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  • First trip to Canada


    Nobody can forget first trip to Canada! It is important. On one end you are full of joy and on the other end you are worried as you are moving to totally new country!

    Here are few suggestions about planning your first trip properly.

    How much money to bring?
    Bring whatever law says and whatever is required for you for the initial stage. Ensure that you carry funds as advised by the Canadian High Commission (or Consulate) along with your passport, immigration/visa papers etc. Usually any amount greater than 14,000 $ is better if you are migrating with family. You can bring money in various forms; the best one is Bank Draft as the charges are very less. State Bank of India is better choice (if you are coming from India) as rates are better, service is good and reliable. Only disadvantage of Bank Draft is that when you arrive in Canada, you will get that money in your bank account after 10 days. (You can always go to State Bank of Indias Canada branches get money immediately, but it is not possible for everyone) Thomas Cook is always there, but little costly. You can bring money in form of travelers checks, but again it will cost more. You can bring some cash, but it is not advisable as not all airports are safe! You need some money for spending on airports but it might never be more than 100 US$. (We spent only 75 Cents between three of us!) Yes, you should keep some (very few) US Dollars and also some Canadian Dollars. If you need money immediately after arriving in Canada (for example for rending an apartment or buying clothes etc.) then bring some travelers checks. If you have few Canadian dollar coins and 25 cents, it is better. On airport you can get cart by inserting a dollar in the slot to carry your luggage, otherwise those collies will charge you 15$ (450 Rupees!) just to get out of airport. The 25 cents (known as quarter here) will be useful if you need to call your relative or friend or you need to call Taxi. If you dont have any change, you can always get them by locating change machine. It is automatic machine, in which by inserting a bill (notes of $10, $5 etc.) you can get change.

    What items to bring?
    When you first arrive in Canada as an immigrant, you can bring a lot of personal and household stuff free of customs duty. You may check with the Canadian high commission for further details. Depending on your airline luggage restrictions (usually around 60 Kg without a duty but it is better to contact the airline about the maximum luggage limit), you may plan to take many of your important possessions. You can even ship some of your possessions separately, if you cannot carry all your important items with you. But be aware that any electrical or electronic items from India or Europe do not work in Canada, due to power supply difference (Canada and US use 110 V ac, 60 Hz power supply). The TV system in Canada is also different (NTSC).

    Ensure that you carry all your educational certificates, job experience certificates and any short term or long-term course certificates without fail. If you have a car-driving license, it is a good idea to take it with you. If you wish to drive a car as soon as you arrive in Canada, you can take an International Driving Permit also. Even if you have good driving experience back home it is advised to take 2 or 3 classes at the minimum to get accustomed to the roads and its rules here.

    First step in Canada Immigration Process
    Most of you probably arrive by an airline. A few people may be driving down by car, if arriving from USA. If you are arriving by plane, you will be given a Customs declaration form in your flight. Complete it fully and clearly. As soon as you land at a Canadian airport, you need to go through the Canadian Immigration check. When you arrive at the Immigration Counter, keep your passport, immigration papers and duly filled Customs declaration form ready and show them to the Immigration Officer. You will probably be directed to go to another area and meet another officer. That officer will verify your passport, immigration papers, and the funds you are carrying and sign and stamp your immigration papers. That means you have finally LANDED in CANADA. Now go and pickup your luggage and pass through Canada Customs.

    Venturing out of Airport
    If somebody is picking you up from the airport, it will be much easier for you. For some reason, if your friend or relative failed to show up the airport, you may need to make a phone call to them. There are several public phones in the airport. Got a telephone booth and dial the number (including the area code) you want to reach and when a voice tells you to deposit 25 cents (for a local call) or the calling card to be swiped, do as directed. You can also do collect call, that is when you call you have to speak your name and the receiver will confirm your name and receives the call. The call charges will be applicable to the person you are calling. Please remember that it may be 3 times costlier than normal call.

    If no body is picking you up from the airport, take a taxi or public transport from the airport to reach your accommodation, if you have already booked in advance. If your accommodation is not booked in advance, contact the information counter at the airport, who can help you to find accommodation.

    If you have arrived in Toronto Pearson International Airport, Taxis (or Limousines) charge fixed fares from the airport to your destination. These fares are posted at the taxi stand. If you wish to take public transport (buses), enquire at the information counter in the airport on which bus to take.

    If you do not have any friends or relatives living in Canada, with whom you can stay or who can arrange for your initial accommodation, it is very important to make your own arrangements at least for your temporary accommodation on your arrival. If you are emigrating from the USA, get reference letter from your current landlord.

    The following are some of the places of temporary accommodation in Toronto. (Rates are approximate)

    90 Gerrard Street West, Toronto, Tel (416) 340-3750, Fax: (416) 340-3923
    Butternut House Bed and Breakfast, 2 Oakdene Crescent, Toronto, Tel: (416) 461-4022, (416) 461-8833 - 4 rooms, $600 a month, furnished, hydro and power included but a bathroom is shared
    A1. Backpackers, $19.95/nite, 2011 Dundas St. W., 416-536-8824.
    BLOOR/ Spadina. Rms, priv.bath. TV, air, $40-45/day, $175+/wk.,416-922-1934
    BROADVIEW /Queen. Rooms starting from $99 & up weekly, 416-466-4289
    COLLEGE /Spadina, Waverly Hotel. Daily $70, Wkly $300, bed, TV, hydro and power included, no fridge, free parking. 416-921-2141/921-7838 (24hr. rm. serve.)
    GLADSTONE Hotel daily-$50. Bed, hydro, power included. (2 bathrooms shared between 10 rooms), Queen St. W. 416-531-4635.
    INN on the Bay, 650 Bay street, 30 hotel rooms, Daily $60/Wkly $250. / $750Mthly. Bed, power, hydro included, no TV.416-971-8383.
    INN QEW/427,25 hotel rooms, daily $54/Weekly $224/Monthly $800, TV, hydro, power, phone included. Restaurant downstairs and 2 bars. 416-259-4600.

    In addition there are many temples/gurudwaras/mosques those can help you. You can see comprehensive samaj list on this site.

    Have a safe trip!


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