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Setting up in Canada

There’s a lot to think about when migrating to Canada. Halo Financial’s expert Currency Consultants, partners, and clients who have already made the move to Canada have highlighted the key areas to address in making sure your emigration is a smooth and successful one.

Currency Exchange

The continually fluctuating market will have a significant effect on your spending power in Canada. It will affect not only the amount you are able to spend on your property purchase here, but also how you will maintain your life in Canada.

Using a currency exchange specialist instead of your high street bank will allow you to make the most of your money. They have a significant number of tools and resources you can use to maximise funds and minimise risk, from a forward trade that allows you to book a rate now to use at a later date, to their own expertise on analysing the market. This will ensure you are able to move your money at the right time, despite the continual swings the market experiences.


You will need to spend some time assessing the best way to move your belongings to Canada. The best way to do this is by organising for at least two removals firms to visit your property and offer you quotes to ship everything between countries. In addition to the price you are quoted, it’s important to be sure how confident you are about each firm, and what accreditations the companies have. Ideally, your chosen company should hold FAIM Accreditation, a benchmark of quality, and be a member of FIDI or BAR – the international and British movers associations.

There are two means of shipping your household goods to Canada. Larger removals will be shipped as full (sole use) container loads, the major advantage being that the actual shipping container is brought to your home. Smaller removals are shipped in shared containers with other removals. The first time you enter Canada after you have received your visa you must declare ‘Goods to follow’ at the airport. You will need to supply two copies of a packing list or inventory, including values. All consignments are subject to inspection by inspection by the Canadian Food Inspections Agency (CFIA) to check no belongings have come into contact with any soil or vegetation.


The education system in Canada is governed by each individual province, with the curriculum varying slightly depending on which province in which you live.

Generally, children in Canada start school at Kindergarten – also known as Grade Primary or Centre de la Petite Enfance depending on the province you are in – from the age of 5 or 6, although in Manitoba and Saskatchewan kids are not required to attend kindergarten and therefore some schools do not offer this level of schooling.

In Canada, education is compulsory up to the age of 16 in every province except for Manitoba, Ontario and New Brunswick, where the compulsory age is 18, or as soon as a high school diploma has been achieved. Those who leave school before the age of 18, or before receiving their high school diploma, may choose to take a General Educational Development (GED) exam which is a set of tests designed to determine whether the test-taker has a high-school graduate’s level of knowledge. Some bright students may choose to take a GED once they reach school leaving age so they don’t have to stay in school until the end of Grade 12.

The qualification your child will be studying for will depend on the province you live in. For example, in Ontario the high school diploma is known as the Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) while in Alberta it is called the Alberta General High School Diploma. All high school diplomas work on a credit system whereby a child receives a certain number of credits for each course they complete during secondary education (from the age of 14 or 15 until they leave school). The number of credits, and subjects they will need to study, will differ by province.


Canada offers widespread publicly funded healthcare through its Medicare system – this is partly paid for by Canadian taxpayers with a certain amount being taken from their wages each month (the amount varies depending on the province in which you live).

All legal permanent residents of Canada are eligible to be insured through Medicare. Upon arriving to live in Canada you will need to apply for a healthcare insurance card from your local provincial or territorial government as soon as possible – application forms can be picked up in hospitals, pharmacies or even through some relocation companies.

The Medicare system is not administered by the federal government. Instead the type of services and health treatment that will be covered for by Medicare will vary depending on the province in which you live. Usually (but not always), most hospital treatments, minor surgeries and visits to GPs will be covered by Medicare. Typically, however, dentistry, use of emergency services, some eye care and most homeopathic services are not covered, while prescription drug costs will vary dramatically depending on where you live. Once an individual has received treatment, which is covered by Medicare.

It is up to the doctor or surgery itself to bill the government for the cost of the treatment.

It is important to note that the medical care your province or territory offers might not be covered in other provinces and territories across Canada. So, when you travel you may require private health insurance.

Private health insurance

Almost two-thirds of Canadians take out some form of private health insurance, largely to cover against the fairly high cost of prescription drugs but also to guard against any services that may not be covered under your province or territory’s health insurance plan. Having private insurance should also lead to faster waiting times for treatments. There are numerous private health insurance companies in Canada, with many being tied to a particular province/territory.

Last minute checklist

We recommend putting together a list of every single thing you need to do and remember before you go. It is often the most obvious checks that are forgotten in the excitement of your emigration to Canada – things like your flight booking and checking your passport’s expiration date.

     βœ”  Important contacts

Keep the contact details to hand of any emergency contacts, your legal and visa advisors, and anyone else you may need to get in touch with in a hurry.

     βœ”  Get all your papers together

Paperwork is arguably number one on this list – you will need to have all relevant information in one place to make sure that it’s there when you need it. This includes correspondence with immigration departments, medical records, school reports, references and anything else. You will also need to make sure you close any bank accounts that you will no longer be using. Passports, Visas… check!

     βœ”  Say your goodbyes…

Lastly, make sure that you make plans to say goodbye to your friends and family if you are moving to Canada permanently or longer term – it seems obvious, but it can be so easy to forget to do so with such excitement going on and so much to do!

Need more help? 

Since 2005, we have helped thousands of customers to take control of their currency and have supported them throughout the whole process of buying property in Australia or emigrating. We understand what you're going through. Get in touch to see how our team of experts can help you. 

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