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. I have received a con­fir­ma­tion of per­ma­nent res­i­dence form and visa stamped under skilled work­ers cat­e­gory. My city of des­ti­na­tion is men­tioned as Toronto– Ontario . Can I land in Toronto and give address of my pr card as Cal­gary — Alberta .
    Also after land­ing in Toronto can I apply for sin card in Toronto , giv­ing the address of Cal­gary — Alberta. I have decided to change my province? Is it fine ?

  2. My hus­band lived in Canada for almost 30 years. He went to school and worked. He returned to the US in 1997 and now he is hav­ing trou­ble get­ting his Cana­dian OAS. He has a Cana­dian SIN num­ber, and he receives CPP, but OAS says Immi­gra­tion Canada does not have entry and exit dates. Is there any source of infor­ma­tion to help him get his OAS pen­sion? He has been send­ing so many let­ter and mak­ing so many phone calls but it seems like it is get­ting nowhere.

    • Hello” and “thank you” are always appre­ci­ated… I’m not a robot.

      Any­how, this is a very spe­cific case and you’d bet­ter off seek­ing legal advice. It depends what he sta­tus was in Canada, maybe. If he doesn’t live in Canada any­more this may be the issue.

      • Thanks in advance seemed a bit pre­ma­ture. Per­haps you know of another source of infor­ma­tion. We are seniors liv­ing in the US and on a very tiny income. Lawyers not an option.

        • I can only refer you to Cit­i­zen­ship and Immi­gra­tion. Your case is a bit com­pli­cated, I doubt some­one else will have the right answer.

  3. Hello Zhu,

    I have read some of your posts related to Immi­gra­tion to Canada. These are very help­ful. Thanks for all your efforts.


  4. Hi Zhu, Thanks for writ­ing the series. Very helpful.

    I have cou­ple of ques­tions, if you can answer them point-wise as fol­lows:
    1. After get­ting my qual­i­fi­ca­tions assessed through WES, Canada dur­ing appli­ca­tion process, do i still need to get the qual­i­fi­ca­tions assessed after land­ing in any province, say Ontario? Most of the web­sites high­light this as required by the Cana­dian employ­ers. If yes, which is the best agency

    2. Do I need to get my work expe­ri­ence assessed too? Is there any agency who does this?

    3. How do employ­ers check the Eng­lish pro­fi­ciency of the can­di­date? Am I required to sub­mit my IELTS/CLB result sheet? Or only the ver­bal abil­ity is eval­u­ated at the time of inter­view and opin­ion is formed about Eng­lish competency?

    4. As a new immi­grant, I will be car­ry­ing suf­fi­cient funds to take care of my liv­ing expenses unless I get a job. I will require a place to set­tle down. Can I rent an apart­ment inside the city with­out get­ting the job? Are estate agents, land­lords accepts ten­ant with­out a job, pro­vided he can pay the rent? If yes, what are the doc­u­ments required? If you can plz explain the process or your own experience.

    Thanks in advance

    • First of all, con­grat­u­la­tion on get­ting ready and seek­ing infor­ma­tion. This is the key to success ;-)

      I’ll give you my two cents, but I’m a ter­ri­ble exam­ple since I was still a stu­dent when I moved to Canada, and I had very lit­tle work experience.

      1) This com­pletely depends on your field of work. If you are a brain sur­geon, chances are your employer will need to have your qual­i­fi­ca­tions assessed. Some employ­ers ask for copies of your degree and are okay with for­eign degrees, other not.

      2) Work expe­ri­ence is usu­ally assessed through the ref­er­ence sys­tem, i.e. your for­mer employ­ers (for instance, a man­ager) will be contacted.

      3) This again is done infor­mally. I have never heard of an employer ask­ing for lan­guage pro­fi­ciency test results, you show your lan­guage skills dur­ing the inter­view. The excep­tion could be if you are work­ing in a lin­guis­tic field, for instance, as a trans­la­tor, I had to take a few French/English tests.

      4) Good ques­tion. My expe­ri­ence won’t help here, I had a place (hus­band is Cana­dian). Can any­one chime in? Usu­ally, land­lords ask for first and last month of rent, and I’m sure your sit­u­a­tion is com­mon enough so if you can pro­vide first and last month, it may be enough.

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