Home / Categories / Moving to Canada / Tips on moving from the US to Canada

Tips on moving from the US to Canada

April 20th, 2016 - 10:37 AM

Moving to Canada from the USA

Is a love of hockey or the desire to have universal health care luring you to our neighbor to the north? Perhaps you’ve found a new job in Quebec or want to hone your French language skills. No matter how the decision was reached, if you’re thinking, “I want to move to Canada!” there are some steps you’ll need to take to establish permanent residency.

how to move to canada

How to move to Canada​

Before immigrating to Canada, you’ll need to determine your eligibility and apply for a visa. Keep in mind that application acceptance can take several months (or sometimes years) so the process should be started early to ensure everything is ready before the move date. You’ll also want to make sure you have the necessary documents to cross the Canadian border.

Do you need a passport to move to Canada?

When considering a move to Canada, one of the first things you might wonder is, “Do I need a passport to visit Canada?” The short answer is – it depends. Let’s explore some common ways to cross the border and if they require a passport:

  • Car. If you’re driving to Canada, a passport in not needed. However, you will need to prove your U.S. citizenship and a passport is an excellent way to do so.
  • Plane. Adults and children flying to Canada are required to carry a passport. Some airlines may require additional documents, so check with them before departing.
  • Boat. Traveling by boat does not call for a passport, but you will need to prove U.S. citizenship.

While crossing the border may not always require a passport, the Canadian Border Patrol recommends carrying one during international travel, so it’s a good idea to have it with you. Also, keep in mind that if the trip across the border occurs when you will be permanently moving there (not just house/job hunting), you will need a passport to transfer your belongings. Keep reading to learn more about moving to Canada.

Note: If you don’t have a passport and need one quickly, be sure to check processing times. Routine and expedited service times can vary based on the time of year.

Once you have everything required to relocate to Canada, the next step is figuring out how to move your personal belongings into the country.

Need help moving to Canada from the US?

It takes some planning to coordinate a long-distance move – and crossing an international border means there’s even more to check off your list. If you’re looking for cross border moving companies, consider U-Pack®! While this “you pack, we drive” service makes it simple to move from the U.S. to Canada, there are some things you’ll need to do to make the move as easy as possible. Since there’s a lot of information to cover, we’ll get right to it.

How U-Pack moves household goods to Canada

It’s easy to move to Canada with U-Pack. Here’s how it works:

1.       We deliver moving equipment to your door. You load your belongings inside and we deliver the items to Canada.

Note: U-Pack has the authority to cross into Canada with your items “in bond” and take them to the destination service center. A customs hold will be placed on the items when they cross the border.

2.       U-Pack will hold your goods until the shipment is cleared with the local Canadian customs office. This is great news – you don’t have to meet us at the border!

3.       Once your items are cleared, the customs hold will be lifted and we’ll deliver the trailer or moving container to your new home.

We can help if you’re moving to or from the following Canadian provinces: British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba. Note that U-Pack does not provide service for intra-Canada moves.

Call 800-413-4799 to get a U-Pack quote for your move. A consultant is ready to help!

What you need to move to Canada from the US

Because you’ll be shipping furniture from one country to another, the correct documentation will be required to enter Canada and clear your belongings for delivery. U-Pack will need a copy of the page in your passport that includes your photo, a copy of your visa and a copy of the completed BSF186 and BSF186A (an itemized list of your items in their approximate Canadian dollar value). Providing U-Pack with these documents makes moving from the U.S. to Canada possible.

U-Pack provides a useful guide on moving to Canada from the USA that includes links to the required documents and other valuable information. Be sure to check it out!

Helpful tips for relocating to Canada from the USA

  • When completing your BSF186 and BSF186A, keep the itemized inventory list as organized as possible to prevent any hold-ups at the border.
  • Read the “do not ship” list so you know what not to put in the trailer or container. Keep in mind that U-Pack can’t transport anything with a VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) into Canada. This includes cars, trucks, motorcycles, etc.
  • Refer to your U-Pack move plan for origin and destination service center contact information, pricing and other important details. 

Crossing the Canadian border with children​

If you’re moving family to Canada, you’ll need to know what’s required to get there with kids. Whether entering by air, land or sea, specific documentation is needed for minors (children under 18 years old) moving across the border. It’s important that you have the correct papers because Canadian border officials are constantly on alert for missing or runaway children.

Here’s what minors need to enter Canada:

  • A passport or birth certificate is required if the minor enters by land or sea. For air travel, a passport is required.
  • If the minor is traveling alone, the child should have a copy of their birth certificate, their passport and a letter of authorization signed by both parents or by their legal guardian.
  • If the minor is traveling with only one parent, the child should have a copy of their birth certificate/passport and a letter of authorization signed by the parent not traveling with them.
  • If the minor is traveling with a legal guardian or adoptive parents, the guardian should have a copy of the guardianship papers or the adoptive parents should have a copy of the adoption papers.
  • If the minor is traveling with a person other than their parents or legal guardian, that person should have written permission from the parents/guardians to supervise the child.

Canadian Border officers will not admit a child if they are not convinced that the parents or legal guardian have authorized the child’s stay. For additional information, visit the Government of Canada website.

Moving to Canada with pets

Planning to move to Canada from the U.S. with pets? If so, there are certain requirements the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) established for pets entering the country that you should know. The agency reserves the right to refuse entry to any animal presented for importation, but these tips should help make the move easy.

  • Moving to Canada with cats. The import requirements for cats depend on the age of the cat and the rabies status of the country of export. Domestic cats do not have to be quarantined, nor do they require a health certificate. Check with your airline for additional documentation needed if flying to Canada.
  • Moving to Canada with dogs. Dogs imported into the country will have a documentary inspection by the Border Services Agency to make sure the rabies vaccination is current and the animal matches the description on the certificate. If the dog is inspected further by the CFIA, an inspection fee will apply.

If you’re importing any other kind of animal or have questions about the requirements for dogs or cats, please visit the Canada Pet Imports website for more specific information.

What other questions do you have about relocating to Canada?

Leave a comment in the section below. You can also call the Canada Border Services Agency at 204-983-3500 for specific Canadian customs questions.