New to Canada

Recently moved here and trying to get used to the culture shock?

  • Social Insurance Number….what’s that?
  • I need a place to rent - what’s a tenancy agreement? Isn’t apartment same as a condo? I’m here with family, how do I know which place is better?
  • School for kids - It’s free! But why can’t I send my child to a school near my friend’s place?
  • Drivers Licence - do I actually need to take a test? Funny they drive on the wrong side of the road
  • I need a job - but my prior experience doesn’t count. How do I make a resume that appeals to Canadian employers?
  • Child Care benefits - I never knew there was such a thing!Halifax Stanfield International Airport Terminal
  • Banking - Which one should I pick? I need to take an appointment…how strange is that? I need a credit card….what do you mean I don’t have a credit rating?
  • Transportation - I need a car but I can’t get it financed. And I have never ever driven in snow. What’s a car share?
  • I’m a foodie - What are some good paces to eat?
  • Taxes - I need to file my first tax here, where do I even start?
  • I think I’m ready to buy a house - where do I start?

There are countless such thoughts that everyone has, who has travelled from overseas to make Canada their home. Wouldn’t it be nice if you already have all the answers before you actually set foot in Canada? Government of Canada and in turn every province in Canada has tons of information available for new immigrants on their websites. There are also few non profit organizations, who’s primary function is to assist new immigrants settle down in the province of their choice. 

It’s not just the answers but the questions that are important. As long as you know what question to ask, it’s easy to find the answer! 

You have taken the first big step….you’ve landed in this beautiful country…Canada!!!

Strong recommendation is to go through New Immigrants section under www.canada.ca even before you land in Canada. The website provides a whole lot of information at the federal level and covers permanent resident card, first tax year, Health Care, Driving in Canada, schools and many more things.

When you decide to make Nova Scotia as your destination, here’s what you need to do-



The first step is to get the Social Insurance Number (SIN) for yourself and for each family member. Look up for the nearest Service Canada location and visit the office. www.novascotia.ca will direct you to lot of provincial services available like Access Nova Scotia (https://novascotia.ca/sns/access/), Registry of Motor Vehicles, Healthcare, Employment, etc. Getting a health card would be an obvious next step. In Canada, basic health care is sponsored by the Government and in order to avail that, every resident needs to have a health card. Information and forms are available on the website - https://novascotia.ca/dhw/msi/.

Once you have government ids like the Drivers Licence, Health Card, Social Insurance Number (SIN) Card, you can shop around for internet and or cellular phone. Rogers (www.rogers.com), Koodo (www.koodomobile.com), Bell Aliant (http://aliant.bell.ca), Telus (www.telus.com) are some of the Telecom options available. Would be a good idea to go for data package considering number of helpful online apps available - Google Maps!!!

Also take an appointment with your nearest bank for opening a bank account. There are a number of big banks to choose from - Royal Bank of Canada (RBC - www.rbcroyalbank.com), Toronto Dominion Bank (TD - www.td.com), ScotiaBank (www.scotiabank.com) or also known as Bank of Nova Scotia. If you’re moving from a country that does not share credit score with Canada, you would have to build one from scratch. Yes…doesn’t matter if you had the best score in your earlier country of residence, you would still need to start from the bottom. Your banking representative should be able to assist you with options but earlier you start the better. Having a secured credit card to begin is a good start.

Public transit, that includes the buses and the ferries between Dartmouth and Halifax pretty much reaches every corner of the city and is a very reasonable mode of transportation compared to having your own vehicle. Visit https://www.halifax.ca/transportation/halifax-transit to check schedules, fares, tickets, passes, etc. The transit buses are climate controlled and have assistance for people with physical disabilities. Transit schedules are available on apps like Google Maps, that provides shortest routes with a click of a button.

Though public transit is a good option for travelling within the city, you might need to rent a vehicle if you’re planning to travel outside city limits. There are again number of car rental companies to choose from - Enterprise (www.enterprise.ca), Budget (www.budget.ca), Avis (www.avis.ca), Discount (www.discountcar.com), etc that usually will have cars in various segments and budget to choose from. Depending on availability, you can pretty much pick a car and go in a matter of 10-15 mins from the time you step in the office to driving off however, it is always advisable to book it in advance to avoid a situation where a car is not available. Summers is specially a busy time of the year for car rental companies. 

Even though you can opt for rental car insurance with the company, however your credit card might have clause for car rental insurance as long as you pay for the rental through that card. Check with your Credit Card company for details. It might seem like an additional expense to be avoided however, it is strongly recommended that you have insurance in order to avoid a possible much bigger expense later!!!

If you have family with kids or for other reasons, you might want to buy your own personal car. Make sure you’re ready for it since having your own car comes with expenses - EMIs (Financed), lease payments, insurance, parking, maintenance, etc. It does make life more comfortable and easier to get around though. There are number of options for used cars and number of dealerships that would assist you depending on your budget. Being new to Canada and without much credit history, it could be difficult to apply for financing so you can either go for something cheaper that can be bought outright on cash or hold off till you build some credit history.

Whether you rent or own, driving car in Canada could be very different from the place you’ve moved from in terms of side of the road that you have to drive on or general weather conditions - especially snow!!!

Winter tires are recommended when temperature goes 7 degrees or below. The rubber on winter tires does not become hard, keeping more traction on the road compared to summer or all season tires.

Whether its choosing an All Wheel Drive vehicle (AWD) or Front Wheel Drive (FWD), sedan, SUV or a Van, gasoline or diesel, there are number of makes, models and price range available. Some of the big dealerships -

O’Regan’s - www.oregans.com

O’Regans’s (‘as is’ cars) - www.oreganswholesaledirecthalifax.com, www.oreganswholesaledirectdartmouth.com

Steele Auto Group - www.steeleauto.com

New To Canada Mortgages New immigrants to Canada can qualify for a mortgage 

Program highlights: 
 Permanent and non-permanent residents can qualify 
 Maximum purchase price is $1 million 
 Down payment is as low as 5%. 
 Cannot have resided in Canada for more than 5 years 
 Valid work permit or landed Immigrant status is required  Must be employed full time in Canada for a minimum of 3 months 
 Self-employed immigrants can also qualify 

To apply or enquire about mortgages, please visit my secure website at www.billcossittmortgages.com

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