- 17 Nov 20: Canada offers guide for international students arriving during coronavirus
- 06 Oct 20: Canada to reopen parents and grandparents immigration program October 13
- 30 Sep 20: As Thanksgiving nears, Canadian expat in the US wants exemption from mandatory quarantine
- 17 Aug 20: Canadian travel ban extended another month as US continues to wrestle pandemic
- 11 Aug 20: European airlines urge Canada to lift Covid travel restrictions
- 05 Aug 20: Canada extends travel ban to August 31, launches Covid contact tracing app
- 21 Jul 20: Everything you need to know about the extended border closure between the US and Canada
- 09 Jul 20: Canada extends coronavirus travel ban on most foreign travellers
- Purchase the complete Expat Arrivals Canada Guide (PDF)
Expats moving to Canada will enjoy a diverse lifestyle in a country that is well-developed and progressive. Canada may be best known for Mounties, maple syrup and ice-hockey but it is the country’s exemplary social programmes, wide open spaces and resilient economy that truly make it notable.
Canada is simply huge in scope. It is the second largest country in the world, occupying a vast northern corner of the earth, and is an enormous expat destination that attracts immigrants from every part of the globe. The country was built by foreigners and is a place that hasn’t turned its back on those from abroad. In fact, it claims one of the highest per capita immigration rates in the world.
However, the visa application process can often seem quite daunting. But with a small population, many of whom are soon-retiring baby boomers, it does mean that Canada will desperately need to fill an assortment of jobs to ensure the gears of its economy continue to grind forward.
Canada has an abundance of natural resources, including off-shore natural gas reserves and on-shore oil sands, and many positions are available in its energy sector as well as in its major cities where financial services, real estate and the communications industries are thriving.
Expats should pay careful attention when they negotiate their salaries. The cost of living in Canada is certainly reasonable when compared to the likes of many of the Asian superpowers and European metropolises, but tax rates are high. Thus, a lucrative salary can be reduced significantly. By the same token, such deductions also mean that expats moving to Canada are able to take advantage of some of the country's fantastic infrastructural assets; namely, universal health insurance that grants near comprehensive coverage, to a high-standard healthcare system and free education at public schools that are well reputed.
What’s more, Canada is an incredibly safe country and, apart from separatist grumbles from the French-settled Quebec province, it has never been the target of a major terrorist attack or too much other ill will.
One drawback that can be a source of worry, however, is the Canadian winter. Expats moving to the coastal and southern regions of Canada won’t suffer as much, but those heading for Calgary, Edmonton or elsewhere in the interior or Prairie provinces will need to prime themselves for the severe winter cold. Snow can cover the ground for nearly six months of the year in these areas and temperatures can drop to well below freezing during the peak of the bad weather.
Typical of a well-developed, wealthy Western country, however, Canada’s buildings are well equipped to withstand freezing temperatures, and in some cases cities have even created heated underground pathways between malls, offices and apartment buildings so that residents can move from place to place in the warmth.
Apart from the cold, most expats find that their quality of life improves in Canada. After all, Ottawa, Vancouver and Toronto all made the top 20 of Mercer's Quality of Living 2018 rankings, and most centres in the country offer a multicultural societal blend set against a backdrop of rugged and spectacular scenery.
The country’s British and French origins feature in the European architecture; the American cultural influences through fanatic sports leagues and entertainment; Inuit traditions are realised through its contribution to the country’s rich and ancient history; and, more recently, Asian immigrants have made their mark on vibrant neighbourhoods throughout the country.
Expats relocating to Canada will naturally need to learn more about the specific area in which they plan to settle but, overall, it is fair to expect a calm, peaceful and well-adjusted life in Canada.
Population: 36 million
Capital city: Ottawa
Neighbouring countries: Canada shares a border with the United States of America to the south, as well as the US state of Alaska to the northwest.
Geography: The land is a vast wilderness populated by large modern cities, often against the rustic backdrop of beautiful natural surroundings. The second-largest country on the planet, it boasts vast mountain ranges and prairies, massive lakes, lush forests and rugged coastlines.
Political system: Federal parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy.
Major religions: Christianity
Main languages: English and French
Money: The Canadian Dollar (CAD), divided into 100 cents.
Tipping: As in the USA, 5 to 20 percent depending on the type of service.
Time: There are six time zones in Canada, ranging from GMT -8 in the west to GMT -3.5 in the east.
Electricity: 110 volts, 60Hz. Standard plugs are flat two-pins, or plugs with a third round grounding pin.
Internet domain: .ca
International dialling code: +1
Emergency contacts: The all-purpose emergency number in Canada is 911, and connects to police, fire and ambulance services. Canadian police are highly professional and efficient, and are ably assisted by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the iconic Mounties.
Transport and driving: Cars drive on the right side of the road. The rail system connects most major cities and smaller communities while buses are modern, safe and clean. Cycling is encouraged, while metered taxis are regulated.
Expat Interviews"I really enjoy having access to all the amenities of a big city, without the stress, noise and pollution that usually comes with big-city living." Read the rest of the interview with Emmanuelle, a French expat in Canada.
"Expats, like everywhere else, tend to stay together at the beginning, but if you practice activities in Vancouver, you will quickly broaden your circle of friends." Learn more about Francois's expat experience in the full interview.
"Newer housing is fabulous with double sinks in bathrooms, en suites off all master bedrooms, modern kitchen appliances, and my favourite, laundry upstairs with the bedrooms!” Find out more about Claire’s experiences as a British expat in Canada.
Are you an expat living in Canada?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Canada. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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