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Q.  I’m preparing to move from Pakistan to Winnipeg. I have lots of furniture, expensive jewellery and other possessions, and I am just wondering what I am allowed to bring with me?

A: As a new immigrant, you are entitled to bring with you, free of duty and taxes, personal and household effects that you owned before your arrival in Canada. These may include a range of personal possessions such as furniture, silverware, linen, books, musical instruments, family heirlooms, antiques, stamp and coin collections, paintings, boats, power tools, outboard engines — even private aircraft!

Wherever possible, keep the receipts of such goods to prove that they are your personal items for your personal use. Any valuables (jewellery, artwork and so on) must be assessed before you arrive. It would also be good to have photographs of heirlooms and other such items, as well as serial numbers, makes and models. Also, keep two separate lists of the goods that are arriving with you and those that will follow at a later date.

In terms of clothing, never underestimate the severity of the Canadian winters.
In some centres such as Winnipeg and Ottawa, it is not uncommon to suffer
–30 Celsius temperatures accompanied by howling winds. Even the West Coast can get pretty miserable in the winter. Whether you come in the summer or in winter, warm clothes are a necessity. Naturally, you will need to carry enough clothing and other necessities to tide you over until all your belongings arrive.

As far as appliances go, it is probably best to leave them behind. Electrical currents used by small appliances like lamps, radios, televisions and VCRs are 110 volts. If yours don’t conform, don’t waste the space and energy in bringing them.

Q: I’m an elderly woman moving from Portugal to Vancouver to live with my family there and I want to bring my seeing-eye dog with me but he’s quite old. Will I have any trouble with this?

A: Fortunately, seeing-eye dogs in good health, regardless of their age, can be brought into Canada from any country in the world, as long as they accompany their owners.
Domestic or pet cats less than three months of age can enter Canada for any period of time without vaccination, quarantine or certification.
Domestic cats three months of age and older can be imported into Canada for any period of time without quarantine from any country; however, there are different requirements for cats entering from either rabies-free countries or from those countries that Canada does not consider to be free of rabies.
Similarly, domestic or pet dogs can enter Canada for any period of time (permanent stays, temporary visits or in transit visits) without quarantine from any country.

Q: A friend of mine moved to Canada a few years ago and it was a nightmare for her. Some of her possessions arrived broken and other belongings went missing. What do you recommend to best prepare for a move?

A: I would advise that you have your household packing done by professional movers. They will itemize and label your belongings, making it infinitely easier to unpack at the other end. Ensure that the movers provide you with a detailed packing list as well. Word-of-mouth recommendations from friends and relatives in your home country will probably lead you to a reliable mover. Freight forwarding companies either offer freight only or can include unpacking.

As for insurance, insurance against loss or damage of your possessions while in transit is not necessarily included in your moving bill, so you might want to arrange for coverage before you hand over all your material possessions to a moving company.

A word of advice about packing the little things: as it could be some time before you will be in a position to buy such day-to-day items as cutlery, dinnerware and other essentials, you might consider bringing a box or two of such necessities from home. It didn’t take me long to regret leaving all our kitchenware behind!