Wrapping up your life in your home country and moving several thousand miles away to a new city requires preparation and planning. While you plan your travel and stay and decide on the best and most cost-effective way to move your belongings between countries, organizing all essential documents and bringing them with you is also very important – especially as you restart and establish your life in Canada.
In this article, we will go over all the documents you should bring with you to Canada. Some of these may be required at the port of entry to Canada (for most individuals, this would be a Canadian airport), while others might be needed for various tasks like filing taxes, employment, enrollment in schools, getting a driver’s license, etc. during the course of settling in. The following document checklist will help you stay organized and stress-free!
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List of documents to bring to Canada as a newcomer
As you start gathering these essential documents, make sure that they are all up-to-date and have been translated into English or French. Some documents can take a while to obtain, so it helps to not wait until the last minute and get started well in advance.
Tip: It is recommended to pack all essential documents in your carry-on luggage or backpack/handbag and not in your check-in luggage. Also, have a few photocopies along with the originals, in case the originals get lost. Be sure to keep the photocopies in a separate place (bag) from the originals. You can also scan them and store them in the cloud to access anywhere.
Documents required at the Canadian port of entry
The basics: Passport, Confirmation of Permanent Residence (CoPR), permanent resident (PR) visa
To enter Canada, you’ll need:
- A Canadian immigrant visa (if this applies);
- CoPR for each family member travelling with you;
- A valid passport or other travel documents for each family member travelling with you; and
- Two copies each of Forms BSF186 (form B4) and BSF186A (form B4A).
Settler’s effects list – Form BSF186 (B4) and BSF186A (B4A)
You’ll need two copies (one for you and one for the border services officer) of:
- Form BSF186, Personal Effects Accounting Document (also known as Form B4) – used for goods you are bringing to Canada with you. This form is required, even if you have no goods with you at the time of arrival.
- Form BSF186A, Personal Effects Accounting Document (a list of imported goods, also known as Form B4A) – used for goods that will arrive separately, either with your arrival or after your arrival.
The BSF186 and BSF186A forms will have to be presented to the officer at your first port of entry in Canada. In some cases, this could be the connecting/layover airport in Canada. Therefore, ensure you have them on your person or in your carry-on luggage.
Note: Completing these forms prior to arrival is not mandatory but helps save time after you land. If you choose to complete the forms at the airport, after arrival, have all essential information ready-to-go.
Tip: See How to fill out Forms B4 and B4A for a detailed explanation and tips to complete the forms and save time upon arrival.
Jewellery evaluation certificate(s)
Officers may ask you questions about your jewellery or precious ornaments during your customs interview. Make sure you describe these items in detail on your settler’s effects list, know the cost of items, and/or have a jewelry evaluation certificate from a jewellery in your home country.
Proof of settlement funds
If you’re moving to Canada under the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) or the Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP), immigration officers may ask you to show proof of settlement funds. Those moving under the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) or those with a job offer in Canada are not required to show proof of funds. For proof, you must get official letters from any banks or financial institutions where you’re keeping money.
Letter(s) must –
- be printed on the financial institution’s letterhead;
- include their contact information (address, telephone number and email address);
- include your name;
- list outstanding debts such as credit card debts and loans;
- include, for each current bank and investment account, the account numbers, date each account was opened, the current balance of each account, and the average balance for the past six months.
Note: You do not need to bring all the money (shown on your immigration application) with you when you land. However, you should be prepared with a recent bank statement in case the immigration officer at the port of entry asks you for it.
- Tell a Canadian official when you arrive in Canada if you’re carrying more than $10,000 CAD. If you don’t, you may be fined, and your funds could be seized. These funds could be in the form of cash, cheques, bankers’ drafts, travellers’ cheques or money orders, securities that belong to you, such as stocks, bonds, debentures, or treasury bills.
- If the funds outlined in your bank letter are in a currency other than Canadian Dollars (CAD), use the Bank of Canada exchange rate to highlight the amount in CAD.
In Canada, health products may be regulated differently than they are in other countries. For example, a drug that is available without a prescription in your home country may require a prescription in Canada. There are also restrictions on the quantities and types of health products that can be brought into Canada. So, it is advisable to bring doctor’s prescriptions with you for any medications or drugs that you may have on your person. For more information on importing health products into Canada, please have a look at Health Canada’s Guidance Document on the import requirements for health products.
Documents that you may need for education and/or employment in Canada
- Reference letters from previous employers
- Educational transcripts
- Language test results
- Educational credential evaluation (ECA) result
Documents that you may need while enrolling kids in a school in Canada
- Birth certificates or baptismal certificates and/or adoption papers
- School records for all your children
- Children’s immunization records
Documents that you may need while filing annual tax returns in Canada
- Tax forms or tax returns for the past two or three years from your home country
- Record of any current foreign income, properties, or investments
Other essential documents
- Travel and temporary health insurance
- Medical records
- Driving license from your home country and a driving extract, if applicable
- Marriage certificate and/or divorce/separation papers
Moving to a new country can be an overwhelming process; planning for your move and organizing all the necessary documents in advance will help you feel less anxious and at ease. While you may not need most of these documents right away, it will be helpful to have them handy when you need them. Government guidelines and rules are updated frequently, especially during the pandemic. So, do make it a point to check the latest news on the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website to ensure your transition is smooth.
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