If you are new to British Columbia, Canada, you likely have many questions about starting your life here. The following resource page will help you find the information you need as a newcomer.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada
If you are interested in immigrating, watch this video series to help you navigate your way before arriving and during your first weeks in Canada. The videos include tips on translating personal identification to obtaining a Social Insurance Number.
If you are planning to immigrate, visit or study in Canada you can also refer to the Government of Canada’s Department of Citizenship and Immigration website. This website provides the most up-to-date information on all legal requirements by the Government of Canada.
In addition, CIC offers “Welcome to Canada,” the official handbook to assist you in preparing to come to Canada and to help you navigate your way during the first months in this country.
- Welcome to Canada Guide
Along with the welcome guide, the federal government offers an online tool called the “Come to Canada Wizard” to help you devise a customized settlement plan once you arrive in Canada.
- Living in Canada Wizard
In addition to this plan, you will also want to consider language learning options. The Language Training for Canada video, is intended to raise newcomer awareness on the importance of official language skills for settlement in Canada. If you are on the road to Canadian citizenship, CIC offers a helpful resource page to determine your eligibility and provide a complete study guide. Planning to Work in Canada?
- A guide book for Newcomers
Created for internationally trained individuals who are considering moving to Canada or who have recently arrived. This workbook will allow you to obtain the greatest benefit from your experience and education. You can also watch this promotional video showcasing the International Qualifications Network, or IQN. The video demonstrates how the IQN has successfully addressed the need for a centralized tool to promote and support the sharing of information related to the recognition and assessment of international qualifications in Canada.
Getting Started in Vancouver, British Columbia
It’s hard moving to a new country. There are a number of things that you should do as soon as you arrive in British Columbia (BC). Finding a place to stay, getting support from a settlement services worker, and applying for a Social Insurance Number (SIN) card, will help you and your family settle in BC quickly and easily. The province offers assistance through WelcomeBC.
Newcomer guides are also available in several different languages from both the City of Vancouver and the Province of British Columbia. These guides are great resources to help in your orientation to British Columbia and the City of Vancouver including history, personal stories and experiences of Canada’s First Peoples. The City of Vancouver has also created a 6-part video series highlighting the guides.
- The BC Newcomers’ Guide to Resources and Services
- Growing Roots: A Newcomer’s Guide to Vancouver
- First Peoples: A Guide for Newcomers
BC Newcomers’ Guide
BC Rental Housing
If you’re planning to immigrate to British Columbia and wish to find out more information about renting accommodation, please refer to the Tenant Resource & Advisory Centre.
City of Vancouver
Want to know more about Vancouver’s services and activities? The City of Vancouver’s site has information on things to do in Vancouver and much more.
- The City of Vancouver
Use Google Translate to view the city’s website in over 50 languages for free. You may need to install Language Packs to view some of the languages correctly. Choose your language below.
- Chinese (简体中文)
- French (Français)
- Persian (فارسی)
- Japanese (日本語)
- Spanish (Español)
- Filipino (Tagalog)
- Korean (한국어)
- Vietnamese (Việt)
BC Medical Services Plan
The Government of British Columbia has a health insurance plan called the Medical Services Plan (MSP). MSP pays for most health costs—for example, doctors, most medical tests, and treatments. WelcomeBC lists the requirement for obtaining the MSP as well as where the find a doctor and other medical services.
Mental Health Services
The Multicultural Mental Health Resource Centre (MMHRC) provides a variety of information in several languages to the public (immigrants, refugees, members of ethnic minority communities) on mental health, service use, cultural interpretation, and more.
The Justice Education Society has produced a series of 15 factsheets for new immigrants that provide basic information on a range of legal services available in BC. All of the factsheets are available in English, Chinese (simplified and traditional), Punjabi, Korean and Farsi.
Refugee Hearing Preparation
Refugees who need assistance on how to understand and prepare for a claim for refugee protection in Canada now have a new resource to help in Metro Vancouver.
This resource helps claimants:
- understand how to prepare for their hearing
- meet hearing preparation deadlines
- find important hearing preparation resources
Public School System
Information on BC’s public school system and locations.
TransLink will provide you
with information concerning the transit system schedules, routes and
fees for the Greater Vancouver Regional District.
- Schedules & Maps Alerts, Trip Planner
- Fares & Passes Compass Card
- Rider Guide Safety, Accessibility
- Getting Around Driving, Cycling, Airport
- Plans & Projects Be Part of the Plan
- About Translink
The TransLink booklet and DVD video, “Access Transit – Getting Around Metro Vancouver” is available for loan at libraries throughout Metro Vancouver. The booklet contains helpful information on how to best navigate our transit system. The DVD is available in both Closed Caption and Audio Descriptive formats.
Find the closest library near you. Services are available in other languages.
- British Columbia’s “Library to Go”
(Audio books and eBooks available free of charge)
- Recorded Books
A site where one can register and download the software to obtain free audio books
- Vancouver Public Library
- Burnaby Public Library
- Surrey Public Library
- Coquitlam Public Library
- Fraser Valley Regional Library