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Moving to Canada from the USA can be a life-changing experience for the better, but it can also be exhausting and confusing. Whether you're moving to Canada from the USA as a US citizen or a citizen of a third country, the answers provided on this page should help to simplify some of the most common concerns.

Can I drive in Canada with a license issued by a US state?

Provided you can show sufficient driving experience, it should be straightforward to exchange your state-issued driving licence for a license issued by the Canadian province you are moving to. The exact requirements differ between the provinces. Click on the relevant link below for details:

Alberta | British Columbia | Manitoba | New Brunswick | Newfoundland | Nova Scotia | Ontario | Prince Edward Island | Quebec | Saskatchewan

Before exchanging your license, you will be able to drive in Canada on your US license for a certain period. Again, this is determined by the provinces, which typically allow you to drive for 90 to 180 days on your US license.

Will I be covered by the public healthcare system in Canada?

Healthcare in Canada is delivered through a publicly-funded system, administered by the provinces. With public health insurance, you don’t have to pay for most healthcare services. Whether or not you are covered by the healthcare system in Canada depends on two factors: your status in Canada, and your destination province.

If you are a visitor to Canada, you will not be covered.

If you are an international student on a study permit, you may be covered by the provincial plan, though most provinces require international students to take out private insurance. In many cases, health insurance is provided through the institution (college or university) you are attending, which may have a relationship with a specific provider.

If you are moving to Canada from the USA on a work permit, whether or not you may be covered by the provincial plan depends on the type of work permit. Click on the relevant link below for details:

Alberta | British Columbia | Manitoba | New Brunswick | Newfoundland | Nova Scotia | Ontario | Prince Edward Island | QuebecSaskatchewan

When you arrive in Canada as a foreign worker, you may have to wait up to three months to be approved for public healthcare after applying. Therefore, it is advised that you apply as early as possible and take out a private insurance policy to cover the waiting period.

Note that workers in Canada under the SWAP Working Holiday program or the International Experience Canada (IEC) program must take out a private insurance policy before their work permit may be activated. You can view and compare insurance options here.

Canadian permanent residents, like Canadian citizens, are covered by the public health insurance in their province of residence. New permanent residents are advised to have private medical insurance to cover the waiting period (typically three months, though this may differ by province) before being approved for public health insurance.

Will I have to file income taxes in Canada, the United States, or both after moving to Canada from the USA?

For a more comprehensive look at U.S. tax considerations for Americans moving to Canada — check out this guide!

The short answer is both if you are considered ordinarily resident in Canada, and just the United States if you are not.

In brief, you’ll be considered an ordinary resident in Canada for tax purposes if Canada is the place where you in the settled routine of your life, regularly live. So, if you work in Canada, own or rent property there and have dependents or a spouse or common-law partner, then you will be deemed as an ordinary resident of Canada.

By contrast, you will be considered a non-resident in Canada for tax purposes if:

  • you normally, customarily, or routinely live in another country and are not considered a resident of Canada; or
  • you do not have significant residential ties in Canada; and
  • you lived outside Canada throughout the tax year; or
  • you stayed in Canada for less than 183 days in the tax year.

If you are an American citizen considered to be ordinary resident in Canada, you are obliged to pay Canadian taxes, as well as filing taxes in the United States. In fact, if you earn an annual income in excess of $10,000 USD, you will need to file a 1040 Form with the United States’ Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

However, the good news is that in reality very few Americans living and working in Canada end up paying tax in both countries. This is because of the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion (FEIE). The FEIE allows single people to exclude the first $108,700 USD (for 2021) earned from US income tax by demonstrating that you reside in Canada at least 330 days a year. This means that provided you earn less than $108,700 USD per year, you won’t have to pay taxes in the United States. If two individuals are married and both work abroad and meet either the bona fide residence test or the physical presence test, each one can choose the foreign earned income exclusion. Together, they can exclude as much as $217,400 for the 2021 tax year.

However, if you do earn more than $174,600 USD per year available under FEIE exemption, or you have earned ‘non-wage’ income, the Foreign Tax Credit can ensure that your income does not get taxed twice.

Can I bring my family from the USA to Canada?

US citizens can enjoy visa-free entry to Canada as visitors, allowing you and your family the opportunity to remain in Canada, typically for up to six months per entry. However, if you plan on moving to Canada from the USA as a permanent resident, foreign worker or international student, it is important to know which family members, if any, may accompany you.

For the purposes of immigration, Canada considers accompanying family members to include a spouse or common-law partner, as well as children under the age of 22. Older children may not be included on an application to come to Canada, unless a mental or physical condition allows for an exemption. Parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and other relatives are not eligible to be included on the application.

Accompanying family members may be included on an application for permanent residence or for a study permit, as well as some type of work permit. It you are unsure about your or your family’s eligibility to come to Canada, is recommended that you speak to a regulated immigration representative for information and advice on your specific situation.

Can I bring my pet(s) to Canada?

The short answer is yes, at least in most cases, but you will have to prepare properly to make sure that your furry or feline friend can cross the border to Canada with you stress-free. Generally, almost all pet entry to Canada is overseen by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), so make sure to read the CFIA guidelines carefully. As a rule, you may need one or more of the following when bringing a pet to Canada: an import permit, a health certificate and a visual inspection.

Simple tips like contacting your airline, if you intend to fly, to get an idea on its particular pet policies is a good start, while making sure that you have all relevant documents is also going to save you time and stress. One additional point to keep in mind is that Canada does not consider the pets coming from the United States as being rabies-free, so make sure that you have documents to prove this when crossing the border.

As you can imagine it will typically be more straightforward to bring a dog or cat with you as opposed to an iguana or even a rabbit. However, by making sure that your pet is vaccinated and rabies-tested less than a year before arriving in Canada, and sourcing all qualifying paperwork in advance of departure, should result in an easier life. For more information on bringing your pet to Canada visit, including specific information on more unusual pets, visit here.

Where should I move to in Canada?

Canada’s 38 million inhabitants reside mostly live in cities and towns close to the US border, with around three-in-four living within 100 miles (160 kilometres) of the border. Canadian cities are diverse and offer a range of benefits for recently arrived Americans.

If you are looking for a fast-paced ‘big’ city, then Toronto is probably your best bet. Toronto recently overtook Chicago in population size, making it the fourth-largest city in North America. Toronto has something for everyone.

If you want to merge a big city feel with some incredible scenery on your doorstep, then maybe a move to Vancouver could be perfect for you.

However, if  you want a city that allows you to learn a new language and live and work in a genuine multicultural melting-pot filled with festivals and culture, then Montreal sounds like where you should aim for.

In addition to the “big three”, there are a range of smaller but nonetheless impressive Canadian cities. For instance, if you would like a coastal city with a slower pace of living and milder winters, then Halifax, Nova Scotia or Victoria, British Columbia could fit the bill. Alternatively, if you want to embrace the excitement of the fastest growing city in Canada while also taking advantage of the incredible Rocky Mountains and lower taxes, then Calgary could be just right. For more detailed information on where to live in Canada, have a look at our Destination Guides. Whatever city you decide on, moving to Canada from the USA will provide you with lots of options.

How can I get a job in Canada?

The job hunting process after moving to Canada from the USA is similar to the process in the United States, with both countries having growing market economies. If you want to kick-start your job search before or soon after arriving in Canada, we recommend you begin by using the resources on Moving2Canada:

We also encourage you to create a Moving2Canada account to receive your free Getting Started Guide, including tips for career success after moving to Canada from the USA.

Will I be able to move to Canada from the USA if I have a criminal offence or conviction on my record?

Individuals hoping to move to Canada from the USA but who have an offence on their record could be criminally inadmissible to Canada and require special permission to enter. Even a DUI conviction could lead to inadmissibility to Canada.

Depending on the crime, how long ago it took place and how you have behaved since, you may still be able to move to Canada from the USA if you:

Get help with your criminal inadmissibility.

Will my child born in Canada be a US citizen, a Canadian citizen, or hold dual citizenship?

This is a regular concern among Americans moving to Canada from the USA.

Children born in Canada are Canadian citizens from birth, regardless of the nationality and immigration status of the parents. Children born outside the US and its outlying possessions may by US citizens, depending on the parents’ citizenship and previous residency in the US, as well as the status of the relationship.

Parents are married

Both parents are US citizensChild is a US citizen
1 parent is a US citizen & 1 parent is a US nationalChild is a US citizen if the US citizen parent has lived in the US for a continuous period of at least one year prior to the birth.
1 parent is a US citizen & 1 parent is neither a US citizen nor US nationalChild is a US citizen if the US citizen parent has lived in the US for at least five years prior to the birth, at least two years of which must have been after the 14th birthday OR a US citizen grandparent has lived in the US for at least five years.

Parents are not married

Both parents are US citizensChild is a US citizen
Father is a US citizen, mother is notChild is a US citizen if:
- A blood relationship between the child and the father is established by clear and convincing evidence;
- The father (unless deceased) has agreed in writing to provide financial support for the child until the child reaches 18 years of age; and
- One of the following criteria is met before the child reaches 18 years of age: The child is legitimated under the law of his or her residence or domicile; OR the father acknowledges in writing and under oath the paternity of the child; OR the paternity of the child is established by adjudication of a competent court.
Mother is a US citizen, father is notChild born before June 12, 2017: Child is a US citizen if the mother has lived in the US for a continuous period of at least one year prior to the birth.
Child born on or after June 12, 2017: Child is a US citizen if the mother has lived in the US for at least five years prior to the birth, at least two years of which must have been after the 14th birthday.

Both Canada and the US recognize dual citizenship, and so your child may be a citizen of both countries from birth.

How cold is it in Canada, really?

As you may have heard, most of Canada experiences cooler weather than most of the United States. However, Canada is not the land of igloos and perma-winter that is sometimes presented to the world, and most Canadian cities have climate comparable to some US cities, with four distinct seasons. Indeed, summer in some popular destination cities can be roasting, with humidity and high temperatures into the 90s Fahrenheit.

The climate of Toronto is similar to that experienced in cities in upstate New York such as Buffalo and Rochester, and is not too different from Chicago. Montreal experiences a similar climate to Minneapolis, and though it is a few hours’ drive away and slightly warmer, Vancouver and Seattle share damp winters and sunny summers.

Want more information about how to move from the United States to Canada? Check out our video webinar with regulated Canadian immigration consultant, Jenny Perez:

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