Six Things New Canadians Should Do After They Arrive In Canada

Date posted: Feb. 20, 2017
Six Things New Canadians Should Do After They Arrive In Canada

by Kathleen Keenan


Moving to a new country can be stressful and overwhelming — especially right after you arrive. There are so many different things to do, including setting up your banking, figuring out employment and learning about what government benefits you may be entitled to. Fortunately, there are many settlement agencies and government offices dedicated to helping new Canadians figure out what to do and how to do it. These tips from Steve Vanderherberg and his colleagues at WoodGreen Community Services will help you set up the basics and plan for your future in Canada.

1. Apply for a social insurance number (SIN) and a health card. You’ll need a SIN in order to get a job and apply for government benefits, and you’ll need a health card to access health care at hospitals, clinics and doctor’s offices. To apply for both, visit a Service Canada Centre. You can find the closest one to you at

2. Open a bank account. You will need a bank account to get paid when you work and receive government entitlements you may be eligible for, like the Child Tax Benefit. Many banks have special offers for new Canadians, such as no-fee accounts that last for six months. Make sure you ask about what offers are available to you and don’t be afraid to compare different banks to see what best fits your needs. Look for a financial institution with branches that are convenient for you or branches that offer services in different languages, if necessary.

3. Apply for benefits you’re entitled to, such as the Canada Child Benefit. New Canadians with children are eligible for this benefit right away and Vanderherberg says it can be very helpful for a family to start receiving this money as soon as possible. You may also be eligible for the GST/HST credit. You can apply for both on Canada Revenue Agency’s website.

4. Start building up a credit history. You’ll want to start building up your credit history right away, Vanderherberg advises. That way, you can qualify for borrowing money and better interest rates earlier. Pay your utility bills and mobile phone bill on time. If you can qualify for a credit card, you can often automate these payments with your credit card or use a secured credit card that you have pre-funded as you establish your credit — just remember to pay off your balance for regular monthly bills like phone and utilities in full every month. Using a credit card to automatically make the payments can be an effective tool in building a credit rating.

5. Determine your financial goals. Vanderherberg recommends thinking about your short-term and long-term goals — from finding a job to buying a house — and setting a budget to track your expenses against your income as you work to accomplish them. (If you need some help understanding a household budget, click here.

6. Find a trustworthy, unbiased source of advice, such as a settlement agency. There are a number of organizations that help new Canadians figure out everything from getting an apartment to learning English to finding money lenders. You can visit Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s website at to find a list of settlement agencies in your area. For help with personal finance, look for an organization that offers financial wellness seminars or counselling, Vanderherberg says. Some organizations will even help you file your taxes.

Moving to a new country may be overwhelming, but there are organizations out there to help, so follow these steps to find them. Once you have these six steps completed, you’ll be ready to move on to essentials such as looking for a job, registering your children in school, finding language classes and getting a driver’s license.

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