Moving to a new country is a big decision, and it can feel as daunting as it is exciting. Fortunately, Canada has a lot to offer. It’s a progressive and diverse country that’s home to a rich mosaic of cultures. In fact, Canada welcomed over 400,000 foreign-born residents in 2021.
If you’re new to Canada, or preparing to make the move, it’s critical to take the necessary first steps to ensure a seamless transition to your new country—and secure your financial well-being.
Working with a Qualified Associate Financial Planner™ professional or a Certified Financial Planner® professional is an excellent way to set yourself up for financial success. In addition to working with an expert, here are three basic tips to get started.
1) GET MEDICAL INSURANCE
Canadians have the privilege of accessing a universal health care system funded through taxes. Any Canadian citizen or permanent resident can apply for public health insurance in their province of residence.
As a newcomer, you should be prepared for a waiting period while your permanent residency status is approved and your public health insurance becomes effective. Unfortunately, uninsured health care is expensive and can take a huge bite out of your budget. To ensure that you don’t rack up exponential charges paying for your health care needs, you may want to protect yourself by purchasing private health insurance so you’re covered during this waiting period.
Once your public health insurance kicks in, you’ll have coverage for essential services such as medical care from a hospital or your physician’s office, any tests they conduct, and (if required) any medication administered while you’re at a hospital. All of these services are free. However, services and prescription drugs outside of this scope are typically not covered, so you may benefit from a private health insurance plan anyway.
2) APPLY FOR A SIN CARD
Ready to hit the job market and start securing your financial future? In Canada, residents are required by law to have a Social Insurance Number (SIN) in order to work and earn an income. This is true for all Canadian citizens, newcomers to Canada, and temporary residents.
While the biggest reason to apply for a Social Insurance Number may be achieving financial security, even those who don’t plan to work immediately should apply for one. It’s a requirement for receiving many services through government programs, including pension benefits and social assistance.
Applying for a SIN requires documents that include confirmation of permanent residence or a record of landing, proof of identity such as a passport, and proof of your Canadian address. Once you have your SIN, you can start working and putting money aside. That bring us to my next tip.
3) OPEN A CANADIAN BANK ACCOUNT
To facilitate seamless earning and spending, you’ll want to get a Canadian bank account. While there are many reputable financial institutions to choose from, many of them charge monthly fees. Fortunately, there is also a variety of no-fee chequing and savings account options that provide the same fundamental banking services for free.
Of course, there are other factors to consider when you’re looking for a banking solution – from monthly fees to the interest rates you can earn on your savings account. Some options may also be better than others for those who do a lot of international travel or continue to support family back home, which is worth considering if it’s relevant to your situation. It’s an important decision, so don’t be afraid to shop around.
Accomplishing these first three steps is critical. But chances are, you also have foreign assets to manage and unique family and financial goals to plan for. By working closely with a financial planner professional who has your best interests at heart, you can create a solid financial foundation—and start your new life in Canada off on the right foot.
To find a professional financial planner who can assist you with your needs, be sure to visit FindYourPlanner.ca.
By Cindy Marques
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