated annually and draw millions of visitors in each of the provinces and territories. Some of the festivals and events are listed below.

Igloo fest: A large winter festival held at the Quays in Montreal where visitors can enjoy dance and music over four weekends.

Quebec Winter Carnival: This is one of the top 20 events held in the country and is probably recognised as the world’s largest winter carnival. The Quebec festival attracts thousands of visitors of all ages who are able to take part in snow slides, giant foosball, sleigh rides, skating and snow baths.

Winter City Festival: A 14 day festival held for winter in Toronto which offers different cultures, food and outdoor events.

Calgary Winter fest: A family event which is held for 11 days celebrating winter with music, dance, carnivals, snowboarding competitions and much more.

Canada Day: This is a national holiday which celebrates the anniversary of 1st July 1867 when Canada became a new federation with its own constitution. A holiday and day off celebrated by all of the country

St Patricks Day Parade: This is another event which is held every year and is one of the largest and longest running parades. It has an appearance with a giant replica of St Patrick starting a three hour parade of floats, marching bands, cultural groups and thousands dressed in green.
Bard on the beach: This festival is held in the summer where productions of professionally produced plays by Shakespeare are shown. Anyone who enjoys theatre productions will enjoy this festival.

Winnipeg Folk Festival: With a reputation of being one of the best festivals, it showcases 250 talented musicians in all genres including blues, Celtic and blue grass music.

Celebration of Lights Festival: A celebration of light festival which is held over 2 weeks showcasing a fireworks bonanza. It is one of the largest competitions in the world.

Pacific National Exhibition: An annual summer fair in British Columbia with live music performance, sporting events, concerts and amusement rides.

Toronto International Film Festival: One of the largest publicly attended film festivals in the world.

The Pacific National Exhibition: A non profit organisation which is hosts a 17 day summer fair and amusement park in Vancouver. This is usually in August and ends in September on Labour Day.

Labour Day: Celebrated in September which is a day to campaign for and celebrate workers rights by having parades and picnics.

Getting Expert Help in Canada

Moving to the Canada will be challenging for some Expatriates however with the help and advice services provided, it will make it an easy move for you.

Removal Companies

These companies will help you in sending furniture to Canada from your home country:

Paragon Relocation: A global management company which provides domestic and international relocation services. Website: www.paragonrelocation.com

Team Relocations: Another global company which provides corporate employees a one stop shop for all relocations necessary. They will also assist small companies with all they require during employment process. Website: www.teamrelocations.com

Orbit: A leading international moving and shipping company which offers door to door service around the world. Website: www.orbit.com

Resources for Jobs and Visas

  • Adecco Recruitment Agency – http://www.adecco.ca
  • Canada Job Bank – www.jobbank.gc.ca
  • Service Canada – www.servicecanada.gc.ca

Other Services

Citizenship and Immigration Canada: This website will advice expats in what visas are required and permanent residency status information www.cic.gc.ca

Business Network International Canada: This is known as the largest business network and business referral organisation. – http://www.bnicanada.ca/

The Canadian information centre: Has an online facility which can tell you if the work you want is a regulated profession. It will guide you and will be able to provide you with the requirements that are needed to obtain any licenses that you may need.

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