The front and back of a Canadian SIN
You’ll probably want to start looking for a job once you get to Canada, but for that, you’re going to need a Social Insurance Number (SIN) card. This is important, because without one, it is illegal to work anywhere in Canada. Your SIN is a unique identifier that allows the government to keep track of who is earning money, paying taxes, and using government services. Most employers will ask you for this number, as will banks if you decide to open a bank account.

To apply, visit your nearest Peel Service Canada Centre or fill out an application online and deliver it by mail, or in person.

Don’t give your SIN to just anyone! Only government agencies and employers are authorized to ask for it.

One of the first steps to managing your money effectively is to open a bank account. In Canada, we have five major banks: T.D. Canada Trust (commonly known as TD), Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), Bank of Montreal (BMO), Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC), and Scotiabank. Many of these have services specifically for people who are new to the country, so don’t be afraid to contact your nearest branch and ask about the options available to you.

Importantly, anyone can open a bank account: you don’t have to be employed, and no minimum deposit is necessary. However, you will be required to bring two pieces of identification with you. For most of you, the easiest choice will be to present your SIN card and your current passport from your home country. The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada has a full list of the acceptable forms of ID. For further questions, call toll-free at 1-866-461-3222.

When you're signing up for a bank account, make sure to discuss the details of the account with the bank agent. Banks offer various different kinds of accounts, and these will vary in terms of how many transactions you can make each month (for example, cash withdrawals or debit purchases) or whether you have to pay a monthly fee. You don't want to get surprised by these fees! Here are some of the ones you might run into:

Monthly fee - This is the fee the bank will charge you each month to keep your account active. Some banks will eliminate this fee if you keep a certain amount of money in your account at all times - however, if your balance goes below this amount at any point during the month, you'll be charged the monthly fee! Fortunately, most banks offer special student accounts that are free of charge, so be sure to ask about them.
Overdraft fee - Your bank will charge this fee to your chequing account if you make a transaction that goes over the funds you have left in your account. This will bring your account to a negative balance, and you'll have to pay a fee on top of that. Be careful to avoid these!
Transaction fee - If your chequing account has a limited number of transactions per month, you'll be charged a transaction fee each time you make a transaction beyond the number you're allowed to make. For example, if your account allows you to make 25 transactions per month, you'll be charged a small fee (typically around 65 cents) for transaction 26 and every transaction beyond that, until the month ends. To prevent these fees from adding up, if you find that you are frequently overusing your debit card, try upgrading to an account with more transactions per month or taking out cash every so often to make smaller purchases.

Your bank of choice will likely offer a special chequing account for students as long as you can provide proof that you are enrolled in a post-secondary school. The main advantage of these accounts is usually the lack of a monthly fee - but be careful, because overdraft and transaction fees will still apply.

Your family probably looked into this well before coming to Canada, but there’s always the chance that you’ll be looking for something new – maybe the place you have is just temporary, or maybe you yourself need a place of your own for university or college. Check out our housing page for more details on where to look and what to look for.

How are you supposed to get to the bank or the library if you don’t have a car? Fortunately, the GTA has you covered with an extensive network of public transportation. Just check out our public transit page for full details on the TTC, Mississauga Transit, Brampton Transit, and more.

A lot of you might be here in Canada because of the education opportunities available. If you’re not quite enrolled yet and are still checking out your options, or just want to learn more about the system that you’re enrolled in and what else Canada has to offer, check out our page on the education system.

The best things in life are free, but unfortunately food, clothes and rent don’t count. For those, you need money, and the only way to get money is to get a job. This is by no means an easy undertaking, but our employment page has the information, tips and tricks you need to enter the workplace.

While you’re getting cards, one that you might find very useful is a library card. It’s completely free, and grants you access to the Peel region’s library system, allowing you to take out books, reserve items, and use the library’s database – perfect for keeping ahead in your studies!

To get one, you need to bring two pieces of ID to your nearest library. One of these has to have a photo – your passport, for example. For a full listing of the acceptable forms of ID, click here.

Click the appropriate link below for a listing of the local libraries in Mississauga, Brampton, or Caledon.

Telephones can be a frustrating thing because they operate differently in just about any country you visit. In Canada, phone numbers are 10 digits long, with the first 3 digits being the area code; each region of the country is served by one or two area codes. For example, the phone number 905-123-4567 would be a call to the 905 area - that's the Peel region, including Mississauga, Brampton, and Caledon. Calling a region outside your own is a long distance call that costs more than a local call.

Here's some terminology that you might find useful when setting up your own phone:

Home phone - This is just the phone that you use at home. Usually it refers to a phone connected to a landline, but some people do use cell phones as their home phones instead.
Land line - This is a telephone line where the signal is carried through cables rather than broadcast through the air (which is what cell phones use). Most people will have something like this in their homes, as these types of lines are typically cheaper than cellular lines.
Wireless service - Whenever you see this, for example on a phone company's website, they're talking about cellular phone service.

For more information about local and long-distance calls, click here. Also, you have many phone service providers to choose from when setting up your home phone. Some of the most popular in Canada are Rogers and Bell.

Something to consider when choosing a phone provider is that many of these companies also offer cell phones. The big wireless providers in Canada are Rogers, Bell, and Telus. Since you'll probably want a cell phone anyway to keep in touch with friends and family, it might be cheaper for you to get just a cell phone through these companies and not a land line! You can use your cell phone as a home phone number without a problem; just make sure to get a plan that's right for you!

Please be aware that most wireless providers in Canada bind you to sign a contract when setting up a wireless plan through them. Essentially, you'll be bound to that wireless plan for the full term of the contract (typically one year, two years, or three years long), and the only way to change it is to renew the contract or cancel it entirely, which is usually associated with heavy fees. Though most providers in Canada do this, Koodo Mobile is famous for offering no-contract plans.

The internet is an extremely convenient way to connect with family and friends all around the world, and one that you're likely already familiar with! Rogers and Bell offer internet service along with their home phone and wireless services, and even offer discounts for customers who buy several services through them at once. The most popular internet services these days are cable or DSL based, but slower dial-up connections are still available from some companies (however, be aware that you can't use a dial-up connection and a land line at the same time!). Click here for a list of internet providers in Canada and see which is right for you.

Postal Service
Sometimes nothing beats a good old-fashioned letter or postcard. Or maybe you just need a package delivered to some family back home. You can do all that and more through Canada's postal service, Canada Post! Canada Post will help you ship letters or packages across Canada and throughout the world. Prices will vary greatly depending on the type of transport (e.g. air vs. land), the type and size of the package being delivered, and where it is being delivered to. Check out the website, or a Canada Post office near you, for more specific details on the package you need shipped.