Welcome to Waterloo Region!   There are many things to do when you arrive and it can be overwhelming.  Here are a few things to get you started.


Get Help

There are many organizations that help newcomers to Waterloo Region.  Some will help you fill out forms, find housing, and find a job.  Contact them to find out what services they offer.


Checklist: Things to do after you arrive

There are many Government and other forms that you need to complete during your first days in Waterloo Region.

  1. Apply for a Social Insurance Number (SIN): The Government of Canada uses Social Insurance Numbers (SINs) to keep track of all Canadian workers. You must have a SIN to work in Canada.
  2. Apply for a Health Card (OHIP): You must have a health card to show that you get healthcare services paid for by the government Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP). Apply for a health card as soon as you get to Ontario.  There is usually a three-month waiting period from the date you arrive.  You may also like to read about OHIP eligibility.
  3. Consider buying private health insurance: The Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association (CLHIA) suggests that newcomers buy private health insurance while they wait for their Health Card. You should buy this insurance within 5 days of arriving in Ontario, or the insurance companies may not give you insurance.
  4. Apply for the Canada Child Tax Benefit (CCTB) and Goods and Services Tax (GST) Credit:  If you have children under the age of 18, you may qualify for the Canada Child Tax Benefit (CCTB). The CCTB is a monthly, tax-free payment from the Government of Canada.  The GST Credit helps people with lower incomes.  For more information go to Welcome to Canada: What you should know or Settlement.Org.
  5. Apply for an Ontario Driver’s Licence:  If you live in Ontario and want to drive, you must have an Ontario driver’s licence. You may be able to use your foreign driver’s licence for a short time when you first get to Canada.The Newcomers Guide to Graduated Licensing and Getting an Ontario Driver’s Licence will tell you how to get a driver’s licence.
  6. Make a note of emergency and important phone numbers:  If you have an emergency, call 9-1-1.  You can call this number to stop a crime, report a fire, save a life, or in any emergency situation when police, fire or ambulance assistance is needed immediately.  Call 9-1-1 only in an emergency.  For other important phone numbers see the Waterloo Region Basic Needs Guide or Settlement.Org.


More Things to do when you arrive

  • Find a place to live
  • Open a bank account
  • Find English classes for you and your family
  • Find a job
  • Find out how to register your children in school
  • Find a family doctor, community health centre or urgent care clinic close to your home
  • Find a public library close to your home
  • Get maps of streets and bus routes
  • Find out where to shop
  • Join Ethnocultural & Religious Groups


For more information…

  • First Days Guide – has information for your first 2 weeks in Ontario. It is offered in 24 languages including English.
  • A Guide to Community Resources for Refugees, Immigrants and Other Newcomers to Kitchener-Waterloo has information for refugees, Immigrants and other newcomers to Kitchener-Waterloo.
  • After You Arrive has information on getting a good start in Ontario.
  • Welcome to Canada: What you should know has basic information about living in Canada and finding the help you need.
  • canadianimmigrant.ca has information for new immigrants, including almost 100 tips by immigrants about “What to expect when you are immigrating” (on page 14 and 15).
  • Canadian Newcomer Magazine has information for newcomers to Canada.
  • Newcomers to Canada Day planner has many helpful tips.