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Getting Settled in Canada: Checklist for Newcomers

Whether you’re coming to study, work, or start a new life for yourself, Canada is a great place to live. It’s a diverse country with lots of opportunity – but there’s also plenty to adjust to as a newcomer. Our newcomer’s checklist can help you navigate your first few months living in Canada.

Open a Canadian bank account

You can do some initial research on the Canadian banking industry by visiting the Canadian Bankers Association (CBA) website. Once ready, book an appointment with a multilingual Scotiabank advisor to discuss which bank account would work best for your needs.

Get a SIN card

You need a Social Insurance Number (SIN) to work in Canada and get access to government benefits. All family members (even children and infants) should apply for one on arrival. For more information visit

Get a health card

All permanent Canadian residents are eligible for government-subsidized medical care. You should apply for a health card as soon as you arrive in Canada. Each member of the family, including infants, must have their own health card. Apply by contacting the Ministry of Health in the province or territory where you live. For more information visit

Start building your Canadian credit history

Building good credit in Canada can help you save money on interest rates and get approved more easily for things like cell phones, lines of credit and car loans. A credit card is a good way to build your credit history in Canada. Book an appointment with a multilingual Scotiabank advisor to discuss which credit card would work best for your needs.

Secure housing

For most newcomers, your first home will likely be a rental house or apartment. The Canadian Mortgage & Housing Corporation (CMHC) can help you learn more about your rights as a tenant in Canada. Once you’ve found a rental, you can get a quote for Scotiabank tenant insurance online.

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Enroll kids in school

Public education is paid through your taxes and is therefore free and available to every child in Canada. You will need to pre-register your children (ages 5-17) as soon as you arrive at the school or school board office in your area. For more information visit

Use the free support services available to you

Canada has many immigrant-serving organizations that help newcomers settle into life in Canada. They can help with things such as learning basic English or French, supporting you in securing housing or helping you find a job. Find free newcomer services near you at

Get your education and work credentials assessed

If you’re immigrating to Canada as a Federal Skilled Worker, coming to work in specific professions or trades, or coming to study, you will need to have your existing education, work experience or professional credentials assessed. For more information visit

Get a driver’s licence

Your foreign driver’s license is only valid for a limited time after arriving in Canada. You may need to pass a written examination and one or two driving tests to qualify for your Canadian driver’s licence, depending on the rules in your province. For more information visit

Improve your English and French

If you’re a permanent resident you can take free language classes in Canada. These are provided by the Canadian government. You will need to get a formal language assessment before registering. For more information visit

Build your network in Canada

To help settle easier into Canada, building your social network is helpful. Joining Canadian newcomer social media groups, volunteering, attending community events, in addition to joining a professional association, will help. You can also book an appointment with a multilingual Scotiabank advisor. Many of our advisors have moved to Canada from another country and can help give you advice on building your network.

Meet with a Scotiabank advisor

The Scotiabank StartRight Program offers a variety of special banking products, services and solutions designed to help newcomers succeed in Canada. Book an appointment with a multilingual Scotiabank advisor once you arrive to get started.

Stay connected to Scotiabank to better prepare yourself for your upcoming move

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