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First things first, well done on making the call to move to Canada. It is a big decision and one that shouldn't be underestimated.

While you made the initial first step on your own it is important to remember that Moving2Canada is here to assist you with making the move to Canada as smooth as possible. To help you plan your trip to Canada, we’ve compiled a list of essential items that I wish I had handy when I was planning my own move a few years back. I strongly recommend you arrange these before your departure. We also included a list of things to consider packing for Canada.

Moving to Canada checklist:

Some of the items in this section can take some time to organize. It’s good to review this well in advance of your departure, so you can be getting prepared in the weeks and months before your flight to Canada.

You can also save yourself time and money by getting your travel insurance (a mandatory requirement to receive a working holiday visa in Canada).

Here are some of our guides for more information on how to choose the right insurance:

Are you planning to ship your belongings from another country? One excellent resource for calculating international shipping costs is The Relocator. The Relocator will search a database of more than 500 shipping companies worldwide to find you free quotes for your move. This is a free service that can save you tons of money on international shipping! Get your free quotes by completing this form:


Moving to Canada checklist:

  • Get yourself a visa or work permit
  • Book your flight to Canada
  • Don’t forget your travel insurance for Canada
  • Make sure your passport is valid and up-to-date.
  • Gather bank statements to serve as proof of funds. Depending on your bank, this could take a week or two to arrange, so be organized.
  • Update your resume in the Canadian format (many people do not realize how crucial this is to your success in Canada, so read our resume format section, download a good template, and get working on it).
  • Arrange a place to stay, for at least the first night. Learn more about finding accommodation in Canada.
  • Gather accommodation references from your previous landlords.
  • Gather references from previous employers (or at least, a contact for someone who will agree to provide this if required while you’re in Canada).
  • Ask previous insurers to supply you with a “no claims” letter, to serve as proof of driving history.
  • If your driving experience pre-dates the issue date on your home licence, you may need a letter from your home licencing authority to prove how long you’ve been driving. Learn more about getting a driver’s license in Canada.
  • Bring tax forms relating to the termination of your employment. This will prove useful if you’ve overpaid tax in your home country and need to claim this back at the end of the tax year.
  • If you plan on bringing your pet with you to Canada, see our advice and information on what animals can come to Canada with you, and what they need to have with them.
  • Don’t leave it until the last minute to terminate your contract with your mobile phone provider, as some contracts will have a cancellation period.
  • If you need to get your phone unblocked for it to work with other networks, arrange this early.
    Make sure you read our guide to understand how Canadian cell phones work.

Read more: 5 Golden tips on how to reduce the stress of moving

What to pack when moving to Canada:

Some of these items may need to be taken out from your luggage quickly at the airport, so put them somewhere they can be accessed quickly as you begin packing for Canada.

  • Passport
  • Visa, work permit, or other immigration documentation
  • Bank balance letter
  • Evidence of travel insurance, if applicable (e.g. a printed copy of your policy)
  • The address of a place to stay (e.g. a hostel, a hotel, or a friend’s place)
  • Driver’s license or some other form of government-issued ID if you plan on going out to venues that serve alcohol. Avoid having to use (and potentially lose) your passport.
  • Your resume. Email it to yourself or bring an electronic copy that you can print if you need to.
  • Accommodation reference letter.
  • Motor insurance letter. Having a “no claims” letter from previous insurance companies may reduce your insurance premium costs.
  • Copy of student transcripts (if required).
  • Prescriptions (if necessary).
  • A good pair of gloves, a warm hat and a scarf. These are crucial items if you plan on arriving during winter in any location outside the Greater Vancouver Area. Once you get to Canada, you can purchase a good winter coat (the coat you use in your home country is unlikely to be warm enough), but make sure you arrive with the basics to get you from the airport to your accommodation and through your first day: gloves, hat, scarf.


Items you might like to pack for Canada:

  • Some Canadian currency, so you don’t have to wearily look for an ATM at the airport.
  • A power bar / extension cord, so you can run multiple devices from home using just one Canadian adaptor.
  • Chargers for phones, cameras, etc.
  • Home treats, like tea bags or non-perishable food items from your home country.
  • Large (but not too large) items, like a guitar or surf board that you may be particularly attached to. It may be cheaper and easier to check these as additional luggage on your flight, rather than shipping them separately.

Moving to Canada packing checklist: Goods to follow

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) has set out regulations for personal items following you to Canada, with key information on which goods may qualify for duty- and tax-free importation, and how the process works. To learn more, visit this CBSA page.

Next steps

When you’re finished packing for Canada and counting down the hours until travelling to the airport, it’s a good idea to think ahead about what to do once you arrive in Canada. Here are the 7 things you need to do during your first week in Canada.

And if you’re looking for work, Outpost Recruitment finds great jobs in Canada for suitable candidates. Since 2012, we’ve helped people get work across civil, infrastructure, and buildings projects. Visit Outpost Recruitment for job postings.

If we have missed any key items(s) in this moving to Canada checklist page, please email [email protected] with your suggestion.

About the author

Ruairi Spillane profile picture

Ruairi Spillane

Founder & CEO - Finance & Recruitment Specialist
As the founder and CEO of Moving2Canada, Ruairi has been advising newcomers on how to immigrate, settle, and succeed in their new lives in Canada since 2011. He is a frequent contributor to discussions on Canadian immigration and has earned several recognitions for his expertise in the immigration space.
Read more about Ruairi Spillane
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