Moving To Canada

Moving To Canada

There are plenty of​ sites offering information​ on​ how to​ apply for​ a​ Canadian Immigration​ Visa and​ many more offering services (paid of​ course) to​ help you​ do it. One of​ the major issues I had during the immigration​ process was the actual move itself and​ what happens when you​ arrive. I have received plenty of​ emails through my information​ website,, asking for​ additional help and​ advice about what forms are required, what to​ expect at​ the Canadian customs and​ what to​ do when they first arrive in​ Canada.

I won’t pretend this​ article will answer all questions for​ everybody, but I’ll be giving as​ much background as​ I can with more, detailed information​ backing it​ up from the website in​ the text or​ by links to​ the appropriate authority. I’ll start with one of​ the biggest headaches – the house sale (if​ you​ own) and​ packing up for​ the move.

Packing Up

When it​ comes to​ moving house there are several theories as​ when to​ put the house up for​ sale. Basically, we were told to​ wait until called for​ medicals as​ at​ least then you​ are over half way through the process. We were lucky in​ that we had somewhere to​ go, so we put the house on​ the market as​ we just wanted to​ have it​ sold and​ out of​ our hair! Even then, as​ "Our Story" shows, we had trouble. if​ you​ own your​ house you​ need to​ asses the local housing market and​ though its always a​ gamble, plan your​ house sale and​ know at​ what stage in​ the immigration​ process you​ will put it​ up for​ sale.

Everyone’s circumstances are different, but once the visa is​ issued, you​ only have 12 months from the date of​ your​ MEDICALS to​ physically land​ in​ Canada. One big worry I had was that we wouldn’t be able to​ sell the house quickly which in​ turn would delay our landing. if​ you​ miss the 12 month deadline, you​ will probably have to​ redo the medicals at​ a​ fair cost and​ then resubmit form there. or​ you​ could land​ in​ Canada with your​ house unsold back in​ your​ native country with all the problems that entails. With many people’s houses being their main​ source of​ settling funds, you’ll need to​ have that money in​ the bank as​ soon​ as​ you​ can after landing.

if​ there is​ anyway you​ can find temporary accommodation​ then to​ have the house sold is​ one less headache you​ need when you​ are moving countries. you​ may pay rent for​ a​ while but at​ least you​ know what is​ in​ the bank when you​ arrive in​ Canada and​ this​ allows you​ to​ budget properly for​ your​ new life.

We used the whole exercise to​ get rid of​ all our old or​ unwanted things and​ start again. it​ comes down to​ economics if​ it​ costs more to​ insure, store and​ ship something than its worth. The decision​ on​ whether to​ insure or​ not is​ a​ personal choice and​ depends upon​ the value of​ the items you​ are shipping and​ don't forget to​ take into account any excess fees you​ have to​ pay in​ the event of​ damage or​ losses. you​ will need to​ build a​ list of​ all the items you​ are bringing into Canada and​ give their values in​ Canadian dollars.

this​ is​ probably easiest to​ take it​ from the inventory drawn up by the packing company – give as​ accurate assessment of​ value as​ you​ can but don’t spend weeks on​ it. if​ you​ have a​ box of​ kids toys for​ example – put your​ best guess at​ the value on​ the list as​ follows:

1. Box of​ assorted used kids toys C$100.00
2. Box of​ photographs No commercial value
3. Queen size bedC$850.00

and​ so on. you​ will be expected to​ have several copies of​ your​ packing list and​ a​ form B4 (Goods to​ follow) with it​ upon​ your​ arrival so make sure you​ have at​ least 3 copies in​ your​ hand​ luggage. Its ok to​ have too many but a​ pain​ if​ you​ don’t have enough!!

you​ will also need a​ similar list for​ any items you​ bring with you​ on​ the day of​ arrival and​ also any other subsequent shipments (we had an​ extra large box of​ things couriered in​ a​ totally separate shipment just before we left).

The chances are you​ will be using a​ specialist international moving company to​ move your​ possessions to​ Canada. Depending upon​ where you​ are moving from, you​ may have a​ long wait for​ your​ things to​ arrive at​ their final destination. you​ may also decide to​ store the property in​ your​ home country while you​ find the home of​ your​ dreams so make sure you​ allow for​ storage charges and​ extra insurance. These charges soon​ mount up and​ can give you​ a​ nasty surprise.

One thing I’ll say about the moving companies is​ that you​ are paying them for​ a​ service, if​ they are a​ good company they will be able to​ advise on​ the correct paperwork etc and​ formalities that will ensure a​ smooth arrival and​ customs clearance in​ Canada. you​ don’t need your​ shipment to​ be turned away from the port of​ entry (very expensive when they order its return to​ the original port of​ departure) or​ you​ end up liable for​ extra taxes etc. because of​ incorrect paperwork. you​ may well be able to​ have it​ repaid once you​ prove it​ is​ legitimate but you​ will still be out of​ pocket in​ the short term.

Most shipping agencies charge by the cubic foot and​ have several schemes offering different rates - "share a​ container" or​ "Full container". The Full container service will have the container packed and​ sealed at​ your​ residence. The shared container service will see your​ possessions packed at​ your​ residence and​ then transported to​ the companies’ depot. Once there it​ is​ packed with other items to​ complete a​ container.


As with everything, your​ circumstances depend on​ whether you'll bring any pets over with you. There are strict rules to​ be adhered to​ for​ the Importation​ of​ Animals - as​ with most countries - so please ensure you​ fully understand​ what is​ required.

There are a​ few things to​ consider - if​ you​ are going into rented accommodation​ on​ your​ arrival having a​ pet will seriously restrict your​ choice of​ home. The local bylaws concerning pets are fairly strictly enforced leading to​ large fines if​ broken so make sure you​ understand​ them!
Make sure any inoculations are in​ date and​ you​ have the records. Also, it​ isn't cheap to​ transport animals so bear that in​ mind too. Its worth delaying the arrival of​ your​ pet if​ possible to​ give you​ time to​ settle in​ and​ complete all the arriving formalities with one less thing to​ worry about. After a​ long and​ stressful journey do you​ really need to​ stay at​ the airport for​ several hours while the vet inspects your​ pet and​ completes all the necessary paperwork? Then you​ have to​ organise the transport to​ your​ accommodation​ (if​ they take pets) with a​ stressed out animal!

At the end of​ the day, moving countries is​ enough of​ an​ upheaval without leaving the family pet behind. That was the case for​ us so we brought our 3 year old Golden Retriever "Boris" over about 2 weeks after us. Boris was in​ kennels for​ 2 weeks prior to​ his departure during which time he had a​ custom travel kennel made for​ him and​ time to​ get used to​ it. All the necessary paperwork and​ vets examinations were handled by the shipper and​ he was booked on​ a​ scheduled flight. on​ the day of​ the flight he wasn't put in​ the kennel until the last minute before loading which kept the time in​ the kennel restricted.

When we collected him all the paperwork was in​ order and​ all we had to​ do was go to​ the customs hall in​ the Calgary Terminal (pay a​ C$30.00 import duty) and​ then return to​ the cargo terminal with the release paperwork to​ collect one seriously excited dog!

Arrival Day

I guess it​ would be the worst nightmare if​ you​ landed without the correct documentation​ so hopefully we can help avoid that! it​ is​ essential that these items are carried in​ your​ Hand​ LUGGAGE and​ not packed away in​ a​ suitcase. All the Immigration​ processing takes place before you​ reclaim your​ baggage.
your​ Canadian Immigrant visa and​ confirmation​ of​ Permanent Residence for​ each family member with you.

A valid Passport or​ other official travel document for​ each family member (normally must have a​ minimum of​ 6 months left before expiry).

Sufficient funds to​ cover your​ living expenses for​ 6 months.
Two copies of​ a​ detailed list of​ ALL the personal or​ Household items you​ are bringing with you. These lists must state how much the items are worth in​ Canadian Dollars.

Two copies of​ a​ list of​ items to​ follow - if​ you​ are shipping things later. Again, the values in​ Canadian Dollars must be shown.

for​ the goods to​ follow we used the insurance values we had stated to​ make it​ easier (as described above) and​ had made detailed lists of​ everything to​ come and​ in​ what shipment they were in. The Canadian Customs and​ Border Crossing Agency (CBSA) are responsible for​ enforcing the laws and​ provide the form B4 for​ personal effects accounting. you​ should receive a​ checklist and​ detailed instruction​ on​ what is​ required for​ your​ arrival in​ Canada when you​ receive your​ immigration​ visa’s I know when we had our visa's issued they were accompanied by a​ checklist of​ documents.

if​ you​ have any questions please contact your​ nearest High Commission​ or​ the CBSA BEFORE you​ leave your​ home country – one good tip is​ to​ ensure any important documents or​ transcripts are translated into English or​ French as​ required (if​ they aren’t already) before you​ arrive . for​ a​ more detailed overview go to​ our Customs and​ Immigration​ page.

It may be advisable to​ carry any other personal documents in​ your​ hand​ luggage as​ well. The Citizenship and​ Immigration​ Canada E-Book “A Newcomers Introduction​ to​ Canada” gives excellent advice on​ this​ matter.

As with most countries around the world, Canada takes its security extremely seriously and​ will not bend the rules for​ anybody. The guidelines are quite straight forward and​ to​ ensure a​ problem free arrival its imperative you​ stick to​ them. There are two main​ pamphlets available to​ assist you​ depending upon​ your​ circumstances.

RC4151 - Settling in​ Canada is​ the document to​ guide you​ if​ you​ are settling in​ Canada for​ the first time or​ after being abroad for​ over 3 years (for​ Canadians)
Also, for​ those who are moving to​ Canada to​ study or​ work temporarily the pamphlet RC4220 Entering Canada to​ Study or​ to​ Work will be your​ guide.

Ensure all your​ possessions you​ bring with you​ are listed with values in​ Canadian Dollar have two copies ready - one to​ keep and​ one for​ the officials. to​ speed things up when you​ land​ you​ can download and​ print the forms B4 and​ B4A from the CBSA website. It’s best to​ have all your​ lists typed out to​ make life easier for​ the officials. Also, you​ will need the same forms for​ the goods to​ follow (if​ any). No import tax or​ duties are payable on​ settlers personal and​ household effects as​ long as​ you​ have owned, possessed and​ used them prior to​ arrival in​ Canada. if​ possible try and​ find any receipts and/or registration​ documents to​ support this.

There is​ also a​ scheme for​ wedding gifts if​ you​ are newly married or​ about to​ be married within​ 3 months of​ your​ arrival in​ Canada. it​ is​ worth noting that any items you​ will be using for​ commercial purposes will be subject to​ regular duties at​ the current rates.

With the recent international clamp downs on​ terrorism and​ money laundering it​ is​ essential that if​ you​ physically carry on​ your​ person, over C$10,000 or​ foreign equivalent in​ cash, bonds or​ securities you​ report it​ to​ the customs official. There isn't any limit on​ settler’s funds but failure to​ follow the rules may result in​ the seizure of​ the cash and/or big fines. See the pamphlet RC 4321.

Good Luck!

Moving To Canada

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