With 650,000 UK citizens emigrating to Canada every year, the country has been a very popular destination for our expats. This is nothing unusual about a country that’s part the Commonwealth. The Britishness is there and it blends with all that’s French about it to make a fine cultural mixture. While the country undeniably boasts some of the world’s most pristine wildernesses that which attracts countless nature lovers, its appeal is in its cultural richness and abundant career opportunities.

With a high human development index and the 11th largest economy in the world, the country is by far one of the best possible choices to make when considering removals to Canada. In our ultimate relocation guide for UK expats living in Canada, we will discuss some of the most important and interesting ideas for those planning their move to the country of the maple leaf.

Do British citizens need a visa to enter Canada?

There are a number of ways in which you can enter Canada. Depending on the reason for visiting Canada and length of your stay, you are presented with a selection of options. Short-term stay of up to 6 months does not require a dedicated visa for Canada, but if you intend to take up legal employment or will exceed the six-month allowance, an advance application for the required document will be a must. Let’s examine the options.

Electronic Travel Authorisation

In 2016, the Canadian government implemented a visa-free entry programme. Under its regulations, citizens of some countries, including the USA, Australia, New Zealand the UK and a few other EU countries are not required to apply for any specific visa. There are, of course, limitations to this. In general, if you’re stay in Canada will not exceed a total of six months and you will be arriving by air, all you need is to register with the electronic Travel Authorisation system (eTA). The Canadian eTA allows British passport holders to travel to Canada for:

  • tourism
  • leisure
  • visiting family members
  • business
  • transit

The implementation of the eTA system has greatly facilitated travelling to Canada. Likewise, the application process is by no means difficult. The processing time is instantaneous and the authorisation is valid for a total of 5 years, allowing the holder multiple entries within the validity period. To register, you’ll need:

  • your passports
  • an email address
  • a valid credit or debit card to cover the registration fee of CA$7

Visas to Canada

Getting visa to CanadaThe situation changes markedly for those considering shipping to Canada on a permanent basis or moving there temporarily with the aim of taking up employment or a course of study. In such cases, individuals will have to apply for the correct type of visa, bearing in mind the need to fulfil relevant additional requirements. Unlike in the case of eTA, applying for a traditional visa must be done in person and will entail multiple visits to the embassy. Here are the most common Canadian visas:

  • tourism and business – eTA up to six months
  • transit – eTA
  • work visa – for periods exceeding six months
  • student visa – two types of visas for studying and working at the same time
  • residence – permanent relocation to Canada

While those allowed a permanent stay in Canada under the residence visa enjoy a wide spectrum of citizens’ rights, work permit holders are bound by certain limitations, i.e., their stay is still temporary and they are entitled to employment in a specific sector. Canada issues several types of work visas, each with an individually defined set of requirements, such as a prior obtainment of a job contract. Relocating to Canada for work-related purposes can also be done through a number of dedicated government programmes. Let’s take a look.

Express Entry system

Under the stipulations of the Canadian Express Entry System, skilled foreign nationals can apply for employment in Canada through on of the four dedicated government programmes. Tailored to address specific skilled worker deficiencies and labour shortages in the country, the programmes target individuals possessing a clearly defined minimum of 1 – 3 years of working experience.

Among the requirements are also English literacy and an appropriate score in the dedicated Comprehensive Ranking System. Participation in the programmes is a huge shortcut to obtaining permanent residency. Seeing as the procedures can take some time, it is advisable to apply as early as possible. If this may be of use to you, head to the Canadian government websites to read more on:

  • Federal Skilled Worker Programme
  • Canadian Experience Class
  • Federal Skilled Trades Programme
  • Provincial Nominee Programmes

The cost of living in Canada

It goes without saying that Canada is not the cheapest country on earth. Bering in mind that the majority of the country’s population lives in several huge agglomerations alongside Canada’s southern border, choosing to relocate there will have an impact on everyday expenditures. Luckily, the country is massive and there are plenty of locations to choose from. A lot depends on the lifestyle you choose. While savings can be made by opting for more affordable accommodation, some of thus saved money will likely be spent on commuting. To give you a better idea, the overall cost of living in Toronto is lower than in London by nearly 13%, which is still markedly more than anywhere else in the UK. The exact monthly household expenditures in Canada will be possible to calculate after you’ve spend some time in the country, as they will vary hugely throughout the settling down process.

Rental and property prices

Property rental in CanadaOn average, the rental prices are 5% lower in Canada when compared to the UK, a ratio subject to regional differences. When considering purchasing a property, there won’t be much difference between Montreal and Birmingham, while Vancouver is nearly twice as expensive in terms of price per square metre. This is also true of rent prices.


Interestingly, the cost of a litre of fuel in Canada is lower by 40% than in the UK, which has a direct influence on the overall cost of transportation. An average monthly bus pass in the UK is a whopping 70% more expensive than in Canada, exactly as in the case of taxi fares. Domestic flights, on the other hand, are way higher than anywhere in Europe. So is railway travel. But we are talking incomparable distances and nearly non-existent competition on the Canadian market when it comes to long-distance public transportation.

Consumer goods

Consumer goods prices vary from region to region much in the same way as they do in the UK. For the major city locations in Canada, the father west you look, the more expensive it gets. This is partly due to the fact that the country relies to a large extent of imported foods.

Water, gas and electricity

As regards the prices for utilities, such as gas, water and electricity, your expenditures will be lower in Canada. It is worth knowing that utility tariffs vary depending on the time of the day and time of the year. Moving into a property will require notifying utility providers of a the tenancy shift. It will ensure that you do not pay for the utilities consumed before your arrival at a given address. On average, the prices for basic utilities are 44% lower in Canada.


The average salary calculated on the basis of a selection of popular occupations is higher in Canada. Our estimate is $53.500, which corresponds to £31,869 worth in GBP, while the average UK salary oscillates around £29,600.
All things considered, to secure a relatively comfortable living standard, assuming a moderate lifestyle in a reasonably priced area, you would need anything in between $42,000 and $60,000. Such levels are fairly easily achievable.

Pursuing a professional career in Canada

The thriving Canadian economy provides a lot of room for skilled specialists. As we have discusses above, there are dedicated programmes allowing migration into the country to respond to the demand. And that is a serious issue, as 93% of graduates secure employment nearly instantaneously.

As may be expected of an industrial nation, there is no shortage of jobs for general labourers or truck drivers in Canada. Likewise, there are plenty of career opportunities for all sorts of managerial posts, including Human Resources. Apart from a high demand for veterinarians, the Information Technology sector appears to be currently the most absorptive in Canada. Here’s a list of the most sought-after specialists:

  • blockchain technology
  • machine learning
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • healthcare
  • construction
  • science
  • video game design

The Canadian healthcare system

The healthcare system in Canada is funded by taxation. Although it provides full access to primary care, which, incidentally, is available exclusively to Canadian citizens, a lot of people opt for supplementary insurance schemes thus securing coverage of additional care excluded from the publicly available health services. There are also variations among different Canadian provinces as to the scope of primary care health services. Interestingly, though, you will be given free emergency medical services in all Canadian provinces, even if you do not hold the health card, which is the document entitling you to free health services. Note that temporary work permit holders or those waiting for the public health card will have to secure a private healthcare coverage for the duration of stay in Canada.

As you rightly expect, there are limitations on the tax-funded public healthcare services. These include:

  • ambulance services
  • dental care
  • prescription drugs

Taxation and customs duties

Depending on your income, you will be required to pay federal income tax. The tax bracket range is from 15% up to 33% and some provinces impose other additional taxes. Relocating to Canada will entail applying for your Social Insurance Number or Tax Identification Number. This is needed to file yearly tax returns.

Canadian customs duties and taxation liabilities are applicable to a wide selection of goods imported into the country. You will be required to declare:

  • plants
  • animals
  • food items

If you are planning goods or furniture removals to Canada, before attempting imports, check with the Canada Border Insurance Agency whether your items aren’t banned. Here are some examples:

  • firearms and explosives
  • weapons
  • certain plant and animal products

Most popular locations to live in Canada

An overwhelming majority of Canadians live along the southern border. This is where you should be heading in search of employment opportunities. Regardless of where you head, you’ll meet friendly local expat communities and native Canadians alike.


Living in OttawaThe Canadian capital has all you are looking for ans an expat who’s after a healthy work-life balance. A buzzing city teeming with life of all colours and flavours will not have you bored. Perhaps not the cheapest to live in, but certainly full of many prospects of making a decent living. Very popular with British expats.


Ontario’s hub of multiculturalism and unlimited employment possibilities. Region’s best and most expensive. The city lays on top-notch entertainment and exquisite fine art experiences, including musical venues playing host to world-renowned artists. Never a dull moment.


Nicked “Hollywood North', Vancouver is the Canadian capital of the film and television industry. Its multitude of cultures ethnicities make it Canada’s most diversified city, where over 48% of inhabitants speak neither English nor French. It has the most expensive in terms of the private property and rental markets. On the other hand, good employment possibilities in forestry and sea freight.


A decidedly more moderate location, where modernity meets the old halfway. Fairly cheap everyday living versus an expensive property market. Abundant social life and a rich cultural offer for art buffs. With its many downtown attractions, Calgary provides a good deal of opportunities for family entertainment. Cafes, bars and clubs is where nightlife flourishes.

Quebec City

Owing to its European feel, Quebec City is a fairly popular place to live in Canada for UK expats. This fairly inexpensive city has some superb architecture to be found nowhere else in Canada. It is a culture buff’s paradise that lures its dwellers with many museums and art galleries. An overwhelming majority of the population speaks exclusively French, which may be something of an obstacle to those who are unfamiliar with the language. If you are planning removals to Quebec you should check our services. We can arrange your move from any place in the UK to any location in Canada.

In conclusion

Much like any other country in the world, Canada has its pros and cons. With a very well organised healthcare system and strong employment markets, it is one of the world’s leading economies that attracts hundreds of thousands visitors and immigrants every year. And there’s the nature with its breathtaking, pristine beauty.

It may come across as slightly unwelcoming, considering the intricacies of its immigration policies, but once you’ve made it there, you’re in for some nice surprises along the way. One of its major drawbacks is the excruciatingly expensive property market and some of the world’s most expensive food. All in all, Canada will not leave you unemployed. So, are you getting ready?