Checklist - before you leave
There are a lot of things to consider before you leave for Canada. Here are some things that are worth planning on.
Write to your bank and ask for a bank reference. This should say something like you are a good customer, have had your account for x years and have conducted your affairs well. This will be much harder to get once you are in Canada.
The letter is useful for getting a mortgage in Canada. It is also worth setting up fax authority with your bank so that you can manage your account from Canada. This is because some transactions, such as those for over a certain value cannot be done via internet banking.
Open a Canadian Bank Account
Anti-terrorism and money laundering legislation in Canada makes it virtually impossible to open a Canadian bank account unless you are here.
If HSBC has branches where you live you might consider opening an account with them. If you are a Premier or Advantage customer already then it is very easy to open an account in Canada. You can link your accounts and transfer money between them whenever you want. (Do consider using one of the foreign exchange companies for large sums.)
Note that Moneycorp now offers the ability for its clients to open a bank account with the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC). Sign up for an account with Moneycorp and ask about this service.
On the same topic we strongly advise you to keep your existing credit cards and bank accounts at least for the first few months. You will need a credit card on arrival. For example you cannot rent a car without one.
This is an important cost saving tip. Car insurance in B.C. is expensive and any way of reducing the costs is a help. Our web page on car insurance gives information on how insurance works.
The most important thing is to get letters from as many of your insurers as you can. Note that the form of the letter that ICBC requires is different from that usually issued by insurance companies. More details can be found on our page on car insurance.
We suggest that you use a specialist foreign exchange service to transfer your money to Canada. While high street banks can do this for you, the specialists offer more advanced services and can get you better rates. If you are moving large amounts of money, small differences in the rate can make a big difference to the funds you get in Canada.
We suggest you contact on of our recommended currency exchange specialists:
Offices in UK, Spain and USA
- Halo Financial
Offices in UK, Australia and New Zealand
Our page on foreign exchange has more information.
Immediately prior to your departure for Canada you will need to arrange for medical insurance to cover you for the three months until the Medical Services Plan becomes effective. Our medical services page has links to insurers who offer this.
It is a good idea to get copies of your medical records from your doctor. Our doctor offered either to copy the entire set of records or to provide a summary. There was a charge either way. We chose the summary, which we were able to pass onto our doctor here.
As dental charges in Canada can be expensive, you may want to visit your dentist before you leave. Our dentist said there was no point in obtaining your dental records as your teeth spoke for themselves!
If you are planning to buy a property soon after your arrival in Canada, then we suggest you contact a mortgage broker. They can offer you independent advice and will find you the best available deals. By doing this in advance you can get a realistic idea of what you can afford.
It is best to talk to a mortgage broker before you go to your bank. This is because your bank will lock in the rate it quotes you, even though a broker can get competitive quotes from other branches of the same bank!
You may want to contact our broker for advice on obtaining a mortgage in Canada. Keith can arrange mortgages throughout B.C. and is used to dealing with people relocating.
If you currently live in the UK, you may want to investigate whether or not you want to continue making National Insurance Contributions once you have moved to Canada.
If you are going to Canada, let your social security office
and the Inland Revenue Centre for Non Residents in Newcastle know when you are going to leave, and give them your address in Canada.
There are two leaflets you can get on NIC via the links below:
The UK state pension is payable in Canada once you qualify to receive it. The pension is frozen once you are in Canada.
You may want to seek advice on any occupational or personal pension plans you have. We can put you in touch with a specialist advisor if this is what you want. This can be quite useful as there are ways in which you may be able to make use of your pension before your retirement. Contact me about this if you are interested.
If you are planning to take your dog or cat to Canada, then you will need to prepare for this by getting their vaccinations up to date. If the animal has been neutered then get proof of this - license costs in BC are reduced for neutered animals.
Our page on moving your pet has advice on different methods of shipping your animal. Beware that having a pet with you on arrival will complicate matters for you, particularly because finding rental property with a pet or two can be a real challenge.
This is something that you will hopefully have done early on in the process of planning your move, however do get a number of quotes for moving.
We recommend Anglo Pacific from our own experience.
If you have school age children, you should get their records of achievement, school reports and course summaries from their schools. This will help their Canadian school counsellors assess their prior education and allocate them to a Grade.
This is more important the older they are, since from Grade 10 and above (about age 15), students are gaining credits toward graduation. You may need evidence to prove equivalency of their prior education and thus gain credits for what they have done already.
I am sure that there are other things that you need to think about before you leave for Canada. If you have any advice or thoughts that you would like me to pass onto others, then please email me. I would also like to thank all those who have already sent me their tips - much appreciated.