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!


About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.


  1. Hi ZHU,

    Really appre­ci­ate your posts.. Its really help­ful. I gotta doubt.. I have recently got My PR visa and plan­ning to land in Canada in 1st week of June.. Just won­der­ing if I Can Apply for SIN Card by e– ser­vice .. before I land there? Please share your thoughts on this.


    • Wel­come to Canada and con­grats on your new PR!

      I am not aware of appli­ca­tions made from out­side Canada, I thought you had to apply in per­son. Appar­ently you can apply from out­side Canada (cf. Not sure I would rec­om­mend it though, since I believe you have to land first. Apply­ing for a SIN in per­son is fast and easy, I don’t think you have much to gain by apply­ing ahead of time anyway.

  2. Hi ZHU,
    I just got my con­fir­ma­tion of per­ma­nent res­i­dence yes­ter­day and Iam already inside the country.My wife and son are plan­ning to land in canada in sec­ond week of May. I need to exit and re-enter canada bor­der to final­ize my residency,but my ques­tion is :As A prin­ci­pal applicant,does my fam­ily need this type of doc­u­ment (my COPR) which was stamp at the cana­dian bor­der for them to present at their point of entry together with their pass­port and COPR or just their own COPR.

    • I have no idea, it changed since I landed ten years ago. I believe depen­dents can­not land with­out the prin­ci­pal appli­cant, but you should call CIC to check. And con­grats on your PR!

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