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First Steps As A Permanent Resident (9/10)

The Canadian Parliament In Ottawa

The Cana­dian Par­lia­ment In Ottawa

Wel­come to my new series, “How to immi­grate to Canada“!

I recently received quite a lot of emails, ask­ing me ques­tions about the immi­gra­tion process. So I decided to explain the whole process in 10 posts, which will be pub­lished every Saturday.

I also encour­age you to ask any ques­tion you may have. I’m not an immi­gra­tion con­sul­tant, but from expe­ri­ence, I may be able to point you to the right direction!

In the series, we will see the dif­fer­ent options you have to come to Canada, as well as your rights and duties as a Per­ma­nent Res­i­dent, what hap­pens after you arrive etc.

After you become a landed immi­grant, you must apply for three very impor­tant pieces of IDs: a per­ma­nent res­i­dent card, a SIN card and a health card.

The Per­ma­nent Res­i­dent Card

This card will be the eas­i­est to obtain, because you don’t need to apply for it! Once you become a landed immi­grant, the offi­cer at the entry point will ask you for an address and you will receive the card auto­mat­i­cally, free of charge. And that’s it!

The Per­ma­nent Res­i­dence card is the proof of your sta­tus in Canada. It expires every five year.

You SIN Card

A Social Insur­ance Num­ber (SIN) is a 9 digit num­ber issued by the Cana­dian gov­ern­ment that you need to work in Canada. It is very impor­tant that you apply for your Social Insur­ance Num­ber card as soon as you can.

You may apply for a SIN card at any Ser­vice Canada cen­ter. Per­ma­nent Res­i­dents in Canada will need:

  • The Per­ma­nent Res­i­dent Card issued by Cit­i­zen­ship and Immi­gra­tion Canada, or
  • The Con­fir­ma­tion of Per­ma­nent Res­i­dence and visa coun­ter­foil affixed to your passport

You will receive a SIN num­ber right away if you apply in per­son. You will then receive the card by mail within ten days.

You may also apply by mail, by down­load­ing the appli­ca­tion form and send­ing the sup­port­ing doc­u­ments. It will take about 15 busi­ness days.

There is no fee to apply for a SIN num­ber and to get a first SIN card.

Be aware that iden­tity thief is a seri­ous prob­lem, so take care of your SIN num­ber. Only pro­vide you SIN num­ber when it is legally required, for exam­ple, by your employer, finan­cial insti­tu­tions and tax ser­vices. You do not have to give your SIN num­ber to com­plete a job appli­ca­tion, or to apply for credit cards. See “who can ask for my SIN and when don’t I have to pro­vide my SIN num­ber?“.

The Health Card

Health Cards are issued by the provin­cial or ter­ri­to­r­ial gov­ern­ment and allow access to insured health care ser­vices. Each province or ter­ri­tory man­ages its own health sys­tem, so if you live in Ontario, you must deal with Min­istry of Health and Long-Term Care, if you live in Man­i­toba you will deal with Man­i­toba Health etc. To find out which min­istry you need to deal with, check out the list here.

Because this is a provin­cial mat­ter, reg­u­la­tions and require­ment vary. Gen­er­ally speak­ing, as a per­ma­nent res­i­dent, you are enti­tled to a range of health care ser­vices paid for by your provin­cial health min­istry. Typ­i­cally hos­pi­tal­iza­tions, surg­eries, vis­its to your gen­eral prac­ti­tioner, emer­gency vis­its etc. are cov­ered, which means that you just have to show your health card when using the ser­vices, and that you will not pay. Ser­vices which are not gen­er­ally cov­ered are eye exams, den­tistry and cos­metic surgery. If you wish to be cov­ered for addi­tional ser­vices, you may buy pri­vate health insurance.

Every­one must have their own health cards, includ­ing babies.

Note that you may not be eli­gi­ble for health care right after you arrive. Some provinces require a wait­ing period, dur­ing which you will not be cov­ered. For exam­ple, in Ontario, cov­er­age nor­mally becomes effec­tive three months after the date you estab­lish res­i­dency in the province. New and return­ing res­i­dents are encour­aged to pur­chase pri­vate health insur­ance in case you become ill dur­ing the wait­ing period.

In order to main­tain your insur­ance cov­er­age, most provinces require that you make your pri­mary res­i­dence in that province and that you meet phys­i­cal pres­ence requirements.

These are the most impor­tant IDs you should apply for when arriv­ing in Canada. You will need them to work, prove your sta­tus, prove that you are enti­tled to ben­e­fits etc. So take a moment to do the paperwork!


  1. Please i obtain my per­ma­nent res­i­dent to immi­grate to van­cou­ver and decided do to my friend who stay in Mon­tréal can i enter Canada a Mon­tréal Air­port and col­lect my Per­ma­nent Res­i­dent there? Please i need Help

    • Hello,

      Land­ing in Mon­tréal could be prob­lem­atic as you don’t have CSQ (the process to immi­grate to Que­bec is dif­fer­ent at a cer­tain level).

      • Please What can I do ? can i Land in Toronto that is Closer to Montréal ?

        • Sure, land­ing in Ontario will be eas­ier as you are not required a CSQ. You still should call CIC as I am not an immi­gra­tion spe­cial­ist and don’t have all the details.

  2. good day

    I’m still con­fuse, Please Help if i land in Ontario can i live there with out going to Van­cou­ver ? and from Ontario air­port can i give my address in Mon­tréal to sent my PR


  3. HI and thanks for your helps

    I was won­der­ing if I Have to apply for that three months Insur­ance before I receive my Health card!?

    thanks in advance

    • Depends on your sta­tus. If you are a new immi­grant to Ontario, you will have to wait for three months before being cov­ered by OHIP so a pri­vate insur­ance may be wise. But you didn’t give much details…

  4. Hi,

    Do I have to renter Canada before the end of evrey 6 months after I had my PR cards, or it is only the 2 years within the 5 with any arrangment..


  5. I am land­ing in Toronto but I do not have a mail­ing address nor do I have friends or rel­a­tives in Canada, I am plan­ning to stay only for 10 days from the date I am land­ing and back again to my work to resign and get my end of ser­vice ben­e­fits.
    what should I do to get my PR card?

    • You can give a mail­ing address a bit later (i.e it doesn’t have to be right when you land at the air­port). How­ever, you may need your card to re-enter Canada, depend­ing on where you are from (do you need a visa to travel to Canada?).

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