Guide to a Working Holiday in Canada (free illustrated PDF guide)

Chapter 12: Last steps before leaving the country

Published: 02-03-2020

Author

Julie

Last steps before leaving the country

Find out your legal responsibilities

Find out your responsibilities and duties as a citizen who will be away from the country for a year or two. For long absences, you may have to notify healthcare services, employment services (especially if you get benefits), tax services, etc. that you will be abroad for an extended period of time. These steps are the best way to ensure a smooth return after your WHP adventure.

Decide what to do with your car, your place and your stuff

Most tenants end their tenancy—make sure you give enough notice! You can also sublet your place if you’d rather keep your furniture, your place and most of your belongings. Make sure to follow the rules around subletting. You may need the landlord’s approval.

If you packed your personal belongings, you can ask relatives or friends to store it for you. Otherwise, you can rent a self-storage unit but this is usually an expensive solution.

You can sell your car or rent it during your stay in Canada. Several companies, like Drivy in Europe, facilitate peer-to-peer car rental services.

Cancel services and subscriptions

If you’re not under contract with your cellphone, Internet, cable, etc. provider, cancelling services should be straightforward. Make sure to do it the right way—send your letter by registered mail and don’t forget to mention your contract number.

You may be able to put your cellphone plan on hold for a fee if you explain you’ll be abroad for a long period of time. This way, you’ll get to keep your number and you won’t have monthly fees but a lower “service suspended” charge. Note that the contract will resume as soon as the service is no longer on hold—if you had eight months left on your contract before going to Canada, you’ll have eight months left when you come back from Canada.

Cancelling ongoing contracts is generally a hassle. You may have to pay early termination fees. Some providers argue that going abroad isn’t a legitimate reason to break your contract before it’s up and you may have to back up your request with documentation. Plane tickets or your Port of Entry (POE) Letter of Introduction may not be considered sufficient proof, providers may ask for a copy of your lease abroad or your work contract (which, of course, you can’t offer at this stage).

Go see your doctor for a checkup

Your health insurance will only cover emergencies or illnesses. For all routine checkups and non-urgent follow-ups, you’re on your own.

Make sure to leave for Canada as healthy as you can be. Go see your GP, dentist, gynecologist, eye doctor, etc. and renew prescriptions if needed.

Find the best way to carry money and access your funds

The government of Canada requires that you have at least $2,500 to cover your initial living expenses in Canada.

Try to estimate your initial expenses—a taxi from the airport, your first few nights in a hostel, some food, first and last month for a rental… You’ll spend quite a bit of money at first. How will you access your money after you arrive, when you don’t have a Canadian bank account yet?

Cash

Carrying cash is the cheapest option (no fees to access your money!) but it’s also a risky one because cash can be lost or stolen.

If you do carry cash, stash it in an inside pocket or in a hidden pocket and keep it with you at all times.

To get Canadian dollars before your trip, go to a bank or use a foreign exchange service. Check applicable rates and fees carefully.
ATM card
Your bank card is a practical, flexible option when you’re not sure how much you will need for the first few days and it’s safer than carrying cash. However, keep your weekly/daily withdrawal limits in mind and inform your financial institution you’ll be using your card abroad (otherwise, it may be blocked because of “suspicious transactions”).

When you withdraw money in Canada with a foreign card, the Canadian financial institution may charge fees. Your own bank can also charge you two fees: a fixed “foreign transaction” fee and a transaction fee, i.e. a percentage based on the amount withdrawn (usually around 2-3% of the amount). Review those fees before you use your card. When the fixed fee is high, it’s better to withdraw a weekly lump sum than to hit the ATM every time you need cash.

Note that ATMs operated by one of the five big Canadian banks—Bank of Montreal (BMO), the Bank of Nova Scotia (Scotiabank), the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC), the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), and Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD)—are always cheaper than safer than out-of-network ATMs typically found in convenience stores and bars. A few banks have special offers or partnerships with Canadian banks and a portion of the fees may be waived when you use these ATMs.

After opening your Canadian bank account, you can initiate a transfer from your home bank account to your new bank account in Canada.

Chapter 12 of 34

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