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Essential documents to gather before moving to Canada

Moving to a new country is an exciting adventure, but it can also be a stressful one. There are many things to consider and plan for, including the essential documents you must have before moving to Canada.

In this post, we will look at some of the key documents you should gather before moving to Canada and provide tips on making the process as smooth and stress-free as possible.

Let's jump right in!

Table of contents

Please note that this is not an exhaustive list, and these documents may change depending on the program you use to come, but at least this should give you an idea of what essential documents you should bring.

1. Passport

As I mentioned in the 40 things you should do before moving to Canada, the first and most important document you will need when moving to Canada is your passport.

Your passport is your primary identification document and is essential for travel to and from Canada. Ensure your passport is current and valid enough for your entire stay in Canada.

If it is not, renew it while you are in your country. This may also apply to your national identity card if you have one.

Make sure your passport is up to date.

2. Permit/visa

If you are moving to Canada for work, study or tourism you will most likely need a permit or visa.

The type of permit or visa you need will depend on your situation, including the type of work you will be doing, the length of your stay in Canada and your country of origin. Researching your options and applying for the appropriate permit or visa well before your move is essential, as processing times can be lengthy.

On the day of your trip, bring all documents requested at the border to activate your permit. If you do not yet know which route to use to come to Canada, check out A Basic Guide to Moving to Canada.

3. Proof of funds

You must provide proof of your financial situation when applying for a work permit or visa.

This mainly corresponds to bank statements. You may also need proof of employment, such as a letter from your employer if you are coming to work for a specific company.

Make sure you meet the requirements your permit requires for activation; for example, if you are coming on a Working Holiday visa, you must show that you have CAD 2,500.

Make sure you meet the financial requirements

4. Birth certificate

If you are travelling with children, your children's birth certificate is an important document to carry with you when you move to Canada. It serves as proof of their identity and date of birth and is regularly requested for school enrollment.

5. Marriage certificate or Common-law relationship

If you are married, you must bring your marriage certificate when moving to Canada. This document proves your marital status and can be used for various purposes.

In Canada, a marital status exists that applies to couples who are not married but have lived together for at least one year. It is called a common-law relationship.

For immigration purposes, there is a form that you sign in front of a notary and to which you have to add proof that you are living as a common-law couple, so review this and collect evidence of utility bills with the same address, shared bank accounts, shared rental agreements, etc.

In our case, we used that documentation for my partner to apply for a work permit; if you want to know how we did it, be sure to check out How to get an open work permit as a common-law partner of a skilled worker in Canada.

If you are married, you must bring your marriage certificate when moving to Canada

6. Driver's license

You will need a valid driver's license to drive in Canada.

Depending on your situation, you may be able to use your current driver's license for a while after you arrive in Canada. However, you will eventually need to obtain a Canadian driver's license, which will depend on the province in which you live.

You can do this by taking a series of driving tests or following a more streamlined process by using your previous driving license experience, depending on the province or territory in which you live.

If you want to know how to do this in Ontario, check out How to get a driver's license in Ontario, Canada.

7. Medical records

You should have copies of your medical history when you move to Canada.

This may include records of any illnesses or medical treatments you have had. This information can help you get the medical care you need more quickly and efficiently.

You can bring records of any illnesses or medical treatments you have had

8. Insurance documents

It is highly probable that upon arrival in Canada, you will not immediately obtain the health card of the province where you reside. In Ontario, you get it after six months of working; here, you can see how we processed it.

Given the above and as you will be in a temporary situation in Canada, you will need health coverage in case of an accident or similar, be sure to bring travel insurance that covers you during that period and is adequate for activating your permits.

9. Tax documents

For tax-related issues, I suggest seeking support from someone who knows, but in my experience, tax obligations started to apply from the day we landed in Canada.

I recommend you keep a record of all the income you receive during the year since the following year; you must declare the whole year, including what you obtained outside Canada.

If when you travel, you keep some things in your home country such as salaries, property, etc., keep a record of facilitating the process during the annual tax return.

Keep a record of your income for your annual tax return.

10. Broad power of attorney

Verify if this is something that exists in your country, but you may be able to find something similar. You can consult a notary or a lawyer.

It is a document that allows someone to do whatever you need on your behalf. That person can represent you to sign papers while you are abroad, so make sure that person is someone you trust.

11. Scan important documents

I suggest you scan essential documents that you do not want to carry physically but can use to do some online paperwork. You will save yourself headaches, and they take up very little space.

Scan essential documents that you do not want to carry physically.

12. Create a folder

Finally, create a folder with all the documents you will need (travel insurance, proof of funds, Port of Entry letters, etc.), especially those you will need at the border, and make sure you take them with you in your hand luggage or backpack and not in your checked baggage.


I hope this blog post gives you an idea of what documents you should bring; be sure to check all the requirements of the permits you will be using and check if you will need to get more documents due to your particular situation.

For more details on what other information you should not forget, check out 40 things you should do before moving to Canada.

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