What Returning Canadians Need to Know

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How to Move Back to Canada

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Canada is an exceedingly multicultural and international nation. There are people moving in and out of Canada quite frequently and many Canadian citizens move abroad for a period of time. Moving back to your native country is still an international move, so it may not be as simple as you think. If you're moving back to Canada, what do you need to know?


If you were a Canadian citizen, you probably still are a Canadian citizen. Unlike some countries, there is no expiration of Canadian citizenship if you are living abroad. You could have been out of Canada for several years and you still will remain a citizen. Gaining citizenship in another country does not necessarily cancel Canadian citizenship, either. However, if you formally, willingly, gave up your citizenship, then you do need to re-apply.

Canada still makes this process relatively simple. Head to the Canadian government's website and reapply online. You must determine your eligibility and method of re-applying, but citizenship can be resumed in almost all cases.

Customs regulations

A valid passport is all returning citizens will need to get into Canada, but your belongings are another matter. You will need to get your shipment through customs no matter what your citizenship. Up to date information regarding Canada's regulations can be found on Canada.ca, but here are a few things to keep in mind:
  • Fill out and submit a B4 form that details the personal effects you are importing
  • Make a separate list for your shipment of items that is not with you
  • Anything over $10,000 Canadian needs to be declared, including that amount in any form of money
  • You can fill out a Customs Declaration Card before arrival
  • Dutiable items like alcohol, tobacco, and gifts must be declared
  • Business materials must be declared
  • Food and animals must be declared
  • Firearms must be declared

Canadian life

Once you get into Canada you need to resume your life. You should be familiar with life in Canada from the last time you were there, but it is easy to forget all of the necessary details when moving back to the country after some time away. Here are some things you need to do:
  • Get a driver's license
  • Get a health card
  • Find a job
  • Find a new home (unless you're moving back to your old one)
  • Find schools
  • Find child-care
  • Find doctors
  • Put your name on a voter's list (you are a citizen, after all)
All of these things are very specific and vary province by province and territory. Canada's government provides you with more resources on its website so you can search for information by location.

Reintroduce yourself to Canadian culture

As a native, you'll never forget what it means to be Canadian, but you may be a little out of touch with the current events and culture in your home country if you've been abroad for too long.
  • The internet can keep you appraised of what's going on in Canada while you are gone, but your access may not be great if you moved somewhere like China with limited internet availability. When you get a chance to check in on Canada, look for what's important to you--whether it's politics, celebrities, or sports.
  • Be prepared for things to be different if you are returning after many years abroad. Stores could have opened or closed, people could have moved, and there could be new political leadership. If you've been gone long enough, even cultural values may be noticeably shifted.
  • Be mindful of the new cultural quirks you developed from your time in another country. They may not be appropriate back home in Canada. However, don't be afraid to embrace a little bit of your new internationally seasoned personality. It is a gift to bring home.
  • Meet and greet friends and family who will be happy to see you return home. Ask them about what's been happening, they'll be glad to tell you.
Overall, Canada makes a return a relatively easy prospect for Canadians. If you remember that you are performing an international move and plan, budget, and pack accordingly, you should be able to move back home with little difficulty.

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on November 3, 2014

TopMoving.ca - Moving Expert
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