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Airport Arrival: Your First Experience as a Newcomer in Canada

It has been over two and a half years since I arrived at Toronto Pearson International Airport with my Port of Entry letter to exchange for my first work permit in Canada.

I remember that mix of excitement and uncertainty, between being too tired after more than 14 hours of travel, exhaustion, trying not to miss any moment, and going in the wrong direction.

The process can be overwhelming, but armed with a little knowledge, your trip through Toronto Pearson International Airport will be much smoother.

In this guide, I will walk you through the arrival process, from immigration formalities to baggage claim and the start of your new life as a newcomer to Canada.

Consider this a general explanation to guide you with your first steps in Canada; your process could always be different at the airport.

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Cover with the name of the post and an image of a person in the airport

1. Follow the arrival signs

When disembarking, take all your carry-on luggage with you, take a deep breath and follow the "Arrivals" signs.

These will guide you through the airport, helping you find your way through the hustle and bustle.

You can always follow the crowd, but sometimes, if the person above you is walking too fast and can't keep up, remember to follow these yellow signs.

Yellow arrival sign
Follow the "Arrivals" signs.

2. Immigration procedures

After following the signs, you will reach the immigration area. This will take 10 to 15 minutes, so don't panic if you feel like you're walking a long way and are still not there.

In the immigration area, you will see signs to 2 different lines.

One is dedicated to permanent residents and citizens of Canada, and the second line is for "Other Passports." If you have just arrived, this will most likely be your line.

Next, you will encounter a series of automated kiosks. These kiosks are designed to expedite the entry process.

You will be asked to answer several questions about the reason for your trip, the length of your stay, finances, and the goods you bring into the country. You must answer these questions accurately and truthfully.

Once you have completed the questionnaire, a photo will be taken, and a voucher will be printed.

People walking through an airport with a camera shoot from above
In the immigration area use the line that corresponds to your situation.

3. Meeting with an immigration officer

With your voucher in hand, proceed to the counter of an immigration officer. The officer may ask you a few more questions to clarify your answers from the kiosk.

Remember that this is a normal process and that the officers are there to help you. You may be asked about your plans in Canada, so be prepared to give details about your accommodation and any other pertinent information.

Remember to carry your documents in a well-organized folder, and if you want to ensure you don't forget anything, check out 40 things you should do before moving to Canada.

Image of a chilean passport
Do not forget to bring with you the documents you will need to support your status.

4. Collecting your luggage

After successfully passing through immigration, make your way to the baggage claim area.

Look for the designated carousel corresponding to your flight. This information will be projected on the screens, so remember your flight number to make the process easier for you.

Keep an eye on your baggage as it moves down the conveyor belt. If you have delicate or oversized items, they are usually collected separately in a designated area.

A pile of suitcases
Be patient, sometimes it takes a while for the suitcases to come out.

5. Exiting the airport.

Once you have collected your belongings, follow the "exit" signs.

At this point, you have successfully passed through immigration control and have collected your luggage. You may encounter another officer who will ask for your voucher again and check your luggage, especially if you are bringing products that require revision.

The process of arriving in a new country can be exhausting, but remember, you are almost there!

When you leave the airport, you can meet the person who will help you get to your destination, find a taxi, uber or other means of transportation.

green exit sign
Once you have collected your belongings, follow the "exit" signs.

6. Welcome to Canada

As you leave the airport, take a moment because.... you are in Canada!

Whether you are greeted by family, friends or a hired service, that moment marks the beginning of your journey through this beautiful country.


Remember that you are not alone on this journey. Thousands of newcomers have travelled this road before you; many others are taking their first steps alongside you.

Your passage through the airport signifies your entry into a diverse, welcoming and vibrant country. As you navigate the arrival process, remember that while the logistics may seem daunting, they are designed to ensure your safe and successful entry into Canada.

So, as you step out into the Canadian air, take a deep breath, enjoy the adventure and get ready to begin your new chapter in this wonderful land.

As you've already arrived, remember to check out the first 10 first things you should do when you arrive in Canada.

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