Prepare for arrival

The Government of Canada funds many free pre-arrival services online or in person to help you prepare for life in Canada. After you have received your permanent residency papers and if you are still living outside Canada, pre-arrival services can help you:

  • Understand life in Canada.
  • Find a job in Canada and access labour market information.
  • Learn about language and other skills for adapting to Canadian society.
  • Learn about the free settlement services available after you arrive.

You can register for many services as you need at no charge. Several that may be helpful include:

  • Access - Canadian Employment Connections provides online services in English and French to help internationally educated newcomers find jobs in engineering, financial services, human resources, information technology, sales and marketing, and supply chain.
  • Build ON helps prepare new immigrants to work in the skilled trades in Ontario.
  • Canadian Apprenticeship Forum provides online services in English and French to help newcomers prepare for apprenticeships and find work in skilled trade professions.
  • Planning for Canada provides in-person and online services in English and French pre-arrival orientation sessions to economic class and family class immigrants.
  • PrepCan provides online pre-arrival employment services in English to economic immigrants, their spouses and adult dependants. You can get information on Canadian labour market, help with resume and interview skills and, job search.
  • Pre-arrival Food Safety Management Training Program provides online services in English and French to help skilled individuals with the tools and knowledge needed to work in the food and beverage industry in Canada.
  • provides pre-arrival webinars, resources and a personalized settlement plan to help you start preparing for your move to Canada.

Visit the Government of Canada's website to search the full list of pre-settlement services.

Arrival documentation

There are several documents you must carry with you to enter Canada and other documents you may need as you settle into life in Canada. Prepare your documents carefully and consider having important documents translated into English or French before you arrive.

The following are essential documents for entering Canada and should be carried with you at all times. Do not put them in your luggage:

  • Confirmation of Permanent Residence for each family member travelling with you or a Canadian immigrant visa (if applicable)
  • A valid passport or travel document for each family member travelling with you
  • Two copies of a detailed list of the personal or household items you are bringing with you
  • Two copies of the list of items that will arrive later and their monetary value

You may also need:

  • Children's vaccination or immunization records
  • Birth certificates or marriage certificates
  • Adoption, separation or divorce papers
  • Diplomas, professional certificates and licenses
  • Driver's license
  • Other

Check the Government of Canada's website for up-to-date information on documents you need.

Bringing money into Canada

Canada's currency is the Canadian dollar ($CAN). You can bring money when you enter Canada in different forms (i.e., cash, traveller's cheque, stocks, bonds, etc.). When you arrive, you must tell a border official if you are carrying the equivalent of $10,000 CAN or more and fill out the Cross-Border Currency or Monetary Instruments Report - Individual (E677). If you do not declare your money, you may face a fine or other penalties.

The Canada Border Services Agency website provides more information on entering Canada with $10,000 or more.

At the airport

Toronto Pearson International Airport is your gateway to and from the world. It is located in Mississauga, about an hour away from Waterloo Region. Closer to home, the Waterloo Region International Airport is located in Breslau and offers connectivity to destinations in North America. When you arrive at a Canadian airport from abroad, you will pass through customs and collect your luggage. At customs, you need to provide any arrival documentation and make any declarations about currency carried.

You should plan in advance for getting from the airport to your destination in Waterloo Region. Share your flight information with your ride and carry their contact information in case you need to get in touch with them after you arrive at the airport. Before you arrive, you should consider:

  • Getting a friend or family member to pick you up.
  • Booking an airport transfer.
  • Arranging for a taxi.
  • Booking a limousine.
First steps on arrival

Your first days in Canada will be very busy. It is important to take the time to register for all of the programs and documents that you'll need. In your first days, you should:


There are several types of insurance you will want to protect yourself in Canada.

  • Health: People living in Ontario receive many free health services and treatments through the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP). Additional health insurance may be available through your employer or individual plans purchased through an insurance company. It takes at least three months to become eligible for OHIP, so apply right away. You should consider buying temporary private health insurance while you wait.
  • Housing: If you are a homeowner or a tenant in Ontario, you should get insurance to protect your home and its contents.
  • Life: The Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association provides information about life and health insurance.
  • Car: All drivers in Canada must have car insurance to protect against the high cost of accidents, theft and vandalism. The Insurance Bureau of Canada  provides information about car insurance in Ontario.

See for more information.

Transferring skills and licenses

How you are able to transfer your skills and licenses to work in Ontario depends on whether you seek work in a regulated or non-regulated profession.

A regulated profession is controlled by provincial or federal law and governed by a regulatory body. If you want to work in a regulated job, you must be certified by the regulatory body. It can take some time to get a license. If you were trained outside of Canada, you may want to get a non-regulated job in your field first. This can be a good way to gain experience.

A non-regulated profession has no legal requirement for a license. The majority of Canadian jobs are non-regulated. Applicants will still need to demonstrate their experience and training to employers.

The Government of Canada's Job Bank allows you to find out if your occupation is regulated or not.

Whether your occupation is regulated or not, it is good to know how foreign credentials will be assessed in Canada. You can start the credential assessment process before you arrive in Canada. The process takes time and includes administrative fees. There are many organizations that can assess your credentials.

Transferable skills are skills that can be used in many different situations or types of work. These skills can be taught, but most are gained through life experience. Exploring the skills you already have is an important part of the job search process.

Permanent Resident Card

Your permanent resident card is one of your most important documents in Canada. Keep it in a safe place. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada provides information about how to apply for, renew or replace your card.

After you arrive: Book free settlement support

A settlement worker is your first connection for information and support when you arrive in Waterloo Region.

Settlement services are available in a variety of locations across Waterloo Region, in both official languages - English and French. Many other languages are also available through multilingual staff at settlement agencies.

Make an appointment to have a free settlement needs assessment where you and your settlement worker can identify what services and information will help you.  


Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada