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The Ultimate How to Move to Canada from Singapore Guide

The Ultimate How to Move
to Canada from Singapore

Moving to Canada from Singapore? Our Ultimate How to Move to Canada from Singapore Guide covers absolutely everything you need to know about moving from Singapore to Canada.

With in-depth information and valuable resources from how to apply for a visa to how to import common household items, from what the Canadian healthcare and education systems are like, to how to decide where to live, our Moving to Canada from Singapore Guide will help you and your family have a safe, seamless, stress-free move to Canada.

Chock-full of important international moving tips, as well as insights into Canadian customs and culture, including everything from table manners, commonly used words, holidays and food, to the sports Canadians like to play and watch, our Moving from Singapore to Canada Guide will also assist you and your family assimilate into day-to-day life quickly and easily on arrival.

As the largest removals company in the world, with over 1,000 service centres across 180 countries, UniGroup Worldwide International Movers will help make your move to Canada as smooth and stress-free as possible.

With over 85 years' experience, successfully delivering 48,000 international shipments annually, our overseas removal experts can help ensure your safe, seamless stress-free move to Canada from Singapore.

UniGroup Worldwide International Movers moving Singaporeans to Canada safely, seamlessly and stress-free

UniGroup Worldwide International Movers moving Singaporeans to Canada safely, seamlessly and stress-free

For your convenience, you may:

  • Easily navigate through our Ultimate How to Move to Canada from Singapore Guide by clicking the links within the Contents section below.
  • Read our accompanying step-by-step Complete How to Move to Canada from Singapore Checklist, a full-proof list of easy-to-follow, chronologically ordered tasks designed to help ensure you and your family enjoy a smooth, stress-free move to Canada.




National Holidays

New Year's Day, 1 January Good Friday, 30 March Canada Day, 1 July Labour Day, 3 September Christmas Day, 25 December

Financial Year

1 April - 31 March

Government Type

Federal parliamentary democracy (parliament of Canada) under a constitutional monarchy; a commonwealth realm


Canadian dollar (CAD)

International Dialling Code


Country Domain Code


Road Traffic

Drives on the right


110V, 60Hz. Type "A" plugs

Emergency Numbers

911: General Emergencies
311: Non-emergency (some areas only)

Time Zone

Canada spans six time zones. Newfoundland Standard Time is GMT-3.30, Atlantic Standard Time is GMT-4, Eastern Standard Time is GMT-5, Central Standard Time is GMT-6, Mountain Standard Time is GMT-7 and Pacific Standard Time is GMT-8


In 1867, Canada became a self-governing colony and still has ties to the British crown. When it comes to technology and the economy, Canada is very similar to the US. The government is currently focusing on improving healthcare and social services and is working to resolve the trepidations of Quebec.




Population Growth Rate


Median Age

total: 42 years
male: 40.8 years
female: 43.3 years

Life Expectancy

81.9 years




Geographic Coordinates

60 00 N, 95 00 W


total: 9,984,670km2
land: 9,093,507km2
water: 891,163km2


Canada, the second-largest country in the world, is most densely populated in the areas that are situated around 160kms from the US border. With almost 9% of the country’s territory being water, Canada is known for having more fresh water than any other country in the world.


Ottawa geographic coordinates: 45 25 N, 75 42 W

Major Urban Areas and Population

Toronto 5.993 Million; Montreal 3.981 Million; Vancouver 2.485 Million; Calgary 1.337 Million; Ottawa 1.326 Million; Edmonton 1.272 Million


Canada’s temperatures vary per area. The north can experience arctic conditions while the south is more moderate.


Canada closely resembles the US in terms of economic growth and quality of life. Trade increased quite dramatically after the US-Canada Free Trade Agreement and the North American Free Trade Agreement were put in place in 1989 and 1994 respectively. Due to its multitude of natural resources and its educated workforce, Canada experienced excellent economic growth between 1993 and 2007 but the economy did undergo a recession during the global financial crisis.

GDP Per Capita

$46,200 USD

Taxes and Other Revenues

38.8% of GDP


Languages Spoken

English French Chinese Punjabi Spanish

Major Ethnic Groups

European Asian Indigenous African American Latin American


National Flag

National Anthem

"O Canada"

National Symbol(s)

Maple leaf, Beaver

National Colours

Red, white


Quality of Life

Ranked 9th of 80 countries

Cost of Living

Ranked 22nd of 104 countries

Education System

Ranked 8th of 187 countries

Healthcare System

Ranked 30th of 190 countries

Happiness of Residents

Ranked 7th of 155 countries

Crime Rate

Ranked 72nd of 117 countries

Suitability for Green Living

Ranked 25th of 180 countries

How Much Does It Cost to Move to Canada?

Calculating moving to Canada Calculating moving to Canada

The cost of moving to Canada from Singapore comprises of a number of expenses, each with their own variables. The largest components will likely be the shipping of your household belongings, and the relocation of your family. Beyond that, there are additional costs for visas, storage, insurance and temporary accommodation upon arrival.

How Much Does It Cost to Ship Household Goods to Canada?

The cost of shipping your belongings can vary dramatically depending on the volume you’re shipping, what you’re shipping, how and from where you ship it. For example, a sparsely furnished two to three-bedroom home shipped by LCL (Less than Container Load) or Groupage sea freight from Singapore to Ottawa or Toronto could cost S$2,220 to S$3,300; whereas a heavily furnished four-bedroom home shipped by FCL (Full Container Load) sea freight from and to the same ports may cost twice that. Furthermore, the cost would increase if you’re moving from and/or to an inland city, or you’re shipping antiques, a piano, wine, or expensive and/or bulky items that may require custom crating or packing. And if you’re in hurry to ship your belongings to Canada, the same size homes could easily cost you tens of thousands of dollars to ship by air freight.

Given all these variables, it is strongly recommended that you obtain a detailed quote from an experienced, reputable international removalists like UniGroup Worldwide International Movers.

For more information on the different types of sea and air freight, their respective advantages, disadvantages and how to calculate their costs, read our in-depth guide,What is the Best Way to Move Overseas? Best Air & Sea Freight Options.

How Much Does It Cost to Relocate Your Family to Canada?

The average cost of an economy class ticket from Singapore to the west coast of Canada is between S$900 to S$1,200 per person, with the east coast of Canada costing an additional S$300 to S$400 per person. So, relocating a family of four from Singapore to Canada can be between ?3,200 to ?3,800 in airfares alone.

Additionally, if you are bringing any pets, there will be costs for their flight, any health checks or vaccinations required, and possible quarantine charges on arrival. Roughly, a cat or medium sized dog would cost between S$800 to S$1,600 to join you.

How Much Does a Canadian Visa Cost?

Everyone that applies for a Canadian work permit must pay a non-refundable, non-transferable application fee. This application fee must be paid regardless of whether a visa is issued or not. These fees are:

  • Work Permit: C$155 per person
  • Work Permit Group of performing artists (three or more): C$465
  • Open Work Permit Holder: C$100.

For more information, visit How to Apply for a Canadian Visa.

What Other Costs are Involved in Moving to Canada?

There are several other costs involved in moving to Canada, including:

  • Storage: If you are not moving to Canada permanently, and opt to leave some of your household goods in Singapore, you may need to organise and pay for secure long-term storage
  • Insurances: When moving to Canada, you may need to invest in several different types of insurance, including removals insurance, international health insurance, and travel insurance
  • Temporary accommodation: If you plan on searching for a new family home once you arrive in Canada, you will need some form of temporary accommodation for when you first arrive. On average, a hotel room in Canada costs between S$160 to S$220 per night, with a serviced apartment costing on average between S$1,100 to S$1,500 per week. So, if you need temporary accommodation for one month, the cost could exceed S$5,500.

How to Apply for a Canadian Visa

Applying for a Canadian visa Applying for a Canadian visa

To apply for a Canadian visa (referred to as a work permit) with minimum stress and maximum convenience, you must first determine which type you need: an open work permit or an employer-specific work permit. You will then need to compile all necessary visa documentation, complete all forms, pay the application fee and submit your application at your closest Visa Application centres.

Follow each of the steps below to help ensure you receive your Canadian work permit quickly, easily and hassle free.

Why Do I Need a Canadian Visa?

Singaporean citizens wishing to move to Canada must obtain a Canadian visa. Having a visa allows you to request permission from the Canadian Government’s Immigration and Citizenship Department to enter Canada. Whilst having a visa does not guarantee you entry into Canada, it does indicate that a consular officer at a Canadian Embassy or Consulate has determined that you are eligible to seek entry for that specific purpose.

Select a Canadian Work Permit Category

To apply for a Canadian work permit, you must first determine which Canadian Work Permit Category applies to you:

  • 1. Open work permit:
    • An open work permit allows the holder to work for any Canadian employer, except for:
    • An open work permit only applies in certain circumstances. The applicant must be:
      • A permanent resident who has applied to an office in Canada
      • A dependent family member of a permanent resident
      • A spouse or common-law partner of some workers and international students
      • A refugee, protected person or a family member
      • A temporary resident permit holder (in some instances)
      • A young worker participating in a special program.
  • 2. Employer-specific work permit:
    • This permit allows only the holder to work according to the specifics detailed in the permit, including:
      • Name of employer
      • Duration of employment
      • Location of employment (if applicable).

For further information on work permits, visit the Canadian Government’s guide to Working in Canada.

Compile Canadian Visa Documentation

To apply for a Canadian visa, you need to supply a range of supporting documentation. Begin compiling this documentation as soon as possible to avoid delays:

  • Proof of identity:
    • Birth certificate
    • A valid passport that guarantees you re-entry into the issuing country.
  • Proof of employment in Canada:
    • A copy of the Labour Market Assessment Impact  (LMIA) provided by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), as well as a copy of your job offer letter from your employer
    • If you are exempt from the requirement above, you must provide an Offer of Employment to a Foreign National Exempt from an LMIA
    • If your employment is in Quebec you will need to provide a Certificat d’acceptation du Québec
    • Proof of your ability to meet requirements of the job, such as proof of education and work experience.
  • Proof of relationship:
  • Other documents:
    • Police check report
    • Medical examination report, for which there are specific requirements
    • Bank statements demonstrating you can support yourself and your family members, and return home
    • Two photos that satisfy the criteria outlined in the Visa Application photograph specifications. Make sure to include your full name on the back of each photo
    • Proof of your current immigration status if citizenship is different to your current place of residence.

Use the Canadian Government’s Work Permit Document Checklist to ensure you have all supporting documents, to enable a smooth, stress-free work permit application process.

Complete the Canadian Work Permit Application Forms

To lodge your Canadian work permit application in the smoothest, most stress-free way, make sure you complete the following forms:

Pay the Application Fee

All people that apply for a Canadian work permit must pay a non-refundable, non-transferable application fee. This application fee must be paid regardless of whether a visa is issued or not. These fees are:

  • Work Permit: C$155 per person
  • Work Permit Group of performing artists (three or more): C$465
  • Open Work Permit Holder: C$100.

You can pay these fees online.

Be sure to print a copy of your payment receipt—you must attach this to your application for it to be processed.

Submit Your Work Permit Application

Submit your Canadian work permit application by either:

The Canadian Government has a detailed Work Permit Application Guide, with step-by-step instructions to make the application process as simple as possible.

How to Apply for a Social Insurance Number

Applying for a Social Insurance Number Applying for a Social Insurance Number

When moving to Canada from Singapore, once you have been granted a work permit, you’ll need to apply for a Social Insurance Number (SIN). A SIN is a nine-digit number that you need to work in Canada, and to access government programs and benefits.

To apply for a SIN follow these steps:

The Canadian Government has a detailed guide on how to apply for a SIN, with step-by-step instructions to make the application process as simple as possible.

How to Decide Where to Live in Canada

Deciding where to live in Canada Deciding where to live in Canada

Most people relocating from Singapore to Canada will already know where they are going to live—your location needs to be confirmed during the application process for an employer-specific work permit. However, if you’ve been granted an open work permit, you’ll need to take several factors into account when deciding on where to live.

From low crime rates to health and education systems, there are many variables to consider when choosing the perfect place for you and your family to call home. Given the sheer size of the country, geography and weather can also play a large part in your decision, just as unemployment rates, average salary and the cost living are likely to influence the location of your new home.

To help you decide where in Canada will best suit both your needs and those of your family, some of the most important factors are outlined below.

What is the Unemployment Rate in Canada?

Local unemployment rates are a good indicator of the trends in the local job market. Understanding these trends is vital for people who have been granted open work permits. The Government of Canada provides statistics on Labour force and unemployment rates for each province and the major cities. The Government of Canada’s Job Bank tool also allows you to search for specific jobs in specific regions to gauge the demand for your skill set.

What is the Average Salary in Canada?

As at the end of 2016 the average weekly salary in Canada was C$968, equivalent to just over C$50,000 per annum. However, given the sheer size of the country, a better factor to consider when choosing where to live in Canada is the local average salary, which will provide a good indication of your likely earning potential. The Government of Canada publishes average salary statistics for specific occupations, as well as average weekly earnings by province and territory.

What is the Cost of Living in Canada?

The cost of living in Canada varies greatly from province-to-province and even city-to-city. Investigate the average cost of living in your preferred province or city so that you can budget accordingly.

The following list provides an idea of the average prices you can expect to pay for products and services in Canada (although keep in mind that these prices will vary based on both location and provider):

  • Monthly rent for an unfurnished two-bedroom apartment: C$2,500 
  • Monthly internet (uncapped ADSL or cable): C$58
  • Monthly utilities (gas, power and water) for a small apartment: C$122
  • Petrol (per litre): C$1.25 
  • A dozen eggs: C$2.96 
  • A litre of milk: C$2.04 
  • A loaf of bread: C$2.60 
  • McDonald’s Big Mac Meal: C$9 
  • A cappuccino: C$3.81 
  • Three course meal for two (mid-range restaurant): C$70. 

What is the Canadian Crime Rate?

Canada’s crime rate has steadily decreased since 1998, with 5,224 incidents of police-reported crime per 100,000 people in 2016.

Everyone wants to find a safe neighbourhood to call home. Just how safe a neighbourhood is varies from province-to-province and even city-to-city. So, before you decide where to live in Canada, review the Government of Canada’s crime rate statistics.

For more information, visit What is the Healthcare System Like in Canada?

What is the Quality and Availability of Health Care Like in Canada?

The availability of quality local health care is a key priority when researching potential areas to live. This report by CBC News provides an excellent ranking of 240 Canadian hospitals, and results can be filtered by province. The Conference Board of Canada also published a report that ranks the best Canadian provinces according to healthcare.

For more information, visit What is the Healthcare System Like in Canada?

What is the Quality of Schools Like in Canada?

If your children will be accompanying you on your relocation to Canada, it’s important that you move to an area that can provide them with a quality education. The Compare School Rankings site, authored by the Fraser Institute, allows you to compare various schools across Canada. This report by MoneySense also offers a ranking of the best areas in which to educate children.

For more information, visit What is the Education and Schooling System Like in Canada?

What is Population Wellbeing and the Standard of Living in Canada?

Canada performs very well in many measures of population wellbeing when compared to most other countries in the OECD Better Life Index. Particularly in areas such as housing, subjective wellbeing, health, personal wellbeing, social connections, income, jobs, education, civic engagement, and work-life balance.

However, when it comes to deciding on a place to live, you really need an understanding of what local population wellbeing is like. For instance, in the Yukon, the Northwest Territories, and Nunavut, life expectancy is (on average) more than seven years less than the national average. The Canadian Index of Wellbeing provides some information on physical, mental and social wellbeing of the Canadian population in the different territories.

What are Tolerance and Diversity Like in Canada?

As in any country, some cities and provinces of Canada are more tolerant of cultural, racial, religious and sexual differences, both socially and legally. Although, it should be noted that Canada has consistently ranked as one of the most tolerant countries in the world across a range of issues.

What is the Average Commute Time in Canada?

When deciding on where to live in Canada, the average commute time can be an important consideration, particularly if you plan to drive to and from work every day. According to the 2011 National Household Survey, Canadian commuters spent an average of 25.4 minutes travelling to work each day. The longest average travel times were in Toronto (32.8 minutes), Oshawa (31.8 minutes), and Montréal (29.7 minutes). Workopolis’ article on average commute times in various Canadian cities is a useful resource.

What is the Climate in Canada?

Canada is the second-largest country in the world, and there are enormous variations in climate throughout the various provinces and territories. Most of Canada’s population resides close to the US border where the weather is more temperate, but if you’re planning on moving to Edmonton or Calgary, you need to be prepared for extremely cold winters. Research the climate of the potential province you’re planning to live in to ensure it suits your preferred lifestyle.

What is the Geography of Canada?

There are enormous geographical variations throughout Canada. The British Columbia coast (along the Pacific Ocean) enjoys the most comfortable climate, particularly as it is protected from storms by Vancouver Island. The Cordillera area, from British Columbia to the Alberta border, is characterised by rugged mountains and plateaus.

The Prairies of Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan feature miles of wheat fields. The Canadian Shield is a rocky region surrounding the inland sea of Hudson Bay, and the Great Lakes-Saint Lawrence Lowlands is home to prime agricultural land and 50% of Canada’s population.

The Atlantic provinces and Appalachian region is full of low, rugged hills, while the Arctic zone is filled with miles of ice and snow, and reserved for the adventurous.

Be sure you know what sort of geography (and therefore outdoor recreational activities) is predominant in your new home before you decide to move there.

What is the Weather in Canada?

Canada encompasses everything from endless prairie land to the impenetrable ice of the artic, which is why there is so much variation in the weather. So, be sure you understand what the weather is like in the area where you intend to move to. Most of populated Canada enjoys four distinct seasons:

  • Summer: The Prairies are hot and dry, while temperatures are milder on the coasts. Central Canada experiences quite humid weather during the summer months
  • Autumn: Most areas will experience a crisp, cool Autumn
  • Winter: Cold, with snowfall varying from province-to-province. Winters are typically milder but wet on the west coast, while southern Alberta can sometimes experience a ‘Chinook’, which is a warm dry wind that blows in from the Rocky Mountains and melts the snow
  • Spring: Generally pleasant weather across the country.

What are the Most Popular Cities to Move to in Canada?

For information on the most popular Canadian cities to live, visit:

When is the Best Time to Move to Canada?

Deciding when to move to Canada Deciding when to move to Canada

Because Canada is such a huge country, the best time to move there is highly location specific. In fact, two of the most important factors to consider are the weather (you don’t want to move in either scorching heat or heavy snow) and holiday seasons.

Consider the Weather

Spring and Autumn are the best times to move to Canada, as you’ll have the best chance of avoiding extreme weather, such as blizzards, downpours and scorching midday sun. As the second largest country in the world with huge variations in geography, the weather in Canada is incredibly varied:

  • Summer: The Prairies are hot and dry, while temperatures are milder on the coasts. Central Canada experiences quite humid weather during the summer months
  • Autumn: Most areas will experience a crisp, cool Autumn
  • Winter: Cold, with snowfall varying from province-to-province. Winters are typically milder but wet on the west coast, while southern Alberta can sometimes experience a ‘Chinook’, which is a warm dry wind that blows in from the Rocky Mountains and melts the snow
  • Spring: Generally pleasant across the country.

Consider Holiday Seasons

Moving during holiday seasons in any country is generally more expensive. So, keep in mind that Canadians generally have a longer break over the summer period, lasting from the middle of June to the end of September, which corresponds with the beginning and end of the school year.

If possible, avoid moving during the following holiday seasons in Canada:

  • All statutory holidays
  • Christmas holidays: 24 December to 4 January
  • Mid-winter break: Mid-March
  • Easter Holidays: Good Friday to Easter Monday.

What is the Education and Schooling System Like in Canada?

Types of schools in Canada, and how to choose one Types of schools in Canada, and how to choose one

In Canada, there is no national education system. Although quite similar across the country, individual province and territory governments run their own education systems. There are approximately 15,500 schools in Canada and 5.3 million students enrolled, with approximately 78% of all students completing high school. In the Canadian education system:

  • By law, children must go to school. The ages of compulsory education vary from province-to-province, but most students start at age five and finish at age 16
  • In most Canadian provinces, education is divided into three levels:
    • Early Childhood Education: This covers education for children between the ages of three to six. There are differences amongst the provinces, but the first stage is usually called Junior Kindergarten or Pre-Kindergarten (ages three to five). The second stage is called Grade Primary or Kindergarten (ages five to six)
    • Elementary Education: This stage runs from grade one to grade eight and provides education to students between the ages of six and 14
    • Secondary Education: This stage runs from grade nine to grade 12 and covers students between the ages of 14 and 18
    • There is no standard, national curriculum in Canada. As such, assessments and outcomes vary between provinces. The Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials provides detailed information on elementary and secondary education systems by province and territory
    • Canada has two official languages, English and French. Under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, all students have the right to receive publically funded education in either language.
  • Canadian schools observe just two semesters, broken up by a two and half month summer holiday, and a week-long mid-winter break. The terms are usually:
    • Autumn Semester: September to December
    • Spring Semester: January to May.

What Types of Schools are there in Canada?

There is no federal education system in Canada. Instead, education is the responsibility of individual provinces and territories. As a result, the type of schools available vary. Most children in Canada attend free public schools or private fee-paying schools. Detailed information on the types of schools available in Canada are outlined below.

Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten

Pre-Kindergarten and kindergarten provide education to children aged between three and six. There are various forms of pre-school education in Canada, including church-affiliated schools, local community schools, Montessori schools, private schools and non-profit co-operative schools. Attending school before the age of five is not compulsory. In the French-speaking parts of Canada, this stage of education is called prématernelle and maternelle.

Public Schools

Public schools are mainly funded by local and provincial taxes, with some additional federal funding. There is no central governing body for the public school system, so practices and policies vary greatly between the provinces and territories.

For most areas, parents are required to send their children to the public school that is within their catchment zone. Public schools are free, although there may be costs associated with books, after-school activities and stationery.

Private Schools

Canada enjoys a high-quality public education system, although it is generally considered that the private sector offers better educational outcomes. Private schools do not have to create curriculum around government regulations, which gives administrators and teachers the ability to tailor classes and lessons.

The other advantage of private schools is that parents aren’t restricted to schools in the area in which they live. Private schooling can be expensive, but the higher fees allow the school to invest in better facilities and provide more extra-curricular activities and support to students. Students with special needs often benefit from attending private schools. Some private schools are affiliated with religions.

International Schools

International schools can be found in Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan, Quebec, British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario. Most of these schools prepare students for the International Baccalaureate examination and diploma, qualifying graduates for entry to universities outside of Canada. There are limited spaces available at these schools, and selection is often made based on nationality. Fees are also expensive compared to national standards. Find your local International Baccalaureate school in Canada.

What Types of Tertiary Education are there in Canada?

Canada boasts one of the highest rates of tertiary education completion. According to the 2006 census, six of every 10 adults aged between 25 and 64 had completed some form of tertiary education.

Canada's tertiary education institutions are usually classified based on their degree-granting capacities: universities grant degrees, while colleges and institutes grant diplomas, certificates, and attestations. However, increasingly, colleges and institutes are also granting degrees. For further information on the differences between colleges and institutes, visit the Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials.

If you’re relocating to Canada with older children, it is important to familiarise yourself with the Canadian tertiary education system, including the types of education available. This will help you narrow down your child’s choices and develop an education plan. Detailed information on the types of tertiary education institutions available in Canada are outlined below.

Colleges and Institutes

There are thousands of colleges and institutes in Canada. However, only approximately 150 are recognised at a government level, including:

  • Community colleges
  • Colleges of applied arts or applied technology
  • Institutes of technology or science
  • Colleges
  • Collèges d’enseignement général et professionnel in Quebec
  • Career colleges.

These providers generally offer one to three-year programs and diplomas, which qualify graduates to find positions in specific jobs and fields, such as:

  • Business
  • Computer and mechanical technologies
  • Social services
  • Agriculture
  • Trades (such as carpentry, mechanics, and plumbing)
  • Health.

For further information on colleges and institutes in Canada, visit the Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials.


There are more than 200 public and private institutions in Canada that grant degrees, with the majority located in either Quebec or Ontario. Universities offer three types of degrees in a variety of disciplines and subjects:

  • Bachelor’s degree: A basic degree that is awarded after three or four years of study
  • Master’s degree: An advanced degree that is awarded after one to three years of further study
  • Doctoral degree: The most advanced degree offered at Canadian universities, usually requiring three or more years of study and research after a master’s degree has been awarded.

For regulated professions, such as education, medicine, and law, students need to complete an internship or pass a standardised examination in addition to completing their degree.

For further information on universities in Canada visit the Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials.

How to Choose a School in Canada

To assist you in finding the most appropriate school for your children, visit:

How to Ship Household Goods to Canada

Shipping household goods to Canada Shipping household goods to Canada

If you’re moving to Canada, then a huge part of the process is going to involve shipping your household belongings to Canada and associated customs requirements. To ensure that your household items arrive in Canada safe and sound, and clear customs as quickly and easily as possible, be sure to follow our advice on the documents required, customs prescriptions and other tips and suggestions below.

Keep the following considerations in mind when shipping your household belongings to Canada:

  • Shipments of household goods may be subject to a thorough inspection by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA)
  • Any single item, including automobiles, that were acquired after 31 March 1977, and are valued at more than C$10,000, are subject to regular duty and taxes on the excess amount
  • All shipments must be declared to customs at the port of entry
  • Canadian customs require invoices and inventories for new furniture, household items, presents and souvenirs
  • Antiques and works of art are duty free if they are part of a household goods removal, have been possessed by an owner for at least one year and are not intended for resale. Items must be at least 100 years old to be considered an antique
  • There are several items that are prohibited from being shipped to Canada, including pornographic materials, unprocessed furs, skins, illegal drugs, baby walkers, balloon blowing kits, infant self-feeding devices, jequirity beans, lawn darts with elongated tips, relight candles and yo-yo balls with long cords.

What Documents are Required for Shipping Household Goods to Canada?

For the safe shipment and smooth customs clearance of your household goods, you’ll need to ensure that the following documentation is completed as accurately as possible and provided:

  • A copy of your passport
  • Detailed inventory, including the value of items included in your shipment. This document must be in either English or French. Moving to Canada Customs Form BSF186 Personal Effects Accounting Document can be used for this purpose
  • Freight or cargo manifest, obtained from your moving company. Moving to Canada Customs Form A6A Freight/Cargo Manifest can be used for this purpose
  • Ownership, possession and proof of use
  • Receipts for any new items
  • Previous airport or US-Canada border declaration papers
  • Immigration papers (if applicable)
  • Landed immigrant application (if applicable)
  • Visa (if applicable)
  • Work permit (if applicable)
  • Letter of undertaking (not always necessary).

How to Ship Diplomatic Household Goods

If you’re shipping diplomatic goods to Canada keep in mind the following requirements:

  • You must include all documents mentioned in What Documents are Required for Shipping Household Goods to Canada?, plus obligation for privilege to be lodged by the Canadian Ministry of External Affairs
  • If you’re importing goods that will be used in the operation of a diplomatic mission, consular post, or accredited international organization, they must be accounted for using Moving to Canada Customs Form B3-3 Canada Customs Coding Form
  • All household goods have duty free entry
  • Diplomats are advised to check with their local embassy regarding the importation regulations for alcohol.

How to Ship Household Goods that Have Been Inherited

If you are shipping items to Canada that have been inherited:

  • You must provide all relevant paperwork, as per What Documents are Required for Shipping Household Goods to Canada?, as well as:
    • Personal identification
    • A detailed list of all items, including values in Canadian dollars
    • Advice Notice obtained from your removals company
    • A copy of the death certificate, a copy of the will, or a letter from the Executor of the
Estate stating you are a beneficiary
    • A signed statement from the donor giving reason for the gift or a statement from the Executor of the Estate. Keep in mind that gifts could be subject to import duties and taxes.
  • There will be no duty payable if the imported items have been owned and used for at least six months prior to entry.

For more information about How to Ship Household Goods to Canada visit Canada Customs Forms & Guides for Moving Overseas.

How to Import Vehicles into Canada

Importing vehicles into Canada Importing vehicles into Canada

Most vehicles sold in countries other than the United States cannot be imported into Canada. If you are considering importing a vehicle into Canada that you bought outside the US, you need to carefully review all importation requirements, and keep in mind that it is a criminal offense to import a vehicle into Canada that does not meet the requirements of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act.

To help ensure that you meet customs requirements, and that the clearance of your vehicle is as smooth as possible, follow our advice on these requirements below. It’s also worth considering the various taxes imposed on importing vehicles into Canada before you decide to ship your beloved car, motorbike or truck.

When Can Vehicles from Outside the US be Imported into Canada?

There are several special circumstances under which you can import a car from outside (such as from Singapore) into Canada. These include where the vehicle:

  • Is over 15 years old, belongs to a regulated class of vehicle under the Motor Vehicle Safety Act and is not a bus
  • Is a bus manufactured before 1 January 1971
  • Is non-regulated or does not belong to a class of vehicle regulated under the Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations
  • Meets all Canadian standards, and was bought new as part of a manufacturer's foreign buyer program abroad. In this instance, you must pre-authorise your vehicle's entry into Canada with Transport Canada
  • Is a returning Canadian-specification vehicle originally owned in Canada and still complies with Canadian standards. The importer can request pre-Authorisation from Transport Canada for the vehicle's entry
  • Meets all US Vehicle Importation Requirements. The importer must pre-authorise the vehicle's entry with Transport Canada to import the vehicle. The vehicle will then have to comply with the Registrar of Imported Vehicles program requirements when it arrives in Canada
  • To pre-authorise your vehicle with Transport Canada, call 1-800-333-0371 or email at [email protected]

For more information on when vehicles from outside the US can be imported into Canada, visit Transport Canada.

What are the US Vehicle Importation Requirements?

To import vehicles into Canada from Singapore, they may have to comply with all US vehicle importation requirements, including:

  • If the vehicle was manufactured abroad, you will be required to produce confirmation statements from vehicle’s manufacturer that it complies with US safety and emission standards
  • Vehicles 25 years old or less must comply with US motor vehicle safety standards that were in effect when the vehicles were manufactured. Passenger cars manufactured after 1 September 1973 must also meet bumper standards
  • Vehicles 21 years or older are exempt from emission requirements
  • Vehicles owned by importers facing circumstances deemed extraordinary or a hardship, where the vehicles are deemed essential for basic living, are exempt from emission requirements
  • Vehicles manufactured in 1974 or later and driven in a country without unleaded gasoline must have the vehicle's oxygen sensor and catalytic converter replaced
  • Complete US Department of Transportation Moving to Canada Customs Form HS7 Importation of Motor Vehicles and Motor Vehicle Equipment Subject to Federal Motor Vehicle Safety, Bumper and Theft Prevention Standards
  • Complete Environmental Protection Agency forms:
    • For passenger vehicles, highway motorcycles and corresponding engines: Moving to Canada Customs EPA Declaration Form 3520-1 Importation of Motor Vehicles and Motor Vehicle Engines Subject to Federal Air Pollution Regulations
    • For heavy-duty highway engines and non-road engines (gas, diesel, marine, stationary): Moving to Canada Customs EPA Declaration Form 3520-21 Importation of Engines, Vehicles and Equipment Subject to Federal Air Pollution Regulations
  • If importing a vehicle that needs general modifications, you must:
    • Enter a contract with a Department of Transport registered importer; an automotive business that will modify your vehicle upon your arrival in the United States
    • Enter under a Department of Transport bond equal to 150% of the vehicle's dutiable value.
  • If importing a vehicle that needs modifications related to safety, bumper and emission standards, you must:
    • Enter a contract with both a Department of Transport registered importer and an Environmental Protection Agency accredited Independent Commercial Importer (ICI), who will bring your vehicle up to compliance standards
    • Ensure your vehicle meets all Environmental Protection Agency requirements within 120 days of arriving in the United States.

What Taxes are Imposed on Vehicle Importation?

The Canadian Border Services Agency imposes duties and collects tax on imported vehicles. You can expect the following costs when importing your vehicle:

  • Duty: 6.1% (some cars from North America may be duty free)
  • GST: 5%
  • Excise Tax of C$100 for cars with air conditioning
  • The Registrar of Imported Vehicles charges a C$192 fee on vehicles from the USA less than 15 years old
  • CFIA inspection fee: C$43 applicable to vehicles imported from a country other than the USA. Steam cleaning fees may apply if it has not been sufficiently cleaned
  • Motorcycles and vehicles over 25 years old and their parts are duty-free
  • Green Levy: Taxes for fuel inefficient cars are taxed at the following rates and based on average weighted fuel consumption:
    • At least 13, but less than 14 litre per 100km (62 miles): C$1,000
    • At least 14, but less than 15 litre per 100km (62 miles): C$2,000
    • At least 15, but less than 16 litre per 100km (62 miles): C$3,000
    • 16 or more litre per 100km (62 miles): C$4,000.

Further Resources on Importing Vehicles into Canada

For further information consult the following agencies:

For more information about How to Transport Cars to Canada visit Canada Customs Forms & Guides for Moving Overseas.

How to Import Pets into Canada

Importing pets into Canada Importing pets into Canada

You can take most pets to Canada, so long as they are accompanied by the correct documentation, free from infectious diseases that are transmittable to humans, and are not deemed harmful to the environment. As such, importing most cats, dogs, birds, and reptiles is possible.

General laws and regulations for importing pets into Canada include:

  • The Canadian Food Inspection Agency stipulates that all animals and animal products entering Canada must have documentation. This documentation is known as a pet passport. Use Moving to Canada Customs Form Application for a Certification of Ownership to Travel with a Personal Pet to apply for your pet passport
  • The Canadian Wildlife Service Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) controls the importation of birds into Canada
  • Boerboe
  • The import of exotic pets or any species listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES) is subject to a permit system and to import such a pet requires a permit.

There are also specific requirements for importing different types of pets, each of which is outlined in detail below.

How to Import Cats into Canada

You can import your pet cat into Canada, so long as it is free from infectious diseases that are transmittable to humans and are not deemed harmful to the environment. To import your cat into Canada, you must keep in mind:

  • Cats under three months old are exempt from any import requirements
  • Domestic cats entering Canada do not have to be quarantined
  • Canada does not require a microchip or tattoo identification for pet cats
  • Cats do not require a health certificate or import permit
  • Cats must have a rabies vaccination certificate, or the owner must provide proof from a veterinarian that the cat originates from a country that Canada recognises as rabies-free
  • The rabies vaccination certificate must:
    • Be written in either English or French
    • Be signed and issued by a licensed veterinarian
    • Show the breed, colour and weight of the cat
    • State ‘vaccination against rabies’
    • Include the date of vaccination
    • Show the trade name and serial number of the vaccine
    • Outline the duration of immunity.
  • The veterinarian certificate must:
    • Be written in either English or French
    • Be signed and issued by a licensed veterinarian
    • Show the breed, colour and weight of the cat
    • Indicate that the cat has been in the rabies-free country from birth or at least six months prior to import to Canada
    • Be accompanied by documentation from a country that Canada recognised government authority stating the lack of any cases of rabies for at least six months prior to shipment.

For more information, visit the Canadian Food Inspection’s information on Importing Domestic Cats or our Canada Customs Forms & Guides for Moving Overseas.

How to Import Dogs into Canada

Dogs can be imported into Canada, so long as they are free from infectious diseases that are transmittable to humans and are not deemed harmful to the environment. To import your dog into Canada, you must keep in mind:

  • Domestic dogs coming into Canada do not require quarantine
  • Dogs imported as personal pets do not have to be microchipped or tattooed
  • All dogs imported into Canada will be inspected by the Canada Border Services Agency; the fees for this inspection are C$30 for the first dog and C$5 for any additional dogs
  • The Canada Border Services Agency may pass on any dogs presented at the border to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) for secondary inspection
  • Dogs entering Canada must have all necessary vaccinations
  • Dogs under three months of age are not required to have a rabies vaccination, although proof of age may be required
  • Any dogs that don’t meet requirements for rabies vaccination will be required to undergo vaccination within two weeks of arrival. Fees for this service are C$55 for the first dog and C$30 for any additional dogs.

For more information, visit the Canadian Food Inspection’s information on Importing Domestic Dogs or our Canada Customs Forms & Guides for Moving Overseas.

How to Import Birds into Canada

If you want to bring live birds into Canada, you should check the requirements well in advance, particularly as there are different requirement for birds imported from the US when compared to birds imported from other countries.

Pet birds brought into Canada from countries other than the US must follow this import protocol:

  • The owner must accompany the birds into Canada
  • The birds must be quarantined upon arrival for a minimum of 45 days
  • During this period of quarantine, the owner must allow reasonable access to conduct observation, collected samples and perform any other evaluations. It is up to the owner to provide this access when necessary
  • Birds will only be released from quarantine when they have been deemed a non-risk to the health of Canadian birds
  • Birds from China, Bangladesh, Egypt, India, Indonesia and Vietnam are prohibited from entering Canada due to the highly pathogenic avian influenza.

How to Import Other Animals into Canada

When it comes to importing other types of animals into Canada, please be sure to visit the Canadian Food Inspection Agency for full details, in addition to the following:

  • Turtles: Carry the risk of transmitting salmonella, so an import permit is required. You must prove that the animal has been in your possession for at least 30 days prior to import
  • Rodents: Can be imported into Canada without a permit, health certificate, or inspection. The only exceptions are prairie dogs, gambian pouch rats, squirrels from most countries, and rodents from Africa. A permit is required for the import of rats into Alberta
  • Aquatic pets (such as a tropical aquarium): Can be imported without a permit, health certificate, or inspection, so long as you can:
    • Present proof of identity and ownership
    • Keep the pet in a household aquarium
    • Keep the pet away from any other aquatic animals for at least one year after importation
    • Not import any other pet aquatic animal for at least 90 days after importation
    • Maintain records of importation.

For more information, visit the Canadian Food Inspection’s information on Importing Domestic Canada or our Canada Customs Forms & Guides for Moving Overseas.

How to Import Weapons into Canada

Importing weapons into Canada Importing weapons into Canada

Firearms purchased outside Canada are subject to complicated clearance procedures and are very difficult to import. As such, they can delay customs clearances and result in additional charges. It is worth considering whether to import weapons at all. Keep in mind that:

  • Canada has strict weapon control laws. All firearms and weapons must be declared to the Canada Border Services Agency; anyone caught failing to declare weapons can face criminal charges
  • All firearms imported into Canada are taken for detailed inspection by the Canada Border Services Agency and could be refused entry
  • All firing pins must be removed from guns before being shipped
  • In most cases, an import license must be obtained before shipment
  • Anyone seeking to import firearms into Canada must provide the following documents:
    • Proof that they are entitled to possess a firearm in Canada
    • A detailed inventory list of weapons, including serial numbers, type, calibre, model and brand
    • Copies of gun licenses.
  • There are three classifications of firearms and weapons under Canadian law: non-restricted, restricted and prohibited. Visitors and non-residents cannot import prohibited firearms under any circumstances.

What Weapons are Prohibited from Entry into Canada?

The following weapons and devices are prohibited from entry into Canada:

  • Automatic knives such as switchblades
  • Centrifugal knives such as flick knives or butterfly knives
  • Gravity knives
  • Mace or pepper spray designed for use on humans
  • Nunchaku sticks
  • Shuriken (throwing stars)
  • Manrikigusari or kusari (fighting chains)
  • Finger rings with blades or other sharp objects projecting from the surface
  • Taser and stun guns shorter than 480mm (18 inches)
  • Crossbows designed for one-handed use
  • Crossbows 500mm (19 inches) or shorter
  • Constant companion (belt-buckle knife)
  • Push daggers
  • Devices shorter than 30cm (12 inches) concealing a knife blade (e.g. Knife-comb)
  • Spiked wristbands
  • Blowguns
  • Kiyoga or steel cobra batons (spring batons)
  • Spring-loaded rigid batons (triggered by a button or lever)
  • Morning stars
  • Brass knuckles
  • Silencers or devices designed to muffle or stop the sound of a firearm
  • Certain cartridge magazines above a given capacity. Generally, cartridge magazines are limited to five rounds for centre -fire, semi-automatic rifles or shotguns, and 10 rounds for semi-automatic handguns, with exemptions for certain magazines
  • Bullpup stocks
  • Replica firearms (see additional information on replica firearms below)
  • Devices prohibited by regulations.

This list is not exhaustive. Consult Importing and Exporting Firearms - Weapons and Devices Memorandum and the Export and Import Permits Act for further information on prohibited weapons.

For more information, visit the Canada Border Services Agency’s information on Importing Weapons and Firearms into Canada or our Canada Customs Forms & Guides for Moving Overseas.

How to Import Alcohol into Canada

Importing alcohol into Canada Importing alcohol into Canada

You may import wines and other alcoholic beverages into Canada as part of your household goods shipment, pursuant to the laws of province or territory in which you plan to reside. When importing alcohol into Canada:

  • For the purposes of importation, liquor is characterised as any product that exceeds 0.5% alcohol by volume. You can import one of the following, without paying any duties or tax:
    • Wine: Two 750ml bottles
    • Alcoholic beverages: One large standard bottle of liquor
    • Beer or ale: 24 cans or bottles (355ml each).
  • The person importing the alcohol must be over the minimum drinking age of each province or territory: 18 years in Alberta, Quebec, and Manitoba and 19 years for all other provinces and territories.

For more information about How to Import Alcohol into Canada visit Canada Customs Forms & Guides for Moving Overseas.

How to Import Plants into Canada

Importing plants into Canada Importing plants into Canada

Regulations around importing plants into Canada are quite strict to prevent damage caused by plant pests. As such, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency regulates the import of plants and plant products under several different acts, including the Plant Protection Act and Regulations and the Seeds Act.

Plant importation requirements change all the time, so it’s best to contact the Canada Border Services Agency to confirm the status. Current restrictions include:

  • Cut flowers may be imported if they don’t contain coniferous foliage and will not be used for propagation. Some restrictions may apply to certain flowers, so check the Automated Import Reference System (AIRS) to confirm if a specific flower can be imported
  • For all other plants, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency requires permits in accordance with national policy guidelines under provision of the Plant Protection Act and Regulations
  • Certain plants from certain areas are prohibited from being imported into Canada due to their potentially harmful effect on Canada’s ecosystem. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency maintains a detailed list of prohibited plant materials.

The process for importing plants into Canada is quite complicated and multi-faceted. General tips to help expedite the plant import process include:

  • Ensure all plants are free of soil, sand and earth
  • Label each plant with the genus and species, preferably using scientific names
  • If your plants will arrive at an inspection station without you, enclose a sheet of paper with your name, home address, and permit number so the plants can be forwarded.

For additional information on the importation of plants and plant products, visit the Canadian Food Inspection Agency or our Canada Customs Forms & Guides for Moving Overseas.

How to Find Employment in Canada

Finding employment in Canada Finding employment in Canada

If you’ve already secured a new role (or are moving to Canada for a specific employment opportunity), now is the time to investigate employment options for your partner. Or, if you haven’t secured role, to investigate employment for yourself. Follow our tips for the easiest job search possible, from using the most popular employment websites and best recruitment agencies in Canada through to how to establish a business in Canada.

What are the Best Employment Websites in Canada?

Some of the major employment websites in Canada are:

What are the Major Canadian Recruitment Agencies?

Alternatively, you may wish to register with a recruitment agency. Some of the major professional recruitment agencies in Canada include:

Some of the major executive recruitment agencies in Canada include:

Self-Employment and Establishing a Business in Canada

If you or your partner are considering self-employment or establishing your own business in Canada, the following resources may be useful:

  • The Canada Business Network is a Canadian Government resource, which contains a range of resources designed to assist entrepreneurs and small business owners
  • Starter Company provides up to C$5,000 in mentorship, designed to give small businesses the expert advice they need to succeed
  • Futurpreneur Canada s aimed at young entrepreneurs and small business owners and provides funding and mentorship, as well as a range of other resources. /li>

Further Resources on Employment

The Canadian government provides JobBank, which has been designed to make securing employment easier by offering up a search engine for vacant jobs by field and region.

What is Working in Canada Like?

Working in Canada Working in Canada

Given the size of Canada and the enormous diversity in culture, it can be difficult to generalise about working in Canada. One thing, however, is common across all workplaces—hard work is expected and appreciated. There are many commonalities to working in Singapore: office hours (Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm) are the same, as are the expected standards of office etiquette and dress code. Plus, communication style is quite like that in Singapore—direct, while remaining informal.

How Do Canadians Communicate in Business?

Canadian business places are typically relaxed and low-key. Hierarchies do exist but business is often conducted in a group setting, with various levels collaborating to achieve goals.

Politeness is the preferred method of doing business and aggression or being effusive with praise is not appreciated.

Time is incredibly valuable, but Canadians don’t like to rush decisions. Decisions will only be made after careful deliberation. Meetings will have a clear agenda, and they will start and finish on time.


There are regional differences in greetings throughout Canada, with the biggest difference occurring between Anglophone and Francophone Canadians. Anglophone Canadians will typically greet each other with a firm handshake, while Francophone Canadians will commonly greet each other with a kiss on both cheeks.

Canadians from Ontario and Eastern Canada are usually more reserved than French and Western Canadians.

If you encounter a French Canadian, it is polite to greet them with "Bonjour" or “Salut” ("Good day"), followed by "Comment allez-vous?" ("How are you?"). “Au revoir” is said when saying goodbye.

Titles and surnames are commonly used when meeting a new person, especially in a formal occasion. Only use first names after the more senior person has suggested it.

Business Meetings

Business meetings in Canada are much the same as those in Singapore:

  • They take place in an office or meeting room on company premises
  • A few pleasantries will be exchanged, but business is discussed quite quickly and the mood of the meeting will usually be conserved and direct
  • Canadians business meetings are agenda-driven, and you should ensure that you are versed on the agenda before the meeting takes place
  • French Canadian business meetings are a little more relaxed, especially around time, and the tone of the meeting may be more effusive in gestures and body language.


Communication via email should be no different than any other form of business communication—it should always remain professional. When first contacting a person via email, you should use some degree of formality. As your business relationship progresses, you can adopt a friendlier, more casual tone. Some tips for email communication:

  • Your subject line should be clear, succinct, and in line with the content of your email
  • Keep your sentences short, clear and easily understood
  • Include a signature in your email with relevant contact information, such as your return email, Mobile phone number and landline phone number.

Text Messaging

Text message is becoming a common form of business communication in Canada. However, the appropriateness of using text message for business communication is dependent on the company, the industry, and even industry regulations.

For example, it might be appropriate for a personal trainer to text clients, particularly as it is an easy communication tool to use on the go. However, it would be inappropriate for a lawyer to contact clients via text message, particularly due to security and privacy concerns.

What are Business Hours in Canada?

Business hours can vary depending on the industry, location and even company. General business hours include:

  • Banks:
    • Weekdays: Most banks are open from 9am or 10am to 2pm or 3pm, with late hours on one or more days
    • Saturdays: Most banks are open from 9am or 10am to 12 midday or 1pm
    • Sundays: Most banks are closed.
  • Corporate offices: Working hours in Canada are similar to those in Singapore – 8am or 9am to 5pm or 5.30pm, Monday to Friday with a half hour to an hour lunch break. However, working over 40 hours per week is not uncommon, with unpaid overtime and weekend work sometimes expected. Some companies also offer ‘flexi-time’, with flexible start and finish times
  • Government: Similar to corporate offices, government offices are generally open from 9am to 5pm. However, hours can vary depending on the services and work being completed
  • Retail outlets:
    • Stores throughout Canada have business hours of 9am to 6pm, Monday to Saturday, while some stores will stay open later from Thursday through to Saturday
    • Post offices are open from Monday to Friday, with some open on a Saturday
    • Some pharmacies and convenience stores are open 24 hours
    • Some Canadian provinces have laws in place that restrict stores opening hours on Sundays, including:
      • Manitoba: 12pm to 6pm, with approval from municipal government
      • Quebec: 8pm to 5pm, with supermarkets allowed to stay open until 8pm.

What is the Usual Office Dress Code in Canada?

Office dress code varies from office-to-office and industry-to-industry. Typically, Canadian office dress code is comfortable and reserved. Attire needs to be professional and heavily scented colognes should only be used sparingly.

Men should wear suits and ties. In small towns, you may find that office attire is less formal, but a jacket and slacks should be worn at a minimum. Women should dress conservatively in business suits or dresses.

During the winter months, you will need to wear non-formal items (such as ski jackets, gloves and beanies) as outerwear. Just ensure that you have appropriate corporate clothing to change into when you arrive at your office.

What is Common Office Etiquette in Canada?

Office etiquette in Canada is very similar to that of Singapore. Hard work is expected and respected, and high levels of manners and politeness are the norm. While Canadians are quite informal in many ways, this informality is always tempered with respect (particularly for more senior management) and political correctness.

Work Ethic

Work ethic and expectations vary from workplace-to-workplace, but there is a common desire to work hard to achieve results. The biggest difference in Canadian workplaces is the concern for equality in all areas, which has been influenced by Canada’s social-democratic government style.


It is generally not appropriate to give gifts in a business setting and it is considered inappropriate.

In some instances, it may be appropriate to give business associates small gifts (such as chocolates, wine or flowers) when invited to a colleague’s home or for a client's Christmas gift.

Do’s and Don’ts of Business in Canada

To help ensure that you’re successful in the Canadian world of business and to avoid any faux pas when you first arrive:

  • Do start by addressing business associates formally using their title and surname. It is likely that business associates will ask to be referred to using their first name
  • Do dress formally for initial meetings and interviews. After this initial meeting, follow the example set by your colleagues
  • Do speak clearly and directly
  • Do try to learn some French if you’re conducting business in a Francophone area; even a few phrases will be appreciated
  • Don't be late for meetings or appointments
  • Don't assume that everything is the same as in Singapore
  • Don’t use aggressive tactics in any form of business
  • Don’t be offended if colleagues don’t invite you to social events; Canadians tend to be more insular than Singaporeans
  • Don’t use business meetings to discuss personal matters.

What are Common Customs and Social Norms in Canada?

Customs and social norms in Canada Customs and social norms in Canada

Our in-depth guide below that takes you through everything from Canadian religion and table manners, through to metric versus imperial conversions and words commonly used in Canada (but not in Singapore).

What is Religion Like in Canada?

Canada is a proudly multicultural society and this is reflected in religious worship. Throughout major cities almost all religious denominations will have a place of worship and everyone is entitled to expression of religion.

In Canada, the principal religion is Christianity with almost 90% of the population identifying themselves as Christian, including (as per the 2011 census) 39% of which identified themselves as Roman Catholic and 27% as Protestant.

What is Considered Good Manners in Canada?

Much like in Singapore, good manners and politeness are important in Canada. To ensure that you are exhibiting good manners when you arrive in Canada, follow our comprehensive list of tips:

  • If someone does something nice for you, thank them
  • Hold the door open for people behind you; never let it slam in their face
  • Respect your elders
  • Always say “excuse me” if you’ve interrupted or bumped into someone
  • Try to help other people if they need it, such as a person carrying a pram up and down stairs on their own, or someone picking up dropped shopping
  • Keep the volume of your voice down in public; try not to shout or argue
  • Punctuality is important in Canada, with many people finding it rude and disrespectful to arrive either late or too early to a social event or appointment
  • Canadians politely stand in line when appropriate, such as when waiting to purchase tickets. However, don’t be surprised if people push and shove their way onto subway cars—they just don’t want to miss their train
  • Personal hygiene is very important in Canada, so be sure to maintain good habits when it comes to showering and brushing your teeth
  • Do not stop in the middle of a busy street, particularly in big cities; you’re likely to get bumped into or knocked over
  • Do not stare at other people
  • Do not stand too close to other people; give them ample personal space
  • Do not ask personal questions (such as their age, religion, political stance or how much money they make) of someone you have only just met.

What is Considered Good Table Manners in Canada?

Table manners are important in Canada. So, to ensure you make a good impression at your first dinner party or your first meal out a restaurant, follow these handy tips and tricks on good table manners:

  • Eat politely and chew with your mouth closed
  • Never talk with your mouth full
  • Try not to make too much noise; do not slurp or loudly munch or crunch
  • If something on the table is out of reach, politely ask someone to pass it to you
  • Lift food up to your mouth, rather than bending over to eat it
  • Place a napkin on your lap when eating
  • If in a group, wait until everyone has been served before you start eating
  • Keep your elbows in when cutting food
  • Always use cutlery when eating; never pick up food in your hands, except in rare exceptions to the rule, such as fried chicken and corn on the cob.
  • Some Canadians have adopted the Canadian way of eating, which involves cutting with the knife in the right hand and fork in the left, before putting down the knife and moving the fork to the right hand to eat. The continental style is also used, where the fork is held in the left hand and the knife in the right throughout the meal
  • Once you have finished your meal, it is polite to place the knife and fork together on the plate.

How Do Canadians Communicate?

Canadians communicate very politely and honestly. To help ensure you’re neither offended nor offend others when you first arrive in Canada, follow these rules:

  • When speaking, it is important to make and maintain eye contact
  • Some topics of conversation, such as religion and politics should be avoided at social gatherings, until you know the other guests well. Safe topics of conversation include sports, hobbies, travel and one’s children
  • In general, Canadians maintain a socially acceptable buffer of personal space between one another during social gatherings
  • Body language varies considerably, with some people gesturing with their hands and others reaching out to touch your arm or hand for emphasis.

The following should be observed when it comes to conversation topics:

  • Sports, particularly hockey, is always a great conversation topic, as are popular culture, hobbies, family and travel
  • You should familiarise yourself with Canadian history and culture before you arrive, as Canadians will appreciate your effort
  • Don’t discuss politics. Quebec’s separatist politics should particularly be avoided
  • Don’t make comparisons between America and Canada as this can be particularly offensive to Canadians
  • Don’t refer to Inuit people as Eskimos. All aboriginal Canadians should be referred to as First Nations.

What Units of Measurement are Used in Canada?

Canada uses the metric system, much like Singapore. So, Singaporean expats will have no difficulty in understanding units of measurement (which will be in centimetres, metres and kilometres) and temperatures (which will be in Celsius).

Do Canadians Use Different Words to Singaporeans?

Singaporeans and Canadians both use the Queen's English (rather than US English). However, there are variations in pronunciation, as well as many words that are specific to Singlish. To avoid confusion in day-to- day conversation, try substituting the following Singlish words for their Canadian counterparts.

Singlish Words Versus Canadian Words

There are many words that are specific to Singlish. As such, it is unlikely that Canadians will understand what you are trying to say. To avoid confusion in day-to-day conversation, try substituting the following Singlish words for their Canadian counterparts:

  • “abuden” means obviously
  • “act blur” means to pretend ignorance
  • “ah beng” is similar to a bogan, “ah lien” is the female form
  • “arrow” means to give someone a task
  • “bao toh” means to tell on someone
  • “bee see” means a nurse
  • “boh eng” means to be busy
  • “catch no ball” means to not understand something
  • “eat snake” means to be lazy
  • “go stun” means to reverse a vehicle
  • “goondu” means a stupid person
  • “jia lat” means to be in trouble
  • “kaki” means a close friend
  • “kiwi” refers to the act of polishing something
  • “lobang” refers to an opportunity
  • “merliong” means vomiting
  • “pakat” refers to a conspiracy or plot
  • “shag” or “shagged out” refers to being excessively tired
  • “shiok” means pleasure
  • “sekali” means suddenly or unexpected
  • “taiko” means lucky
  • “talk cock” means to talk nonsense, or rubbish
  • “wah koa” means “oh my”
  • “wayang” refers to the act of pretending, especially in front of others.

What is a Credit Rating?

Maintaining a good credit rating is important in Canada, as it influences loan and credit card applications. There are two major credit bureaus in Canada (Equifax and TransUnion), which collect credit rating information. Several factors affect your credit score, some of which include:

  • The number of credit accounts you hold
  • The amount owed on your credit accounts
  • Your total available credit limit
  • Your total debt
  • Your promptness in paying bills
  • Payment or credit issues, such as bankruptcy, loan defaults, or foreclosures.

What are the Most Popular Sports to Play and Watch in Canada?

Most popular sports to play and watch in Canada Most popular sports to play and watch in Canada

Sport is central to Canadian culture. If you take the time to learn about the popular national sports, you’ll find it a lot easier to start conversations and settle into your new home. Canadians don’t just like watching sport—they also love playing sport. You’ll find some form of recreational facility in almost every Canadian town.

The four main professional-level sports in Canada are ice hockey, basketball, soccer and rugby. Games attract huge crowds at high school, college and professional levels. Find out more information about these sports below.

National Hockey League (NHL)

The National Hockey League comprises 31 teams, seven of which are Canadian and 24 of which are American. For a professional ice hockey competition, the season starts in early October and runs until early April with over 80 games played. Ice hockey is the national sport and the Canadian team has enjoyed enormous success on the world stage. Arguably the best ice hockey player of all time, Wayne Gretsky, is Canadian.

National Basketball Association (NBA)

Basketball was actually invented in Canada. Even though Canada only has one team in the National Basketball Association, it is still a popular sport throughout the country. The season begins in late October and runs until mid-April, with an average of 80 games played. The play-offs begin in mid-April and run until late June. The Toronto Raptors have featured in the play-offs for the last four seasons.


The World Game is becoming more and more popular throughout Canada and is particularly popular amongst immigrant communities. The Canadian Soccer League has eight teams in the first division, with the season running from April through to November. Canada also has three teams in the professional Major League Soccer.


Like most Commonwealth nations, Rugby Union enjoys a strong supporter base in Canada. The national team has enjoyed success in World Cup events, progressing to the quarter-finals in 1991. The Canadian Rugby Championships is the top national competition.

Other Sports in Canada

Apart from the four main professional-level sports, there is also significant interest in sports such as tennis, car racing, lacrosse and curling. Winter sports are hugely popular in Canada, with Canada having hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Playing Sport in Canada

It won't be difficult to join a local sporting team. The best place to start is at a local YMCA or local private club. If you're interested in basketball or soccer, you may find that recreational groups have informal games down at the local court or pitch. If you want to play the national sport, it won’t be hard to find an ice rink.

Fitness in Canada

In addition to sports, physical fitness is a popular pastime and joining a gym is an excellent way to meet new people. Most cities and towns have local fitness facilities. YMCAs are a great option for exercising on a budget, while private gyms and clubs offer an incredible range of facilities at a higher price. Some of the larger private gyms include:

If you want to exercise for free, take advantage of jogging and bike paths. You can also use the sporting facilities of some local schools on weekends.

Skiing and snow sports are an essential part of Canadian culture and a great way to keep fit during the winter months.

What Holidays and Traditions are Celebrated in Canada?

Celebrating holidays and traditions in Canada Celebrating holidays and traditions in Canada

There are many different types of holidays and traditions celebrated in Canada, from religious holidays such as Christmas and Easter through to cultural celebrations such as Halloween, as well as more general school holidays. Read our guide below so that you understand the meaning behind each tradition, as well as how and when they are celebrated.

When are School Holidays in Canada?

Canadian schools generally observe two semesters broken up by a two and a half month summer holiday and a week-long mid-winter break. The terms are usually:

  • Autumn Semester: September to December
  • Spring Semester: January to May.

When are the Canadian Federal Public Holidays?

Canada observes several federal public holidays, known as statutory holidays, each of which is outlined below. If a statutory holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday, it is moved to the first available weekday.

New Year’s Day (1 January)

New Year’s Day celebrates the beginning of the new calendar year. Generally, people attend large parties on the night of 31 December, ringing in the New Year at midnight.

Good Friday (March to April: First Sunday After the First Full Moon After the Vernal Equinox)

Good Friday marks the death of Jesus Christ and is an integral holiday on the Christian calendar, as Jesus’ death and subsequent resurrection on Easter Sunday are proof that He is the son of God.

Canada Day (1 July)

Canada Day celebrates the birth of Canada as a nation. This occurred on 1 July 1867 when the signing of the Constitution Act made Canada a new federation. This is a day of immense national pride and a celebration of what it means to be Canadian.

Labour Day (First Monday in September)

Labour Day commemorates the strength and tradition of trade and labour workers in Canada, as well as the labour union movement. This is also the last long weekend before winter. Many Canadians use this weekend to engage in all the summer activities that are impossible over winter.

Christmas Day (25 December)

Just as in Singapore, Christmas Day celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ and, as Christianity is the most widespread religion in Canada, it is the biggest holiday of the year. Most businesses are closed on Christmas Day and Christmas Eve as well.

Most people decorate their homes with Christmas lights and Christmas trees, and children believe that Santa Claus will visit their home and bring them gifts, so long as they have been well-behaved.

Other Canadian Holidays and Festivals

In addition to statutory holidays, there are various other holidays, festivals and celebrations observed by Canadians, but aren’t marked with an official holiday.

Valentine’s Day (14 February)

Much the same as Valentine’s Day in Singapore, this festival is celebrated in memory of St Valentine. Lovers exchange gifts and cards, often anonymously.

St Patrick’s Day (17 March)

St Patrick’s Day celebrates Irish culture, remembering the Christian Saint Patrick, who is one of Ireland’s patron saints. On this day, people often wear green to commemorate the occasion, with parades and celebrations in some cities. This day is particularly important in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador where there are large Irish communities and a strong connection to Ireland. Newfoundland is the only place outside of Europe to have an Irish name, Talamh an Éisc, which means 'land of the fish'.

Passover (14th Day of the First Month of the Jewish Year)

Passover is a Jewish tradition that lasts for eight days and celebrates the survivals of the Jews in Egypt. The tradition is marked with ritual dinners called Seder. While Passover is not a federal public holiday, most Jewish companies close during this period.

Mother’s Day (Second Sunday in May)

Just like Mother’s Day in Singapore, children of all ages use this day to show their appreciation for their mother, by buying chocolates, flowers and other gifts.

Father’s Day (Third Sunday in June)

Once again, just like Father’s Day in Singapore, children of all ages use this day to show their appreciation for their father, often buying presents.

Halloween (31 October)

Halloween began in European cultures, which believe that on this day magic is at its most potent, with ghosts and spirits able to contact the physical world. Halloween was first celebrated to keep the evil spirits at bay.

On this festival, children dress up in their favourite costume (often scarey creatures like ghosts, vampires and witches, or the latest movie characters), and go Trick-or-Treating. At each house, children ask for lollies or candy. If they fail to receive any, they threaten the occupants with a trick—usually something like egging or toilet papering their house.

People also decorate their home, sometimes with Jack-O-Lanterns, which are hollowed-out pumpkins with a candle inside.

What is Food and Drink Culture Like in Canada?

The eating and drinking culture of Canada The eating and drinking culture of Canada

A key way to experience the culture of a new country is through their food and beverages, and Canada is no different. Not only does Canada have its own unique foods and drinks, it also offers a range of culturally diverse options due to its rich cultural heritage. You’ll also need to be aware of some cultural norms when it comes to food and drink in Canada, such as expectations around tipping and the legal drinking age.

Does Canada Have a National Dish?

Much like Singapore, the influx of immigration has meant that it is difficult to pinpoint a national Canadian dish. Visitors will be able to sample delicacies from all over the world in major Canadian cities. However, there are a few foods that are unmistakeably Canadian:

  • Yellow pea soup
  • Arctic char
  • Maple syrup
  • Canadian cheddar cheese
  • Canadian bacon
  • Solomon grundy
  • Clam chowder
  • Winnipeg goldeye
  • Chuck wagon stew
  • Poutine
  • Tourtiere.

Canada is also home to some of the world’s finest whiskey. The microbrewery industry has hit Canada, and these breweries are beginning to take over some of the established beverage producers.

What are Restaurants in Canada Like?

You’ll find cuisines from all over the world in Canada, and no matter where you relocate to, you’ll be close to a good café or restaurant. Always remember that the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and Provincial Sales Tax (PST) is often not added to the bill, and after these have been added, your bill could increase substantially.

Restaurants in Calgary

Calgary claims to have the best steak in the world. Most menus feature beef heavily, although there are other options for those who prefer a lighter cuisine. The local beer, Big Rock, is a favourite with beer drinkers.

Restaurants in Edmonton

Old Strathcona is a great place to head if you’re looking for a good meal in a lively area. The rest of the town features quite simple menus, but you can find cuisines from China, the Pacific Rim and Louisiana.

Restaurants in Montreal

People from Montreal love eating out, and this is reflected in the ubiquity and quality of dining options. Montreal has a reputation as one of the finest food destinations in North America. The French culture is celebrated here and reflected in the food

offerings. Montreal is also home to the world-renowned poutine, which is a cone of French fries topped with gravy and cheese.

Restaurants in Ottawa

The tourist areas in Ottawa have better quality restaurants. Chinatown, Bank Street and Elgin Street also have some top-quality dining options.

Restaurants in Quebec City

Quebec is another foodie destination and another Canadian city that presents its French heritage with flare. Cafes are popular with locals and, while prices may be high in the fine dining restaurants of Vieux-Quebec (old Quebec), the food speaks for itself.

Restaurants in Toronto

Canada’s largest city reflects its multicultural essence in its food. You can find cuisine from anywhere in the world if you look hard enough. Toronto is also famous for its seafood.

Restaurants in Vancouver

Vancouver is another city that will appeal to lovers of international cuisine. Most of the restaurants are located in downtown Vancouver. Yaletown, an old warehouse district, is home to the trendiest bars and eating spots.

How to Find a Restaurant in Canada

There is no standard rating system for restaurants in Canada. You can find reviews in newspapers and magazines, but the best way to find quality restaurants is to use review websites:

How to Tip in Canada

Tipping is expected when dining out. Hospitality staff rely on tips to supplement their income. The service charge is not usually added to the bill and you should add 15% to the bill at bars, restaurants, and even for services like taxis and hair styling.

What is the Legal Drinking Age in Canada?

In most of Canada, the drinking age is 19. The only exceptions to this rule are Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec, where the legal drinking age is 18.

Drink driving is a serious offense in Canada. A drink driving charge can be grounds for deportation. The limit is .08% for most of Canada, except for British Columbia where it is .05%.

Shopping for Food

Canadians enjoy high-quality food. Most foods can be purchased fresh or snap frozen. Food safety is not an issue, and rinsing fruit and vegetables under tap water is sufficient.

The most common means of shopping for food is in large chain supermarkets. These are self-serve, with people pushing a shopping cart up and down the aisles. Some of the larger supermarket chains include:

Farmers markets are also becoming a popular option for Canadians seeking fresh, locally-produced food.

What is Housing Like in Canada?

Housing in Canada Housing in Canada

If you’re not moving to Canada from Singapore for work, or your employer hasn’t secured housing for you, you’ll need to investigate potential properties to buy or rent in Canada. Before you start your house search, you’ll need to understand what renting and buying property is like, as well as what types of houses and apartments are available in Canada.

What are the Best Real Estate Websites in Canada?

A good place to start your search are some of the most popular real estate search websites. These will give you an idea of the type of housing available, as well as the average cost. Try:

What is Renting Property in Canada Like?

If you’re planning on renting property, keep in mind:

  • Most Canadian provinces allow landlords to collect a security deposit prior to a tenant moving in. Security deposits are usually equal to 50% or 100% of one month’s rent
  • Security deposits are illegal in Ontario. Although, you may be required to provide the last month’s rest as a deposit. This deposit will then be returned to you at 6% interest as prepaid rent
  • Leases usually include a break clause, which generally requires 30-days’ notice from either party
  • Leases usually include a sub-let clause, which outlines whether the property can be let by the renter to a third party
  • If the property is furnished, then you should receive a detailed inventory report of all items, including their condition
  • Your security deposit will be returned to you when you leave, if there has been no damage to the property and all other conditions of your lease are met
  • In some areas, you may be able to inspect multiple properties over the course of a few weeks before committing. However, in busier cities with a competitive rental market like Toronto, you may have to decide immediately
  • Leases terms vary throughout Canada. In Calgary, six to 12 month leases are required. In Toronto, leases are usually granted for a minimum of one year
  • Move-in dates are usually between 10 to 30 days after signing the lease
  • Tenants are responsible for connecting utilities.

What is Buying Property in Canada Like?

If you’re planning on buying property, keep in mind:

  • Non-residents can receive 65% of the purchase price as finance, if they can provide 35% as a down payment. Expats are required to apply directly with the bank
  • Foreign banks cannot be used for mortgages within Canada; mortgages must be raised by a Canadian mortgage broker or bank
  • The mortgage amount is determined by all closing costs, which include:
    • Purchase price
    • Property transfer tax, which is paid by the buyer at 1% of the first C$100,000, and 2% on the balance
    • Bank appraisal fees (not always required)
    • Inspection fees
    • Insurance costs, which vary depending on the property and the policy required
    • Closing legal fees.
  • Only engage with a reputable real estate agent. The following agencies will have offices in most cities:
  • organise inspections of properties that meet your criteria for when you arrive.

What Types of Housing are there in Canada?

Housing types, styles, and even availability vary from province-to-province and even city-to-city. However, some general facts you can expect about housing in Canada include:

  • Housing prices and rent are more expensive in major metropolitan regions
  • Houses generally have several bedrooms and bathrooms, a lounge room and separate living area, a separate kitchen and laundry, and sometimes have a study or media room, as well as a finished basement
  • Houses do not usually come furnished
  • Suburban houses are likely to be wooden frame houses, rather than brick
  • High, dividing fences between properties are rare
  • Most houses feature heating, which is run by a basement furnace, and powered by electricity, oil or natural gas. Natural gas is the cheapest option, but is not always available
  • Most houses have a double garage with a roller door, which can be attached or detached. Carports are not as common. In colder cities, such as Calgary, some garages will feature a heater block to keep cars warm.

What are Houses Like in Canada?

There are four types of housing in Canada:

  • Apartments: A one to four-bedroom property that is contained within a block of other apartments. May have shared common areas, but are usually more private than condominiums.
  • Condominiums: A block of individually-owned apartments, where residents share common facilities, such as pools, and gyms, etc.
  • Townhouses: While these are self-contained, they share a party wall with the neighbouring property and often share a yard. The upkeep of this yard is paid for by all home owners, via a monthly or quarterly Home Owners Association fee
  • Detached or Semi-Detached Houses: Free-standing properties that have their own backyards. These yards can range in size from 550m2 (1,800 square feet) right up to more than an acre.

What Architectural Styles are Common for Houses in Canada?

Houses in Canada may be any one of several different architectural styles:

  • Queen Anne: A popular style from London; it began being used in Canada in the 1860s. Featuring asymmetrical rooflines, steep pitches and turrets, this style is more common in West Coast cities, like Vancouver
  • Italianate: A more restrained type of architecture, with lower pitched roofs and more use of symmetry. Usually featuring an entrance tower, but no turrets, this style was popular in the Victorian-era
  • Edwardian: Coming to prominence in the early 20th century, this style of housing used narrow board and cedar shingles for external cladding. Usually two-storied and an expression of the neo-classical era
  • Craftsman: Built from 1905 to 1930, Craftsman style homes have a gable roof that is low pitched, exposed rafters, and large porches supported by large columns. This style of home is renowned for its architectural detail and hand-crafted materials.

What are Apartments Like in Canada?

Apartments in Canada may be:

  • Occupant-owned
  • Leased from the building owner (or their appointed representative, such as a real estate agent)
  • Cooperatively-owned (referred to as a co-op), where owners become shareholders in a company that owns the entire building and its grounds. Members of a co-op pay a monthly fee to cover the cost of gardening, maintenance, the mortgage, insurance and taxes. As members have voting rights when new owners seek to rent or buy a property within the building, they can be difficult to rent or buy
  • Condominiums, where the apartment is purchased, but the building and grounds remain the property of the building owner. Condo owners (or renters) are charged maintenance fees, but must pay their own taxes, mortgage, and insurance. Condos often include additional facilities such as a gym, pool, sauna and tennis courts.

What is the Best Way to Get Around in Canada?

Getting around in Canada Getting around in Canada

There are many modes of transport in Canada, from public transport right through to the convenience of your own car. Your preferred mode of transport will likely depend upon your location, budget and commute times. For instance, cars aren’t required if you live in the middle of major cities likes Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. However, if you live in a small town or a regional area, you probably will need a car to cover the large distances.

What are the Road Rules when Driving in Canada?

If you plan to drive once you arrive in Canada, there are several different road rules of which you should make yourself aware:

  • Pedestrians always have the legal right of way. If a pedestrian is crossing the road, you must come to a full stop 
  • It is strictly illegal to drive in Canada without car insurance, so if you buy a car, obtain insurance immediately. You also need to ensure that you are listed on the insurance policy of any cars that you drive regularly, but do not own
  • Seatbelts must be worn at all times
  • It is illegal in all Canadian provinces to drive whilst intoxicated
  • In many Canadian provinces, it is illegal to text whilst driving. In some Canadian provinces, it is also illegal to use phones for any reason (including making calls and for navigation purposes)
  • In Canada, if a school bus stops and flashes red lights, traffic in both directions must comply and stop
  • In Quebec, road signs will be in French only, so make sure you have a basic understanding
  • Unless you live in the milder area of Vancouver, your car will need to be sturdy enough to handle the chemicals and salt that are used on roads to clear snow
  • Unless you live in the milder area of Vancouver, your car will need to be sturdy enough to handle the chemicals and salt that are used on roads to clear snow
  • Unless otherwise marked, the speed limit throughout Canada is 50km per hour in built-up areas and 80km per hour on highways
  • On freeways and highways, slower traffic generally stays in the right-hand lanes, while faster traffic uses the left-hand lane.

For more information about driving in Canada and road rules, visit Transport Canada.

Can You Drive in Canada with a Foreign License?

When moving to Canada from Singapore, some provinces and territories require that you hold an International Driving Permit (IDP), in addition to a valid drivers’ license from your home country. If you intend on obtaining an IDP, you must do so in advance. IDPs are issued by the motor vehicle department of your home country, NOT the Canadian Government.

IDPs are issued by the Automobile Association of Singapore. You can either apply for an IDP in person or you can apply for an IDP online.

To obtain an IDP, you will need to:

  • Fill out an application form
  • Compile all necessary documentation, including:
  • A copy of your Singapore driving license
  • A copy of your NRIC (if you are Singaporean or a Permanent Resident)
  • A copy of your employment pass/FIN Card (if you are a foreigners)
  • A clear, colour color passport photograph with a plain light background taken within the last two years.

If you want to apply for a Canadian drivers’ license, the requirements are different in each province or territory. For more information, visit the Canadian Government’s information on Getting a Driver’s License.

What is Public Transport like in Canada?

The larger Canadian cities, such as Toronto, Quebec and Montreal, have very good public transport systems, featuring trains, underground railways and buses. However, in smaller towns and cities and regional areas, public transport can sometimes be of a poorer quality, often making a private car a necessity.


The sheer size of Canada has resulted in a highly efficient train system. Via Rail runs Canada’s national rail network, and you can take this train from the east to west coasts, to Hudson Bay, and between Halifax and Vancouver. Canada is a beautiful country to see by train. Tickets can be purchased online, and economy and sleeper cars are available for long trips.


Regional and remote towns, as well as suburbs, may not be serviced by rail. If you need public transport in these areas, bus services should be able to get you to your destination. Towns will have municipal bus services, while companies like Greyhound offer intercity and provincial bus travel. Bus transport is usually more economical compared to travelling by air.

Railways, Subways and Trams

Major Canadian cities have efficient public transport systems consisting of subways, trams or an alternative. Montreal’s Metro system allows users to easily travel around the city, while Ottawa’s Transitway system uses bus-only roads to provide fast public transport.

Toronto is serviced by four subway lines, 11 tramlines and 140 bus routes. Vancouver enjoys some of greenest public transport in the world; Coast Mountain Bus uses hydroelectric busses to provide quiet, emission-free public transport, and the SkyTrain elevated rail system is also emission free.

Taxis and Uber

Taxis (or cabs) are common in inner city and suburban areas, as well as within smaller towns. Taxis can be hailed from the side of the street with the wave of a hand or a whistle, at taxi ranks, or booked over the phone. While taxis are convenient for travelling short distances, they can be expensive.

A relatively new company, Uber is an app-based ride share cab company, available in 15 Canadian cities. By using Uber, you can hire a driver to pick you up in their private car and take you to your desired destination. The nearest driver can be at your pickup location within minutes.

What is Air Travel Like in Canada?

Due to the size of Canada and its good record in aviation safety, air travel is frequently used. The busiest airports in Canada are the Toronto Pearson International Airport, Vancouver International Airport, Montreal–Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport, Calgary International Airport, Edmonton International Airport and the Ottawa Macdonald–Cartier International Airport.

Over 100 domestic and cargo airlines operate throughout Canada, including all major international airlines, as well as several large domestic airlines that offer interstate services, including:

Smaller regional carriers also provide services on specialised routes.

While air travel is fast, passengers should allow ample time to clear immigration, customs and security, particularly for international flights.

What Items are Prohibited When Shipping Goods to Canada?

Prohibited items when shipping goods to Canada Prohibited items when shipping goods to Canada

Many dangerous or prohibited goods cannot be shipped to Canada. People attempting to import prohibited items into Canada may be subject to a penalty and the items may be seized by customs officials. To help ensure that your goods are not seized, and that your entire shipment is not delayed, follow our guide on prohibited items.

What Items are Prohibited Entry to Canada?

General items prohibited from entry into Canada include:

  • Antiques and cultural objects with historical significance to their country of origin cannot be brought into Canada unless appropriate export permits have been granted. Contact Canadian Heritage before you import such items
  • Importers must have written authorisation and permits granted by the Explosives Regulatory Division Natural Resources Canada to import explosives, fireworks and ammunition
  • Anyone trying to import firearms and weapons without declaring them first will face prosecution. Read Importing a Firearm or Weapon Into Canada for further information
  • Narcotics
  • Obscene material
  • Hate propaganda
  • Baby walkers
  • Infant self-feeding devices
  • Jequirity beans and items containing them
  • Lawn darts with elongated tips
  • Balloon blowing kits
  • Relight candles
  • Yo-yo balls with long cords.

What Wildlife Products are Prohibited Entry to Canada?

There are many wildlife products prohibited from entering Canada. The list is extensive, so use this toolto search for specific species. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) limits the movement of plant and animal species, and Environment Canada is responsible for implementing these controls.

For more information, download our Guide to Moving Dangerous, Prohibited and Restricted Items.

What Items are Restricted When Shipping Goods to Canada?

Restricted items when shipping goods to Canada Restricted items when shipping goods to Canada

When shipping items to Canada, some items are subject to restrictions, and will require additional precautions, including biological materials, money, trademarked items, and food.

Biological Materials

Any type of organism used for education or research must be declared to the Canada Border Services Agency.


You must file Cross-Border Currency or Monetary Instruments Report – General if you import more than C$10,000 in Canadian or foreign coins, currency, traveller’s checks, money orders, negotiables or investment securities.

Trademarked Items

Imitation products represented by a registered trademark are restricted. The items most frequently identified as having false trademarks are perfume, jewellery (including watches), cameras, tape recorders and musical instruments.

Food (including Herbs and Spices)

Food can cause delays in customs clearances, so it is recommended not to include food in a general household goods shipment.

For more information, visit Canada Customs Forms & Guides for Moving Overseas.

What is the Healthcare System Like in Canada?

The healthcare system in Canada The healthcare system in Canada

While medical care and services in Canada are among the most advanced in the world, they are also among the most expensive. Canada does have a publically-funded healthcare system (Medicare) but this is only available to citizens and permanent residents, so if you’re a temporary resident, it is vital that you take out private health insurance.

What is Health Insurance Like in Canada?

Even Canadian citizens take out private health insurance to ensure they are covered in all circumstances. Temporary residents will need to take out private health insurance as their main form of cover.

You’ll need to do some research to find the best package for you, as premiums can be quite expensive. The most popular providers are Great-West Life Insurance Company, Manulife Financial and Blue Cross.

If you’re relocating to Canada in response to a job offer, you should negotiate to have private health insurance included as part of your employment package.

What are Emergency Medical Services Like in Canada?

Canadians enjoy comprehensive and effective emergency response services. If you have a medical emergency, dial ‘911’ on your phone to request an ambulance (as well as the police and the fire brigade). The operator will dispatch the ambulance as quickly as possible. Paramedics are highly trained to provide excellent care.

Alternatively, you can make your own way to the nearest hospital with an emergency room for immediate treatment.

How Do Pharmacies and Prescription Medication Work in Canada?

Canadian pharmacies are well-stocked. However, you may find that certain brand names are different from Singaporean names. Most cities will have a pharmacy that is open every day until midnight.

In Canada, pharmacies are often called drug marts. The most popular are:

You can purchase prescription medicines at any Canadian pharmacy. However, prescription medicine can be expensive. So, be sure to keep all receipts to claim the cost on your health insurance provider.

International prescriptions will not be filled by Canadian pharmacies. You will need to take a copy of your Singaporean prescription to a Canadian doctor and have them write you a local prescription.

How Do Electricity, Water and Gas Utilities Work in Canada?

Electricity, water and gas utilities in Canada Electricity, water and gas utilities in Canada

When moving to Canada, you’ll need to understand how electricity, water and gas utilities work, from the biggest utility companies in the market, to connecting your services, as well as whether your Singaporean appliances and electronics will work in Canada.

How to Connect Your Utilities in Canada

Once you’ve found a property to rent or buy, you’ll need to organise the connection of your electricity and gas services. Some things to keep in mind:

Will Singaporean Appliances and Electronics Work in Canada?

Your Singaporean appliances and other household electronics may not work in Canada due to three potential compatibility issues: the plug, the voltage and the frequency.

The different power plug is easy to overcome with a plug adapter. However, the difference in electricity voltage and frequency can be more challenging. In Singapore, electricity is 230 volts, at a frequency of 50 Hz. In Canada, electricity is 120 watts and 60 Hz.

Generally, many electronic items nowadays (like computers and peripherals) can run on both voltages and frequencies. You just need to check their power labels or manuals for ‘110-240v 50/60Hz’ before plugging them in for the first time in Canada. And if they can’t run on both voltages, there is still a chance they’ll work by purchasing ‘step-down’ voltage transformers. However, these transformers can be costly, bulky, unsightly and inconvenient.

Unfortunately, many Singaporean appliances, especially those with motors like washing machines and dryers, will not work in Canada. Their motors will struggle with the frequency difference, and there’s no practical solution to change electrical frequency. Furthermore, televisions and video and DVD recorders operate in different digital formats and standards, which may also make them incompatible in Canada.

You should therefore thoroughly check the power labels or manuals of all your appliances and electronics to ensure they are compatible with Canadian voltages and frequencies, before incurring the cost of shipping over items that might be useless upon arrival. Buying new or secondhand appliances and electronics once you arrive may not only be more cost-effective, but your only solution.

How Do Mobile Phones and the Internet Work in Canada?

Mobile phones and the internet in Canada Mobile phones and the internet in Canada

There are a number of mobile phone and Internet providers in Canada, all of which offer a range of different packages at a range of different price points. Be sure to do your research into which package best suits your needs before signing on the dotted line.

Internet services are of a very high quality in Canada, and leading companiesBell and Rogers are investing heavily in rolling out last mile fibre optic and fibre to the home connectivity. Again, be sure to shop around to get the best deal, paying careful attention to speed and download allowances.

The main phone and internet providers are:

How to Keep in Touch with Family and Friends Back Home While in Canada

Keeping in touch with family and friends from Canada Keeping in touch with family and friends from Canada

Relocating to Canada is an exciting experience, but it’s difficult leaving family and friends behind. Luckily, there are plenty of ways for you to keep in touch, from mobile phones and Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) apps like Skype and WhatsApp, through to the Canadian Postal Service.


To make an international call from Canada, you'll need to dial:

  • The Canadian international access code, which is ‘011'
  • The international country code for the country you wish to call (this is '65' for Singapore)
  • The area code:

    • '645' for Ang Mo Kio
    • '676' for Ayer Rajah
    • '644' for Bedok
    • '653' for City
    • '673' for Geylang
    • '678' for Jurong West-Tampines
    • '635' for North
    • '657' for Sembawang
    • '677' for Tampines.
  • The number of the person you wish to call.

Different carriers will have different international call rates, so make sure you confirm these rates early on.

Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) Apps

One of the cheapest way to make an international call from your Mobile is to take advantage of a Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) app, such as:

If you use any of these apps while you're connected to Wi-Fi, you'll save a lot of money. You also won't have to worry about international country codes—just click on the contact and press call. You also have the option of making video calls over Skype, Facebook Messenger and FaceTime, helping you feel more connected to your friends and family.


Canada is well-connected to the internet, and you’ll never be far from an internet café or a Wi-Fi hotspot. The internet offers you round-the-clock access to the people you miss back home. Email, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter all allow you to keep connected and you can also use your computer to make international calls via Facebook and Skype.

Postal Service

Canada Post . provides the national postal service, and while the network is extensive, delivery times can be slow and the cost is quite high.

There are several ways to ship items internationally with Canada Post:

What Tax Do I Pay in Canada?

Paying tax in Canada Paying tax in Canada

As a social-democracy, taxation is central to the way Canada is run and there are several taxes that you’ll be required to pay when living in Canada. These taxes are outlined below.

What is Income Tax?

This is taken directly from your pay check, so you won’t need to set aside money each month. However, if you’re self-employed, you will be responsible for setting aside money to pay your income tax. Each year you will need to complete a tax return, which declares how much money you’ve earnt, how much tax you’ve paid and therefore whether you’re owed a refund (or if you owe more tax).

To learn more about income tax and the specific forms you’ll need to fill out, visit the Canadian Revenue Authority.

What is Sales Tax?

In Ontario, there is a harmonised sales tax of 13%. This price is usually added at the register to the listed price may not always be the same as the price you pay. There is also a Goods and Service Tax of 5% throughout Canada.

What is Medicare Tax?

Canada’s universal health-care system is funded by public taxes, which is included in income tax.

What is the Canadian Pension Plan?

This tax allows Canadian tax payers to pay for their retirement in the form of a tax at 4.95% of gross income, capped at C$44,480 per annum.

What is Property Tax?

Property tax varies from province-to-province, but the amount you are taxed is usually based on the same principle of taking the market value standard to value the property and taking into account varying revaluation cycles.

What to See and Do in Canada?

Things to see and do in Canada Things to see and do in Canada

Canada’s size, breath-taking landscapes, geographical variation, multiculturalism and hospitality make it one of the most visited destinations on earth. Even people who have lived in Canada their whole life have only scratched the surface of everything there is to see and do. This is just a selection of what expats can look forward to.

Algonquin Provincial Park

Algonquin Provincial Park is only two hours north of Toronto and you can camp in this natural paradise. The park is full of lakes and ancient trees, and by night, you’ll hear the howls of the local wolves.

Banff National Park

Banff National Park is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places in the world. It is nestled in the middle of the Canadian Rockies and the icy blue lakes look impossibly blue. There’s no better way to get lost in the incredible scenery than by paddling your canoe across one of the perfectly still lakes. The national park is just a one and half hour drive from Calgary.

British Columbia

There’s no better way to explore the endless beauty of BC than by mountain bike. BC locals love being outdoors and they’ve created some of the best mountain biking trails on the planet. The towns of Sooke and Campbell River on Vancouver Island are the perfect places to begin your journey. Remember to keep an eye out for the Grizzly Bears that also lurk around the trails.

Cabot Trail

For people that love long drives through spectacular scenery, the Cabot Trail cannot be missed. It winds for over 300km (190 miles) around the coast of Cape Breton, meandering through postcard villages and rugged landscapes.

Cross the Country by Train

VIA Rail’s cross-country journey takes you from Toronto to Vancouver in four nights. During your journey, you’ll move through the Rocky Mountains, cross the prairies and see stunning vista after stunning vista.

EdgeWalk Experience

The CN tower dominates the Toronto skyline, with its 550m (1,815 foot) high needle. TheEdgeWalk experience allows you to walk around the outside of the building for a thrilling and unforgettable view of Toronto.

First Nations Culture

The Grand River Reserve of the Six Nations is the perfect place to experience authentic First Nations culture. The Pow Wow Dance competition attracts over 400 dancers and features smoke dancing, drum groups and over 100 arts and crafts stalls. Located in Ontario province and held on July 21, this is a must-see for anyone wanting to respect and learn about the first people of Canada.

Ice Hockey

Fast-paced, brutal, and skillful, ice hockey is the national sport. You need to see a game live to truly appreciate it. The Montreal Canadiens have been around since the NHL’s inception, and they have also won the most league championships, so why not try and time your visit to Montreal with a Canadiens home game?


Montreal is famous for its food and drink, from cider and mussels to poutine. This delicacy was invented in Quebec and there’s nothing better than the combination of thick fries, gooey cheese and brown gravy. Just like Quebec City, Montreal is full of the Gallic joie de vivre.

New Brunswick’s Famous Lobster

In mid-July, the small fishing village of Shediac hosts its annual lobster festival. There’s no better place to taste lobster prepared the right way than here. It will be a day and meal to remember.

Niagara Falls

The best views of these incredible falls are from the Canadian side, and it’s only a 90-minute drive from Toronto. Book a seat on the Hornblower Boat Trip and feel the spray of the thundering cascades.

Northern Lights in the Yukon

The small town of Whitehorse is the vantage point for this natural lightshow It’s best to visit between September and March when you can take a dog sled out to the best viewing points.

Ottawa Canal

The Rideau Canal in Ottawa is the longest natural ice rink. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the perfect way to spend a Saturday or a Sunday, especially if your family has joined you on your relocation.

Polar Bears

Churchill, Manitoba, only has a population of 813 people, but it has the unique distinction of being the polar bear capital of the world. In November, you can head north and catch the polar bears as they make their way to the ice caps of Hudson Bay. This is a not-to-be-missed experience to see the rare and majestic animal in its natural environment.

Prince Edward Island

Canada’s only island province off the coast of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland is the perfect place for a summer getaway. coast of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland is the perfect place for a summer getaway. You can stay in a beach cottage, sample some of the world’s best mussels, and watch the sunset from one of the dunes of St. Peters Bay.

Quebec City

Quebec City’s Old Town has been UNESCO-listed and the untouched streets transport you back to old France. Apart from beautiful streets and buildings, the city also contains the finest food in all of Canada and even North America.

Saint-Jean Baptiste Day

A provincial holiday for Quebec and a celebration of the Quebecois identity and culture. Bonfires are lit to celebrate the beginning of warmer weather, meaning the event is a curious mix of a celebration of Quebec’s patron saint as well as a pagan celebration of midsummer.

Saskatchewan Jazz Festival

Every summer on July 22, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, is filled with the sound of Jazz. This free event is considered to be the premier cultural event of the province, and it attracts big names from the jazz, hip-hop, blues, funk, soul and blues genres. You’ll hear people playing in bars, outdoors, theatres and clubs—lovers of music will have a hard time deciding who to see.

Sugar Beach

This spot in Toronto is beautiful all year. In summer and spring, you can enjoy the views of Lake Ontario, and in autumn the tree-line promenade burns red with the changing leaves.

Titanic Cemetery

The Titanic rests just 1,100km (690 miles) east of Halifax, and you can go and pay your respects at the cemetery.The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic is also a fantastic place to learn more about the world’s most famous ship.

Walk on the Ocean Floor

The Bay of Fundy is in between the provinces of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick and the location of one of the world’s most incredible natural phenomena. Twice a day, the Atlantic Ocean sends the highest tidal wave in the world into the bay to completely flood the bay and cliffs.

Further Resources on What to See and Do in Canada

For further information on what to see and do in Canada, visit:


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