Are you thinking of moving to Canada from the UK?
Moving abroad is a complicated process.
Since the onset of the worldwide Covid pandemic, it has, in some cases made it even more so.
However, Canada is among the least problematic places to emigrate, due to its comparatively relaxed immigration policy.
There are plenty of reasons why so many people want to live in another part of the world such as Canada.
Just for the experience, a better lifestyle, a cost-of-living upgrade, or to be closer to family.
Well before you start the application process, it is essential to determine whether you are eligible to immigrate to Canada.
Whatever your own personal reasons for emigrating, you need to make sure you find out as much as you can about the country before you leave.
Here, we have put together a Moving to Canada from the UK – A Complete How to Guide that we hope you will find helpful.
Visas & Residency
You can enter Canada via seven routes, economic immigration or family sponsorship are the two most popular.
Economic immigration is for those who are seeking employment and family sponsorship is for those who already have a family member residing in the country.
There are other ways you can enter Canada for longer periods of time.
Express Entry Program offers applicants a speedy, relatively hassle-free process of immigrating. There are three programs to choose from:
- FSTP (Federal Skilled Trades Program). Designed for foreign trade workers with work experience in eligible trade occupations to immigrate to Canada.
- FSWP (Federal Skilled Worker Program).
- CEC (Canadian Experience Class). This could be the perfect immigration program for you. designed for permanent residence applicants who have Canadian work experience that they obtained through a temporary work permit.
Other methods of entry include Study Permits and Business Start-up Visas.
For a more in-depth explanation of each program, visit the UK Government’s guidance on Living in Canada.
It is important to keep on top of entry requirements as they can change at short notice.
Many find that the best way to ensure that everything is done correctly and quickly, is by using an immigration agent.
CanadianVisa.org is one of many agents who can help guide you through the whole process and assist with the best program of entry that is just right for you.
Quality of Life
You will have lots of questions about Canada but one thing you can be sure of is that the quality of life it offers is one of the best in the world.
Canada is a high-tech industrial society with a high standard of living.
Canada is frequently among the top contenders of the ‘Quality of Life’ category in Best Countries by U.S News.
The rankings are rated on several criteria from economic and political stability to health and education.
In fact, the quality-of-life rating for Canada as a percentage reached 99.3% placing the country second overall!
There is no doubt you can expect to enjoy a high standard of life in Canada that is hard to beat elsewhere.
Like all vast countries, the weather conditions change depending on where you live.
Part of Canada’s appeal is its four seasons: winter, spring, summer, and fall and the climate and intensity of these seasons also vary across the country.
The winter months fall in December, January, and February, though they can start early or late.
For many, this is the best time of the year as most of the skiing takes place within these months.
Destinations such as Whistler are extremely busy with tourists attracted by the heavy snowfalls and excellent skiing conditions.
If you would rather avoid such low temperatures, you might want to consider a location in British Columbia. Southern Alberta gets winter relief from warm Chinook winds so, for the most part, is much milder.
Summer in Canada is generally June to August with hot, humid weather. Some northern locales, like Whitehorse, Dawson City, or Edmonton have daylight for between 17 and 20 hours.
Be warned, wherever you are in Canada during the summer months the weather can change very quickly bringing with it heavy showers.
Canadians love being outdoors during the spring and fall months. The weather is pleasant, and you can still take part in lots of outdoor activities like hiking and camping, whale watching, and more.
To find out what the weather conditions are across the country in real-time visit the Canadian Governments weather conditions forecast website.
Cost of Living
You will find that Canadians enjoy a very similar cost of living to the UK.
That said, there are differences.
The cost of living in the UK is higher in cities, while the cost of living in Canada is higher in rural areas.
The cost of day-to-day living expenses can be cheaper in Canada:
- Fuel for instance is cheaper in Canada by as much as 54p per litre
- Cigarettes are cheaper in Canada costing around £5.33 less
- Monthly utility costs are so much cheaper in Canada by over 93%
Some things you will pay more for in Canada, are some food items. Many foodstuffs are more expensive than the UK.
- A litre of milk is 48p more expensive in Canada
- A loaf of white bread is 70p more
- Potatoes, onions, and lettuce are all almost double the cost.
All statistics from Numbeo and are liable to change.
You will make savings in Canada in other ways.
Childcare, school fees, eating out, and public transport costs are all cheaper in Canada.
The annual average salary in Canada is C$63,181.04 (£37049.44) per year.
The average annual salary in the UK is currently £34,963 (C$59623.00).
When it comes to the cost of living, it is a “swings and roundabout affair” and for the most part, you will find the cost of living in Canada is similar overall to the UK.
Cost of Moving
Moving internationally is an expensive business and a substantial financial commitment.
Even more so since Covid as shipping lines have increased their freight rates considerably.
Unfortunately, shipping rate charges are a major component in calculating the costs associated with moving household effects around the world.
Aside from the transport of your belongings to Canada, other costs to consider include the cost of acquiring your visa, applying for permanent residency, customs fees, biometrics fees, and fees applied to each family member moving with you.
According to Arrive, as an individual applicant, you would need approximately C$15,500 CAD to immigrate to Canada.
You will need to thoroughly research all associated costs very carefully and budget accordingly, well before you apply to emigrate to Canada.
Shipping Your Belongings
The International removal industry is very competitive.
There are a host of companies available all eager to vie for your business.
Not all are equal!
There are several vital checks you can run to ensure that you choose a suitably reliable removals firm.
Make sure they are active members of BAR.
The British Association of Removers are a highly regarded, industry regulator.
Members must undergo strict and ongoing assessments before they can become and remain members.
Furthermore, they are there for you if anything goes wrong with your move.
Are your movers able to offer you safe, secure storage on-site if it becomes necessary?
Do they use environmentally friendly packing materials?
These are important questions to ask.
Anything destined for an international country will need to be shipped by container and transit times to Canada are around 3 weeks, sometimes a little quicker depending on the vessel’s route.
If you are not taking everything with you, you may need to ship your belongings in a shared or (groupage) container with other people’s consignments destined for the same port of entry as yours.
Groupage consignments do take longer as the container must be full before departure.
Sole-use containers vary in size with 20ft, 40ft or 40ft high cubes available.
To give you a rough idea, a 20ft container will fit in all the contents of an average-sized 3-bedroom house.
Vessels can sometimes be prevented from docking due to a build-up of ships waiting to be offloaded.
Plus, several security and customs checks are run on each container which takes time.
These circumstances are beyond your removal company’s control but unfortunately, they can lead to delays.
Taking Your Pets to Canada
Not all animals are allowed to enter Canada.
There are very stringent rules and regulations for pet shipment.
All animals undergo a documentation inspection by the Canada Border Services Agency.
They need to make sure that your animal is up to date with vaccinations and that they are in good health.
As pets are regarded as one of the family and you want to have them with you when you start your new life in Canada, you must be familiar with the import laws.
For an extensive list of rules and regulations visit the Canadian Government website.
To ensure that you don’t fall foul of any Canadian customs regulations, it is best to use a reputable pet importer such as Airpets.
Their team of experienced consultants, veterinarians and animal handlers will know exactly what needs to be done.
You can look forward to having your animal with you in no time with as little stress placed on them as possible.
Universal Healthcare System
The standard of healthcare in Canada is excellent.
As a permanent resident, you may apply for public health insurance which will cover you for most health-related services you may need in Canada.
Like here in the UK, the costs associated with the healthcare system are automatically deducted from your salary each month.
Unlike the UK however, you will be issued an insurance card which needs to be presented to the hospital, clinic, or doctor before getting treatment.
When you first arrive, it can take several months to attain your card.
It is a very sensible idea to ensure that you apply for temporary private cover in case of an emergency while you wait for the card to arrive.
Education is well run, well supported and of a high standard.
While some employers include the cost of private education in their employment packages the state-run system is more than adequate if not.
Children are taught via three levels as in the UK. Primary, secondary, and post-secondary. It is important to note that each province is responsible for its own education provision.
Private, international, and religiously affiliated education is also available in most provinces.
School is compulsory from the age of 6 – 18 years.
As the standard of education is so high, many students from around the world choose to study further or higher education in Canada.
Canada has a strong economy.
As one of the wealthiest nations in the world, Canada is dominated by a strong service industry and an abundance of natural resources.
According to the latest data released by Investopedia, the country was ranked as the 9th strongest economy in the world at the end of 2023, only 3 places behind the UK in 6th.
However, like so many countries across the globe, its economy is also having to evolve to keep pace with the way the world conducts business with Digital Economy taking the front stage.
The county’s economy struggled throughout 2023 and increased interest rates have seen growth slow drastically.
However, recovery is expected to come towards the end of 2024.
You can find out much more about the forecast of Canada’s economy on the Oxford Economics website.
According to the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), Canada’s wealth divide is significant, with a huge disparity between the top 10% of earners and the bottom 10%.
The top 10% richest in terms of wealth own 50% of the net household wealth in Canada.
While these figures are significant, they are lower than both the United States and the United Kingdom.
GBP to CAD Exchange Rate
Currency Converter by OANDA
Exchange rates are volatile, constantly moving up and down.
Before the UK left the EU, the British Pound was stronger than the Canadian Dollar, standing at 2.06 GBP/CAD.
We have included an up-to-date currency converter above so you can stay informed on the exchange rate right now.
If you are planning to buy a home in Canada and will at some point, be moving across a large sum of money, it really pays to keep a close eye on the exchange rate.
By moving at the right time, you will get the absolute best value from the going rates.
Transferring Money When Moving
Before you move to Canada, you must find a safe and easy way to transfer your money.
Canada has one of the safest and soundest banking systems in the world. It was one of the few countries that managed to avoid major problems in the 2007-2008 financial crisis.
There are plenty of high street banks to choose from, including the Bank of Montreal and the two largest, the Royal Bank of Canada and the Toronto Dominion Bank are among the world’s 25 largest banks.
You can open an account before your arrival in the country, in fact, it is advisable to do so.
This will make your move much easier and smoother.
A Canadian bank account is important because when you land, immigration officials will require proof of funds. With a bank account, you can easily prove that you have available funds.
For a helpful “how to” guide to opening an account from the UK visit PocketPence.
NOTE: You may be planning to take a certain amount of cash with you on your journey to Canada.
Be aware that if you are carrying more than CAD $10,000 and do not declare it, the CBSA has the authority to seize your money.
The side of government that is run by hired employees rather than elected politicians is known as the Canadian public service, civil service, or federal bureaucracy.
More Canadians work for the federal government than any other employer in the country.
This type of government dots all the ‘I’s and crosses every ‘t’.
This ensures that everything is done to the letter.
Some Canadians consider it all to be red tape, in that, going through this process creates plenty of delays and is inefficient as a whole.
Heading off to a new life somewhere else is very exciting. It is also an incredibly busy time.
After you have been in Canada for a while, and you are past the whirlwind phase of seeing new sights and exploring your new life, you will want to make friends.
Life can get lonely without them!
One thing you don’t have to be concerned about is the language barrier.
Practically all Canadians are bilingual and speak English or French.
In general, Canadians are friendly, unpretentious people who value honesty, sensitivity, empathy, and humility in their relationships with friends
There are all sorts of ways you can begin to make friends and integrate into your local community.
Join a social club, sign up for an ex-pat website, or invite workmates along for an informal BBQ.
Doing things as simple as walking your dog or sitting with your children in the park is a surefire way of getting to chat with people.
Sometimes you must get out of your comfort zone and make the effort. It won’t happen overnight, but it will be well worth it in the end.
Expat Communities in Canada
As many as 650,000 UK ex-pats already live in Canada.
Obviously, not all are British, but 20% of Canada’s total population are expats from other countries.
This is the highest percentage of foreigners living abroad than any other G8 country in the world.
Everyone is in the same boat.
You can find some great ex-pat online platforms offering a wealth of information and assistance for newbies to Canada.
Expat.com is a good example.
You are sure to be in contact with potential friends in no time.
Entertainment & Leisure
This is where Canada really stands out!
The variety of entertainment and leisure activities available in Canada will dazzle you.
There are countless activities you can do in your spare time, whether indoors or outside.
If you want to get away from the typical routine of restaurants, movies and bistros, head to the great outdoors!
There are many activities to discover.
National and provincial parks, waterfalls, and rivers as well as mountain ranges, provide opportunities for walking, hiking, mountain climbing, cycling, and caving.
At any time of the year, there will be snow somewhere in Canada. Skiing and snowboarding are just two of the things you can enjoy when it is cold.
Canadians are quite active loving to both watch and play sports.
If you enjoy nature, Toronto offers one of the world’s largest zoos, with around 5,000 species of animals in a natural setting inspired by habitats.
Regardless of where you live, many major towns and cities have their own zoos and there are even plenty of wild animals you may encounter!
Every year, millions of people visit Niagara Falls, which is undoubtedly the most well-known natural attraction in Canada.
Many of the country’s museums do not charge admission, so history buffs are in luck!
Life is for Travel has published a list of the top 20 most visited tourist attractions in Canada.
Eating Out in Canada
Having so many immigrants it is no surprise that Canadian cuisine is so eclectic, it is a veritable feast for foodies!
The unique dishes that Canada has created for the world include an intriguing mix of sweet and savoury food.
Known as Canada’s national dish, poutine is a French-Canadian meal featuring three ingredients: fries, cheese curds, and gravy. It is sold everywhere.
Butter Tarts are another classic Canadian treat.
These small pastries with butter, sugar, syrup, and egg filling are similar to custard tarts in the United Kingdom!
Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver are home to some of the top restaurants on the continent of America.
Wherever you live, there will be a restaurant to fit your specific preferences.
There are some stark differences between the UK and Canada, however, there are also many similarities too.
Parliamentary institutions and Canadian law are very like what we are used to at home.
English-speaking Canada and the United Kingdom share a language and all the literature and history that goes with it.
The amount of open space available in Canada is a significant contrast for expats arriving from the UK.
You will typically have significantly more space around your home, and most properties are much larger than those in the UK.
The class division is significantly less noticeable in Canada.
People rub shoulders with people from all walks of life without judgment.
In terms of friendliness and hospitality, Canadians are well-known around the world for their exceptional kindness and hospitality, even outranking the British.
In the survey of the world’s friendliest countries by InterNations, Canada is in the top 10, and the United Kingdom is outside the top 50.
While Britain tries to stop the flow of immigration, Canada welcomes it.
Canadians generally drink much less than Brits. In most provinces, liquor/spirits are only available in government-run stores. In some places, this is true of beer and wine too.
You’ll notice that, like everywhere, Canadians have their own lingo for certain things.
For example, one dollar is also a ‘loonie’, and trousers are now ‘pants’.
Public transport is rarely overcrowded, clean and almost always on time.
Another of the biggest differences is the weather. Hard winters and hot summers are pretty much guaranteed in Canada.
While cold wet and windy weather prevails at home during the winter, we can never be assured of a nice summer!
Even if it is your goal to move to Canada permanently, renting for a year or so is still a good idea.
You can then take your time to discover which neighbourhood, town or city will suit you best before you invest all your money in a new home.
In general, you will find houses and apartments for rent and for sale in classified ads in local newspapers.
Owners have the right to ask you for proof of employment or to carry out a credit check to verify that you have not gone into debt; however, you will always find understanding owners or owners who are accustomed to renting to newcomers.
Costs, of course, will vary from Province to Province and from town and city
While rent prices will vary from place to place, it’s also dependent on what type of property you wish to rent, large, small, flat or detached house.
In Ottawa, the capital city of Canada, the average rent for a one-bedroom flat in the city centre is C$1,951.50. On the outside of the city, the average drops to C$1,823.79.
Compare this to Montreal where inside the city centre and outside the centre costs C$1,682.25 and C$1,335.10 respectively; the price of renting will vary dramatically.
Buying Property in Canada
Once you have decided where you want to live, the next step is to start the buying process.
Different finance options will be available to you, depending on whether you are a permanent resident or not.
As you are most likely not familiar with how the purchase process works in Canada you are well advised to use a good local estate agent.
They can help guide you through the processes and fees required to buy a house in Canada.
Having a realtor in Canada will make your life far more straightforward, and many of the difficulties that come with buying a house overseas will disappear.
You can find them in the yellow pages (yes Canadians still use good old Yellow Pages) of your Canadian phone book or simply log onto the Internet.
Like the UK, there are a host of additional costs to plan for such as the services of a lawyer or the notary, as well as other expenses related to the completion of work.
For a completed guide on “how to buy a home in Canada” head to the Canadian Government website.
With a strong economy and a growing population, moving to Canada from UK offers a range of opportunities for individuals with the right skills and experience.
Employers in Canada are prioritizing skilled foreign workers, preferably those who are recent graduates from universities, colleges, and trade schools.
Many Brits who arrive in Canada have already landed a job. It is the easiest way to relocate to Canada.
However, it is still possible to find a job once you get here.
You stand an excellent chance if you have a skill of any sort that is in demand.
The list of Canada’s high demand occupations ranges from managers and legislators to animal health technologists and opticians.
The most in-demand sectors currently are management job profiles and those with qualifications in nursing.
You will find excellent job prospects here, with a high quality of life to go along with it.
Working in Canada offers more than just wonderful pay; it also often entails taking advantage of some fantastic benefits of being a member of the Canadian workforce.
All employees are entitled to a pension, paid parental leave, employment insurance, and eye exams.
Employment laws are extremely stringent, and the Canadian government takes workplace health and safety seriously.
You will be entitled to ten days of public holidays, with the possibility of additional days in some cases.
Furthermore, if you work more than 8 hours per day or 44 hours per week (whichever is larger), this is considered overtime and must be paid accordingly.
One of the best ways to find jobs in Canada is to start online.
In Canada, the tax system much like England, is mandatory and can be complicated.
The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) considers you a newcomer to Canada for the first year you are a resident of Canada.
Depending on what you earn, there is an incremental tax amount to be paid.
For example, at £55k, you’d pay 20% up to £46,350 and 40% on the last £8,650.
In Canada it works the same; however, there are five federal tax brackets:
The current Federal tax rates and brackets for 2023 in Canada are as follows:
- First $50,197 of taxable annual income: 15%
- Next $50,195 of taxable annual income: 20.5%
- Next $55,233 of taxable annual income: 26%
- Next $66,083 of taxable annual income: 29$
- The portion of taxable annual income above $221,708: 33%
Aside from Federal Tax, residents must also consider provincial income tax.
These taxes vary depending on the province in which you live.
Like federal tax, provincial taxes increase in incremental brackets, with higher salaries being taxed more.
Once these are calculated and added to federal taxes, you arrive at the total taxable amount.
You can view further information about provincial and federal tax and credits here.
Pensions & Retiring in Canada
If you are moving to Canada from the UK as a retiree, you can still claim your UK pension.
The claim process is very simple, albeit time-consuming, and you will be asked for information regarding former addresses and jobs, as well as banking information for your account in Canada.
If you are claiming both a state and a private pension, you may encounter some issues.
To avoid any financial loss, you must examine how you will receive your pension.
The UK government modified the laws for expats living abroad in 1977, and it no longer enters into or amends social security agreements with other nations.
Although the Canadian government has often raised the issue, there is little sign that this will change anytime soon.
Canadians can also pay monthly or voluntary extra payments into a pension scheme in Canada.
Canadian Pension Plan (CPP) is Canada’s social insurance program, offering those who invest money into this fund a retirement pension they will receive for the rest of their life.
CPP payments are not automatic; you must apply for them. Once you reach the age of 60, you’re CPP will become available to you.
On top of this, you can still work while receiving your CPP, and you can still make contributions up until the age of 70.
Driving in Canada
In most regions, you can use your UK driving licence in Canada.
It is best to check this because some individual provinces and territories may require you to have an International Driving Permit, which means your UK licence is only valid for a short period of time after your arrival.
For example, in Alberta, you will have to surrender your UK Driving Licence for a Canadian one, and you must provide proof that you’ve been driving for at least two years.
- Driving is on the right-hand side
- 911 gives you access to all important services like ambulances, police, and fire department. This number works nationwide.
- Distance is measured in Kilometres and speed is measured in KPH (Kilometres per hour).
- Most cars are automatic rather than using a manual gear stick system
- Turning right is permitted on red lights unless a sign indicates not to do so.
Main roads right across the country are well maintained.
They are usually much wider than those of the UK and driving is absolutely the best way to experience the true beauty of Canada.
Voting in Elections
If you continue to monitor the political happenings in the UK and want to keep your right to vote, it is still possible.
You will have to register as an overseas voter, and you can register for up to 15 years after leaving the UK.
If you want to have the right to vote in Canada, you must become a permanent resident of Canada.
Of course, you can still vote in the usual way at a polling station; it will just require a quick flight back to the UK.
Becoming a Citizen
When you have decided that you want to remain in Canada and take citizenship, there are a number of criteria to fulfil.
To be eligible to become a Canadian citizen, you must:
- be a permanent resident
- have lived in Canada for 3 out of the last 5 years
- have filed your taxes
- pass a citizenship test
- prove your language skills
If you satisfy these conditions, then you can apply online to become a Canadian citizen.
This will require you to pass a citizenship test, you will then provide fingerprints, and a decision will be made if you have passed.
Crime & Safety
Canada is among the safest countries in the world.
According to Canadian immigrants, safety is one of the primary reasons they choose Canada over other developed countries.
Canada’s government is efficient and works hard to implement effective crime prevention and reduction strategies.
Crime is unavoidable in larger cities, as it is in any huge area.
You will observe a notable lack of homes with massive, imposing security fences, indicating the country’s safety.
The emergency services of specific towns and cities are under the control of the province or territory it is in.
Just like the USA, dial 911 if you ever require emergency services.
The big difference with Canadian emergency services is that you must pay if you need to use them.
Some instances are covered by your health insurance. As an example, if an ambulance is called you can expect to pay a charge of around C$240 – C$300.
If you need to be transported to a hospital the cost increases to around C$385.
Police and firefighter services are usually paid for by taxes therefore you will not pay if it becomes necessary to use them.
Need a Hand Moving to Canada from UK?
Moving abroad is stressful for all involved, this is no different when moving to Canada from UK!
That’s why White & Company are here to help your move be as smooth and stress-free as possible.
Our experience is second to none. As members of BAR, FIDI and OMNI, White & Company have been relocating people to destinations worldwide for 145 years.
Our experienced teams located across the UK will pack and prepare your valuable, fragile and bulky furniture ready for export
To find out more about how we could get your dream move underway, don’t hesitate to give us a call today.
Alternatively, fill out a quick quote form or chat with our Bot and we’ll get in touch with you straight away.
We look forward to assisting you with your removals to Canada!
Max is a seasoned writer and blogger in the real estate and home moving sectors, as well as a knowledgeable source of information for expatriates living and working abroad. His detailed insights have helped thousands of people move and live abroad with greater simplicity and ease.