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Move to Canada from the UK

When it comes to the best countries in the world to work and live, Canada is normally right at the top of most people’s “I want to move there” wish lists.

Canada offers a great work-life balance and its major cities regularly feature in lists of “the top ten cities to work and live” too. So, it’s no surprise Canada has recently ranked #1 for best quality of life based on a survey of over 20,000 expats.

So, what are you waiting for? Saddle up like a Mounty, grab your poutine with maple syrup and let’s get ready to watch some ice hockey! We are off to live in Canada!

How to move to Canada from the UK

This guide was written for expats by expats with insider knowledge from the international moving industry. It covers what you need to know from choosing a reputable international removal company, the international removal process and everything up to your arrival in your new home. Simply follow the key steps below to make your move to Canada as easy as possible. Here are a few things you might like to know:

Canada is BIG

The first thing to consider is that Canada is massive! In fact, Canada is 9,984,670 sq km and the UK is 243,610 sq km. So that makes Canada roughly 41 times bigger than the UK. This is amazing news if you love lots of living space and the BIG outdoors! With so many options, choosing where you want to live and then finding the home you want will be the hardest part!

Three territories and 10 provinces

Canada has three territories — Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Yukon — and 10 provinces — Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, and Saskatchewan.

Parlez-vous Francais

If you speak French then you could be in luck and it could make it easier to get permanent residence. Canada is a bilingual country with English spoken across the country, but Quebec province’s official language is French. The Canadian federal government has also introduced a number of initiatives aimed specifically at attracting French-speakers.


Canada also has a lot to offer in terms of health support, wellbeing and a generally inclusive culture. A thriving art and culture scene is also a big draw as is the strong Canadian economy, with excellent employment opportunities, especially around the largest cities



What you need to know to move to Canada

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

Do I need a Canadian visa or work permit

Yes. unless you are a returning Canadian citizen. Before you can move to Canada you will need to have received 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.

Types of visas for UK citizens moving to Canada: Canada has one of the most open immigration systems at the moment, actively ‘welcoming’ foreign nationals with key skills to come and work. There are multiple visa types for Canada available and it is important that you apply using the correct visa type to ensure that you can live and work. It is highly recommended to speak to a qualified immigration lawyer before making an application.

Returning Canadian citizens: As a citizen of Canada, 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.


Family members and accompanying adults: If you are a family moving to Canada, or a couple. You must also check that each person moving has the correct status to live, study or work. Unless they are Canadian nationals, they will also have restrictions, for example accompanying partners may have restrictions regarding working.

Documents you may be commonly required to provide: A valid passport, an up-to-date CV/resume, educational/professional qualification, certificates, marriage certificates or birth certificates for accompanying children.

Have you already started your application? If yes, please ask for a move quote. You can request a quote here.

*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 have an address to stay at whether it be temporary or permanent. You will need to state the address where you are staying to enter the country.

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

Home purchase: If you have purchased a property, 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 has a system called Medicare (different to the USA and Australia) which provides healthcare. It is similar to the NHS in that it is paid for by the country’s tax system, but unlike the NHS it does not cover everything. Compared the USA, Canada’s Medicare provides much greater coverage so you won’t receive a bill for emergency hospital treatment, most services required to diagnose and treat an illness or an injury, or maternity services. But it has its limitations and does not cover things like ambulances, prescriptions, dental care, optic services, psychological support, physio or hearing aids. It also varies by province. Many expats also report that waiting times are a big issue. It is for this reason that two thirds of the population choose to take private healthcare insurance to cover the costs.

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.

Choosing your international removal company

Moving to Canada is very different to moving house within the UK, so it is always recommended to choose a reputable international removal company. Make sure you research before requesting a move quote. Here are a few moving industry insider tips to help you find a reputable international moving company:


Guaranteeing your international move

Remember that your international removal company will be effectively guaranteeing the delivery of your household goods in Canada, so check they are a correctly registered international mover, they are certified and have all the correct insurances.

FIDI Accreditations

Check 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. It's always good to check if they are registered as a UK international moving company approved by the British Association of Removers.

Step 1 - Request a Move Quote

You will need to get a quote for your international move. The easiest way to do this is via an online Move Quote Form.

If the moving company have a UK based international removal office like Sterling Lexicon you can also call them or send an email.

Step 2 - Pre-move Consultation

Make sure you have a pre-move consultation. A reputable international mover will normally conduct a consultation to fully understand the exact requirements of your move and advise you correctly. If there are any potential challenges then this will help to flag these at an early stage so they can be accounted for.

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 the UK. They will walk you through the international move process and answer your questions.

A home survey

You may be asked to take part in a pre-move survey of your home contents. This will ensure you receive an accurate move quote. Some companies can do this using a survey app, which works on your mobile device and is very similar to having a conventional video call where you walk around your home and show what you want to move.

  • Packing standards
  • Access and parking
  • Pet moving
  • Storage
  • International money transfers
  • Temporary accommodation arrangements
  • Insuring your items
  • Vehicle shipping and storage
  • Fine art and special items
  • VAT reclaims


Sterling Lexicon Video Survey App

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


Delicate items, antiques and fine art works will need to be highlighted to ensure they receive specific treatments such as casing, additional protection, specific handling requirements. Fine art will also have specific customs requirements.

Your international move summary and quote is normally be sent to you shortly after the survey. Check the details to make sure that everything is clear. If you have more than one quote, make sure you are getting a like-for-like comparison.

Important note about “ballpark quotes” over the phone you may be offered a quick international move quote over the phone with the opportunity to reserve there and then with a small deposit. In this case, please note that without a complete assessment, the final price you pay may vary considerably to what you are initially quoted and you may find you are subject to unforeseen additional charges. As an example, Sterling Lexicon will ensure they have the full details for an accurate price to minimize the potential for additional charges.

Step 3 - Book your move date

Simply review your move summary and quote, then reply to book your move date. Any questions just speak to your Move Consultant.

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 Consultant.

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 moving

Once you have your move date secured, you can prepare your home for your move home to Canada. Check out this Ultimate Guide to International House Removals.

Confirmation of packing and move dates

Your international moving company should confirm your key dates. For example, a Sterling Lexicon Move Specialist would provide your International Move Summary with dates of packing and estimated shipping times. Be sure to add these in your diary!

Forms, forms, forms!

Prepare yourself for some form filling. Those relating to your move are mainly around customs, insurance and service instructions. You will also need to gather plenty of documents. Check the list below.

Your international mover should assist and guide you through this to save you time – and some money too.

Customs documents requirements for moving household goods to Canada

Customs are controlled by the Canada Border Services Agency. Your Move Specialist will need to ensure you have all the correct customs documentation. They normally help you with the documentation process and filling out the Canadian BSF186 – Personal Effects Accounting Documentation, to make sure everything is completed correctly to avoid delays and unnecessary costs. Below is a list of the documents you will need when planning an international removal to Canada from the UK:

  • Copy of valid Passport + colour copy
  • Copy of valid Visa for non-Canadian citizens, or copy of Permanent Resident Card 
  • Work Permit / Student Visa holders, if applicable
  • 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 / Removal 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
  • A complete BSF186 Personal Effects Accounting Document
  • Original Bill of Lading (OBL) / Air Waybill (AWB)
  • Proof of residence in Canada (copy of Deed / Sales Agreement / Lease Agreement)
  • 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
  • Liquor Permit, if applicable
Prepare your home

Start to prepare your home ready for the packing crews. Firstly, sort out those items you want to take with you, store and those that will stay. Those items that are being moved by air should be put to one side. You can take pictures off the walls and place them propped against the wall on the floor 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.

Work through your home. Any items that cannot be taken with you (e.g. prohibited items) should be set aside. Your moving company may provide you with low tack stickers to label items ready for the packing crews. Make sure you empty the loft, basement and any out houses.

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

Make sure you pack all those nuts and bolts from disassembled furniture, remote controls, etc. into a single box marked accordingly. Also, a box with items for your first evening at your new place with cutlery, plates, cups, blankets, etc. Make sure these boxes are clearly identified and are the last things loaded so they are easy to find.

Items to set aside to travel with you

Put your passport, visa, phone, charger, power pack, adaptor, documents, items of jewelry and medication aside in a clearly identifiable container so they do not get packed. Also keep your important documents such as your insurance, lease for the new home, mortgage letter, etc. in a wallet – make sure you have physical and digital copies to hand.

Moving with pets

Please make sure that you have someone who can look after your pets on the day(s) when your home is being packed.

If your pets are moving with you, please talk to your Move Specialist regarding the specific requirements for your pet. For example, if you have a pet cat or dog, it will have different requirements to a reptile or an exotic pet. If you choose Sterling Lexicon, they will provide a consultation and will arrange for a time and date to collect your furry family member. Learn about Sterling Lexicon's safe and secure pet relocation services.


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

Check the packing materials being used are sustainable and are to the required standard. Reputable companies will use packing materials that offer the highest level of protection and are kind to the environment. For example, sustainable and eco-friendly 4-6 ply export wrap, thick-walled specific packing boxes, acid free tissue paper, cornering for furniture and thick carding. Expect the packing crews to 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

You should identify all the items you plan to take with you to your Move Consultant so that they can advise you on restricted items and anything that will incur customs duties. That way you will be able to take action before the move and find the most cost-effective way to handle your move and keep costs down.

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 Specialist for further guidance.

Your packing inventory

Once the packing has been completed, a packing inventory list is generated, itemising everything that has been packed. Keep hold of this until your possessions have arrived in Canada and are unpacked in your new home.

Storing your stuff

If you need to put any items into storage, you should ask your international mover for secure storage within the UK so they can be taken into storage before shipping.

Moving with your pets

If you are moving your pets to Canada there are a few things you need to know. As the UK 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 the UK 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 really 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. Contact us to learn more and book your pet relocation services. 

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.

How long will it take to move my household goods to arrive?

You should allow between 4-6 weeks for your sea shipment to arrive. Note this will vary depending on customs and which part of Canada you are moving to.

Canadian Customs documents

Household goods being moved to Canada and will be subject to Customs clearance checks. Your international mover will usually provide this as part of their service, but make sure you check this. 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

Make sure that you leave enough time to get to the airport. Before you travel check you have all your documents ready and to hand. Check you have done everything you need to travel legally in regards to visa, COVID and travel arrangements.

Temporary accommodation booking

Until your possessions arrive, it is likely that you will be staying in temporary accommodation or a hotel. Please let your Move Consultant know when you have arrived and passed through customs. They can arrange for your air-freight to be delivered with your essential items to this address.

Step 9 - Delivery to your new home and unpack in your new home

Your international moving company will normally handle the customs process for you and notify you when your household goods have cleared customs. They will then contact you to arrange a delivery date to your new home.

You will need to get all your utilities connected, register for a local doctor, dentist, arrange for a bank account (if not already organised) and get yourself set up correctly. Speak to your international mover at the early stages as you can often get this 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.

Congratulations, you are home! It’s time to get to know your new neighbourhood. Canada is considered a safe country to live in, but always make sure you explore safely, so it’s best to do things during the day, take a fully charged phone and be aware. It’s easy to end up in the wrong part of town without realizing, or even just get lost if you don’t know the area.

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 GBP to CAD before you move to Canada, we recommend Currencies Direct.

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

They offer Sterling Lexicon clients:

  • Bank-beating exchange rates*
  • No transfer fees
  • Access to a dedicated currency expert

Contact Currencies Direct today!

*see the  Currencies Direct website for details

Moving classic cars and motorcycles to Canada from the UK

We have been moving classic cars and motorcycles to Canada from the UK since 1990. Read our Vehicle Shipping FAQs or  speak to us today about a quote for importing your classic vehicle to Canada.

Moving your pets to Canada from the UK

We have been moving pets with their families from the UK 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

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

Do you have any questions?

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

What do to next

Get a move quote

Complete our move quote form today and one of our move specialists will be in contact with your free estimate.

Book a pre-move survey

The next step will be a pre-move survey. This allows Sterling Lexicon to estimate the weight/volume of your household goods and get you the best and most accurate price for your move. To book your free survey, use our easy online booking calendar

Pay for your move online

You can pay online or speak to your move consultant who can also take payment over the phone.

Customer reviews

What people say about their move

Kevin C UK to Canada
Our move consultant Julie was amazing throughout the entire process. Julie helped us every step of the way and took all the stress away! All our belongings arrived in Canada safely and we cannot thank the team involved enough!
Brian W UK to Canada
The team managing my move were very professional and efficient! I would use Sterling Lexicon again when I move back to the UK. Thanks again!
Sharon M UK to Canada
Danielle has been very courteous throughout the relocation process. She managed to find me and my kids the perfect property. I am very satisfied. Thank you :)
Kristin M UK to Canada
Great support from the Sterling Lexicon team. There was a slight delay in getting my belongings to Canada but Rachel did a good job of communicating and keeping us informed. I appreciate it!

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. Check out Sterling Lexicon locations here.