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:
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:
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 pay income taxes in Canada, the United States, or both after moving to Canada from the USA?
The short answer is both if you are considered ordinary 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 you to exclude the first $104,000 USD 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 $104,000 USD per year, you won’t have to pay taxes in the United States.
However, if you do earn more than $104,000 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.
To learn more about paying tax as a US citizen working in Canada, see this guide.
Can I bring my family 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. 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, 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.