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People standing in a Canadian airport and reading a digital Canada Arrivals Board. Taking proactive steps after landing in Canada can help you to settle smoothly.

In all of your excitement when you get your confirmation of permanent residence, it’s important to consider the first things to do after landing in Canada. Because it’s now time for the next step along your immigration journey. Your Canadian journey will begin when you have completed all the paperwork, including medicals, packed your belongings, and said your goodbyes. And, after your arrival in Canada, you can take these proactive steps to build your life in Canada!

What to Expect When You Land in Canada

Knowing what to expect when you land will contribute to a smooth experience.


One of the first people you will meet at your point of arrival in Canada will be a friendly Canada customs agent. You will deal with the goods you’re carrying, goods to follow, and landing certificates here. You’ll also meet other officials from Immigration Services. They will ask you to show your passport and visa papers.


Immigration agents will give you application forms to apply for documents such as your:

  • Permanent Resident (PR) Card
  • Social Insurance Number (SIN) card
  • Health care card
  • Driver’s license.

You will need these documents to help you find a job, and get provincial healthcare coverage in place. It’s important to start the application process for these documents soon after your arrival in Canada.

When Will I Receive My Permanent Resident (PR) Card?

The immigration officer will tell you when you can expect to receive your PR Card. It may take up to two months to get your PR card from the date that you completed your application. You can check processing times here.

You will receive your wallet-sized plastic PR Card in the mail. If you do not receive your PR card within the time-frame indicated by the immigration officer, you can check the status of your application here.

Your PR card is proof of your Canadian permanent resident status. You will need this card whenever you leave Canada and want to re-enter.


Important First Steps After Landing in Canada

Once you’ve made your decision to immigrate, it’s time to look ahead confidently. You’ve already done so much to prepare for Canada, so trust yourself, enjoy the journey, and plan to take the following steps when you land in Canada.

1. Find Housing Accommodation

A big first step is to find accommodation in Canada. While you will have arranged temporary accommodation from your country of origin, now it’s time to find a suitable and convenient place to rent long term.

Ideally, you want to find a place that meets your needs and is relatively close to your employer. If you’re moving to a large city like Toronto, pay attention to how dispersed the city is. It can take up to 90 minutes to travel within the Greater Toronto Area by car or public transit, so factor travel time into your location decisions.

Rentals for Newcomers is a great place to easily begin your search for the perfect rental in cities right across Canada. While it’s good to research the housing market in Canada before you arrive, the best time to search for housing is after your arrival in Canada! This will allow you to visit properties, meet the landlord, and avoid rental scams.

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2. Apply for Your Social Insurance Number (SIN)

Apply for your SIN within the first week after your arrival in Canada. Without this number, you cannot get a job, apply for any government programs and benefits, or access credit. In fact, without it, you are virtually a person without an identity in Canada. There is no cost for you to get your SIN.

 3. Apply for your Health Care Card When You Land in Canada

You will need to apply for a health care card when you land in Canada to receive free medical coverage in the province or territory where you plan to live. It’s important to apply for your health care card as soon as you land because there may be a waiting period before you are eligible for provincial health care coverage. For example, if you plan to live in British Columbia, your coverage begins three months after your arrival date.

If you are landing in a province that has a waiting period, you can buy private insurance to cover you and your family from unexpected healthcare costs during this time. Currently, a waiting period applies to permanent residents in British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Yukon, Northwest Territories, Quebec, and Saskatchewan.

Only in some provinces, such as Ontario, will your healthcare coverage begins as soon as you arrive.

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Settle in Canada with Confidence and Ease

4. Get Support from Settlement Services Before and After You Land in Canada

There are many immigrant service agencies across Canada to help newcomers settle. Settlement agencies provide information and many free services to help you adjust to life in Canada. Some settlement agencies even offer pre-arrival services before you land in Canada.

Learn About Free Pre-Arrival Services

If you’re still in your home country, learn more about free pre-arrival services:

Already in Canada? Discover Free Post-Arrival Services

If you have already arrived in Canada, you can search for free post-arrival services in cities across Canada here.

These are a few examples of the types of services that you can take advantage of:

Free Language Training:

It’s a great idea to improve or enhance your English or French language skills because it’s critical to newcomer success. Language training may focus on basic English skills only, and may not be enough to help you succeed in the work environment. However, many colleges and industry associations offer higher-level English training to help you with:

  • Business English courses
  • Job-specific or occupation-specific language training to help you with jargon and other work-related phrases.

Host Programs:

Some organizations may offer a host program. This is a volunteer-based program that matches immigrants with a host who can guide them through their first few months in Canada. Your “host” can help you with questions you may have such as:

  • Where to shop
  • How to find housing
  • How to enroll your children in school.

Settlement Counselling:

Immigrating to a new country can be an emotional time. You may feel frustration, regret, and homesickness. Immigrant settlement agencies are there to support you with counselling for you and your family.

Job Search Services Before and After You Land in Canada:

Immigrant settlement agencies are also a great first step to help you with your job search. For example, they can help you to:

And, many settlement agencies offer programs to assist your job search before and after you land in Canada.

For information, tools, free webinars, and more visit our Finding a Job in Canada resource page. Get the help you need to achieve your career goals in Canada!

Mentorship Programs:

You can also ask the settlement agency if they offer a mentorship program. Mentoring programs can connect you with someone who works in your occupation and can give you information and tips about how the industry works in Canada. Mentoring can be a great way to find a job and help you succeed in the workplace.

5. Set up a Bank Account

Another priority in your first few days will be dealing with your finances. Select a bank or a credit union near your home or work and open a bank account right away. To open an account, you will need your landed immigrant papers and any other identification you have to prove your place of residence. You can even open a bank account before you arrive in Canada.

Banks provide different types of bank accounts including basic savings and chequing accounts. You may need a chequing account in particular because many employers will pay you by making a direct deposit right into your bank account.

Slowly, you can build a good relationship with your bank, and start building your credit history. One way to build credit is to apply for a secured credit card and then a traditional credit card. With a secured credit card, you provide a cash deposit in case you are unable to pay your bills. To build a strong  Canadian credit history, it’s important to pay your bills and loans in a timely manner. Your credit history will help you when you want to get a mortgage to rent or buy a home, or get a loan to start a business.

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6. Enroll Your Children in School When You Land in Canada

Of course, one of the main reasons you are planning to immigrate is no doubt to give your children a better future. That starts with education. The Canadian education system guarantees education to everyone. In Canada, every child between the ages of five and 18 is entitled to attend school. You are required to enroll your child in school as soon as possible after your arrival in Canada.

There are progressive levels in the Canadian education system for children:

Kindergarten: At age five, children enter the school system in Kindergarten

Primary or Elementary School: After they complete Kindergarten, they attend primary or elementary school for grades 1 to grade 7 or 8, depending on the school district.

Secondary or High School: From grade 8 or 9 through to grade 12, children attend secondary or high school. Some school districts have a junior high school level between elementary school and high school.

By taking these proactive steps, you’ll be off to a great start in building your life in Canada.

For more information about living and working in Canada, check out our free webinars! We’ll provide you with the essential information you need!