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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.