The maple leaves are calling. You have found yourself singing, “Oh Canada,” and watching hockey (with actual interest). Now, you’re ready to douse yourself in real maple syrup and get stuck on your neighbor to the north. But before you get yourself into a sticky situation, recognize that Canada is actually not part of the United States, so moving there requires some serious effort. In fact, it can take up to two years to file all the correct paperwork and get approval.
Still, we’ve got you covered whether you are moving to Canada for love (of a Canadian or the country itself), a cool new job, free health care, or your fear of that one candidate becoming the next U.S. president. Heck, the poutine alone is enough motivation for some. Whatever your reason, you need to do the following to prep for a move to Canada:
1. Visit Canada.
Some people fall in love with the idea of a place without ever having gone there or just having visited as a tourist. But moving to another country requires big investments of time and money. You must weigh the pros and cons and know exactly what you’re getting into. Because of the United States’ B.F.F. status with Canada, Americans can stay there for up to 180 days with your U.S. passport. Take advantage and really get a feel for the place. Is this somewhere you could live, not to mention work (assuming you don’t have a trust fund, you’ll have to find a job)? Would you fit in here or would it be total culture shock? Of course, don’t just build an igloo and date a Mountie; start looking for employment and shelter (after all, the igloo is not going to work in the summer) while you’re checking out the place.
2. Engage with the Come to Canada Wizard.
Yes, Canada has its own wizard that does all sorts of magic. Ok, not really. But this wizard does have the power to tell you whether you’re even eligible to legally make the move and, if so, what papers and procedures you have to fill out and follow. You can find the Come to Canada Wizard on the government Website under the heading “Find out if you are eligible to apply.”
(If you read the full notice, which is linked to that page, you’ll learn the tool is, in fact, called the Come to Canada Wizard.)
VisaPlace recently published this comprehensive guide to the history of Americans moving to Canada and the complete scoop on the different kinds of Canadian visas available:
3. Determine where you fit in among immigrants.
Not just anybody can move to Canada. There are different categories of immigrant. Entrepreneurs who want to start a business in Canada, those who have eligible family members who want to sponsor them, caregivers, the self-employed, refugees, investors, and caregivers are among those who might qualify for permanent residence status. You can see the various options here http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/immigrate/apply.asp
4. Plan the move.
The good news for you is that planning a move to Canada is quite similar to planning one within the United States. You can go hybrid, which means you can hack a full-service move by combining affordable services such as rental trucks and/or movers who will pack up the vehicle or moving storage unit for you. All the major truck rental companies, PODS, and ABF have locations and ship to Canada. HireAHelper can offer a hand loading up in the United States, and you can certainly find local movers over the Canadian border. (You can get more scoop, including reviews of the major rental companies, at the Moving 101 section of HireAHelper. In the end, you’ll be able to say that you moved to another country without breaking the bank, and it was no sweat at all.
5. Embrace your new home.
Wave that maple leaf flag, chop some wood, and start ending all your sentences with, eh. And practice winking at that hunky Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, eh. See, you’re practically Canadian already.