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 hope you can help me.. I heard that if you have lived in Canada for over 3 years or so you can apply for a ressindetship.. In my case I don´t know who elegiable am I, since I am turning 4 years in Canada next January leaving to my home Country for a few weeks but always coming back to Canada.. I love here but I do see the way to become a resident, Do you know anything about this?
    I will appreciate your help, thanks:)

    • What is your status in Canada?

      There is no such rule for becoming a permanent resident. There is no such thing as “ressindetship” either.

      To become a landed immigrant, you must apply for permanent residence.

      You must have heard that after three years in Canada as a permanent resident, you could apply for citizenship. 😉

  2. dear Zhu,
    plz let me know that after we become a landed immigrant,if my wife don’t want to do any job then what she will do? is she required still SIN card or not? plz reply me, i m waiting from your reply,
    Faisal Hameed

    • Your wife is free to work or not. She doesn’t have to work, it’s up to her.

      I recommand she applies for a SIN card. It is not only used for work.

  3. Hello

    You have a great website here with some really good information on it.

    I obtained my permanent residency and plan to travel to Canada in July.

    I am leaving on the Federal Skilled Workers .

    When I land in Canada ( Toronto) and heading to Vancouver after 10 days to stay there),hopefully I will have an address to give to the emigartion officers that I meet a the airport.

    If I do and they forward me on the Permant Resident card is a photo of me taken at the airport? This seems like a dumb question but tI was just wondering. presume it is a photographic I.D.

    Do I supply the photo’s do I bring them with me?

    Any help I would appreciate it.
    Republic of IRELAND

    • Hi there and welcome to Canada!

      The picture used for your PR card is one of the pictures you previously send when you applied for permanent residence. No picture is taken at the airport and you don’t need to bring one with you.

  4. Hi will be doing my landing in canada soon. A question I had when I land I get my PR card automatically in mail on the address provided at the airport, right. Some people are saying have to go the next day and have to apply for my PR card.
    Kindly calrify + I would get the sin card and PR card in my mail or do i have to collect it in person. some one told me the rule has changed and have to collect it in person.

    Thanks and your website is excellent.

    • As far as I know, the rules haven’t change and you will get your PR card in the mail, at the address you provided when you land.

      For you SIN card, you must apply in person. You will get your SIN number on the spot (on a piece of paper) and you will receive the actual card by mail.

  5. Hi Zhu

    Thanks for your practical information. I just have a question that I couldn’t find anywhere! My husband and I got our PR visa and it will be expired in coming July. But my husband should travel to Canada sooner than me. So I was wondering if there would be any problems if we land and enter Canada for the first time separately or not. Since the first observation at the airport seems to be important. Just to add more, my husband is the main applicant and he will fly a month earlier than me.

    • I believe that as long as the main applicant comes first, it doesn’t matter whether you both land together or not. I’d call CIC to be sure, though. Happy landing in Canada!

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