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Move to Canada from Germany

Every year thousands of people move to Canada from Germany. In fact, of the all the European states, Germany has the third highest population of expats living in Canada – following behind France and the UK.

The 2016 Canadian Census reported that 1 in 10 people living in Canada are of German origin, and that 400,000 people living in Canada reported German as their mother tongue, so it is no surprise that Canada has a thriving German expat community.

Canada is a popular destination for German nationals

Canada has a lot to offer people moving from Germany in terms of professional career development opportunities, studying and overall quality of work-life balance. Canada is also considered to be a great place for families, and in a survey of over 20,000 expats, Canada was ranked #1 for best quality of life, with its main cities regularly featuring in lists of “the top ten cities to work and live”.

Young happy woman taking selfie in Toronto

How to move to Canada from Germany

Overall, there are a lot of reasons why so many people in Germany choose to move to Canada. So, with this in mind, this guide has been compiled specially to explain “how to move to Canada from Germany”.

A moving guide written by expats for expats

This guide has been written by expats for expats who have specialist insider knowledge from the international moving industry. Simply follow the international removal process steps below to make your move to Canada as easy as possible:

How big is Canada

Large would be an understatement. Canada is 28 times larger than Germany. It is 9,984,670 sq km and is home to some of the world’s most outstanding natural beauty. German nationals who already appreciate a mix of clean cities contrasted with mountains and epic forests will feel a natural affinity with the country.

Canada’s three territories and ten provinces

Canada is made up of three large territories — the Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Yukon — and ten provinces — Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, and Saskatchewan.

Wellbeing and inclusivity

One of the big draws for Europeans to Canada is its blend of North America meets Europe and cosmopolitan style. Canada also has a great healthcare offering, a thriving art and culture scene and a strong economy offering excellent employment opportunities especially around the largest cities.

Pre-move checks

Before you move, here are a few checks you need to make:

Do I need a Canadian visa or work permit

Yes. German nationals and EU citizens will require a visa granting permission to live in Canada. If you are moving with work, you will also need a work permit. Some permits can take months to obtain. If you hold Canadian citizenship, you will be permitted to work and travel. If you are an expat moving to Canada to live there permanently you may want to consider obtaining permanent residency status.

Types of visas for German citizens moving to Canada: Canada currently has a key drive to attract nationals with key skills from Germany and other countries across Europe and worldwide. Citizens of Germany who are looking to emigrate permanently to Canada can benefit from the Government of Canada’s Express Entry system. This has three programs to support immigration of skilled workers into Canada. Which program will depend on your circumstances and skills, but they are a path to a permanent residency visa and ultimately Canadian citizenship. Note that Québec has its own criteria for skilled worker applications. Aside from the Express Entry visa, there are many other visa types for moving to Canada so it is important that you apply using the correct visa type so you can live and work legally. It is recommended to speak to a qualified immigration lawyer before making an application.

Family members and accompanying adults: Unless they are Canadian nationals, they will also have restrictions, for example accompanying partners may have restrictions regarding working. If you are a couple or a family planning to move to Canada, make sure you check everyone moving has the correct visa so they can live, study or work legally.

Documents you may be commonly required to provide: Depending on the visa type you are applying for, it is a good idea to have these documents ready if needed: A valid passport, an up-to-date resume, educational/professional qualification certificates, marriage certificate for an accompanying partner, birth certificates for accompanying kids, proof of employment.

These documents will also be useful to have in preparation: Police certificates, employment references, health insurance cover, proof of accommodation for when you arrive and potentially your home address, proof of finances and proof of historic employment.

*Information provided above is for awareness purposes only and should not be used as legal advice. Please ensure you consult with a qualified immigration lawyer.

Do I need a property before I move

You will need to provide proof you have an address to live at to enter Canada. You will need to state an address where you are staying to enter the country. This could be the address of your permanent residence or temporary accommodation you will reside at while awaiting moving into a permanent residence.

Temporary accommodation: Upon arrival in Canada, hotels, temporary accommodation and serviced apartments can be useful options while you wait to move into your new home.

Rental property: If you are moving into a rental property in Canada, you will need a signed lease with the details of the property address.

Home purchase: If you have purchased a property in Canada, then a copy of the purchase and mortgage statement with the details of the address will be required.

Do you need health insurance

Not necessarily, but a lot of people have it: Canada’s Medicare system (different to, and more generous than the US and Australian systems), provides healthcare in a similar way to the German universal healthcare system. Both are funded by the country’s tax system, however Canada’s Medicare system does not cover everything. It covers most emergency hospital treatment, most services required to diagnose and treat an illness or injury, and maternity related services. However, it varies by province and does not cover ambulances, prescriptions, optic services, dental care, physio services, psychological support, hearing aids and a few other things. Waiting times can also be an issue for German expats used to receiving a more efficient service. Two thirds of the population choose to take private healthcare insurance to cover the additional costs and to cover circumstances where faster treatment is required.

Customer reviews

What people say about their move

Adil M Germany to Canada
Stefanie has been very helpful from the time we engaged for a quote and all the way up to the booking and arranging our move. Really happy with how Stefanie has responded back to us and would definitely recommend Sterling Lexicon to friends and family.
Katharina C Germany to Canada
Knowledgeable team, well prepared and symphatic. Thank you
Steve C Germany to Canada
The team worked effectively and had good communication with us throughout our move to Canada.
Andreas S Germany to Canada
Ieva did a superb job helping us with our relocation to Canada !!

The international removals process for moving to Canada

The Sterling Lexicon Promise

Book with confidence. Book to reserve your move date and if things change you can move your dates. Sterling Lexicon is an accredited international mover who provides professional support throughout your move from here in Germany and at destination. FIDI protected.

The following is a checklist to help you plan each stage of your move to Canada from Germany.

Finding an international removal company

An international move to Canada is very different to moving house locally within Germany, so make sure you research first to find a reputable international removal company. Here are a few moving industry insider tips to help you find a reputable international moving company in Germany:

Guaranteeing your international move

The international removal company will be responsible for guaranteeing the delivery of your household goods from Germany to your new home in Canada. For this reason, check they are a correctly registered international mover, that they are certified and have all the correct insurances.

FIDI Accredited International Mover

Firstly, check if they are FIDI certified. FIDI is the primary industry association for certifying international removers. Only companies who are able to prove they can fulfil their commitment to customers can receive FIDI certification. FIDI routinely audit each mover and certify them as either FAIM or FAIM Plus.

Step 1 - Request a Move Quote

Once you have identified, you will need to get a quote from the international moving company. The easiest way to do this is often via an online Move Quote Form.

If the company has a locally based international removal office in Germany, then you can also call them directly or send an email.

Step 2 - Pre-move Consultation

It is advisable to take part in a pre-move consultation with your international removal company. A reputable international mover will normally want to conduct a consultation with you to fully understand the exact requirements of your move and advise you correctly. This will be to identify any potential challenges for your move to Canada and to identify the most effective way of managing these.

Speak to experienced International Move Consultants not Sales People

At Sterling Lexicon, the consultation is conducted by an experienced International Move Consultant, rather than a sales person, who fully understands the technical requirements for your move to Canada from Germany. They will walk you through the international move process and answer your questions.

A home survey

Depending on the size and complexity of your house move, you may be asked to take part in a pre-move survey of your home and its contents. This will ensure your move quote is accurate and avoid unwanted bills at a later stage.

Video surveys

A video survey is a convenient option for many people who move internationally. It works using your mobile device and is very similar to having a video call on your phone or tablet. You simply set the date and use your mobile device to show your move surveyor around your home and the items you want to move. During the survey, you may like to ask your international removal company about these things:

  • Packing materials and processes
  • Access and parking
  • Vehicle shipping and storage
  • Fine art and special items
  • Insuring your items being moved
  • Pet moving
  • Storage
  • International money transfers
  • Temporary accommodation arrangements
  • Umsatzsteuer (USt) reclaims
Sterling Lexicon Video Survey App

We offer covid-safe, quick and easy video surveys.


Businessman on video call in living room

Fine art works, antiques, heavy sculptures and delicate items need to be identified along with specific handling requirements. For example, specialist lifting equipment, crating, disassembly, specialist protective materials to preserve specific works, and so on. Fine art will often require specific customs procedures and insurances to be taken into account. Check your international moving company has taken these into consideration.

Over the phone and ballpark quotes can provide a rough indication of cost, but please be aware the actual cost could vary, and sometimes, quite considerably. It is advisable to ensure the international removal company has the full details for the most accurate cost.

Your international move summary and quote is normally provided in writing following completion of the survey. Following receipt of the quote, check everything is correct. If you have more than one quote, make sure you are getting a like-for-like comparison. If in doubt, ask your Move Consultant.

Step 3 - Book your move date

Review your move summary and quote, then reply to book your move date. Speak to your Move Specialist if you have any questions.

Review your quote: when you check your quote, make sure it includes everything you requested.

Sterling Lexicon price promise: if you are comparing quotes then speak to your Sterling Lexicon Move Specialist.

Step 4 - Pay for your move

You will normally be asked to pay to book your move. Payment can be made by credit card over the phone or your mover may enable you to pay online. Credit card is recommended as the safest way. You can pay online here with Sterling Lexicon.

Track and manage your move online

You can save time by managing parts of the move process using a web portal and tracking the progress of your move online. Check your international removal company has this option.

Step 5 - Preparing for your move to Canada

Once you have secured your move date and the first day of packing, you can prepare your home in Germany for your move home to Canada. Check out this Ultimate Guide to International House Removals.

Confirmation of packing and move dates

You will normally receive written confirmation from your international removal company of the key dates of your move including the date and time your packing crew will arrive, key dates and estimated shipping times. A top tip is to add these dates in your phone diary and share with everyone who is moving with you. Also add it onto your calendar and place it in a location where everyone in your household can see, such as a notice board or on your fridge door.

Forms, forms, forms!

There will be plenty of customs documentation and move paperwork for you to fill-out as part of your move from Germany to Canada. These are mainly customs documents, insurance forms and service instructions. You will also need to gather plenty of documents. Check with your Move Consultant what you need to do.


Customs documents requirements for moving household goods to Canada

Customs are controlled by the Canada Border Services Agency. Your Move Consultant will need to ensure you have all the correct customs documentation. They will also normally help you with the documentation process and filling out the forms accurately. Below is a list of the documents you will need when planning an international removal to Canada from Germany:

  • Copy of valid Visa for non-Canadian citizens, or copy of Permanent Resident Card 
  • Copy of valid Passport + colour copy
  • Work Permit / Student Visa holders, if applicable
  • A complete Canadian BSF186 Personal Effects Accounting Document
  • Returning residents will need to provide proof of Residency abroad for at least 1 year (utilities bills, rent receipts, bank statements, income tax statement, etc. for first and last month of 12-month period)
  • A detailed packing inventory and packing list including “goods to follow” in English or French – Sterling Lexicon helps complete this as part of their full packing service for your removal
  • Receipts for any new items
  • Original Bill of Lading (OBL) / Air Waybill (AWB)
  • Proof of residence in Canada (copy of Deed / Sales Agreement / Lease Agreement)
  • Liquor Permit, if applicable
  • Copy of Death Certificate, Copy of Will or Letter from the Executor of an estate (import of inheritance items)
  • Diplomat moves will need to provide an Obligation for Privilege from the Canadian Ministry of External Affairs
Moving with your pets

If you are moving your pets to Canada there are a few things you need to know. As Germany is rabies-free, veterinary requirements for dogs and cats to move to Canada are relatively straightforward. Your pet will need a microchip, a rabies vaccination and a health certificate within 5 days of your flight. There is no quarantine for dogs and cats travelling from Germany to Canada. For birds, fish, rabbits, horses and other more exotic pets you can read more detailed information here: Canadian Government’s rules for importing pets to Canada. You can also contact us to speak to our pet moving specialist.

It is important to ensure your family pet is able to move stress-free and they are looked after really well. For example, Sterling Lexicon pet moving specialists treat your pet with absolute care, take all precautions and will arrange for a time and date to collect your furry family member for their move. Learn all about our Pet Relocation services here.

Woman doing high five with pet dog

Prepare your home in Germany

Prepare your home for the first day of packing and the arrival of the packing crew. Sort out those items you will move with you, what is going into storage and those that will be sold or donated. Items being moved by air should be put to one side. The day before, take pictures down from the walls and prop them safely on the floor against the wall ready for packing. Large items requiring can be set aside for the moving company to disassemble, or you can do this. Make sure you place all the small parts in a dedicated parts box so they can be reassembled at destination.

Methodically work through each room at a time. Make sure you empty the loft, basement and any out houses. Set aside any items that cannot be taken with you (e.g. prohibited items). Your international removal company may provide you with low tack stickers to label items ready for the packing crews. If you don’t have these, a top tip is to use color coded Post-It notes for Air, Sea, Storage, Don’t Pack.

Bits box and box for your first day in your new home

Make sure any parts from disassembled furniture, nuts and bolts, allen keys, remote controls, etc. are placed into a clearly identified “bits box”.

Also, set up a clearly identifiable box for items to be used on your first evening at your new home in Canada. Add some cutlery, plates, cups, blankets, etc. Make sure these boxes are easily identifiable and are the last things to be loaded into your shipment so they are easy to find when you unpack your items in Canada.

Items to set aside to travel with you

Set aside the following items into a clearly identifiable container so they do not get mixed up with the rest of your household goods; your passport(s), visa(s), phone and charger, power pack, adaptor, documents, employment references, health insurance cover, jewelry and medication. Keep important documents such as insurance policies, mortgage letter, copy of your lease for the new home, etc. in a wallet – make sure you have physical and digital copies to hand ready for inspection.

Step 6 - Packing your household goods on the day of moving home

On the first day of your move, expect the packing team to arrive at your home at the agreed time. Companies like Sterling Lexicon will ensure the packing crew foreman introduce themselves and their team for security purposes. You will then normally walk through your home and discuss what you are packing for transport by sea, air, items for storage, special care and those items you are not taking.

Professionally trained international packing crews

Sterling Lexicon’s professional international packing crews are some of the best in the business and have been working for the company for many years. We only use people we would trust in our own home, so we know they will be professional and respectful in yours too. Their experience ensures all your personal possessions are packed perfectly to withstand being handled and transported over thousands of miles.

Eco-friendly export packing materials

Reputable international removal companies will use packing materials that offer both a high level of protection and are environmentally responsible. Good examples are, card and paper materials constructed from sustainable forests and eco-friendly 4-6 ply export wrap, thick-walled specific packing boxes, acid free tissue paper, cornering for protecting furniture edges and thick carding to protect surfaces and soft materials from scratching and tearing. Expect to have professional packing crews who use specialist export wrapping techniques, operate safely and take measures to protect your home from damage. They should also recycle as much as possible.

Taxable items and duties

Inform your Move Consultant of all items you plan to take with you, so they can identify restricted items or anything that will incur customs duties. They can then plan for these before the move and find the most cost-effective way to handle your move to keep costs down and avoid delays.

Items that are restricted and prohibited for personal moves to Canada

Here is a current list of items that you are not allowed to bring into Canada, as defined by the Canada Border Services Agency.

  • Fresh foods including vegetables, fruits, fish and animal products
  • Illegal drugs and drug paraphernalia (including cannabis and medical cannabis)
  • Weapons including explosives, firearms, guns and ammunition (also includes fireworks and pepper sprays)
  • Animals (please see pet moving)
  • Game and Hunting Trophies
  • Plants, seeds and soil
  • Hazardous materials or chemicals

If in doubt speak to your Move Consultant for further guidance.

Your itemised packing inventory

Once the packing has been completed, an itemized packing inventory will be generated, showing everything that has been packed. Keep hold of this until your possessions have arrived in Canada and are unpacked in your new home.

International transit protection

Your possessions will be transported roughly 4,000 miles / 7000 kms between Germany and Canada. We recommend taking out transit protection, which will cover for your personal possessions, furniture, art, collections, etc. from the point of packing in Germany to delivery in Canada. Ask your Move Specialist for more information.

Items for storage

Any items going into storage will need to be stored correctly and securely. Ask your international removal company what secure storage they offer in Germany.

Step 7 - Transporting your household goods to Canada

The international removal company will prepare your possessions for transportation. Sea freight is the best way to move your household goods to Canada with the lowest environmental impact. An air shipment of your most essential items will normally be required too.

Canadian Customs documents

Household goods being moved to Canada from Germany are subject to Customs clearance checks. Your international removal company will normally provide this as part of their service, but make sure you check this is the case. For example, if you use Sterling Lexicon, they will help you complete the forms in advance and manage the clearance process.

Step 8 - Travel and temporary accommodation in Canada

Check you have done everything you need to travel legally in regards to your visa and work permit, Covid and travel arrangements. Ensure you have all your documents ready and to hand. Allow enough travel time to the airport without being stressed.

Temporary accommodation arrangements

It is likely that you will be staying in temporary accommodation or a hotel until your household goods arrive. When you have arrived and passed through border control, inform your Move Consultant of your arrival in the country. They can arrange then for your air freight to be delivered with your essential items to this address.

Step 9 - Customs clearance and delivery to your new home

Your international moving company should manage the customs clearance process for you. They will normally inform you that your household goods have successfully cleared customs and are ready for delivery. They will then seek to arrange a date for delivery and unpacking at your new home in Canada.

As part of the move, you will need to get utilities such as gas, water and electricity connected. When you are moved in you will need to register for a local doctor, dentist, arrange for a bank account (this can now be organized prior to leaving Germany) and get yourself set up correctly. Speak to your Move Consultant at the early stages to see how much can be set up in advance.

Step 10 - Welcome to your new home

Plan for your first night by locating your “first night box” so you can get takeaway or even cook yourself.

Now that you have moved into your new home in Canada, you can get to explore and enjoy your new neighborhood. Although Canada is considered a safe country to live in, make sure you take your safety seriously. There are often expat groups (also online) and local resources to help you get acquainted and provide recommendations.

Mother and son painting new home

Settling-in and orientation support

If you have moved with Sterling Lexicon and would like any local advice on places to help you settle-in, or you need additional support for the practical things such as utilities, local expat club introductions, schools, or anything else. Simply contact your Sterling Lexicon Move Consultant.

Additional areas we can help with

Currency exchange

If you need to transfer EUR to CAD before you move to Canada, we recommend Currencies Direct.

Currencies Direct is a multi-award-winning foreign exchange company. They have been helping people save time and money on their currency transfers since 1996. Contact Currencies Direct today!

Moving classic cars and motorcycles to Canada from Germany

We have been moving classic cars and motorcycles from Germany to Canada since 1990. Check out our FAQs for Auto Shipping or speak to us today about a quote for importing your classic vehicle to Canada.

Moving your pets to Canada from Germany

We have been moving pets with their families from Germany to Canada for over 30 years. To check the latest requirements and get a pet travel quote, talk to us today.

Moving fine art to Canada

If you have a work of fine art you wish to take as part of your move to Canada, Sterling Lexicon have specialist advisory, art technicians, specialist art crating and fine art shipping services who will ensure that your works receive exceptional care. Please contact us for a consultation.

Man standing next to his art collection

Do you have any questions

Why not speak to one of our team in Germany who can answer your questions clearly and simply. Call us today.

What do to next

Get a move quote

To get a free move quote to Canada from Germany, complete this form.

Book a video survey

The next step is to book your video survey. This allows Sterling Lexicon to accurately estimate the weight/volume of your household goods and get you the best price for your move. All you need is a smart phone and a move specialist will guide you through the estimate at a time that suits you. To book your free video survey, use our convenient booking calendar

Pay for your move online

Payment can be made by credit card over the phone or you can pay online.

Sterling Lexicon

Each year we help many returning residents, diplomats and professionals moving for work and with their families to move to Canada. We help them with their visas, finding homes, schools, moving and support at destination. Everything needed to start a new life chapter of living and working in Canada.

Our Office Locations

Sterling Lexicon Germany

Kleiner Kornweg 26-28
65451 Kelsterbach
+49 61 076 98 40 20