Canada is renowned for being among the most hospitable nations globally towards newcomers, encompassing permanent residents, international students, and foreign workers. Nevertheless, the initial experience of arriving at a Canadian airport can be quite daunting.
This article aims to provide an overview of what individuals can anticipate and the necessary steps to take upon landing in Canada.
What occurs upon your arrival at a Canadian airport for the first time?
1) Identity Check
When you reach a Canadian airport, it is important to be ready for an identity verification process. This entails presenting your travel documents, such as your passport or visa, to a border services officer. Additionally, you will be required to undergo a biometrics screening, which involves capturing a digital photograph and fingerprints. This procedure aids the Canadian Government in confirming your identity and ensuring the safety of Canada.
2) Meeting Entry Requirements
Depending on your status as a permanent resident, international student, or foreign worker, different entry requirements will be applicable. For permanent residents, it is necessary to possess the Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR) along with the permanent resident visa.
If you are an international student or foreign worker, you will need a valid study permit or work permit, a valid Temporary Resident Visa (TRV), and any other documents mandated by the Canadian Government. Upon arrival, a border services officer will examine the documents related to your status and may inquire about certain matters to ensure compliance with all the necessary eligibility criteria.
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Once you have landed in Canada, there are crucial tasks that you should promptly attend to:
1) Apply for Your Social Insurance Number (SIN)
A Social Insurance Number (SIN Number) is a unique nine-digit identifier employed by the Canadian Government to recognize individuals who are employed and pay taxes in Canada. As a newcomer in Canada, it is crucial to apply for a SIN without delay, as it is required for employment, tax payments, and accessing government benefits and services.
To obtain a SIN, it is necessary to possess a valid study or work permit or provide proof of permanent resident status while being physically present in Canada.
2) Open a Bank Account
Establishing a bank account in Canada is vital for effective financial management. Canadian financial institutions offer the option to open chequing or savings accounts, providing access to various advantageous services such as wire transfers, currency exchange, and debit and credit cards with favorable rates and exclusive discounts. As a newcomer, you may be eligible for specialized banking packages like the TD New to Canada Banking Package or the TD International Student Banking Package.
The TD New to Canada Banking Package includes benefits such as a waived monthly fee on the chequing account for the initial 12 months, no annual fee on a TD credit card for the first year (subject to approval), rebates on international money transfers, and many more advantageous features. On the other hand, the TD International Student Banking Package offers benefits like a monthly fee-free chequing account (for the duration of your student status), a no-fee credit card (subject to approval), a bonus interest rate on a savings account, and additional perks.
3) Apply for Government Health Insurance
Canada’s universal healthcare system offers fundamental medical coverage to all Canadian citizens and permanent residents. As a newcomer in Canada, it is crucial to apply for government health insurance as soon as you become eligible, ensuring access to essential medical services. It’s important to note that each province and territory in Canada has its own healthcare system, so it is necessary to apply for health insurance in the specific province or territory where you plan to reside.
Discovering what other tasks to accomplish upon arriving in Canada can contribute to a seamless transition into your new life as a newcomer.
As mentioned above, healthcare is publicly funded but yes everything is not free and covered under health care. Most of the province’s covered and not-covered list as below:
What is Covered?
- Appointments with your family doctor
- Visits to walk-in clinics
- Visits to an emergency room
- Necessary tests and surgery
What is Not-covered?
- Dental Services
- Prescription Drugs
- Ambulance Services
- Laboratory Test
Every province’s health care is different from each other in terms of processing time and services provided.
4) Apply for a Driving License
In order to legally operate a vehicle in Canada, it is necessary to possess a driver’s license issued by the provincial or territorial government. It is essential to have your driver’s license with you whenever you are driving. With a valid driver’s license from any province or territory, you have the authorization to drive anywhere in Canada.
Driving in Canada differs from driving in other countries, as the country follows right-hand side driving, unlike India, where left-hand side driving is practiced. The driving regulations in Canada are stricter, and adherence to these rules is crucial to avoid penalties, demerit points, tickets, and vehicle impoundment.
Applying for a driver’s license as soon as possible is highly recommended, as it enables you to commute conveniently for various purposes. While alternative transportation options are available in cities, having your own vehicle offers greater freedom and convenience, particularly during extremely cold weather conditions.
For a certain period, you can drive in Canada using an international driving license.
Here is a brief overview of the driving rules for visitors in some of the major provinces of Canada:
Ontario: Visitors can drive for up to 90 days with a valid foreign driver’s license. After that, an International Driving Permit (IDP) may be required.
British Columbia: Similar to Ontario, visitors can drive for up to 90 days with their foreign license. An IDP may be necessary beyond that period.
Quebec: Visitors can drive in Quebec for up to 6 months with their foreign driver’s license. However, it is highly recommended to have an IDP as well.
Alberta: Visitors can drive with their foreign licenses for up to 12 months. An IDP is not mandatory but recommended.
Manitoba: Visitors can drive with their foreign licenses for up to 3 months. After that period, an IDP is required.
Saskatchewan: Visitors can drive for up to 90 days with their foreign driver’s licenses. An IDP may be needed beyond that timeframe.
Nova Scotia: Visitors can drive with their foreign licenses for up to 90 days. An IDP may be necessary thereafter.
New Brunswick: Visitors can drive for up to 90 days with their foreign driver’s licenses. An IDP may be required for longer stays.
Remember to have your license translated to English if it is in a different language.
How to apply for a driving license in Canada?
In order to obtain a driving license, you are required to undergo a vision test and a written examination consisting of two parts: one assessing basic driving rules and another focusing on traffic symbols.
Once you successfully pass the written exam, you have the option to schedule the road test simultaneously. Upon successfully completing the road test, you will be issued a Canadian driving license.
It is highly recommended to practice extensively online prior to taking the written exam. This will help you familiarize yourself with the rules and various types of questions, ultimately saving you time and money by ensuring you are well-prepared before attempting the tests.
Documents required :
- SIN number.
- (2 pieces of ID proof) BCID, BC Services Card, PR card or COPR document and Passport.
- (2 pieces of Residential proof) Lease agreement or Bank account statement and Your Utility Bill.
Upon successfully passing the written exam, the officer will review your driving license from your home country. Based on the assessment of your license, the officer will determine whether you need to undergo driving classes before scheduling a road test.
If the officer determines that your driving experience from your home country is sufficient or if your license is considerably old (based on the year of issuance), you may be allowed to proceed directly to booking a road test.
However, if you do not possess a license from your home country or have never driven a car before, the officer will advise you to attend driving classes for a specific period to obtain a learner’s license.
In cases where instructors observe unsafe driving behavior during the road test, you will be instructed to enroll in driving classes immediately.
It is important to note that without completing the required driving classes and obtaining a certificate, you will not be eligible to take a road test. This rule applies uniformly across all provinces.
Different provinces may use different names for similar types of licenses. For instance, in Saskatchewan, a learner’s driving license is referred to as Class 7, while an experienced driving license is called Class 5. Similarly, in Ontario, new drivers hold a “Level One and Class G1 license.”
For individuals who do not hold a driver’s license, a BCID card offers a valuable sense of reassurance. Serving as an official government photo identification, the BCID card provides the same level of security features found in a B.C. driver’s license, making it a trustworthy form of identification.
How to get your BCID card:
- Book an appointment at a driver licensing office
- Bring accepted ID
- Pay the fee for your BCID
We trust that this article has provided valuable information, enabling a successful adaptation during your initial period in Canada.
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