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What you need to know when moving to Canada from Europe

Are you considering a relocation to Canada as part of an international career move? It’s only natural – seeing as this is one of the most expat-friendly countries in the Western hemisphere. In recent years, many people have chosen to move to Canada from Europe for a variety of reasons,  both professional and personal. And there are lots of reasons why moving from Europe to Canada is a great idea, especially if you’re moving with your employer through an employee relocation service. There’s a whole lot to consider when emigrating to Canada, from getting your family settled to making sure your belongings arrive safe and in one piece, as well as handling international money transfers.

Check our guidelines for international moving safety

In many cases, the Canadian job market may be able to provide you with more options than any European country which is great news if you’re keen to work in Canada. Bear in mind, though – moving isn’t a simple process, and that goes double for an international move of this magnitude. But don’t worry – we’ve prepared some helpful advice to make this transition easier!

A view of the Toronto skyline at night, visible after moving from Europe to Canada.
Moving from Europe to Canada

Dealing with the Immigration Process

Obviously, wherever you’re moving – you’re bound to go through a complicated ordeal. That’s true even when you’re relocating within the same city, let alone moving from Europe to Canada. With that in mind – you’ll need to familiarize yourself with the immigration rules that the Canadian government uses to select newcomers to the country.

Luckily for you, if you’re moving to work, or moving with your employer, you shouldn’t have too many issues with Canadian immigration policies. While moving an entire business may be difficult – nothing is impossible with the right corporate relocation support and a group move strategy.


The Available Visa Options

First of all – the good news is that EU citizens proficient in English language shouldn’t have too many difficulties applying for a Canadian visa. You’ll still need to make sure you’re going through the correct channels. As an individual moving to Canada, you’ll need a work permit – and getting one means fulfilling a host of criteria.

Primarily, you’ll need to pass a security check and a medical exam, as well as provide proof that you’ll be able to sustain yourself financially during the term of your permit. Don’t worry – most of this is a pretty standard procedure for anyone who wants to immigrate to Canada.

A man walking down a road with a suitcase at dawn.
Make sure you research the Canadian immigration process thoroughly before working on your relocation!

Another good thing is that the Canadian government  recognizes the need for small and medium size businesses, which are the backbone of any healthy economy. With that in mind, there is a special Start-up Visa Program, for people who want to move and start a small company in Canada.

This program includes visas for up to 5 key personnel of this new company, as well as their families. So, if you’re a small-business owner, you may want to look into this option and find out if you’re eligible instead of moving everyone separately and then registering a company.


Managing All Aspects of Your Move

As you will realize soon enough, moving from Europe to Canada doesn’t just mean dealing with the immigration bureaucracy. In fact, this process will require all of the management skills you can master long before you get to the visa application. There will be many chores for you to deal with, both on a personal and professional level. First and foremost, if you’re moving with your family, you’ll need to make sure that everyone is on-board with the idea of moving. Trust us – bad communication in this process may lead to long-term resentment down the road.

Really, moving is a process which requires both a tactical and a strategic mindset. Simultaneously, you’ll need to plan out the big things like finding housing or landing a job. On the other hand, you’ll also have to think about how to pack most efficiently, in terms of both space and time. If you don’t want to lose valuable hours and days on the minutiae of the move, definitely hire someone to handle your move even if you don’t have enough time. In fact, hiring the right professionals for your international relocation will be one of the most crucial parts of your moving plan.


The Location Will Be Your Most Important Choice

During a relocation, there will be quite a few decisions to make, besides finding a good international moving company. But as with any other journey, there will be no choice more important than your destination. Obviously, when you decide on where you will live after moving from Europe to Canada, you’ll be making a call that influences all facets of your life later on.

Two people shaking hands in a business meeting.
Move with your international career

For example, if you’re looking for a prosperous business district with lots of opportunities – then downtown Toronto is really your finest choice. On the other hand, skilled laborers may find more luck in the expansive gas and oil fields of Alberta and Saskatchewan. For people familiar with the mining industry, there are a lot of jobs available here each year. Naturally, if you’re keen on managing your own business or finding a corporate job – Vancouver and Toronto are better options. But remember – choosing a place to live isn’t something you’ll do solely based on job opportunities. You’ll need to take a lot of other factors into consideration, like choosing a good school for children, or finding a real estate market that’s affordable but still offers quality housing. Finding a good relocation consultant with a key understanding of the local schooling systems and real estate market will prove to be extremely beneficial and may even help you save money when negotiating your rental fees.


Dealing with Culture Shock

There’s one thing that’s true regardless of how or why you’re moving. No matter if you’re moving alone, with your family, or with an entire company, there will be some culture shock to overcome. And that’s true even for people who move here from the US, let alone for someone moving from Europe to Canada. On a personal level, you’ll have to go through a period of adjustment to the local customs and routines. That’s something you need to address both as an individual and as a member of your family, if you’re not moving alone.

People in a casual meeting in an office.
Make an effort to transcend culture shock in a business environment!

But cultural shock exists in a business environment as well – and dealing with it is equally important. If you’re relocating your business to Canada, make sure your employees get all the cross-cultural training they need in order to have a swift and easy transition. If you address this issue on time – you’ll avoid a slew of problems down the line. And because of that, your move to Canada will be much more effortless.


Written by Lisa Roberts

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