So, you want to move to Canada, eh? Well you have come to the right place. We have been through the whole process and have since been living in Vancouver for just over 2 months. When we decided to make the move we blindly went through the process, not exactly sure if what we were doing was correct. During that time we wish we had a step by step guide to help us make the move that much easier. The decision was made that once we worked it all out we would share with you all everything you need to know about moving to Canada.

And here we are … one year since deciding to make the move, sitting in our little apartment in Vancouver writing this post. We are here to help all you wanderlusters out there with your move to the amazing country of Canada. 

Step 1. Apply for a working holiday visa

The working holiday visa for Canada (officially called the International Experience Canada visa) is available to people from a number of countries (see the list here) and for most countries you need to be between 18 to 30 years olds. As we are both Australians we can live and work in Canada for up to two years, but it varies for citizens of other countries.

Applying is super simple. First, you need to ensure your country is eligible for this visa by checking here. Once you know you are eligible to apply you need to make an account on Kompass. After your account has been created you just go through the process online, and submit scanned documents such as a copy of your passport, criminal record, and resume. There is no interview (unlike the US visas) so it’s nice and easy!

The fee for the visa is $150 Canadian dollars.

Once you have your Letter of Introduction, that’s all you need to do visa-wise until you enter Canada!

Step 2. Choose the area you want to live in and book your flights

Canada is a very large country with a lot of options. I recommend doing research into each area to see what fits you best. We chose to move to Vancouver for many reasons, which you can read here. You may choose a certain provence depending on its climate, work opportunities, close to people you know … it’s up to you!

Once your decision has been made then its time to book your flights. We always book with Skyscanner as it seems to be the site that gets us the best deals. If you are flexible we suggest choosing the month you want to move, instead of an exact date. That way you can choose the whole month option on Skyscanner and see what day is the cheapest to fly. By doing this we were able to get a flight from Australia to the USA for 400$!

Step 3. Organise your travel insurance

One of the requirements of the working visa is that you have valid insurance for the entire duration of your stay in Canada. It can get a little pricey, yet is so important! We paid $1986 AU for both of us that covers 12 months in Canada under the premium option with 1Cover Insurance. Our first choice was World Nomads, however they don’t cover high value items and we are travelling with a lot of camera gear (we are a little obsessed).

They say you need to have proof of insurance at immigration when you enter Canada, so ensure you have the Certificate of Insurance printed out. In our case they didn’t ask for it, but better be safe then sorry!

Step 4. Finding a place to live

This can be a tricky step. You may have never been to this new city you are moving to before. How will you know what area you want to live in, do you want to have your own flat or move in with people you have never met, what is your budget, will I find work in the area? Many, many questions to think about.

As we are a couple we wanted to find a place to call our own and we knew we wanted to be near the train line as we wouldn’t be getting a car anytime soon. We highly, highly suggest that for the first few months you do what we did and grab yourself an Airbnb. You can find a fully furnished apartment in the area you are wanting to check out. You then simply live there for a month or two while you suss out the area and neighbouring areas and you wont need to buy any furniture or utensils as the Airbnb will have it all sorted for you. Once your Airbnb is up you would of had enough time to work out what area you want to live in, have bought yourself some furniture and hopefully landed yourself a job.

We were able to find a place on Airbnb for $1300 AU a month and that gave us time to work out what we wanted to do next without being locked into anything.

Step 5. It’s immigration time

When you enter Canada, whether it’s via an air, land, or sea port, you’ll need these things:

  • Letter of Introduction (the proof you’re eligible for the working holiday visa, sent to you via email after you’ve gone through the process in Step 1).
  • Certificate of Insurance for the duration you want to be in Canada for.
  • Proof of funds of over $2500 CAD (a bank statement or similar).
  • An exit ticket from Canada
  • Your passport.

Once you arrive in Canada you will be asked to go into a separate area for immigration to organise your working holiday visa. The lines can get long so ensure you have left plenty of time if you do have any connecting flights. Luckily for us we didn’t as ours ended up taking over 3 hours due to a new system the officers were still trying to work out.

Step 6. Getting a Social Insurance Number (SIN)

Before you can get a job in Canada you need to have a SIN. A SIN is the equivalent of an IRD number, tax number, or Social Security number. This number will be used to set up your bank account, get a job, and do anything official within Canada.

To get a SIN you need to head over to your local Service Canada office, tell them you are wanting to set up a SIN and then have a quick interview before receiving your SIN on the spot. You will need to show them your passport, your working holiday visa and simply answer some basic questions like your birth date, mother and father’s name etc. Oh, and its free!

Step 7. Open a bank account

This process is just like how you would do it at home. Choose a bank (Canada has many – CIBC, TD Canada Trust, RBC, BMO and Scotiabank – are the big 5). I suggest simply do your research in which bank best suits you. We ended up going with Coast Capital as it had no monthly fees, a branch was close to home and came with a Visa Debit card for online purchases. To open an account you just need to bring along your passport with working visa attached, SIN, a mailing address (which is on your SIN card) and a cash deposit.

Step 8. Time to find a job

This can definitely be the hardest part of it all. It is all dependant on what you want. I sourced out a job via Indeed, but there are a tonne of different job websites if you type in “Canada Job” into google. It took me 2 weeks to find a job in a department store, but the pay isn’t the best. If you want to work at a ski resort you would need to start looking around September before ski season starts. My advice to you is make sure you have plenty in savings to give yourself time to land the job you want to have.

Step 9. Enjoy Canada

Canada truly is a breathtaking country, your choice to call Canada your new home is a good one. Make sure you take time to explore, go hiking, see snow, go cycling and enjoy your new adventure.

Whistler Blackcomb

I really hope this has helped those wanting to move abroad. If you are deciding to make the move, or if you already have an living in Canada we would love to hear your stories!

Stephen and Jess signoff


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