In this article:
- Get Your Social Insurance Number
- Apply for the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP)
- Open A Canadian Bank Account
- Get Road-Ready
- Apply for an Ontario Photo Card
- Purchase a Local Cell Phone Plan
- Look for a Place to Live
- Get Your Documents in Order and Submit Them to the Relevant Organizations
- Update Your Contact Information and Financial Details
- Get to Know the Neighborhood
New to Ontario? Moving can be a stressful, hectic process whether you’re coming from a different province or another country. Kruzee’s got your back with this list of what to do once you’ve moved to Ontario, so you don’t miss anything important.
Get Your Social Insurance Number
If you’re coming to Ontario from overseas, you’ll need a Social Insurance Number (SIN) to work in Canada. It’s a nine-digit number similar to most personal identification numbers in other countries, and you can apply for one at a Service Canada office, by mail, or online.
Don’t forget to bring an original primary document with you as proof of your identity and status when you apply. If you’re a permanent resident, you’ll need a permanent resident card or a document confirming your permanent residence, while if you’re in Canada on a work or study visa, bring your work or study permit with you.
You should get your Canadian Social Insurance Number within a week of your arrival, as you’ll need it to access government programs and benefits.
Apply for the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP)
Each Canadian province and territory has its own health insurance plan, and Ontario is no different. If you meet Ontario’s public health insurance qualifications, you can apply for it and get immediate coverage. If you don’t, private insurance is the way to go when it comes to protecting your health.
The Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) healthcare card covers all visits to the emergency room, doctor’s appointments, clinic and healthcare provider visits, as well as any medical tests and surgeries you might need. Take note, though: seeing a doctor may come at no cost, but you might have to pay for prescription medication.
OHIP doesn’t cover certain services, such as dental care, optometry, chiropractor services, naturopathic medicine, and psychotherapy. Additional third-party health insurance can help reduce costs here – this is usually paid for out of pocket, but some employers include it as part of employment benefits.
Once you’ve gotten your Ontario Health Card details sorted out, you’ll be looking for a family doctor for new and non-emergency health concerns. This doctor will be registered as your primary health care provider in the system – this is an important step as you’ll need to visit your family doctor first before you can get any referrals for specialist consultation. If you haven’t found your family doctor yet, you can still visit any walk-in clinics or hospitals at no cost provided you have OHIP coverage.
Open A Canadian Bank Account
If you haven’t got one already, one of the most important things you should do when you arrive in Ontario is to set up an account at a local bank. This lets you manage bills and debit card payments without incurring the extra costs you’d get if you used your home account since it’s easier to transact within the local banking ecosystem.
Chequing accounts usually have associated charges depending on the bank, so you’ll want to spend some time comparing banking fees and online services before you pick a bank. All you need to do to open a personal bank account in Canada is to present valid personal identification, and the teller will walk you through the process when you’re at the bank.
Another thing you can do is get a credit card, as you’ll need Canadian credit history to do some important things like rent property and take out a loan.
Ontario’s (and especially Toronto’s) public transportation system boasts a range of options to help you get around, but sometimes, you just need some form of private transport, especially when traveling long distances through all kinds of weather. If you’re planning to get a car, you’ll need to insure, register, and license your car before you can legally drive. You’ll also want to get a car that can deal with Ontario’s weather, which is rainy in the spring and snowy in the winter.
If you don’t already have a driving license whether from another province or another country, you’ll be able to get one by going through Ontario’s Graduated Licensing System. This will take about 24 months to complete. As part of getting your driver’s license in Ontario, you may want to consider booking driving lessons to familiarize yourself with the rules of the road in Ontario and prepare for your road test. MTO-certified driver’s education programs may also make you eligible for a discount on your insurance, and allow you to get your G2 in 8 months instead of 12.
However, if you already have a Canadian provincial driving license or a foreign driving license, you’re in luck. You might not have to go through the entire driver’s licensing process from beginning to end.
Depending on where you’re from, you’ll be able to expedite the proceedings by providing the necessary documentation for verification by the Ministry of Transportation (MTO). Ontario also has reciprocal agreements with specific provinces and countries, so in certain cases, you can just exchange your foreign driving license for an Ontario driving license.
Apply for an Ontario Photo Card
Driving licenses are the primary identification document used in Canada, but if you don’t have one, you can opt to apply for an Ontario Photo Card as an alternative proof of identity. You should not have any other Canadian proof of identity if you have an Ontario Photo Card.
If you’re moving from a different province to Ontario, you can update your address offline through Service Ontario or through the mail. The card is valid for five years and the application cost is $35, and you’ll receive your brand new Ontario Photo Card at your new address within four weeks.
Should you decide you’d like to get a driving license, after all, you should surrender your Ontario Photo Card at the driving center before you go for your G1 level driving test, just in case you pass it.
Purchase a Local Cell Phone Plan
If you’re moving to Ontario from overseas, getting a local cell phone plan should be one of the very first things to do once you arrive. The sooner you set up your local number, the less it’ll cost you in terms of roaming charges from your overseas provider. You’ll also be able to use local mobile apps with a Canadian number.
Spend a little time comparing plans available at your new address, as Internet Service Providers often offer a variety of packages and rates to suit your needs. Remember to cancel or change your existing cell phone plan if you’re not leaving Ontario any time soon, as some contracts continue to bill you even if the number isn’t in active use.
Once you’ve purchased a new contract with your carrier of choice, you should update your phone number for all the services you’re using, such as the two-factor authentication for your online accounts, as well as any billing and banking information as they’ll need your new phone number to keep in touch with you.
Look for a Place to Live
Sometimes, you’ve got to move on short notice, and you might be staying with friends or relatives while you figure out long-term housing. You’ll be able to find listings on websites like Craigslist, Kijiji, and Padmapper, and if you’d like to go the old-fashioned way, Ontario’s community newspapers will have property listings in the real estate section.
Ideally, you should have a Canadian credit history or local references to help speed up your search. Not having these will be a disadvantage and you’ll find that the housing search process will take a bit longer. If this happens, keep trying until you find a landlord who’s flexible enough to accommodate you.
Once you’ve found a place to call home, your utilities are next. Sometimes, the utilities are ready to go and all you have to do is shift them into your name by getting in touch with the companies. Other times, you might have to shop around for service providers and sign up for utility services on your own.
Certain types of property have rules and instructions for things like parking, mail collection, laundry, garbage, and recycling. You can ask for more details from your landlord or property manager.
Get Your Documents in Order and Submit Them to the Relevant Organizations
Moving is a big deal, and you’ll be shifting between provincial or international providers when you arrive in Ontario. You’ll need to gather the original copies of your documents in English or French – if they’re not in these languages, a reputable translation agency can help you translate them. You’ll also need to get an affidavit to legitimize the accuracy of these translations.
Just in case, make copies of your original documents, since some organizations prefer to have them on hand. Depending on what they need, getting photocopies, digital copies, and certified true copies of the documents will help you prepare for whatever you’re applying for. If you have children, they’ll also need their documents to register for public or private schooling.
Here’s a list of commonly requested verification documents:
- Your birth certificate
- Your passport
- Your identity card, permanent residence card, or citizenship card
- Marriage or divorce certificate
- Adoption records for adopted children
- Educational diplomas, certificates, and transcripts
- Vaccination records
- Medical and dental records
- Driver’s license or International Driving Permit
- Your resume or Curriculum Vitae
- Contact details of references and reference letters
- Income records
Update Your Contact Information and Financial Details
You’ll need to update your address, banking accounts, and credit card details once you’ve moved to Ontario, as public and private organizations rely on the personal information you provide to contact you about important matters. Some of these address changes are time-sensitive or required by law, too.
If you already have a Canadian driver’s license and your old home province has a reciprocal agreement with Ontario, you might be required to update your driver’s license and vehicle permit within six days. You’ll receive your new license at your new address within six weeks.
Public medical health insurance coverage in Ontario also has a time-sensitive address change deadline – to keep it active, you must change your health card address within 30 days of your move.
Any mismatch in your contact information and financial details could result in account restrictions or transactions getting declined. It would be wise to update your accounts as soon as you can to prevent the risk of losing your coverage or missing important pre-authorized payments.
Some other organizations that need an address update:
- Your employer
- Your bank
- Taxation authorities like the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)
- Service Canada
- Your insurance provider
- Monetised online platforms
- Online services that require a billing address
Get To Know the Neighborhood
Now that you’ve got the nitty gritty settled and done, it’s time to go exploring – look around your neighborhood for grocery stores, pharmacies, and other essential services so you know where to go when you need them. If you have children, it’s worth checking out childcare services and schools in the area.
This is also a great time to get to know the area and the people living nearby, as you’ll want to start building a community network of friends and acquaintances. You can do this by volunteering at your local community center or a charitable organization or two. If you’re the group hobby type, there should be local activity groups you can join to get to know people with similar interests.
Ontario is home to quite a few sights and attractions that appeal to all types of interests. Outdoorsy types and tourists will enjoy visiting Niagara Falls, Point Pelee National Park, and the Thousand Islands along the St Lawrence River, while theater and culture enthusiasts can look forward to the annual Stratford Shakespeare Festival from April to October. Meanwhile, wine lovers can tour the Niagara Wine Trail, as Ontario is part of Canada’s wine regions.
And there you have it, a handy checklist for the things you need to do when you arrive in Ontario. We’re sure you’ll have extra list items to add as the dust settles after your move, but this list should cover all the basics.
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