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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