Preparing for your new life in British Columbia is not something to be taken lightly regarding immigration. Good planning can make all the difference for you and your family. Here's some information to help you get ready before you leave.
It's a good idea to visit tourist sites to learn general information about British Columbia, such as climate, geography, tourist attractions, major cities, history, etc. For tourist information in French, visit www.tourisme-cb.com.
Inquire about job opportunities in the province. It's important to note that the job search in British Columbia may differ from that in your home country or province. Please check our Employment section for information and resources on this subject.
You'll need official documents translated into English to settle in British Columbia. It's best to have them translated and formalized in your country or province of origin to avoid significant costs once you arrive at your destination. Here are some important types of documents to have translated into English:
Think about arranging temporary accommodation in advance. This will give you peace of mind when you arrive. It could take several days to find suitable permanent housing.
Please check our accommodation section for more information.
Bring a small amount of Canadian currency to ensure you can pay for your first purchases easily. You can easily exchange your money for Canadian dollars at airports, major city centers, and banks.
Please check our section on banking and finance to find out more.
Before you immigrate or settle in British Columbia, practice your English. You can also take language courses once you've settled in.
Please check our education section for more information.
Vancouver International Airport has a reception service for new immigrants in the Canadian immigration zone. It's called the Community Airport Newcomers' Network (CANN). Here you can obtain basic information on the various services you'll need to settle in Canada.
For more information, visit the CANN website.
The British Columbia Francophone Immigration Program welcomes and guides you in French to answer all your questions about your status in Canada, housing, employment, health, education, community life and more. Contact us today to make an appointment with our settlement agents.
Check out our housing section for tips on finding temporary or permanent housing.
The Social Insurance Number (SIN) is the nine-digit number on a SIN card issued by the Canadian government.
The SIN is essential in several situations.
To obtain your Social Insurance Number, call 1-800-808-6352 or visit the Service Canada website.
As soon as you arrive, take the necessary steps to obtain your health insurance card. These procedures take time (about three months), so it's a good idea to start as soon as possible.
For further information on this subject:
Enroll your children in school as soon as possible. Note that you don't have to wait until you have a permanent home to do this. If you arrive after the school year has started, you'll need to speed up the process so that your children miss as few classes as possible.
Check out the section on education to find out more.
The Canada Child Tax Benefit (CCTB) is a monthly payment from the government to help families with the cost of raising children under the age of 18. Several conditions apply.
Contact the Canada Revenue Agency at 1-800 387-1194 (toll-free) or visit their website.
The provincial government publishes a guide to resources and services for newcomers to British Columbia in French. This guide provides information on the various immigrant aid centers and their services, such as the MOSAIC Centre or ISS of BC. Whether you're seeking information about language courses, employment assistance or translation services, these centers can provide valuable support as you settle in.
Under Canadian law, you have the right to open a personal bank account even if:
To open an account, you must go to the bank in person and present two pieces of identification. It would be best to have the original identification pieces on hand, not photocopies. There are various combinations you can use.
You have two choices:
List A :
If you do not have two pieces of identification from list A, you may :
List B :
The bank may refuse to open an account for you if it suspects you have committed a bank-related crime, if you harass or threaten a bank employee, or if you present false identification.
Book an appointment with a settlement officer if you need help opening a bank account.
Cheques are not free of charge in Canada and are not widely used. You can order cheques from the bank or another company. The box of cheques you order will be mailed to you.
You can cancel a cheque by crossing it out and writing "VOID" or "CANCELLED" on the back of the cheque in large letters.
Common reasons for cancelling a cheque.
A cancelled cheque will not be used or cashed. Nor will it be replaced by another cheque from the same account with the same cheque number. Cancelling a cheque guarantees that it will not be used or cashed.
When we speak of credit, we mean the ability to obtain goods or services before payment, expecting payment to be made in the future.
In today's world, credit is a standard part of everyday life. Credit cards have become a necessary convenience for renting a car, booking a plane ticket or hotel room. However, reasonable use of credit is essential to building a solid credit history and maintaining your fiscal health.
A credit report summarizes your credit history. It is one of the main tools lenders use to determine whether to grant you a loan. Your credit report contains information about your past and present financial situation, such as:
This includes your name, current and previous addresses, social insurance number, telephone number, date of birth and current and past employers.
This is information relating to credit you already have, such as a credit card, line of credit, loan or mortgage.
This is information relating to any accounts you may have. It also includes any overdrawn cheques (cheques cancelled for non-sufficient funds) you may have written.
This is information on the public record, such as a bankruptcy or a court decision relating to credit against you. Secured loans backed by an asset (your property, for example) may also appear on your credit report.
This is information about any debts you have been unable to pay.
You may have made this statement to explain a particular situation, such as a dispute with a financial institution or a fraud warning.
This report lists all individuals or entities that have accessed your credit information, including yourself, lenders, and other authorized organizations.
You'll be required to declare your as an individual or company income. However, depending on your income and situation, you may also be eligible for government benefits and services. For more tax information, visit the Canada Revenue Agency website or book an appointment with one of the settlement officers of British Columbia's Francophone Immigration Program.
In British Columbia, French schools are found in both the public and private sectors. These schools offer courses in English and French. Enrolling your children in school promptly upon arriving in Canada is recommended, and you don't need to wait for a permanent address to complete the registration process.
Since 1982, French-speaking parents in Canada have had the right to educate their children in their mother tongue, as the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guaranteed. British Columbia's public schools offer two types of programs: the Francophone program and the French immersion program. These programs are free of charge and often include transportation services.
This program provides instruction entirely in French, with English courses typically introduced from grade 4 onwards.
To learn about eligibility requirements and find a list of francophone schools, you can contact the Conseil Scolaire Francophone de la Colombie-Britannique.
In this program, a portion of the curriculum is taught in French, with the extent of French instruction varying among schools. This program aims to teach French as a second language.
You can explore the different school districts to find schools offering French immersion programs and discover the available options.
L'École française internationale de Vancouver provides a French-language curriculum from kindergarten to college that adheres to the French Ministry of Education standards.
In British Columbia, education is compulsory for children aged 5 to 16 and is divided into two levels:
Children can enroll in kindergarten starting at the age of 5, and younger children can attend preschool. You can contact the Fédération des Parents de la Colombie-Britannique for a list of French-speaking preschools. It's important to note that preschools require fees.
In some instances where regular school attendance is not possible due to illness or distance, remote learning programs are available through select francophone schools. For further details, please reach out to the Conseil scolaire francophone de la Colombie-Britannique.
Collège Éducacentre offers remote courses and educational services for high school and college levels.
Several post-secondary institutions provide programs in French. To obtain more information about their offerings and courses, it is advisable to contact the institutions directly.
L’Université Simon Fraser (SFU) offre quelques cours en français au niveau des études supérieures ou de la formation professionnelle. Veuillez contacter le Bureau des affaires francophones et francophiles de l’université SFU (BAFF) pour connaître les détails concernant leurs programmes offerts en français.
Le Collège Éducacentre offre la possibilité de faire des études collégiales en français. Le centre propose également des cours de langues, d’hôtellerie, d’informatique, de premiers soins et plus encore
The LINC program (Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada) is specifically designed for permanent resident immigrants (those born outside Canada). It offers free adult courses in English language learning. These courses focus on developing spoken and written English skills and providing essential information for newcomers about healthcare, housing, employment, banking, legal and political systems, and other aspects of Canadian society.
If you are interested in taking a placement test or obtaining course information, please get in touch with one of the centers listed below, depending on your residence.
Western ESL Services
(For residents of Vancouver, North Vancouver, West Vancouver, Richmond, South Delta, Burnaby and New Westminster)
LINC Assessment and Referral Centre
208 – 2525, Commercial Drive
Vancouver, BC V5N 4C1
Phone: (604) 876-5756
FAX: (604) 876-0134
Surrey Language Assessment Centre
(For residents of Surrey, North Delta, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Maple Ridge and the Fraser Valley)
LINC Assessment and Referral Centre
202 – 7337, 137th Street
Surrey, BC V3W 1A4
Phone: (604) 507-4150
FAX: (604) 507-4155
Collège Éducacentre offers a LINC program.
For more information, visit their website or call toll-free 1-800-747-4825.
There are times when returning to school is necessary to acquire new knowledge or enhance existing skills. Continuing education courses are typically offered part-time, allowing students to work simultaneously.
Public elementary and secondary schools do not charge tuition fees, while colleges, institutes, and universities do. Students who lack sufficient financial resources to cover tuition fees can apply for government student loans or benefit from various support programs.
For specific information regarding your situation, please get in touch with the financial aid office of your educational institution or the British Columbia Ministry of Education.
Locating suitable housing can sometimes be challenging for newcomers. Still, numerous resources are available to help you swiftly find a place that meets your requirements and fits your budget.
If you are searching for an apartment in British Columbia, consider exploring the following reputable and dependable websites:
In British Columbia, renting directly from private individuals is common, bypassing the need for a real estate agency.
When conducting an online search for accommodations, it is important to exercise caution and avoid fraudulent advertisements that aim to deceive you and take your money. Before engaging in any transaction, ensure that you verify the authenticity of the ads. Before contacting property owners, carefully review the descriptions and examine realistic photos to assess the credibility of the advertisements.
During your search, you will encounter various abbreviations used to describe the features of homes. Here are a few commonly used examples :
Apartment and real estate prices in British Columbia, particularly in Vancouver, can be high, making it one of the most expensive cities to live in Canada. However, here are some tips for finding affordable housing in the region:
Once you have identified a suitable place, ensuring it fits within your budget is crucial.
During property visits, inquire about including electricity and heating costs in the rent. These charges may or may not be included. If not, you will need to contact the energy suppliers directly and pay the charges separately. Keep in mind that the actual cost of your apartment will be higher than the online price, considering these additional expenses.
Commonly Used Companies:
After selecting your desired home, you will be required to pay a security deposit. This amount should not exceed half of the monthly rent.
The purpose of the security deposit is to cover any potential damages or breakages within the apartment. If you leave the apartment in good condition, the landlord will refund the deposit or deduct it from the last month's rent.
When renting an apartment, you will need to sign a rental agreement, often referred to as a Lease or Tenancy Agreement. This contract outlines the rules, responsibilities, and rights of both the tenant and the landlord. It can be signed at any time during the year.
To avoid conflicts with your landlord, it is essential to be aware of your rights and responsibilities as a tenant.
The BC Housing Management Commission is responsible for regulating housing standards. You can contact them at their toll-free number, 1-800-257-7756, to speak with an agent. If you prefer service in French, you can wait until the end of the greeting to make the request.
In Canada, discrimination based on ethnic origin, skin colour, age, religion, gender, marital status, sexual orientation, disability, or income is strictly prohibited. Landlords cannot refuse to rent you an apartment based on any of these factors. However, they may refuse to rent you an apartment if you smoke or have pets.
For further information regarding your rights as a tenant, refer to the Tenant's Suvival Guide.
If you believe you are a victim of discrimination, contact :
Finally, it's important to be aware that as a tenant, your landlord does not have the right to enter your home without your permission, except in cases of emergency. Additionally, the landlord is required to provide you with 24 hours notice before entering the premises.
If you encounter a dispute, you can seek assistance from The Legal Services Society by calling (604) 601-6100 or visiting their websit. Mediation services are also available through our agents.
When signing the rental agreement, ensure the landlord provides you with an emergency repair contact number.
The landlord is responsible for covering the cost of repairs unless the tenant causes the damage.
Obtaining insurance to safeguard your belongings, such as furniture, jewelry, electronics, and more, is advisable.
CRecommended insurance advisors to contact are :
Securing employment is a significant milestone for newcomers in British Columbia. There are several avenues to explore when searching for work. Consider the type of job you wish to apply for before arriving in Canada. Research the companies that interest you and start building a professional network on social media, more specifically on LinkedIn.
The process of finding a job in British Columbia generally involves the following steps :
Here are various avenues to explore when seeking employment in British Columbia:
Networking is vital in accessing the hidden job market, where 80% of positions are not publicly advertised. Here are some tips for building your professional network :
Volunteering offers numerous benefits, such as improving your English or French language skills, expanding your local knowledge, and enhancing your professional experience within your new province.
To assist you in finding a job in British Columbia, here is some valuable information:
When searching for a job, it is crucial to exercise caution and refrain from sharing sensitive information such as your Social Insurance Number, Permanent Resident Number, or banking details. Legitimate employers will not request this information on your first day of work.
Depending on your status in Canada, several organizations can provide guidance and support during your job search. Consider reaching out to the following organizations:
The public health and hospital insurance plan in British Columbia is called the Medical Services Plan (MSP). The MSP is financed through government revenues and federal transfers, operating not-for-profit. Eligibility for MSP is limited to residents of British Columbia, including immigrants and refugees who meet the necessary requirements.
Additionally, under specific income conditions, the PharmaCare drug insurance program complements MSP by covering the cost of prescribed treatments recommended by your healthcare provider. It's important to note that expenses not covered by MSP or PharmaCare may be covered by private insurance, which employers can provide in part or in full.
It is essential to start the formalities as soon as possible after your arrival to obtain your health insurance card as quickly as possible. It takes around 3 months to receive the CareCard. During this time, it is advisable to take out private insurance. The CareCard is personal, and you are advised to carry it with you whenever you visit a healthcare professional or hospital.
Download the MSP brochure in French from the Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) website.
Health insurance is not provided free of charge to everyone. A monthly fee is applicable, and the amount varies depending on each person's family and financial situation.
For low-income individuals, the payment amount is reduced under specific conditions. To determine the exact fee you will have to pay, please get in touch with your local MSP office or visit their website.
Federally sponsored refugees receive free coverage under MSP.
However, refugee claimants are not eligible for Medicare. They may, however, be eligible for emergency assistance. For more information, please contact the Ministry of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship.
For more details on basic monthly premium costs, refer to the RésoSanté article provided.
The MSP covers all basic health care, such as doctor's visits and medically necessary services (doctors, specialists, midwives, etc.), hospitalization, laboratory services, diagnostic procedures prescribed by doctors, and specific additional treatments and services.
However, the public health insurance plan does not cover the costs of dentists, optometrists, and other health professionals (massage therapists, physiotherapists, psychotherapists, etc.). Consider complementary private insurance for these services, or ask your employer. Your employer may offer you insurance that generally covers the cost of:
The Healthy Kids Program covers certain expenses for children under 19. Ask your doctor for more details.
The British Columbia government has established a drug reimbursement program called Pharmacare. This program aims to lower the cost of specific medications and is accessible to residents of the province who are already enrolled in the public health insurance plan (MSP). The government may cover a greater portion of your drug costs, depending on your income level.
For additional information, you can speak with one of our agents, visit thePharmacare website, or call toll-free at 1-800-387-4977.
In the event of an accident or a severe medical condition, it is advised to go to the nearest hospital emergency room.
To request an ambulance, dial 911. You can ask for one if you require an interpreter by stating "French". Please be aware that the ambulance ride is not free, but the cost can be paid later.
If you need an interpreter, inquire at the hospital or arrange an English-speaking person to accompany you.
Hospitalization is free for permanent residents. However, asylum seekers must obtain authorization to cover their costs from the Federal Intermediate Health Program of the Department of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship.
Canada has two main categories of healthcare professionals: General Practitioners (family doctors) and Specialists. A general practitioner monitors your health regularly and can refer you to a specialist if necessary. You can ask RésoSanté for a directory of French-speaking specialists to provide to your GP.
It's important to note that many GPs do not accept new patients. Suppose you cannot immediately find a doctor. In that case, it is recommended, whenever possible, to join the waiting lists of doctors or clinics that offer this option. You will be contacted for an initial appointment to discuss your medical history when a spot becomes available.
If the doctor you wish to see is not accepting new patients, feel free to call their office every month to inquire about any available openings.
Until you have a designated GP, you can visit the walk-in clinic of your choice for medical consultations, medication refills, and other healthcare needs.
It's always more comfortable to discuss yourself and your health in your native language. To find a French-speaking healthcare professional, refer to RésoSanté's directory, which includes over 1,200 French-speaking healthcare professionals in British Columbia. The directory is accessible online or in hard copy.
If you require an interpreter for a hospital appointment, your doctor must request it in advance. For additional information, please visit the PHSA website.
Several resources are available to provide guidance in French regarding your healthcare needs:
RésoSanté is a non-profit provincial organization promoting French-language health and wellness services in British Columbia. In addition, francophone organizations regularly collaborate to bring health activities closer to home.
Stay tuned to RésoSanté's Facebook page and sign up for their newsletter so you don't miss a thing.
Are you interested in training or working in the medical sector in BC?
Are you interested in French-language medical training in British Columbia? Contact RésoSanté to find out more about the training available.
Are you a healthcare professional trained outside Canada who would like to practice in British Columbia? Contact RésoSanté to find out what's available and the steps to take.
Are you unsure of where to purchase your medication? How to monitor your pregnancy in British Columbia? Who to consult for replacing your glasses? And many other inquiries.
RésoSanté is available to provide answers through its FAQ ection or
It's important to note that the public health insurance plan does not cover expenses for services provided by dentists, optometrists, and other health professionals such as massage therapists and physiotherapists. However, medical insurance plans may cover these costs for individuals with private insurance or those covered through their employment.
For children under 19, the Healthy Kids Program covers certain expenses. For more information, consult your doctor for additional details.