Your first 100 days in Canada: 4 things to tackle

June 7, 2017

By Ivy Chiu, Canadian Immigrant Magazine |

Moving to a new country can be both exciting and overwhelming. It’s a time of change from the familiar, and being prepared for the first few things you have to attend to goes a long way.

While moving you and your family across the world is not easy, establishing a routine helps in integrating to life in Canada, setting you and your family up for success from the beginning.

The first 100 days are important. Here are four things to tackle when you first arrive.

1. Visit your local government service office to apply for important government-issued documents. These include:

  • Social insurance card (SIN Card): a nine-digit number you will need to work in Canada or to apply for government programs and benefits. Find a Service Canada Officenear you to get started (see
  • Health care card: Health care is likely different in Canada than it is back home. With your health card, you will be covered for a range of services. The next big step is finding out what additional insurance you may need not covered by Canada’s health care system, and finding health care providers including a family doctor in your community. Find one at
  • Driver’s licence: The process for getting a driver’s licence in Canada depends on the province or territory in which you live and on your driving background and home country. Check with your local driver services centre or learn more at

2. Open up your first Canadian bank account and start building credit history right away. Credit and credit history is needed in Canada for bigger purchases like a home or car, but may also be required for cell phone bills, rent and other monthly expenses. Additional information about banking for newcomers is available at

3. Start building a social network in your new community. There are lots of free services and community organizations for newcomers. You can even start researching them before arrival to set up meetings and social events in advance. Visit for more information on what’s available in your new community.

4. Stay in touch with your roots by joining cultural associations. This familiarity may help with the transition to life in Canada and you will meet new friends along the way.

Moving to a new country requires a significant adjustment. Preparing before you leave and knowing how to effectively settle into a routine upon your arrival will make the transition easier.

Ivy Chiu is the senior director, cultural markets, at RBC. Once a newcomer herself, Ivy is interested in helping newcomers integrate to life in Canada. Are you new to Canada or know someone who is? Visit for more advice.

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