You’ve made it. After all the dreaming, the planning, and the constant refreshing of your online IRCC account, you’ve finally arrived in Canada.
You’ve done some unpacking, and the roommates in your hostel seem nice. But what to do next?
Here are some of the essential things you’ll need to do during your first week in Canada.
1. Get your SIN
Your Social Insurance Number is a nine-digit number that you’ll need to work in Canada. It’s similar to the PPS number in Ireland, the National Insurance Number in the UK, or the Tax File Number in Australia. If you’re in Canada on a temporary work permit, your SIN will begin with a ‘9’.
You can apply for a SIN at any Service Canada office, and if the queues are short, you should have it all sorted in about 30 minutes. Be sure to bring your work or study permit with you.
Our SIN Canada guide has more information on what you’ll need.
2. Set up a bank account
Banking in Canada is convenient, but many account types will have charges that may be higher than you’re used to paying at home.
Nonetheless, it’s important to get one set up so you can manage bills and debit card payments, and avoid potentially costly withdrawals from your home account.
Bear in mind that each of these banks usually have monthly fees associated with their chequing accounts (known as ‘current accounts’ in other countries). The average Canadian will spend $220 in fees each year.
Read our guide to help you find the best bank in Canada for you.
3. Get a local cell phone plan
There’s nothing enjoyable about researching and comparing phone plans. It’s even less enjoyable when you’re jet-lagged, and inclined to explore your brand new surroundings.
But this exploring will be made easier when you have a local data plan, and can find your way on Google Maps. The earlier you get a local phone, the more you’ll avoid costly roaming charges from your home provider. And if you’re on a two-year visa, and considering entering a two-year contract, you’ll want to align these as best you can.
Bear in mind that caller ID, and even receiving local calls, can incur charges. Our cell phone plan in Canada guide goes through what you need to look out for.
4. Begin your apartment search
If you have no Canadian credit history or local references (like most immigrants), you may be at a disadvantage, as some landlords will give preference to applicants who can provide these. If you come across this, you’ll just have to keep trying until you find a landlord who’s more flexible.
In my experience, it also helped to make enquiries using a Canadian cell phone – I found landlords far more likely to answer a local number compared to calls in my first few days from my Irish phone.
Websites like Craigslist and Kijiji will have listings. Padmapper also acts as a good aggregator. Some of these listings will be out-of-date – usually, the only way to tell is by calling or emailing the person who put up the posting and find out.
Check the ‘Where to live in…’ sections in each of our City Guides for information on the different neighbourhoods you’ll have to choose from in your area.