When you arrive in Canada on a working holiday to complete the immigration process and get your work permit, there are certain items you must bring with you. It’s also helpful to know in advance how the process of arriving in Canada typically works. This page guides you through that process.
Note: This page provides an overview of arriving in Canada on an IEC work permit during “normal” times. Certain changes have been made during the Covid-19 pandemic, altering who may travel to Canada and activate an IEC work permit, and how. Please refer to our IEC News Hub for more details.
What do I need to bring when I arrive in Canada?
Arriving in Canada should be smooth if you have every important document on you personally. Most IEC participants arrive in Canada at an airport, but you can also arrive in Canada at a land border — more on that below.
Let’s start with the most crucial items:
- Your passport
Don’t lose it along the way!
- Your Port of Entry Letter of Introduction
This is a crucial document. Bring your POE letter with you to Canada and show it to a border services officer at the port of entry. This letter is not your work permit. Rather, you must show this letter to officials at the port of entry when you arrive in Canada to get your work permit. The letter is typically valid for up to 12 months, so make sure you land in Canada while it remains valid.
- Proof of a valid insurance policy
Yes, it’s mandatory. No, you can’t purchase a shorter policy and extend your work permit validity later. No ifs, no buts, so make sure you get the longest possible work permit validity by getting the right travel and health insurance product for you. Learn more here.
- Proof of funds
CAD $2500 or more shown on a bank statement dated within seven days. This can be an online bank statement. Try to tread somewhat comfortably above that $2,500 threshold as your date of arrival in Canada approaches — imagine if you were denied a work permit because exchange rate changes in the few days before your arrival means you are now a few dollars short? Yeah, don’t be that person.
- Proof of return travel out of Canada or additional minimum funds to purchase a flight ticket
If you plan on visiting home or another country other than Canada within a few months, consider buying that flight ticket before arriving in Canada. First, you can save up front by purchasing a return ticket. In addition, you can avoid having to prove additional minimum funds you’ve earmarked for booking a flight out of Canada in the future. If you choose to arrive in Canada without a return flight booked, bring at least an additional $500-$1,000, depending on how much a flight home would typically cost.
You must have each of the items listed above. If you fail to provide any of these, there is a strong probability that you will not be granted a work permit. Moreover, it’s wise to bring a physical printed copy and an electronic copy, saved on a device you are carrying such as a smartphone. All it takes it for the person seated beside you on the plane to spill their coffee for your documents to be ruined — but everything will be fine if you have an electronic back-up to present.
Here are some additional items we recommend you have on you on arrival in Canada:
- Details of the bilateral agreement between Canada and your country
Each IEC bilateral agreement is different, meaning that there are slight differences in the agreements Canada has with different countries. On rare occasions, applicants who have a legitimate application for a work permit that should have a validity of 24 months are given a work permit for 12 months. Other applicants have reported issues with the details on their work permit. Canadian border officials are, for the most part, friendly, knowledgeable people, but sometimes they don’t know each agreement inside-out. Help them out by having a copy of the relevant agreement with you, but only present it if, and only if, you spot a potential error on your work permit when it is given to you.
To find details of the agreement between Canada and your country, visit this page and scroll to the drop-down menu towards the bottom.
- Printed copies of police certificates
In the past, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has recommended that IEC applicants arriving in Canada bring with them original copies of documents provided in your application. While the chances of needing to produce your police certificate(s) on arrival in Canada are very low, there is no harm in having it with you.
- Proof of your medical, if you needed to take one
As above, this is another one that is handy to have with you, but it’s very unlikely you’ll be asked to present it. (Note that most IEC participants do not need a medical.)