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Some Points of Interests for Temporary Residents of BC


Now that you have received a positive decision on your work or study permit application, here are some tips on how to best prepare for your arrival.

Social Insurance Number (SIN): It is a nine-digit number issued by the Canadian Government for tax purposes. Note that SIN is not health care related. You will be asked for your Social Insurance Number when you start your job. Your employer will deduct taxes and employment insurance premiums from your pay and send it to the federal government for you. You and your children will need a Social Insurance Number to be able to use some government programs. Do not share your Social Insurance Number, it is issued for one person only and cannot legally be used by anyone else.

There is no fee associated with application for a Social Insurance Number. To apply, you can visit the local Service Canada office with your original, valid passport and work permit. It is a sensitive document issued in a paper format, please be sure to keep it secure.

Provincial Medical Coverage: The Medical Services Plan (MSP) covers medical services provided by physicians and supplementary health care practitioners, and diagnostic procedures. In BC, the insurance premium is due monthly.

New (and returning) residents are required to complete a Coverage Wait Period consisting of the balance of the month in which residence in British Columbia is established, plus two months before benefits can begin. New or returning residents arriving from outside Canada should contact a private insurance company for coverage during the waiting period. However, the provincial authority suggests the application is made immediately after arrival. The applicant must be in BC when applying. This brochure highlights details of MSP in British Columbia and how to enrol. Temporary residents such as some holders of study and/or work permits valid for a period of six or more months, may be deemed to be residents who are eligible for MSP coverage in BC. Dependents of MSP beneficiaries are also eligible for coverage if they are residents of B.C. To learn more about eligibility:

Driving in British Columbia: You must have a valid licence to drive in B.C. If you are a new B.C. resident, and have a valid driver’s licence from another country or province, you can use your licence for 90 days. You must apply for a B.C. licence within 90 days.

If you have a valid driver’s license from outside of Canada, here is how to apply for a BC Driver’s License:

BC Services Card: Once you have completed your MSP enrolment and/or BC driver’s license, you can apply for a BC Services Card to access provincial government services. It serves as your health care card, and you can use it when you need photo ID (Government issued photo ID). You can also choose to have your BC Services Card combined with your B.C. driver’s licence, providing you with one convenient card for three purposes.

There is no fee to get a BC Services Card. However, if you’re combining your BC Services Card with your driver’s licence, the fees that apply to the regular driver’s licence renewal still apply. You need two pieces of identification when applying for this card, for example: valid passport and valid work permit. To receive a BC Services Card, you must be a B.C. resident – must be physically present in B.C. at least six months in a calendar year (You can provide a work permit that is valid for at least 6 months)

To apply, visit one of ICBC Licensing offices with your 2 pieces of ID. Have your photo taken, wait for your new card in the mail.

Information in this blog was taken from the Canadian Government authority’s websites and was updated on December 18, 2016.

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