Relocating your employees to Canada

Due to its strong economy, Canada can accept more immigrants from around the world than any other western nation. For expats from the UK, US and Europe, it is relatively easy to gain acceptance and the right paperwork to live and work in Canada. Especially, cities as Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver are popular for expats and businesses. Add to that the country’s outdoor lifestyle, relatively low cost of living, high standards of free education, open policy for home ownership and a good healthcare system and Canada is the perfect location of employee relocations.

Immigration requirements

Canada has, in contrast to other many other countries, very clear and straightforward rules and regulations for immigration and visas. All foreigners wishing to work and live in Canada do need a Canadian work permit. Two of the main programs for work permits are the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) and the International Mobility Program (IMP). The TFWP is suitable for expats that are planning to work for an employer that obtained a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). This means that there is a clear need for a foreign worker to fill the job since no Canadian worker is available to do the job.

Employers relocating their employees to a Canadian branch, subsidiary, or affiliate can apply for the intra-company transferee program. For this, a positive LMIA is not required which eases the process. There are a few requirements to this program:

  • The employee must be employed at a multinational company seeking to entry Canada to work at the company’s parent, subsidiary, branch or affiliate
  • The employee must be applying to work in a position at an execute or senior managerial level or in a position requiring specialized knowledge
  • The employee must have been employed for at least one year within the previous three years
  • The enterprise outside and inside Canada must be doing business regularly. Only the mere presence of a location within Canada will not be sufficient.

Work permits granted under this program are for a one-year duration. They can be renewed. Foreign nationals from countries covered by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) or Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) may consult those programs for additional options for Intra-Company Transferees.

Intra-company transferees are in a strong position to become permanent residents of Canada. Therefore, Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) point are required. Ultimately, some people who begin working as intra-company transferees may become naturalized Canadian citizens.

What about spouse and children?

Dependents of the expat are welcomed to Canada on the visa of the expat and are allowed to go to school and use healthcare. If the partner wants to work in Canada as well, they have to apply to one of the programs on their own. However, this has a change to succeed, since Canada is very welcoming for foreigners that want to work in their country.

Relocating employees to Canada

Relocation management

Canada is the perfect country for expats and their families to settle down in a new country. People are welcoming and social services are very straightforward and high quality.

Housing and schooling

Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver are the most popular cities for expats. Housing in these cities and other parts of Canada is modern and comfortable. Finding a home, however, can take time. Expat families usually live in houses in the suburbs or satellite towns, close to the cities. The further you are from the city, the cheaper the rent is. Most common is to rent, although it is relatively easy to buy a property.

Canada has no nationally controlled education system. The schools are run by each province or territory. The standards (public as well as private schools) are high, and the choice is impressive. Most expats choose to use the free public education system, since fees at private schools are very high. Classes are taught in English across the country, except in Quebec where most classes are in French. International schools are located in the bigger cities but have long waiting lists.


Healthcare is government funded by national insurance. This gives expats access to public and private hospitals and clinics. You may still have to pay for medication, ambulances, dental work and sight tests.

Other points of attention

Since Canada is a big country and towns are remoted, driving your own car is the most used transportation option. You can use your driving license from home when you first arrive, but eventually you have to take a test for the province you live in.

Costs of relocating employees to Canada

Work permit costs

Canadian government charges a fee for the application process of work permits. However, if your company applies for a permit for multiple employees or expats, costs will decrease.

Shipment costs

Shipping goods and household effects to Canada is pricey. Sea freight is cheaper and therefore the most used option. Since Canadian cities are remoted, it is most of the times more cost effective to buy new furniture and other items on arrival.

Costs of living in Canada

Compared to other Western countries as the US, UK and most of Europe, living in Canada is slightly cheaper. The cities are the most expensive to live in. Rental prices decrease as you live further away from the city and are comparable to other western standards. In contract, cars, petrol, groceries and eating out are all cheaper. Heating the home during the long, cold winters can also be costly.

Professional relocation management in Canada

Relocation management for corporates goes further than only assisting in applying for the right visas and work permits. For Canadian relocations, it is also important to have the right assistance on location to help the expat with house and school searching, show them the way to buy their groceries and furniture, and many more. Voerman is happy to help with our professional relocators within Canada.

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