Important Documents

When you land as a new permanent resident to Canada, you will have a ‘landing document’ stapled into your passport. This document is very important and you must not lose it. You will need it when you renew your permanent resident (PR) card, or when you apply for citizenship.

Your PR card is used to show that you have permanent resident status in Canada. If you travel outside Canada, you will need to show your card and your passport when you come back on a commercial vehicle, like an airplane, boat, train or bus. If you do not carry your PR card or PRTD, you may not be able to board your flight, train, bus or boat to Canada. PRs traveling outside Canada who do not have a valid PR card, or who are not carrying it, need to apply for a permanent resident travel document before returning to Canada by commercial vehicle.

Your first PR card will automatically be sent to you after you first arrive, or land, in Canada as a permanent resident.

When your PR card expires, you should renew it. However, you still have your PR status even if your PR card expires.

If/when you apply to renew your PR card, you can request urgent permanent resident (PR) card processing ONLY if you are travelling within the next three months due to:

  • a job opportunity
  • your own serious illness
  • the death of a family member
  • work related to your current job
  • the serious illness of a family member

A Social Insurance Number (SIN) is a nine-digit number that you need to work in Canada or to have access to government programs and benefits. You can apply for a SIN when you arrive in Canada. You will receive a ’confirmation of SIN letter’

Parents and legal guardians can apply for a SIN for their children. Children 12 years of age or older may apply for their own SIN.  The British Columbia Vital Statistics Agency has a program where parents of a new baby can apply for several services with one application, including a birth certificate and a SIN.

You will be asked for your SIN when you get a job. Your employer will use this number to deduct taxes and employment insurance premiums from your pay and send it to the federal government for you. There are also some federal financial programs, like retirement and education savings plans, that require you to have a Social Insurance Number.

You should NOT share your Social Insurance Number because it cannot legally be used by anyone else.  See Information about Social Insurance Numbers from Service Canada.

To apply for a Social Insurance Number (SIN) take your ID including your passport to a Service Canada location. The nearest Service Canada location to Whistler is in Squamish at 1440 Winnipeg Street. You can contact Service Canada by phone at 1.800.206.7218, and on their website. Service Canada comes to Whistler regularly to the Whistler Chamber of Commerce. Check the Service Canada schedule to see when they are coming next.

All B.C. residents must enroll in the Medical Services Plan (MSP). See BC Services Card section below for more information on completing MSP enrolment and receiving your Personal Health Number (PHN).

If you are new to Canada, apply for MSP as soon as you arrive. Your coverage may start three months after your arrival date in British Columbia. You should get private health care insurance while you wait.

Apply online at https://my.gov.bc.ca/msp/application/prepare

Before you start, make sure that:

  • You have identification for everyone on your application. You will be asked to upload digital images of documents that support the name and Canadian citizenship or immigration status for all persons.
  • You have your marriage certificate, divorce decree or legal name change certificate if your current legal name doesn’t match the name on your ID.

You can also apply by mail using a paper application form: Application for Enrolment, HLTH 102 (PDF, 625KB). Mail the completed application form to:

Health Insurance BC
Medical Services Plan
PO Box 9678 Stn Prov Govt
Victoria BC   V8W 9P7

As of February 22, 2018, to complete MSP enrolment adult Canadian Citizens and Permanent Residents will need to obtain a Photo BC Services Card by visiting an Insurance Corporation of BC (ICBC) driver licensing office.

Note: Your MSP card and driving license are combined in one card – your BC Services Card.  You need to renew your driver’s licence and MSP every five years. This can be done at the same time.  For full details see:  BC Drivers Licence and Services Card

Every resident of BC needs a BC Services card. Get Photo BC Services Card at an Insurance Corporation of BC (ICBC) driver licensing office. To find an ICBC driver licensing office near you, please visit icbc.com. To avoid peak times, it is best to visit mid-week (Tuesday – Thursday) and in the early morning.

At the ICBC driver licensing office, you will need to:

  • Provide two pieces of identification – one of which must be primary ID ​(visit icbc.com/acceptedID for more information);
  • Declare that you are a BC resident
  • Have your photo taken.

There is no fee for your BC Services Card. If you choose to combine it with your driver’s license, fees that apply to the regular driver’s license application process will apply.

Your BC Services Card can be used when you are accessing provincial health care benefits. Your PHN (Provincial healthcare Number) will be printed on the card.

Individuals under 18 years and six months of age will automatically receive a Non-Photo BC Services Card in the mail from HIBC.

For more information about the BC Services Card, visit: gov.bc.ca/bcservicescard.

All drivers in British Columbia must have a valid (legal) driver’s license. If you are a new B.C. resident, and have a valid driver’s license from your country or from another province of Canada, you can drive in B.C. for 90 days.

You must apply for a B.C. license within 90 days. If you hold an International Driving Permit, you must also carry the foreign license.

If you are getting a new BC license, or are renewing your license, you will have a combined single card for both your BC driver’s license and BC Medical Services Plan health card.  For more information, see: BC Drivers Licence and Services Card

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