Irrespective of your status; whether you’re moving to Canada from the USA as a US citizen or a citizen of a third country, migrating to Canada from the USA can be a life-changing experience for the better as well as tiring and confusing. The essence of this article is to answer some of the questions you may have and address most of your concerns.
The first question is: Am I permitted to drive in Canada with a license issued by a US state?
Exchanging your state-issued driving license for a license issued by the Canadian province you are moving to should not be complicated as long as you can show satisfactory driving experience. Please note that the exact requirements differ between the province because each of them has requirements specific to them.
Furthermore, you are permitted to drive in Canada on your US license for a certain period before exchanging your license. However, the duration in which you are allowed to drive on your US license (usually 90 to 180 days) is determined by the provinces.
The second question is: Will I be covered by the public healthcare system in Canada?
In Canada, healthcare is delivered via a publicly-funded system, administered by the provinces. This is to say that you don’t have to pay for most healthcare services with public health insurance. Two factors determine whether you are covered by the healthcare system in Canada or not, and they are your status in Canada and your destination province.
Please note that visitors to Canada will not be covered.
Furthermore, the provincial plan may cover you if you are an international student on a study permit, however, most provinces demand that international students take out private insurance. In most circumstances, health insurance is provided via the school you are attending and they may have a relationship with a specific provider.
Are you one of those who are moving to Canada from the USA on a work permit? Please know that your type of work permit determines whether or not you may be covered by the provincial plan and you may be required to wait for about 3 months after applying before you are approved for public healthcare, therefore, we advise that you apply as early as possible and take out a private insurance policy to take care of your period of waiting.
The public health insurance in the province of residence covers Canadian permanent residents such as Canadian citizens.
The third question is: Where do I file income taxes after moving to Canada from the USA: Canada, the United States, or both?
Summary, if Canada is the place where you in the settled routine of your life, frequently reside you’ll be considered an ordinary resident in Canada for tax. Therefore, if you fall under any of these categories; work in Canada, own or rent a property there and have dependents or a spouse or common-law partner, then you are considered to be an ordinary Canadian resident.
Under the following conditions you will be considered a non-resident in Canada for tax purposes:
- If you customarily, or routinely reside in another country; or
- If you do not have substantial residential ties in Canada; and
- If throughout the tax year you resided outside Canada; or
- If you lived in Canada for below 183 days in the tax year.
Any American citizen who is also considered to be ordinarily resident in Canada is obliged to pay Canadian taxes, and also file taxes in the United States. In addition to this, if your annual income is in surplus of $10,000 USD, you will be required to file a 1040 Form with the United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
Nevertheless, the interesting fact is that very few Americans residing and working in Canada end up paying tax in both countries in reality.
This is as a result of the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion (FEIE) which permits single people to remove the first $108,700 USD (for 2021) earned from US income tax by showing that they live in Canada for a minimum of 330 days a year. This implies that as long as you earn below $108,700 USD yearly, you are not required to pay taxes in the US.
In a case whereby two individuals are married and both of them work abroad and have passed either the bona fide residence test or the physical presence test, each of them is free to choose the foreign earned income exclusion.
The fourth question is: Am I permitted to bring my family from the USA to Canada?
As a citizen of the US, you are eligible to enjoy visa-free entry to Canada as visitors, permitting you and your family to remain in Canada for up to six months for each entry.
Nevertheless, if you have the intention of moving to Canada from the USA either as a permanent resident, foreign worker, or international student, you must know which family members if any, may follow you.
Canada considers accompanying family members for immigration purposes to include a spouse or common-law partner, and children below the age of 22. Older children can only be permitted on an application if the child has a mental or physical condition.
Other relatives such as parents, siblings, aunts, grandparents, uncles, nieces, nephews are not qualified to be added to the application.
Furthermore, accompanying family members may be added on an application for permanent residence or a study permit, and also some type of work permit.
The fifth question is: Am I permitted to bring my pet(s) to Canada?
In most cases, the short answer is yes, but you are required to adequately prepare properly to ensure that your furry or feline friend can cross the border to Canada with you effortlessly. Almost all pet entry to Canada is generally overseen by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), therefore, we advise you to carefully read the CFIA guidelines.
Also, you may have to provide one or more of the following as a rule when bringing a pet to Canada: a health certificate, a visual inspection, and an import permit.
To save you some time and stress, you are to contact your airline to get an idea of its particular pet policies if you have intentions to fly while ensuring that you have all the needed documents. Another important document you must have documents to prove that your pet is rabies-free because Canada does not consider the pets coming from the United States as being rabies-free.
The sixth question is: Which location should I move to in Canada?
Truthfully, there is a wide range of Canadian cities offering several benefits for recently arrived Americans.
It all depends on what you are looking for, if you are interested in a fast-paced ‘big’ city, then you should consider living in Toronto which is known to have overtaken Chicago in population size, thereby emerging as the fourth-largest city in North America.
Vancouver is your best bet if you want to combine a big city feel with some incredible scenery on your doorstep.
Furthermore, if you are interested in staying in a city that permits you to learn a new language and reside and work in a genuinely multicultural environment filled with festivals and culture, then you should aim for Montreal.
Aside from the “big three”, there are smaller but however impressive Canadian cities. For example, Halifax, Nova Scotia, or Victoria, British Columbia is recommended for people who like a coastal city with a slower pace of living and milder winters. Just note that whichever city you decide on, you will be provided with numerous options when moving to Canada from the USA.
The seventh question is: How do I secure a job in Canada?
With both countries having thriving market economies, there are similarities in the job hunting process after moving to Canada from the USA and that of the United States.
We strongly advise you to utilize some of the resources on our site if you want to kick-start your job search before or soon after arriving in Canada. Read our articles on topics that are concerned with securing a job in Canada such as How to find a job in Canada, Networking in Canada, How to write a Canadian resume, and so on.
The eight-question is: Is it possible for me to be allowed to move to Canada from the USA if I have a criminal offense or conviction on my record?
You can be criminally inadmissible to Canada if you have an offense on your record, therefore you may require special permission to enter. Another factor that can lead to inadmissibility to Canada is a DUI conviction.
However, certain factors can determine if you will still be able to move to Canada from the USA depending on the crime, how long ago it took place, and how you have behaved since then, and they are:
- If you can convince an immigration officer that you have been able to meet the legal terms to be considered rehabilitated, or
- If you have previously applied for rehabilitation and it was approved, or
- If you were issued a record suspension, or
- If you have obtained a temporary resident permit.
The ninth question is: If my child is born in Canada, will the child be a US citizen, a Canadian citizen, or hold dual citizenship?
This question is frequently asked among Americans who are moving to Canada from the USA.
Irrespective of the immigration status and nationality of the parents, children born in Canada are Canadian citizens from birth while children who were born outside the US and its outlying possessions may be US citizens but this is dependent on the parents’ citizenship and past residency in the United States, and also the status of the relationship.
Finally, both countries (Canada and the US) recognize dual citizenship, therefore, your child is allowed to be a citizen of both countries from birth.
The tenth question is: How cold is it in Canada?
It is no longer news that most of Canada experiences cooler weather compared to most of the United States. However, most cities in Canada have climates comparable to some cities in the United States cities, having four major seasons.
For instance, the climate of cities in upstate New York like Buffalo and Rochester is similar to that experienced in Toronto and is not also different from Chicago.
Finally, we have provided answers to the top 10 questions one would likely ask when moving to Canada from the USA, and in case you have other questions you would like us to tackle, do let us know via the comment section.