Moving to Canada from the USA: 5 Things to Consider


Moving to Canada from the US should be well planned since you will be moving into a new culture and way of life. Canada is a lovely country and a melting pot of cultures and nationalities.  People world over love the country since you can retain your cultural values but still embrace a new identity. Canada boasts of duality in language with English and French being the official languages. Other factors that attract immigrants are world-class cities, healthcare, education, political stability, work opportunities, and public infrastructure.

Proper planning will account for the difference between a smooth or overly terrifying experience. Moving into a new culture, new regulations, and a new environment and integrating is no doubt a daunting task. However, the culture shock can be lessened by taking on board a number of considerations. They include:

Visa Process

You require a visa if you are planning on moving to Canada from the USA.

There are different categories of visas depending on what takes you to Canada. For permanent residency, the Express Entry System is a point-based system that offers applicants a way of getting into Canada and settling. You will get scored according to the Comprehensive Ranking System based on factors such as age, health, education, skills, and work experience.

A high score compared to other candidates will earn you an invitation to apply for permanent residency.

Most Appropriate Time to Move

The timing for your move to Canada will influence your overall experience.

It is recommended that spring or summer is the most appropriate time to move and settle in Canada. During these warmer months, it is easier to acclimatize to the new climate and environment, find a job and settle into the new job, and meet and socialize with people. Canadian companies typically start hiring from the months of March/April and are less likely to hire over the winter months.

Winters in Canada can be very harsh and it helps if you can arrive and acclimatize in the warmer months as opposed to suffering the shock of landing there in the middle of winter. Regions of the prairie and other interior provinces experience harsh winters dipping to -40°C  and snow may last for as many as 6 months.

Additionally, it is good to plan adequately for the new school year if you are moving with the family and have school-going children.

The school year in Canada commences in the first week of September meaning you should get there in good time to prepare adequately. Education in Canada is free up to grade 12 for young children and you can choose to further your studies at many world-class universities and colleges.

Regulations for Shipping Personal Possessions

There are some personal possessions that you would want to bring with you when moving to Canada.  Some of these items may include vehicles, pets, alcohol and tobacco, drugs, and gifts. The most important consideration is the requirement to pay tax for some of these items and knowing what applicable tax laws.

Vehicles coming into Canada must meet a few requirements such as safety and pollution regulations outlined in the Motor Vehicle Safety Act. Vehicles that are to be used for business will attract taxes when being shipped into Canada.

Check for the limits on the amount of alcohol and tobacco you can bring into Canada and applicable taxes for specific brackets.

US citizens moving to Canada should keep in mind that it is illegal to smoke in all public areas such as hospitals, offices, restaurants, stores, and workplaces. It is also prohibited to smoke in shared areas of apartment buildings and other rental complexes.

There are regulations and even outright restriction for some prescription drugs which you need to know about if you are on medication and need to carry with you the drugs you are using. Confirm with the relevant authorities if you are allowed to carry with you prescription drugs that you are using and what are the options if it’s a restricted drug.

In line with prescription drugs, enquire if you need any vaccinations before entering Canada. For some categories of people, there are no vaccinations mandated before moving to Canada even though there are recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) for US citizens.

You must declare all animals entering Canada.

If you have to move with your pets, they must meet some strict requirements such as a rabies certificate and other vaccination certificates issued by a licensed veterinarian. These certificates must include information such as animal breed, weight, color, the serial number and business name of the veterinarian, and the duration of immunity given by a specific vaccine.

Depending on your destination in Canada, you may not be permitted to bring in certain breeds of pets such as in Ontario and Winnipeg. Check local regulations to confirm if your pet breed is allowed there.

Medical Examinations

For people seeking to stay longer than six months, a medical examination is required and will entail filling a questionnaire and a physical test by an Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) approved physician. The medical exam is mandatory if you have lived in specific countries for a period of more than 6 months.

Cost of Living and Transportation

The cost of living in Canada varies from city to city and from province to province and is slightly higher than in the US.

Cities such as Toronto and Vancouver are comparably more expensive to areas such as Aurora where Paradise Developments has affordable homes. You may need to budget adequately on how to settle and survive since it may take months before landing a job. The average hourly rate in Canada is about $27 and the average annual salary is about $76,500.

Transportation is yet another big consideration since your driving license may not be valid in Canada.

You may be required to get take driving tests before you are issued with a Canadian driving license. Public transportation is superb and efficient with options ranging from rapid transit systems, taxis, ferries, and light rail.

In conclusion, it will be in your best interests to familiarize yourself with Canadian culture and way of life, to build networks even before you move, find accommodation in advance, and work with professionals in navigating the complicated and competitive Canadian immigration process.

Jeff Campbell

Jeff Campbell is a husband, father, martial artist, budget-master, Disney-addict, musician, and recovering foodie having spent over 2 decades as a leader for Whole Foods Market. Click to learn more about me

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