A Guide to Moving to Canada (2021 Update)

Thinking of moving to Canada, the second largest country in the World, where 87% of the population are reported to be either happy or very happy? Take a look at our guide with some hints and tips to help you on your way.

Canadian Landscape - international removals to Canada

A fact you may be surprised to hear, is that 50% of the population of Canada were born in other countries. What makes it such a desirable place to emigrate? Why are people moving to Canada in their droves? We’ll look at that later, for now let’s give you some help as to “how” rather than “why” when you are moving to Canada.


Updated Travel Details to Canada (September 2021)

As of 7th September 2021, Canada is opening up its borders for foreign nationals who qualify for a fully vaccinated traveller exemption. To qualify for this, you need to have had a full series of an accepted Covid-19 vaccine at least 14 days prior to the day you enter Canada, as well as being eligible to enter and meet other entry requirements such as a pre-entry test.

The accepted Covid-19 vaccinations include the Pfizer-BioNtech, Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines. Good news!

For more details take a look at the Government of Canada website on Covid-19 travellers entering Canada.

How to get a Visa for Canada

Once you have checked out whether or not you are able to travel, you will then need to apply for an Electronic Travel Authorisation (eTA). This takes a few minutes, a valid passport, an e-mail address, a valid credit or debit card and a payment of CA$7 and once approved they are valid for up to 5 years.

From there, you have a few options relating to you own personal requirement, as to whether or not you need a Visa or permit and which one you will require.

If you are visiting for up to 6 months, you may only need the Electronic Travel Authorisation, but if you are planning on moving to Canada to work or study you will need to apply for a work or study permit.

To check whether or not you need a visa, and which type, then there is a simple questionnaire on the Government of Canada website that can direct you with only a few simple questions.

If you work in a skilled job, you may be able to apply to live permanently in Canada using Express Entry. The first step would be to again visit the Government of Canada website and answer a few questions to find out if you are able to apply. If you are successful in this first step you will be put into a pool of candidates and possibly invited to apply for immigration. Find the questionnaire here, good luck.

Going to School in Canada

One of the reasons for the desirability of Canada as a place to move, is possibly the education system that they have. The literacy rate in Canada is 99% with 90% of residents aged 25 to 64 having a least a high school education.

Education in Canada is a high priority of the Government, they have a strong and well-funded system, which is managed provincially. This does mean though, that there are a few differences between the provinces such as the compulsory education age for example (16 in all provinces except Ontario and New Brunswick which is 18) so we would suggest you check the specific province’s information before making any decisions based on education.

Education in Canada is generally available to children the year that they turn 5 years old (again there are variations in some provinces) and international students may choose to study in either English or French, although are not required to be fluent in either to by allowed to study in Canada.

There are also thousands of private schools across Canada, some religious based, so there is some choice when it comes to how your children are educated, although both private and public schooling is at a high standard due to the high level of Government funding.

Working in Canada

There are many career paths available for you if you are a skilled worker and are willing to work hard (don’t expect an hour off for lunch!) Canada is looking for educated people to relocate there, and after completion of studies 93% of graduates find a job in their chosen field of study.

There are a variety of roles that are in demand, ranging from general labourer and truck driver to more administrative jobs such as Human Resource manager or project manager, meaning that there is invariably something for everyone. Tech jobs are in very high demand as well, and Web Developer is amongst the most sought-after professional that is required, as well as jobs in the video game industry.

Canadians also love their pets, so if you are a qualified Veterinarian looking to move to Canada, you may find your application for Express Entry is given the green light.

So, there are many diverse roles available for someone who is looking to relocate to Canada to seek gainful employment.

What Else is There to Do?

It’s not all work, work, work however, so if you are thinking of moving to Canada you’re probably just as interested in how you can spend your leisure time. Canada has an abundance of freshwater, with over 2 million lakes, streams and rivers. In fact, it has one-fifth of the world’s freshwater. So, if you are a fan of fishing there is plenty of opportunity for you anglers to enjoy your leisure time catching fish (if you’re lucky!)

The national winter sport is Ice Hockey, with the national summer sport being lacrosse, although soccer is becoming a lot more popular especially with children. Baseball is also popular, and the Toronto Blue Jays are Canada’s only Major League Baseball team.

Unsurprisingly, with the striking scenery, camping and hiking are both popular, so when you are planning on what to take with you when you move to Canada make sure you’ve got a sturdy pair of boots.

The Canadian Healthcare System

Canada’s healthcare system is in fact very similar to The UK’s, in as much as the government uses tax income to provide essential medical services for free. This is known as Medicare. Again, as with education, this is managed provincially meaning that the standard of care, and the services you receive, can vary depending on where in Canada you live.

Once you are a permanent resident you are able to apply for a public health insurance card, which you must show when you are using public health care services. Even if you do not have a health card, all of the provinces will provide free emergency medical services, although this could depend on your immigration status.

There are limitations to the tax-funded Medicare in Canada, and the coverage can differ depending on the province in question. In general, items not covered by Medicare include prescription drugs, dental treatment and ambulance services, and private medical insurance is available and widely used by Canadians as a top-up to the cover given via the tax-funded Medicare system.

Driving in Canada

If you are planning to visit Canada on a temporary basis, you can drive on a UK licence for 3-6 months (depending on the province) but you should also apply for an International Driving Permit (IDP) Once issued this is valid for one year. If you are planning on moving to Canada as a permanent resident you would need to apply for a Canadian driver’s licence, the process differs depending on the province (as usual!) but may include a written exam and up to 2 driving tests!

It’s compulsory for seat belts to be worn, and if you get caught not wearing one there will be a fine. As with the USA (and the majority of other countries around the world) you need to drive on the right-hand side of the road in Canada, and there are other differences to UK driving that you’d need to get used to if moving to Canada.

For example, in some provinces, headlights are required to be switched on during the day and the night and throughout most of Canada turning right is permitted on a red light unless a sign tells you that you cannot.

Similarities with the UK include the fact that is illegal to talk on the phone, unless “hands-free”, or text when you are driving. Get caught doing this and you are looking at another fine. Speed limits are fairly similar in built up areas (50km/h or 31mph) with some exceptions as with the UK. Motorway limits differ, and can be up to 120km/h or 75mph down to 90km/h (55 mph) depending on the province.

The Government in Canada

One of the many things that the UK share with Canada is our Queen. She is Head of State in Canada, they are a Constitutional Monarchy much like us, and they too have a Prime Minister who is generally the leader of the political party that holds the most seats in the House of Commons. Similarly to the UK, Canadians vote for the local Member of Parliament in a national election, and the 338 members of the House of Commons are elected for a maximum of four years.

The political parties currently represented in the House of Commons in Canada are the Liberal Party of Canada, Conservative Party of Canada, Bloc Quebecois (Quebec Nationalist Party), New Democratic Party and Green Party of Canada.

Justin Trudeau of the Liberal Party of Canada is currently the Prime Minister. As with the UK the Crown does not have a role in the legislative process, other than passing a bill by granting royal assent.

The Cost of Living in Canada

As with the UK, the cost of living in Canada can vary depending on which province or city that you live in, although the differences aren’t as extreme between major cities and rural areas as some parts of the UK (for example London has a very high cost of living in comparison to other regions).

On average, there isn’t much of a difference in the wages that you can expect in Canada compared to the UK. If you then manage to find employment and a home in one of the less expensive areas to live when moving to Canada then you might find yourself with more disposable income in your bank.

Prices for household bills and amenities are lower in Canada, which helps again with that disposable income that we’d all like to see in our bank accounts once the bills have been paid.

Eating out is less expensive in Canada, and with the desirability of emigration to Canada comes with it a vast number of ethic cuisines to choose from, as well as excellent local foods. If you want to catch a film, Canada is less expensive than the UK, as with clothes shopping. However, as Canada needs to import a lot of their foodstuffs, you will find it more expensive to stock up whilst food shopping. All the more reason to go out for meals, saves on the washing up too (but don’t forget the tip).

Moving to Canada

Have we sold it to you? After researching Canada for this article, I’m even considering it myself!

Once you have found somewhere to live, gone through the Visa applications and potentially found yourself gainful employment, your next step is your move. At 1st Move International we have been safely and securely shipping our customer’s personal belongings to Canada for over 20 years.

If you are moving to Canada there are a few customs matters to contend with, forms to fill out etc, but let us and our Canadian agent help you every step of the way.

With our unique Shrink-Fast palletising technique we can use commercial consolidators with regular departures, meaning that your personal effects are securely shipped from door-to-door minimalizing delays and damages. For more information take a look at our previous article “How Does Palletising Your Personal Belongings Make Moving Overseas Safer?”

Thinking of moving to Canada? To find out more about our moving services, take a look at international removals to Canada, where you can request a bespoke quotation, or call us on 0117 982 8123 or 0800 389 0784. We hope to hear from you soon and to help you in your move to Canada.