Arrival Day

We were a sad sight on our arrival day at Calgary. It had been an emotional, 19 hour day when we struggled through the arrivals halls with arms full of hand luggage, car seats and 2 exhausted, distraught kids! The passport control officer was pleasant but efficient and we were soon through to the main customs point that handled new immigrants.

The staff were extremely friendly and polite - processing us quickly and even managing to stop the kids from crying! We were told what had to be done concerning our "to follow" possessions, documents checked, forms completed and then we were on our way.

This page will have sections on the essential items to be carried with you the day you "land", important things to do in the first few days and what it means to be a permanent resident of Canada.

The detailed information and links on this page have been reproduced with permission of the "Canada Border Services Agency Communications Directorate" and "Communications Canada Crown Copyright and Licensing Section". At all times refer to these respective agencies for the latest legislation before making any decisions.

Essential Hand Luggage

I guess it would be the worst nightmare if you landed without the correct documentation so hopefully we can help avoid that! It is essential that these items are carried in your HAND LUGGAGE and not packed away in a suitcase. All the Immigration processing takes place before you reclaim your baggage.

Your Canadian Immigrant visa and confirmation of Permanent Residence for each family member with you.

A valid Passport or other official travel document for each family member.

Sufficient funds to cover your living expenses for 6 months.

Two copies of a detailed list of ALL the personal or Household items you are bringing with you. These lists must state how much the items are worth in Canadian Dollars.

Two copies of a list of items to follow - if you are shipping things later. Again, the values in Canadian Dollars must be shown.

For the goods to follow we used the insurance values we had stated to make it easier. The Canadian Customs and Border Crossing Agency (CBSA) are responsible for enforcing the laws and provide the form B4 for personal effects accounting. As the CBSA are the authority, please use their site to ensure you have the correct documentation. I know when we had our visa's issued they were accompanied by a checklist of documents.

If you have any questions please contact your nearest High Commission or the CBSA BEFORE you leave your home country. For a more detailed overview go to our Customs and Immigration page.

It may be advisable to carry any other personal documents in your hand luggage as well. The Citizenship and Immigration Canada E-Book A Newcomers Introduction To Canada gives excellent advice on this matter.

Personally, I wouldn't trust any of my important documents to be left in a suitcase. No matter where you are travelling from, it is unfortunate that items go missing and/or are stolen. It would be terrible for such an exciting day to be ruined by the loss of some irreplaceable items.

Here is a description of his arrival in Canada from Site visitor Lawrence who has recently arrived in Vancouver from Australia:

"On board, one is handed a landing card. As a prospective settler, fill in the card as if one is a tourist. There are separate categories for Canadians and tourists but none for new settlers.

At the immigration desk, submit the landing card together with passport and landing form IMM 5292 'Confirmation of Permanent Residence'.

Collect all your luggage first and proceed to the immigration office beside the luggage area. There are two sections - one for returning residents and one marked 'new arrivals'. Go to the latter.

One must leave all luggage outside the door to the office. Take all your valuables and documents with you.

Queue at the first counter to get your queue number and have your landing card checked. Bring additional copies of passport photos for each member of the family as sometimes the photos on the form are considered 'unacceptable' for any number of reasons. In the absence of your own photos, they do have an area where they can take additional passport photos for you in the office.

Wait for your number to be called. At the processing desk, submit your IMM 5292, passport and inventory of belongings B4(E) and B4 (A). One is just a continuation of the other so if you have more than one page, use the continuation form. Alternatively, use a spreadsheet print it out and attach a header B4 filled and signed.

It would be easier to batch them to a) luggage that you have with you on the flight b) any items you are shipping as unaccompanied luggage c) the rest which are being shipped by sea and which will arrive much later. Also submit form E667 which documents any money you bring into Canada either in cash, bank cheques etc. (Telegraphic Transfers appear not to be in this category).

Budget a good hour for this step especially if there happens to be a lot of new arrivals on that day. You will receive a copy of the IMM5292 stamped and processed clipped to your passport, This serves as your legal document in Canada pending the arrival of your PR card which will be posted to you in 4-6 weeks.

If you have unaccompanied luggage it may have to be picked up and declared at customs as a separate procedure. Get details from your shipping agent/airline where and how to do this. For Australians, I can recommend Jetta Express. It is half the price of excess luggage. Be prepared to pay for storage if your luggage arrives more than 2 days prior to your arrival."

Once You Arrive

Depending upon your schedule and knowledge of the area you move to, it may be worth taking it easy for the first couple of days. The chances are you will have had a long and stressful departure and journey so enjoy your new surroundings, be a tourist and relax.

It is definitely worth applying for your health card as soon as possible - Ontario, British Columbia, New Brunswick and Quebec all have a 3 month qualifying period so you will need private insurance - we will have links to the best providers soon. Our Provincial pages have links to the detailed healthcare information for each province . Also, register with a family doctor and dentist as there may well be a waiting list and they aren't obliged to take you on! You will have to pay for medical services until your card is issued so make sure you keep any receipts as you can claim it back (apart from Ontario, BC, New Brunswick and Quebec).

You will need a Social Insurance Number (SIN) before you can legally work or be entitled to any benefits. You can apply online, or at one of the Local Offices. You will receive the card through the post but will have a receipt in the mean time to prove you have applied.

Once you have your SIN you can apply for the Child tax credit - if you have kids!

Each Provincial page will contain the essential information on housing, vehicle and driver licensing, education, healthcare, welfare and loads of other great information to assist you in your settlement. If you can't find something, please use the "contact us" facility on the site info page and let us know.

Our aim is to enable YOU to find the information and carryout all the preliminary work BEFORE you arrive by using the NET. There are plenty of things that can be achieved before you even land that will make your first few days easier.

Rights And Obligations

The rights of a Canadian are found in the Human Rights Code and also the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. As a Permanent Resident you will enjoy most of the rights a Canadian Citizen does though you cannot vote in Federal elections or run for Political Office.

You will be entitled to the basic freedoms of association, expression, peaceful assembly, religion and thought. Additionally, you will have some democratic rights, equality, language, legal, mobility and minority language education rights. All of these are covered in greater detail in the Government Newcomers Guide. You also have several obligations to fulfill in order to maintain your status as a Permanent Resident.

You MUST accumulate 2 years presence in Canada in every 5 year period and be able to provide evidence of this if requested.

Committing a serious criminal offence may also be considered enough to end the residency and for deportation.

If it comes to light that false information was submitted during the application process can be cause for cancellation.

There is an appeals process to follow in the unlikely event of a mistake or in mitigating circumstances. The Immigration Appeal Division of the Immigration and Refugee Board will handle these.