Moving Back to Canada
Moving Back to Canada


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Moving back to Canada is Exciting!

Canada offers many wonderful things to those returning home, such as safety, great public services, freedom, being close to family, seeing old friends, a system you can trust, and of course, the beautiful Canadian nature - mountains, lakes, forests, rivers, and more.

However, there may also be challenges if you are a citizen returning to Canada. You may have to contend with reverse culture shock. Or possibly first-time culture shock, if your spouse and/or children have never lived in Canada before. The logistics of moving home and setting up your new life can also be daunting - what to sell, what to take with you, how to ship your stuff - all good questions and options hard to choose from. Moving back to Canada from the USA or Mexico may not seem to be too much of a challenge, but there are surprising similarities to the considerations of those moving back to Canada from the UK, Australia, India, China, or the UAE.

This resource site started from my experiences returning back to Canada after spending over 6 years in the Middle East with my family. Our youngest son was born in Dubai. To him, we were emigrating to Canada. For the rest of us, it was a big move back to the land of taxes, rules and regulations, rain and snow...and of course, fantastic geography, a liberal Canadian society, Tim Horton's, reliable services, and much more.

Since starting this site, I have researched literally hundreds of questions for Canadians getting ready to move home and have added the findings to my original reflections. Every year generous Canadians from all over the world contribute tips, tales, and suggestions from their own experiences preparing to move back to Canada, keeping this site up-to-date with practical advice. Our combined wish is that you have an easy and exciting move back to Canada!

If you find this site useful please "pay it forward" to those moving back to Canada in the future by sharing what you have learned. Please contact me with any thoughts, insights, and wisdom you can share!

Finally, everyone's situation and context is unique. Should you have questions you would like answered by in a professional and friendly manner I also offer professional support for your move back to Canada

Welcome back to Canada! May your move be smooth, easy, and exciting!

Paul Kurucz

Canada

Latest update: November 2017.

Canadians far and near who have visited this site since 2003: 500,000+



We are in the news!

Leaving the U.S. to retire back to Canada? Some thoughts from Paul Kurucz and of a client are this New York Times article! ... read more.

And if you are planning to retire in Canada, check out the "Retiring in Canada" resource page on this site!


Latest News






The Common Reporting Standard (CRS)!


The incoming CRS is causing Canadians abroad lots of grief, as I hear from many of my clients. There is a reality to be careful of and fear to be wary of. Here is a summary of both, if you are being impacted by your international bank requiring a tax ID from you for the first time...

Summary of CRS impacts on expatriate Canadians


Previous News Postings


Professional support for your banking, investments, tax, logistics, timing, and lifestyle questions when moving back to Canada.


Moving Back to Canada Planner

Now available for immediate download!

A comprehensive companion planner and checklist for moving back to Canada now available for immediate download. In easily editable Microsoft Word format so you can customize it to meet your planning needs.

Includes a free bonus guide! "Truth About Canada - 10 insights to empower you and your new life in Canada"

Purchase and Download now:

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How to use this web site:


Why move back to Canada? Some thoughts on the decision to move back...or not. (below)

Preparations you can do ahead of your move back to Canada:



More Resources

At the top of this page you will find links to resources such as FAQ's, pages for Canadians moving back from the U.S., UK, Hong Kong, or Australia, foreign exchange, getting your kids into a Canadian university, and more!

The top 3 questions Canadian expats want answered:


  1. "Do I have to pay tax on money I bring back to Canada when I return?" (No!)

  2. "Will my household goods that I bring back be taxed?" (No!)

  3. "How do I stay a non-resident for tax purposes but still keep Canadian health care?" (You can't)

Have more questions?


This web site has the answers for you!


Feeling overwhelmed or unsure about some aspects of your move? Would you like professional support for your move planning, tax, investments, logistics, move timing, and more questions? Get help! - Professional Support for your return to Canada


Home



Why move back to Canada?

This question is easy for some to answer, but not so easy for others.

Common reasons for moving back to Canada:


The most common challenge in the decision making process:

Sometimes, however, it is not an easy decision. The most common challenge in the decision making process about whether to return to Canada or not is this:

"My husband/wife can't find a job here. I am fine, but they are not happy here."

Sadly, this is pretty common and can cause couples and families a lot of stress. There is no easy solution, but one thing you can do is to use the discomfort of the situation to learn as a couple, or as a family, about what is important to you - what life is supposed to offer you and what changes you might undertake in our own thinking, beliefs, and patterns to find where you need to be in the world:

Answering these questions in complete honesty (to yourself) will really help you understand what you want from life in Canada when you return. It may also help you decide if Canada is even the right place for you right now!

To help you get started with your answers, here are some of the reasons people like being expatriates - why they like living away from their home country.

What will you miss from the expatriate lifestyle?


  • Meeting amazing people
  • Finally being away from home
  • Having this once-in-a-life-time experience
  • Realizing that things can be done differently
  • Changing ourselves - yes we can
  • Being out of our 'comfort zone'
  • Realizing that not everything at 'home' is perfect
  • Learning a new language properly
  • Showing your visitors from home around your new hometown
  • Being a font of knowledge on your home country
  • Knowing how to cook differently ('Teach me to...')
  • Being popular just because you're foreign (exotic) ('I looove your accent')
  • Becoming an absolute magnet to the opposite sex ('you're from LA? Wow!)
  • Always having a conversation starter ('And where are you from?')

(Source: Linkedin, Trailing Spouse Network group,)

The ping-pong effect

My family and I experienced a peculiar situation and I have heard from many people who have gone through it too. I call it the ping pong effect. Here is how it happens:

You return to Canada and after a few months find that life just isn't working out - you can't get a job you like, you don't fit in, your family doesn't fit in, you don't have a "tribe" here anymore, and/or you miss the international lifestyle.

So, you pack your bags and head off to another international assignment.

As of the writing of this, friends of ours are doing exactly this, after finding that getting good work in their field in Canada is really a challenge. I did the "ping pong" back out after 9 months in Canada and the U.S. and almost cried the day I landed back overseas on my second gig. Going back overseas felt like going home.

Weird.

If you are not completely at peace with moving home to Canada but are making the move anyway because of the end of a contract that didn't get renewed, for example, consider a staged move back. I often advise my clients in this situation to consider a first stage of "wintering over" in Canada - a temporary move until they either find their "place" in Canada or decide to head back out again. Once they are clear on where they need to be next, they take another step in the return process. Don't make expensive decisions and final pronouncements unless you are really certain about moving back to Canada. Many of my clients have thanked me for this guidance! It allowed them to step through their return in a way that honoured who they were and what they needed at that time in their lives.


Why move back? Stories from your fellow Canadians:


Cathy G., reflecting on the challenges and joys of liviing in Australia but wanting to come home to Canada:


I am a Canadian living in Australia since 2005 with my Australian husband. I constantly want to move back "home" to be close to my four adult children, and my mother who is 96. We are in our 60s now and seriously trying to work out how best to move there, especially worried about what to bring, what to leave, will we like it, how to sever ties here and get new ones there. I never realised I would need forms to return to Canada, and the forms to apply to sponser my husband are daunting! It requires my salary amount, and of course I would not have created a salary again in Canada until after I get there.

Reading your site has been thought provoking and even though it has opened a whole can of worms, it is lucky that I have found your site, thank you for being there! I love Australia actually, and am totally nervous about moving back to the cold and rat race from our pristine forested land of 20 acres (purchased for less than a city lot in Canada) where we have just built a brand new house, with our own hands. We also have a very spoiled cat that we adore and who we are afraid won't survive physically or mentally being thrown in a cargo bay of a noisy airline.

It won't help me now, but my biggest tip is never go out of your way to get romantically involved with someone who lives in another country! One of you must always ive up their way of life, you just can't be in two places at one time, sadly. If there is a way to do that, I would love to know how! Cheers!


Planning to move back to Canada to retire? Check out the "Retiring in Canada" resource page!




Tammy M., reflecting on the challenges of living abroad (and exploring if to return to Canada):

I want to thank you for this invaluable site! I am determining whether or not I should return back to Canada. After the initial vacation period overseas, I am finding myself without employment and missing my family. My husband however, has a job and direction and is really enjoying not having to work in the harsh Canadian climate.

I can honestly say it has been the most difficult time in my marriage. Living overseas has pushed to the forefront what each of us truly values in life: what we value in our relationship with each other, as well as, our immediate family.

It is an obvious question to ask, "Why do I want to move back to Canada?" However, it is difficult to come to a decision when you know the financial costs involved and the new dynamics you have in your relationships when you return after a few years or more.

Moving becomes a question of, What do I want to give up? Is this need to move back based on reality or what is being experienced in the immediate situation?

Back to why I am sending this . . . Thank you. your site is unscrambling questions that keep going round and round and it is enabling a path toward an informed decision. Thank you also to the contributors for sharing their experiences and pointing out various aspects of their move.




The following story was shared with me by a Canadian who moved back recently. Due to the personal nature of this story, her name has been withheld at her request and identifying details modified to protect her family's privacy.

We had been living in the United States for 11 years when I knew I wanted to move back to BC. Our children only knew the American elementary school system; I knew I wanted our children to be back in the Canadian School system and have the choice to enter the French immersion program. But my husband did not want to approach his Company about the move because we had just received a visa extension when I presented the issue of moving back. My husband did not want to rock the boat with the Company because we would have one more year left on the visa and that was the agreement with his boss. Also, a huge issue would be the time difference between the offices.

I was certain that the time was going to be in the summer and consistently told my husband we needed to make the move for the sake of the children. I reminded him that we had moved there for his sake his career and now it was time to make the move back for the kids sake... it was important for me too that the boys would get some time in an elementary school setting to make new friends before entering the high school years. I kept telling my husband how important it is for the boys to develop new friendships that they could carry into their adulthoods back in Canada. It was important too that we knew we would keep in touch with the friends we had made in the states too. We feel blessed with the rich friendship experience.

When it became clear to me that my husband was in denial about how serious I was about moving back I insisted we have the discussion together. I basically told him I would go with the kids in the summer and we could set him up in a little apartment there - we could support his job that way... And I was serious. I think it was my strong foot down that finally made it clear to him that it was going to happen whether he was ready for it or not. So he got the nerve to tell his Company and it ended up being absolutely okay.

Now that we are back in BC, my husband spontaneously hugs me and says thank you for getting us back home!!!! AND the kids love their new school and are making friends easily and are keeping in touch with all their friends in the US! It's all good... phew.


These stories are indicative of the difficult decisions that dozens of families I have worked with faced when deciding whether to return to Canada or not. In all cases, there has been no "right" or "wrong" choice. Only one that helped each family move forward or one that held them back from the natural change, growth, and happiness they wanted.

Where do you need to be to help your family move forward?



Home | Get help - Professional Support for your planning and return to Canada



Preparations you can do ahead of time:

Starting 18 months ahead of your return to Canada






Preparations you can do ahead of time:

Starting 1 year ahead of your return to Canada



Roanna Stevens, on finding a place to live:

I think for us one of the most difficult things has been finding appropriate housing for our family. We have never lived in BC so searching for an apartment/condo to rent near Vancouver has been daunting. One thing that I am glad someone told us was that we should look at getting "transitional" housing rather than signing a one-year lease. This proved to be great advice! Since we had a time frame in which we had to find a place to live, we ended up in a basement suite in Burnaby on a month-to-month lease. The location was great...the suite was not. However, it did give us time to start looking around and to determine what area would be best for us to live in. It was also SO much easier to look for a place when we were already in the general area. I had been doing the Craigslist thing from Bangkok but, in a city like Vancouver, you really need to jump on housing when it shows up. If it's a good place, it won't be available for very long. Eventually, we found a great place, at a fair price in an area we felt suited us.




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Preparations you can do ahead of time:

Starting 6 months ahead of your return to Canada


Jack Novak, a Canadian overseas, posed many interesting questions around the following central theme:

"Keep your goods and ship them or sell them and travel light?""

Jack wondered if people were happier taking a container of their possessions, for example, and shipping them back to Canada when they return, or were happier selling and going originally in suitcases alone.

I (Paul Kurucz, the author of this site) did it both ways. When I first went overseas my boss there said "Sell everything and bring only suitcases!" We did just that and unfortunately, regretted doing so...sort of. We were expecting our second child on the way overseas and having a container load of books, toys, and baby equipment, furniture, etc. would have really helped. We did get a generous furniture allowance, but in the end it would have been better, perhaps, given our particular point in family life, to have our "stuff" with us.

On the other hand, we had the opportunity to spend time experiencing our new country of residence without the emotional baggage, habits, and patterns that would have come with the household stuff we would have moved abroad with us. So we definitely benefited from the adventure of moving our life in 6 suitcases.

Your point in life is important, I think: My boss was in his 50's, had no children, and loved to travel with his wife. To them, moving meant traveling light and enjoying the freedom of their point in life. So my boss' first advice made sense...from their perspective.

We did a second tour overseas and this time sent a container and returned to Canada with one some years later. Great idea! We loaded up on cool stuff you can't get in Canada (art, rugs, furniture, etc.) on the way back because once your container is paid for, you can load it up to the very top with stuff at basically the same flat rate cost as 1/2 empty.

In summary, a few good questions you might consider:


Please comment on your thoughts and experiences on this question to add to this site! (contact Paul) Thank you!

Things to do starting around 6 months ahead of your move:


Find out how people from your part of the world move their household goods ("HHG") back to Canada.

Ask around with friends, your employer and fellow employees, and online via discussion boards.

Roanna Steven's experience moving her family back to Canada from Bangkok to Vancouver:

I wanted to fill you in a bit on our experience of shipping our goods from Bangkok to Vancouver as you provided so many helpful tips for us (thank you SO much)! Actually, the shipping of our household goods ended up being one of the areas that went the smoothest in our international move! We used a shipping company that a friend recommended (and she had had a friend recommend them to her!) and they were superb. Also, their agent on the Vancouver end was excellent as well. (If anyone visits your website and wants a recommendation for a shipping company in Bangkok, I'd HIGHLY recommend CargoPort Thailand. We dealt with a gentleman named Tony who was brilliant. Their web site is www.cargoportthailand.com).

One thing that did catch us a bit off guard was that Tony mentioned they would have to look in each box that we had packed (I guess to make sure we were in fact only shipping household goods). I panicked a bit (since we had done our own packing and the boxes were VERY tightly packed and I didn't want them being totally unpacked) but he simply looked in the top of each box. It was good that we knew ahead of time though so that we didn't tape up the boxes too tightly! I also had prepared a list of the goods we had so they used that as the packing list.


A cautionary experience: I was contacted by someone who did not have a good experience with a shipping company. Here is their story and my suggestions:

(Names of the individual and the shipping company withheld as I cannot confirm both sides of the story)

"Hi, we have been scammed and robbed by ---------------- relocation company. This a Canadian company that "services" many cities in the world: http://-----------------

We had to pay over 10,000 USD to be able to recover our things because this had our stuff kidnapped, after paying them us over 10,000 USD (of a 7500 USD quote). Therefore a service that had to be less than 8000 USD, ended on over $20,000 USD.

This people have scammed and robbed people for years, there are many sites telling horrible stories about them (unfortunately I did not read them before making business with them).

I do think it is very important to caution everyone who reads your web page of the wrongful activities of this company.

We are currently talking to lawyers and insurance company as most our things arrived very damaged and a Sony HD 60" flat screen arrived totally destroyed, so we haven't published our story, but here are some links [links withheld] on how people have been scammed by this people.

Please let us know if we can publish our story in you site and what is the proper manner to do so.

We really think consumers should be warned!!!"

My suggestions from the above experience:

Really research and learn about the moving industry for the country you leaving from. Here's how to to lower your risk:

  1. Check with other people who have used moving companies where you are now living. Communicate directly with them about their experiences. You can find these people by asking around about who arrived recently or who left the country recently.

  2. Which moving company does your local Canadian or other country Consulate/Embassy use to move their employees in and out of the country you are in? Wouldn't it make sense that they would use a trusted moving company?

  3. Which moving companies do large corporations, NGO's, large international charities, etc. use to move their employees in and out of the country you are in? Same logic: These organizations will know the best moving companies.

  4. Consider air-cargo. We moved once by using only air cargo - selling all our big belongings. Air cargo was:
    • ultra-fast.
    • cheaper than I thought.
    • you pack and unpack your own goods, saving money and controlling the packing quality.
    • major airlines are generally very professional about air cargo in all respects.
    • you don't generally need middle-men
    • the process was much less hassle in all respects than container or LTL moving.

    The only downside? We moved only a few large boxes of memorabilia and expensive-to-replace items. We had to travel "light".

  5. Use the internet to really check your chosen moving company, particularly if you have any concerns after considering the above suggestions.

In summary, I don't advocate at any point in life to live in fear. Living abroad and returning to Canada should be exciting and joyful. Rather than fearing what could go wrong, or alternatively just throwing yourself at the mercy of the first moving company that has a sweet-talking salesperson, do some research through other people in your personal network (if you don't have this network, develop it!), check in with your instincts, and if conflicted or worried, consider a different approach to the move (a different company or method).


  • Book your moving/shipping company:

    • Get a firm price quote.

    • Build a clear and professional relationship with your mover.

      • Hint: One of the things I discovered about being successful in life is that it is not the quality and quantity of what you know that is important, but how good your questions are. Part of building a clear and professional relationship with a mover is asking lots of good questions. If the mover can answer them well, you have some confidence in their abilities. They also come to know that you are a customer who they need to treat professionally. If you get back from your questions:

        "Yes, yes! We take care of all that. Just leave it to us!"

        This can mean a range possible things, from "they really know their stuff" to "eeekkkk - my container went to the Ukraine by mistake?!" In either case, I suggest asking lots of questions and insisting on clear and full answers,particularly in the context of your moving company. I found out lots of things I needed to be prepared for, and that made my life a lot easier, by asking lots of questions.

    • Make sure he/she knows that you will be talking to many fellow expats about your experience after you move.

  • John Morrison, a Canadian who moved back from the U.S. suggests:

    Alternatives for reducing moving costs, for those moving from US or possibly Mexico back to Canada.

    Consider these ways of reducing moving costs:

    - if you have a car, purchase a trailer for it and self drive back

    - if you don't have a car or any large items to move back e.g. appliances, then consider mailing your items using the US mail to a town just the other side of the border. US mail lets you send domestic mail, up to 70lb in weight for each item. Length plus width plus height of each item must be less than 130". Cost is approximately $52 per item close to these maximums. So if you had 20 boxes close to these maximums that would be $1000. Compare that to $1500 for base rental of a small 1 way truck, before buying gas and other moving costs. You then rent a truck from your new town in Canada for the day, drive down and pick up your goods from across the border. At least, this is my plan

    Thank you for your site - got me thinking through my move back from the US!

    Yvonne Berglund:

    I found your website to be invaluable when planning my move back to Canada. I lived in San Diego, CA for 35+ years and wanted to return to Canada. The organization of the website spelled out each step very clearly. The unknowns of my return were answered. I was most impressed with the information given about the selection of a moving company. I attribute this very successful part of my return to the articles that helped me chose a moving company that not only provided information about packing but also assigned a coordinator who referred me to a contact in Canada to assist with the border crossing details. Everything went smoothly with this aspect due to the suggestions concerning the preparation of the necessary paperwork prior to reaching the border. I cannot stress enough the importance of planning. Your site supported the tips provided with real life experiences that prepared me for all aspects of this move.

    Thank you again.

  • Driver's license?

    • Can you "convert" your current foreign one to a driver's license in the province you will be living in?

      • Every province has its own special rules regarding "reciprocity" between their driver's licenses and those of other countries. Reciprocity means being able to exchange your license back and forth between those countries. Some provinces are easier and more flexible than others, but in general, there is reciprocity between many "first world" countries and Canada.

      • When I first went overseas I ensured that my driver's license from BC had a long expiry so that I would have the opportunity to not lose it. Even so, after many years overseas I renewed it while on vacation back in Canada. However, I understand that many people wouldn't worry about that or would simply not have the opportunity to do so. If you do have the chance to keep your current Canadian license without impacting your non-residency status, I suggest doing so.

      • Suggestion: Once you have decided which province you will settle in, check out that province's web site to see if there is reciprocity with the country/state. If there is not, you will have to apply as a new driver. If there is reciprocity, more paperwork is now required for some provinces, including proof of length of time you have been driving and even proof of your driving record (accident history).


    Helen H. shared this about her move to Ontario:

    I moved from Clearwater, Florida May 2017. I really found your website useful. I followed step by step. I obtained my Florida Driver's abstract within 2 weeks and obtained my driver's license without a hitch. Unfortunately I forgot to make a copy which the car insurance folks wanted and a new application took 6 weeks to be processed and come in. CAA did give me a good rate considering my Florida car insurance was through AAA and they were able to email my lack of accident history through email.

    Thank you, Helen, for sharing this!

    Michael H. added this:

    I come from a country that does not have a reciprocal licensing agreement, and I've been worrying that I'd have to go through the graduated license restrictions (in Ontario). However, here's a link I found that you may want to post for the benefit of your readers. It shows that there is a process that can be followed that results in waiving all the waiting periods, meaning you can immediately take the full test and (assuming you pass), skip the restricted driving phases.

    http://www.drivetest.ca/licences/licence-exchanges/licence_exchange.html

    Thank you, Michael, for sharing this!

    Kathleen H.'s experience with Ontario:

    There is a new rule in Ontario ... - to exchange a driver's license one needs to provide proof of having a valid driver's license in one of the countries or states with which Ontario has reciprocity - this has to be a letter on the letter head of the state or country - no faxes, no copies, no emails - in my case NH will only provide this after I fill out a form and have it notarized and mail it to them - they will then mail it to me - no Fed Ex - only snail mail.

    Thank you, Kathleen, for sharing your experience!

    Laura W.'s experience:

    A Canadian living in the UK and preparing to take up residence in Canada, Laura researched driver's licenses and whether you can exchange your overseas license for a Canadian one without doing a test. She was able to change her Canadian driver's license for a UK one when she first went overseas. Ontario, for example, allows a direct exchange of driver's license if you have more than 2 years driving experience, for "drivers from other Canadian provinces, Canadian Forces-Europe, U.S.A., Japan, Korea, Switzerland, Germany, France, Great Britain, Austria and Belgium." For people from other countries who have let their Canadian driver's licenses lapse, you may have to take a new test! Check the details noted on the web sites of the province in which you intend to take up residence. As well, individual employees at individual offices of your province's licensing division may interpret your situation differently.

    Thank you, Laura, for sharing this information!


  • Home | Get help - Professional Support for your return. A Planner / Checklist is also available to quickly organize your move.




    Preparations you can do ahead of time:

    The last month before your return to Canada


    Jane, a Canadian moving back from the U.S. notes her reason for returning to Canada:

    "I am a 60 yr. old, unemployed, female moving back to Ontario because I can no longer afford to live in the U.S.A. without health care...."

    What is the value of the Canadian health care system? If in doubt, watch Michael Moore's film "Sicko".

    And note that health care is not free in Canada - in BC unless your employer pays it, you pay $75 per month, per person, for your health care (as of 2017)


    Kate, moving back to Manitoba, comments on the waiting period for her health care coverage:

    "One item you should re-investigate is the section on Health Care Coverage. We are returning to Canada and have been assured by Manitoba Health that we can be covered, as soon as we register with them, As long as we provide certain documents to them immediately: Proof of residence (i.e. proof of property purchase), our airline tickets (showing when we arrived), and proof of citizenship. There may be other requirements by province, but it is really unfortunate if there are people believing they must go 3 months without coverage and/or paying ridiculous fees for coverage...

    ...It is possible that insurance companies are not aware of this situation (at least not the one we originally contacted and Luckily did not pay for!), Or that they choose to be ignorant to this situation. We were lucky that we phoned Manitoba Health to clarify when our coverage would start, before paying an insurance company."

    Follow-up: Kate is correct: Manitoba does not require a waiting period. However, British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec, and New Brunswick do require a 3-month waiting period for public health insurance to start.




    Bradley M., moving back to BC, on the BC health care waiting period:

    "We just moved back from the Middle East, upon arriving back in BC we were told that we did not qualify for BC Health Insurance for three months. Indeed, the province refused to issue us our Care cards because we do not qualify for 90 days, even though we are returning Canadians. Luckily there is a place in Duncan where our children can still receive medical treatment for free, but we'll have to get 'visitors insurance' for three months. I had no idea that the government would refuse coverage, especially to a family with children."


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    Preparations you can do ahead of time:

    During your last vacation in Canada


    Because many Canadians living abroad vacation in Canada at different times before their move back, "your last vacation in Canada" has been put here as a separate section.

    The last trip to Canada you make before returning permanently is a wonderful time to prepare for your move home. For those who hadn't considered a trip to Canada before your return, I strongly recommend it! The best time is at the beginning of your decision to move back process, as you will find out where you might want to live, what life will really be like, and it gives you a chance to reconsider if returning to Canada makes sense for you at all!

    Assuming moving back to Canada does make sense for you, and a trip to Canada sometime in the last year before you return is possible, here are some things you can do while visiting Canada for the last time before you move:


    Here are some things to not do while you are vacationing in, or visiting, Canada for the last time before you move:





    What to do when you get to Canada

    Plane: At the airport when you arrive:



    Driving: At the land border when you are about to drive into Canada:




    Leslie Baker's experience of coming back by a land border:

    "We have just returned to the GTA after living in the States for 33 years. We were rather apprehensive about the move and all the problems which goes with it. At the Fort Erie border the whole took maybe 30 minutes. After reviewing the completed paperwork for the personal belongings and the car, they never even came out to look at the truck or the car. The officers could not have been more pleasant. Getting the OHIP was a breeze, again no issues at all. All and all easy if all your ducks are in order."

    Paul: Welcome home, Leslie! May everyone's return be as smooth and easy as yours...<



    Preparation pays off - Don and Erin Aspinall's experience:

    "We just wanted to say a BIG Thank You for your site and it's excellent advice. We just moved (2 days ago!) from Dublin, Ireland to Halifax, Nova Scotia. The Customs officers at the airport were well impressed with our paperwork. Thanks to your advice, we had everything in order, including our B4 [now BSF186] and shipping forms. It was a breeze to go through Customs at the airport and then at the Harbour office."

    Paul: Welcome home, Don and Erin! May everyone's return be as smooth and easy as yours...



    Carrying CDN $10,000 ore more in cash, gold bars, or other forms of "money" with you when you arrive? A suggestion from Patty Juno:

    "Would add one thing to Part 3:... the form if you are carrying more than 10K in currency - which returning teachers sometimes have, having just got their last paychecks and cleared out their bank accounts in the country they are leaving, etc."

    [The CBSA web page entitled "Crossing the border with $10,000 or more?"]

    [The CBSA Form E677, Cross-Border Currency or Monetary Instruments Report - Individual]



    "Can they search my cell phone when I cross the border?"


    The question was asked by a Canadian citizen coming back to Canada. I recently heard from an American who was coming to visit Canada. He was asked by CBSA staff at the border the name of the person he was going to visit in Canada. When he told them the name of the person, they asked to see this person's name on his cell phone.

    My sense is that this was just a cross-check by CBSA staff to get a sense if he was telling them the (full?) truth about his visit (which he was). I think it is some kind of test of a person's story. And I can't imagine they would ask Canadian citizens coming over the border - just visitors.

    Interestingly, asking for access to cell phone contacts may touch a raw nerve with some people. We live in a pretty safe country and one that generally respects personal privacy and dignity. In some unnamed major countries, however, having the name and phone number of a person who has spoken out against authority can mean a death sentence for that person if they can be tracked through a telephone number. And it will likely mean instant suspicion or worse for you, if you have that person's telephone number in your phone's contact list.

    I hope CBSA staff understand this sensitivity. I think people feel their contact information is part of their privacy. Revealing it casually might feel like submitting to a physical strip search - an invasion of your very personal privacy.

    To be clear: I fully support and advocate only one principle when crossing the Canadian border, or any country border, for that matter:

    Integrity.

    Be absolutely open, transparent, and safe when crossing borders. Don't bring anything that you feel you have to hide. Never lie. And never have a reason to lie.

    We live in great country that will support you if you bring your hope, clear spirit, and integrity with you when you come (back).

    It's a karma thing.


    In the first week after you arrive:




    In the first 2 months after you arrive:




    Clearing your household goods with Canada Customs


    You can do this the Hard Way or the Easy Way:

    The Hard Way:

    When you go to Customs in your nearest Canadian city to obtain final clearance of your shipment once it has arrived in Canada (you may have to do this, depending on your arrival method) you choose to break every logical preparation rule:



    As a result of your choice of the hard way, you will have to submit your shipment to a search. This causes delays, charges (you have to pay for Customs to inspect your shipment!), damage during inspection, and probably impoundment and possible permanent loss of some of your goods if they decide to send some of your things to Ottawa for x-ray or further investigation.

    YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!

    Suggestion: Choose the easy way.

    The Easy Way: When you go to Customs to get final clearance on your shipment, do the following:


    YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED! There are people who actually went through the hard way (their goods were searched) and it was not pleasant.

    So take the easy way! There is no guaranteed way to make sure your goods won't be searched, just ways of dramatically lowering the risk that they will be.


    One family's experience:


    When we got to the Vancouver airport, I went to the customs area to present the form B4 [now BSF186]. It seems they no longer process things the same way. They asked how old the stuff was that we were bringing WITH us and that was it. Then, they gave me a sheet of paper with a phone number to call once our goods arrived in Thailand. No B4 [now BSF186] form or any other forms! This made me a bit nervous but, when our goods did arrive in Vancouver, we called the number on the sheet of paper and made an appointment (well, they actually told us when to come) with Canada Border Services Agency. As per your advice, I didn't send my husband solo to our appointment!! In fact, my husband and I and two young daughters all went together. It was a breeze! The agent was delightful and gave my girls stickers and even let them stamp our paperwork! We were in and out very quickly and she faxed the necessary documents to the shipping agent right away so our goods could be released. Wow!

    Note: I love such stories because experiences like this do happen regularly. HOWEVER, be sure to complete your BSF186 form and any other required forms for your particular moving circumstances. Like anyone else, hard-working CBSA staff are reluctant to cause anyone extra work. If you are friendly, courteous, and polite, you will do just fine, regardless. Having your B4 with you just makes it easier for them to go easy on you. Enough said.


    Please share your experiences so that I can post your stories, anecdotes, advice, and tips that will help other people! Thank you!


    Final stories from Canadians who moved back


    Michelle Gay, a Canadian who moved back from Asia, writes:


    One thing that has really struck me - I have been back for 10 months...is that people move on. I really thought that the friends and family who I kept coming to visit all those years....were in a strange sense waiting for me to pick up where we left off. Coming back I realized that my relationships were kept alive because for the most part, I initiated them (called people to say I was coming home and do the driving to see them). Now that I'm back, I realize people moved on a long time ago and I've just been visiting their lives over the years. So in moving back, my insights would be to tell people that moving back is in many ways just like starting over again. You should prepare to carve out your life and reinvent yourself again.

    I'm still loving the English speaking world though! I lived in Asia for over eight years and wow - to join a class, to eavesdrop on the bus, to walk into the store and listen to advertisements...I'm still appreciating being able to understand my environment.

    Thank you, Michelle, for sharing your experience!




    Mrs. Arti Meyers, now in Toronto, generously shares her experiences and tips:


    We have been back in Canada for 11 months now. We left in 1989 for the first time, and then since then have lived in London twice, Barbados and New York. Since 1989, we have lived in Canada for 3 years, dropping in and out.

    This was our 3rd return home.... and maybe three times lucky. We find that the move HOME is always the most difficult move to make... because we expect or want it to be comfortable, natural and easy.... but this is usually not the case. I have to admit that the 3rd move home has been the best of the three. Perhaps this is because we have learned about what to expect, and have learned a few tricks.... or perhaps its because we are older and wiser....

    Things that were particularly trying this year were trying to find a doctor in the Toronto area.... public health care in Canada seems to be a big problem here now. Be sure to go and get your health cards immediately, and probably the best short term health care option is to go to the walk in clinics that are set up. They are better than I had expected, and after waiting an hour or two, at least the problem gets dealt with. (personally, I prefer the British health care system that offers people the choice..... We used our local public care when it was convenient, quick and we felt confident with it, and when we had something of more concern, or something we needed attended to immediately, we used private health care.... we could use both, and that made a lot of sense!)

    The other huge pain in the *** was the telephone company! We thought we'd go with Rogers for cable, internet, phone and cells... for 5 people. They overcharged us by hundreds of dollars every month ---for months, and honestly June was the first time that we received a correct bill. Do you know how many hours on the telephone this took - This is a problem.

    The other problem is in terms of work.... and if you have been out of the loop for a long time, it is really difficult and hard to work to get the network going again, to try to get work. The networking is key, and this was what my husband did... but honestly after almost 20 years away, the network is more outside of Canada than within Canada.... and that is ok because we have lived globally, and that is really our community.(My husband is now a consultant and this trip is in the Middle East and Europe!)

    In terms of aclimatizing, my 16 year old son did this seamlessly. Here is a tip. Get involved right away in something that you are passionate about... he is a sports guy, and joined the football team on the 3rd day of school... then the rugby team.... it was a great way to meet good guys, be involved and slip right into the middle of high school! My daughter started university here at Queens in Kingston, Ontario, and although she missed London and her friends there, she said that it was so easy to meet friends, and this was a natural time of change, so this was also seamless.... that is another point, that if you can make the moves at natural change times, and that makes things much easier.

    In terms of the family and friend interaction... this was a really upsetting one in moves gone by,...but this time we were wiser, so were not expecting hugs and kisses and weekly visits...... It was as we knew it would be on move home #3..... our dearest closest friends were there for us and continue to be our dearest friends....Our families were there a bit overall....and that was just fine. I think that the trick is to understand that you have been away, and that people have continued their lives without you.... so it is best to just try to make sure that you are creating an independent life, without overly relying on old supports.

    Finally, after having been part of womens groups in new york, london and barbados....I thought that I would join the Newcomers Club in Toronto (we had never lived in Toronto) , so that I could stay involed in expat type activites with a more international crowd who had a fresh view of Canada and the city. This was a good idea, and a great insurance policy in case things with old friends & family was dull or not magic.... as it turned out for me, I was so busy with my nuclear family, old friends and greater family, I had little time for this.... BUT ... I would recommend it as a good idea, and a way to make the transition easier.

    Thank you, Arti!, for sharing your experiences and thoughts!


    You will face lots of challenges and enjoyments. Watch for typical culture shock and some ups and downs of emotions, but bear with them: They are natural.


    Good luck and welcome back to Canada!


    Home | Get help - Professional Support


    Keep Calm and Return to Canada



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    I offer professional support to help you prepare for a smooth and easy return to Canada so you can feel confident and organized!


    Paul Kurucz

    Paul Kurucz - Canada

    A happy client:

    Hi Paul,

    Just to update you - we landed and sailed through customs! So thank you so much for all of your advice...It was a thoroughly pleasant experience...

    ... this is to say thank you for everything. Your advisory has been so incredibly helpful and saved us considerable time and removed room for error.

    With best wishes,

    Caroline


    Professional Support Services



    Useful Links


    Note: I have reviewed these sites to be sure they are legit. I have not personally used the moving companies, however. Please let me know your experience, either good or bad, and I will keep this list updated and useful for all.

    Government Resources:



    Immigration / Spousal Sponsorship / Permanent Resident status:


    I suggest using the services of a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC). Two recommendations:


    Taxes:



    Canadian cross-border tax accountants who come recommended by expatriate and returning Canadians who have used their services:




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