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Canada is one of the most desirable relocation destinations for UK citizens, as well as for expats from the US and around the world. The stable economy, thriving cities, family-centered communities, and wealth of places to live, appeal to professionals, families, and retirees alike.

As with any international move, creating a clear and comprehensive budget, before you make any plans, is essential. You need to factor in the practicalities of flights, shipping your belongings, as well as the legal process of applying for a visa and work permit.

The Chase Buchanan Wealth Management Canadian team has pulled together a brief guide to provide examples what a move to Canada from the UK might cost – and why your visa category may make a difference.

Visa Routes for British Nationals Looking to Move to Canada

The Canadian immigration system offers a variety of work permits and visa categories. The investment visas and skilled workers visas are intended for those filling high-demand roles. Whereas those holding a short -term contract with a Canadian employer will need the temporary working visa.

Each year, the Canadian government sets a target or quota against each visa category. For example, they can set a maximum number of expats that they will allow to enter Canada through the Federal Skilled Worker Program, using either the Express Entry System or the points-based Comprehensive Ranking System.

Below, we’ve worked through some of the most commonly used work permit and visa programmes as an overview of how these work and which options may be most suitable for your circumstances.

Canadian Work Permits

Any UK citizen moving to Canada to work must hold a valid permit. This document will usually be either an Open or an Employer-Specific Permit, with the former allowing an expat to work for any Canadian business and the latter restricted to one named company.

The Employer-Specific Work Permit is more typical, and applications must be supported by a valid job offer, with a permit valid for four years. However, this may be adjusted based on the duration of the proposed employment contract.

Businesses employing foreign nationals may need to complete a ‘Canadian Labour Market Impact Assessment’ to prove that the applicant’s skills are not already available in Canada and that their work permit would not be detrimental to local citizens’ job opportunities.

International Experience Canada Program

This visa is aimed at young British citizens aged between 18 and 30. It is a two-year temporary working visa intended to allow aspiring professionals to gain experience working in the Canadian economy and business sector. Applications cost $161 (£94) plus a work permit fee of $100 (£58) and a further $85 (£50) biometric charge.

Business and Investment Visas

Entrepreneurs and affluent investors can apply through several pathways, including the Start-Up Business Class Visa. This offers permanent residency for start-ups with a minimum angel investment of $75,000 (£43,800), venture capital funding of $200,000 (£116,800), or that it has been accepted into an incubator programme.

The Business Class Visa is not open to applicants moving to Quebec since the region has separate provincial immigration requirements and considers alternative eligibility criteria, such as French fluency when deciding which applications to approve.

The Start-Up Visa costs $2,140 (£1,250) initially, plus $1,365 (£797) for a partner or spouse and $230 (£134) for each dependent child included on the application.

Permanent Residency Programmes

There are solutions for expats seeking long-term residency status or citizenship in Canada. Most expats opt for business, investment, family sponsorship or skilled worker visas and meet minimum stay requirements to become eligible for permanent residence.

In most cases expats living in Canada, with a temporary or renewable residence permit, must have lived there for at least three of the previous five years, pass language fluency tests and achieve a passing mark on a citizenship examination.

Foreign nationals must also have filed and paid taxes in Canada for at least three consecutive years, among other criteria. The charge for a permanent residence application is equivalent to the Start-Up Visa fees as above, which also apply to any Quebecois business immigration application.

Practical Costs of Moving to Canada From the UK

Alongside your visa application and accounting for any fees payable, if you are using one of the regulated Canadian immigration consultants to compile your application forms, you need to be conscious of the costs of the relocation itself.

Generally, a flight to visit Canada from one of the major UK airports in London to an international airport in Vancouver or Toronto costs from £600 per person. Other expenses to calculate include the following.

Removals and Shipping Costs

If you expect to obtain permanent resident status in Canada, you will likely wish to move your belongings and valuables. Charges start from £1,000 for a small number of items and can stretch up to £5,000 for a full shipping container, which would have sufficient space for roughly a standard three or four-bedroom home.

Importing a car into Canada may be more complex, depending on whether the vehicle meets the federal standards – many foreign cars produced outside of Canada and the US need to be modified to be considered eligible for a Canadian registration plate, which can be more costly than purchasing a new vehicle.

Relocating With Pets

Pet transport costs are around £1,400 to £1,500 per pet, depending on whether you are flying with a smaller animal, such as a cat, or a larger dog. There are no quarantine requirements, instead you must comply with multiple health regulations, such as the costs for immunisation certificates. This declares that your animal is well and does not carry any communicable diseases.

Taking out Private Health Insurance

All visa categories are conditional on the applicant holding full medical insurance coverage, ensuring that any foreign national living in Canada, either temporarily or over the long term, will not be reliant on the public healthcare system to cover their treatment costs.

Depending on the terms of your visa, you may need to demonstrate minimum levels of health insurance coverage, including a verified medical certificate, and show that your insurance covers repatriation back to the UK.

Budgeting for the Cost of a Canadian Relocation

The various costs of moving to Canada are important to consider. You need to think about your visa application fee, your flights,  and the costs of transporting your belongings, alongside renting a property and covering your outgoings while you become established in your new home.

Should you need any further advice about the costs of moving to Canada from the UK, the visa categories that may be most suitable, or about applying for a business or investment visa, please get in touch with the Chase Buchanan Wealth Management  team in Ontario to arrange a good time

*Information correct as at November 2023