International Relocation for Expats in Canada

Author: Jim Newham
Submitted: November 2014

Moving to another country can be burdensome, especially if you are managing the whole process on your own. You will quickly find yourself with a near endless to do list: apply for a visa, obtain a work permit, look for work, find accommodation, move belongings to your new home... To make things go as smoothly as possible, it is essential to be well organised. Our Expat Briefing articles provide helpful guidelines in this respect. With most moves, except intra-company transfers, it is worth considering consulting a specialised relocation company to help ease the moving process.


Relocation Companies

In recent years, relocation companies have become very popular with expats moving to international destinations. Most of these companies do a lot more than merely arrange the removal of your belongings. They can also make visa applications and find accommodation, utility companies and schools, help to negotiate bureaucracy, advise how best to settle into your new environment and just about anything else that helps you to settle into your new country.

These companies will also ensure the moving process meets all rules and regulations in the destination country. You can look for a good relocation company either in your home country or for one in Canada. It is best to take the time to shop around, getting quotes from different relocation companies, as prices may vary significantly, partly depending on which services are included. Some companies that offer relocation services to Canada are:


Moving your Belongings

If you are not planning to use a relocation company, you should consider how best to move your belongings to Canada. Most airlines will only allow one free piece of luggage when travelling into the country. Sending items via post or express delivery services such as DHL or UPS is only feasible for small items, as heavy parcels tend to have high price tags. Hence, neither of these methods is worthwhile, except perhaps for a handful of items you cannot do without.

Instead, if you are not travelling far, moving to Canada by car or may be a comfortable and budget-friendly option. Hiring a van is also likely to be economical, though, given the distances involved, only if you are immigrating from the northern USA. If this is the case, your vehicle will be subject to the strict Canadian vehicle import laws (see Importing your Vehicle below). It may well be better to choose one of the specialist removal companies, who can also move your pets and vehicles. Before doing this, it is highly advisable to take out independent insurance, and a good idea to make a photographed inventory. Most of the above-mentioned relocation companies offer removal services. Other specialist removal companies include:

Be aware that the further you are moving, the more likely there is to be a delay in your possessions arriving at their destination. This is especially true if you are using the groupage service. What you are permitted to move may be restricted or subject to duties and taxes. For information on how to move to Canada with your family and pets, see Relocation with Families and Pets.


Importing your Vehicle

The permanent import of vehicles into Canada is tightly restricted. To bring a motor vehicle into the country, you need to show proof of ownership, registration documents and visa details. You will then need to complete a vehicle import form, after which the authorities will judge whether import is permitted. All cars and other vehicles imported into the country must meet with the country’s safety regulations, chiefly those detailed in the Motor Vehicle Safety Act.

If you previously had a vehicle in Canada and it was modified while it was outside the country, it may not be eligible for import. It is particularly difficult to import vehicles not registered in the United States, and whether attempting to do so is worthwhile is debatable. It will probably be easier to buy a vehicle once you have arrived in Canada. Even cars from the USA need to undergo an inspection at a test centre approved by the Registrar of Imported Vehicles.

Once your vehicle has passed this inspection, you can get it registered with the provincial government. You will need to pay an import fee, import duty and may also be liable for goods and services tax or its provincial equivalent. If you are planning to stay in Canada for less than a year, the restrictions are not so tight. For more information, see ‘Importing a Vehicle into Canada’ on the Canada Border Services Agency site. For more information on driving in Canada, see Driving and Public Transport.


Arriving in Canada

After successfully relocating to Canada, you will have to take care of several administrative matters, such as opening a bank account and registering with a doctor. Unlike with some countries, you will not need to register your presence with the local authorities. To find out more, have a look at other sections of the Expat Briefing site and consult the relevant Immigration Authority for your country.




Moving to Canada

If you are considering moving to Canada or are soon to depart, you can find helpful information and advice in the Expat Briefing dedicated Canadian section including; details of immigration and visas, Canadian forums, Canadian event listings and service providers in Canada.


Living in Canada

From your safety to shoppingliving in Canada can yield great benefits as well as occasional drawbacks.  Find your feet and stay abreast of the latest developments affecting expats in Canada with relevant news and up-to-date information.


Working in Canada

Working in Canada can be rewarding as well as stressful, if you don't plan ahead and fulfill any legal requirements. Find out about visas and passports, owning and operating a company in Canada, and general Canadian culture of the labour market.



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