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Moving to Canada

From modern cities to breathtaking wilderness, moving to Canada can be a great adventure.

Here, we cover some of the key things you need to know before you go.

Jump straight to:

Canada fast facts

Climate in Canada

Visas and permits

Finding somewhere to live

Getting connected

Banking in Canada

Canada fast facts

Capital city: Ottawa

Currency: Canadian dollars (CAD)

Time zone: There are 6 time zones across Canada

Main languages: English and French

Climate in Canada

Canada has a varied climate. The north of the country is very cold, while the south and coastal areas are more mild. Winters across the country are long and cold, and temperatures can drop well below freezing. The summers are warm, but short.

Most Canadians live in the south where the weather is warmer.

Visas and permits

You'll likely need a visa to enter Canada, and if you're planning on working, you may need a work permit. There are 2 types of work permits:

  • open work permit - where you can work for any employer in Canada
  • employee-specific permit - which is for a specific employer

If you're planning to study, you'll need a study permit as well as a visa.

You'll need to have your entry visa before you can apply for either a work or study permit.

You can find out more about visas, permits and how to apply on the government website.

Finding somewhere to live

Once you've got your feet on the ground, you'll want to find somewhere to call home.

Depending on where you plan to live, that could be a city centre apartment or a log cabin in the woods. Contact some local realtors and visit real estate websites to find out what’s available and how much you’d be paying in rent.

When you've found somewhere, you'll need to sign a rental agreement from the landlord. You may also need to show:

  • proof of employment
  • a bank statement with enough funds to cover several months' rent
  • references

Your prospective landlord may also want to carry out a credit score check.

If you're thinking of buying instead of renting, find out about mortgages here

Getting connected


There's a number of internet providers in Canada, but the choice may depend on where you're living. You'll need to provide some documentation when applying for internet services, but you can check this with the provider before you apply.

Cell phone

Cell phone plans in Canada can be a bit pricier than other countries. But from SIM only plans, to a contract and handset, there's a number of options. The best one for you will depend on what you need and how you'll use it.

For example, with Canada being such a large country, there may be additional charges for calls outside the city you're living in. If you think you'll be making a lot of long distance calls, look for a plan that includes them.

Banking in Canada

You'll need to cover your set-up costs when moving to Canada, so it can help to get a chequing account sorted before you move. If you're relocating for work, you may need an account up and running so you can receive your salary.

With HSBC you can open an international bank account in over 30 countries and regions, including Canada. You'll also be able to use online and mobile banking to manage all your accounts from anywhere in the world.

It can take some time to get a chequing account sorted, so try to plan ahead.

Explore: Setting up a chequing account

Explore more

Find out how to send money internationally from your HSBC account.
Everything you need to know about studying in Canada as an international student.
When planning a move, there’s lots to think about. Read our guide to help you get started.