Five things to do in your first week as a permanent resident or foreign worker in Canada

Vimal Sivakumar
Published: December 7, 2023

For all new permanent residents or foreign workers arriving in Canada, the following represents five steps that these newcomers must take in their first week after arriving in this country.

While it is important to look toward the future as a recent newcomer to Canada, it is equally as important to ensure you take the right steps upon your arrival in this country to ensure that you are properly positioning yourself for long-term success as a new permanent resident or temporary foreign worker.

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Presented in no particular order, the list below outlines five initial steps to success as a foreign worker or new permanent resident in Canada.

1. Obtain health insurance

Regardless of which group you fall under when you arrive in this country, all foreign nationals are advised to quickly secure health insurance in their province or territory of residence. Health insurance is important because it ensures that you will not have to pay full out-of-pocket costs for healthcare in this country.

Depending on the province or territory you will be living in, you may need to wait a designated length of time before you are eligible for public health insurance. This means that you may require private health insurance* in the meantime to ensure that you are covered in case of a medical emergency.

Note: All residents of Canada will also benefit from following up with their employers about health insurance policies if they already have a job in Canada

*Private health insurance is recommended for all residents of Canada, even as a complement to public health insurance, because there are limitations to what each provincial/territorial government covers with their public health insurance plan

Click here to learn more about health insurance in Canada.

2. Update your address with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC)

In order to receive your permanent resident card and other IRCC documents/correspondence by mail, the immigration department must be made aware of your residential address in Canada. The Canadian government notes that newcomers have 180 days (roughly 4 months) upon landing in Canada to update their address online with IRCC.

To learn more about permanent resident cards for new Canadian immigrants, click here.

Click here for more information about the work permit process in Canada.

3. Open a bank account

A bank account is a necessity for all immigrants and foreign workers in Canada. This is because these accounts, which are available from a variety of institutions that all have branches and offices across Canada, allow permanent residents and temporary foreign workers to manage their daily spending and pay their bills. Bank accounts, in other words, are essential for controlling the flow of income and expenses for all residents of Canada.

Note: Many Canadian banks also have specific offers for newcomers to this country

Learn more about opening a bank account in Canada here.

4. Obtain a Social Insurance Number (SIN)

A SIN can be obtained at the nearest Service Canada location in your city of residence. SINs are attainable for any newcomer who has a legal status in Canada that allows them to work in this country (such as an immigrant or foreign worker). This number is a unique and confidential nine-digit identifier that is required by your employer to facilitate the payment of wages.

For Canadian immigrants: A resource for finding work in Canada

For Canadian foreign workers: A resource all about working in Canada

5. Get a cellphone/phone number

In today’s digital age, immigrants and temporary foreign workers in Canada must obtain a cell phone to stay connected to friends and family, both locally and abroad.

The Canadian telecoms landscape provides many options for newcomers with respect to cellphone providers, each of which offers a range of plans and devices at varying price points depending on an individual’s needs.

Note: The variety of available device and plan options makes it crucial that Canadian immigrants and foreign workers explore all available options before committing to a carrier or plan.

Additionally, newcomers to Canada should be aware that most telecom companies typically require consumers seeking a post-paid phone plan to have a Canadian credit score.

In some cases, certain providers will allow newcomers to access post-paid plan options if they have a good enough international credit score (checked at the point of sale). Newcomers who are initially ineligible for a post-paid plan may opt for a pre-paid option and switch to a post-paid plan once they build their credit score.

Visit this dedicated webpage for more information on obtaining a cell phone in Canada.

Discover if You Are Eligible for Canadian Immigration

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