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Landing And Settlement In Canada - Nova Scotia What can I bring into Canada?

Canada has strict rules concerning what can and cannot be brought into the country. There are regulations regarding food, alcohol, nicotine products, plants, animals, cars and other products. To avoid problems, be sure to check in advance what is and what is not allowed to come to Canada, as well as what procedures must be followed to bring certain items into the country. 

This is Canadavisa's guide to a successful settlement in the province of Nova Scotia.

In this landing guide, you will find contact information for each service agency that you will require to begin your new life in Nova Scotia, whether you are moving to the city of Halifax, the city of Sydney, Cape Breton, or the surrounding areas. 

Learn more about life in Nova Scotia. 

Included in this Landing Guide to Nova Scotia you'll find information on: 

  • General Information
  • Health Care
  • Employment
  • Finances
  • Education
  • How to obtain a driver's licence
  • Housing
  • What can I bring to Canada?
  • Weather
  • Emergency Services
  • Directory of Immigrant-Serving Agencies 

General Information on Nova Scotia

Official provincial immigration website: 

Official website for the capital city of Halifax: 

Official website for the city of Sydney, Cape Breton: 

Health Care in Nova Scotia

You must register for Nova Scotia Medical Service Insurance (MSI) benefits as soon as you arrive in the province. You will need proof of your immigration status for the application process. 

For more information and to apply, contact the MSI Registration Department at: (902) 496-7008 or toll free within Nova Scotia: 1-800-563-8880 

Mailing address: PO Box 500, Halifax NS B3J 2S1 

Location address: 230 Brownlow Ave, Dartmouth, NS 

Employment in Nova Scotia

To begin working legally in Nova Scotia after arrival, follow these steps: 

  • Apply for your Social Insurance number (SIN) as soon as possible so that you can legally work in Canada. Application forms are sometimes given to applicants upon landing, or you can obtain application forms at your nearest Service Canada centre. For more information visit:
  • Ensure your credentials are assessed with the Canadian Centre for International Credentials for Canadian equivalency. Visit their website at: You should also check to make sure your credentials are recognized at the provincial level as well.
  • If you are a tradesperson, you will need to become certified in Canada in order to work in your trade. For trade certification, begin by contacting Red Seal, a nation-wide trade certification organization at:
  • Register with the appropriate provincial regulatory organization for your profession (where applicable).
  • Register for language classes, if required, to improve English or French language skills for your employment in Canada.

Following these steps will ensure that you are prepared to begin working in Nova Scotia. 

Note: Foreign workers must have valid authorization to work in Canada on either a temporary or permanent basis. 

Finances in Nova Scotia

Open an account at a local bank or financial institution. Popular banks in Canada: HSBC, Scotia Bank, Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), Bank of Montreal (BMO), TD Canada Trust, the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC), National Bank of Canada, and Desjardins Bank. 

Canadian Money is made of cents and dollars. There are 100 cents in 1 Canadian dollar. Currency is found in coins of 1 cent ($0.01) called the "penny", which are no longer used in commercial transactions, 5 cents ($0.05) called the "nickel", 10 cents ($0.10) called the "dime", 25 cents ($0.25) called the "quarter", 1 dollar ($1.00) called the "loonie" for the Canadian loon featured on the coin, and a two dollar ($2.00) coin called the "twoonie" as it is the equivalent of two loonie's. Bills, or paper currency, are found in denominations of five dollars ($5.00), ten dollars ($10.00), twenty dollars ($20.00), fifty dollars ($50.00) and one hundred dollars ($100.00). 

Schooling and Education in Nova Scotia

Children under 16 must be registered for school. Schooling generally begins at age four or five, and lasts until students finish high school, generally at 18 years of age. 

The Canadian public school system is generally divided into three levels: Elementary, Secondary and Post-Secondary, either college or university. Some districts or private schools may organize their grade levels differently, though education standards are regulated by the provincial government. The academic year for all levels of education begins in September and runs through June for elementary and secondary students, and to April for college and university students. Standard holidays include Christmas and New Year's holidays in December and January, and a spring break in either March or April. 

Contact the local school board in your neighbourhood for information on registration. For more information: 

For complete information on post-secondary education visit the Study in Canada Guide. 

Obtaining a Driver's Licence in Nova Scotia

If you are planning on renting, leasing, or buying a car, you must have an official Nova Scotia driver's licence. Contact Service Nova Scotia for more information: 

Note: Every vehicle and driver must have insurance. Contact a local insurance provider to become properly insured before you drive. 

Housing in Nova Scotia

There are multiple different housing options across Canada. If you have not visited your new city previously, it may be best to rent a temporary apartment when you first arrive, and/or hire a real estate agent to guide you through the housing process and provide you with knowledgeable advice on the best areas for you and your family. 

Apartment buildings are large, multi-unit buildings owned by one person or company where each inhabitant rents a unit. Studio or bachelor apartments are generally one room with a kitchen area and bathroom and are suited only for a single individual. Larger apartments can accommodate families as they have bedrooms and additional living space. 

A large multi-unit building where each unit is owned by the inhabitant is called a condominium, and each unit is called a condo. 

Often apartments and condos are found in homes that have been divided into separate living spaces. 

Houses can be connected in a row, called townhouses or row houses, or detached, as separate, individual dwellings. 

Though average living costs vary given size of family, location and level of income, housing is generally more expensive in cities. As a result, many families choose to live in suburbs which are towns located just outside of the city limits, where housing is more affordable. Suburbs often provide good neighbourhoods, schools, shopping, and healthcare, all within close proximity to the amenities of the city. Housing in the country can be even less expensive and is desirable for many families, but you will require a vehicle in order to travel for your basic needs including groceries, work, school, and healthcare. 

Pets: If you are renting your home or live in a condominium, it is important that you ensure pets are legally allowed on the premises before you move in with your family pet, or purchase a family pet. 

It is important that you take your family, your place of work, neighbourhood and finances into account before deciding on a place to live. 

To find housing without the aid of a real estate agent, search through classified ads in your local newspaper or in real estate papers which are generally free. Online classified ads on websites such as craigslist ( for Halifax) and are very popular with people in Canada, but always remember to be vigilant when responding to internet postings. 

For animals and food, contact:

Canadian Food Inspection Agency

Animal Health, Agriculture Canada

59 Camelot Drive

Neapean, Ontario K1A 0Y9

(613)225-2342 (ext:4629) 

For automobiles, contact:

Transport Canada

Place de Ville, Tower C

330 Sparks Street

Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0N5

(613) 990-2309 

Weather in Nova Scotia

Most Canadian cities enjoy very warm summers where temperatures can go above 30 degrees Celcius. However, it can get very cold in almost all parts of Canada in the winter, when temperatures can go below -20, even -30 degrees Celsius. It is very important to ensure that you are prepared for the cold weather. Invest in warm winter clothing, including sweaters, winter jackets, boots, hats, scarves and gloves or mittens to be ready for the winter. If you do not dress warmly in the winter, you will risk becoming ill or getting frost bite. Frost bite is severe damage to the skin caused by winter wind exposure. 

Canadians keep candles and matches, warm blankets, flash lights, first aid kits, and small snow shovels in their cars and homes in case of emergencies. In most parts of Canada, your car must have specially designated winter tires in order to legally, and safely, drive in the winter. 

Emergency Services in Nova Scotia

In emergency situations dial 911 to become connected with an operator who will assist you and dispatch emergency services if they are required. 

In non-emergency situations, if you only require the police, you can find contact numbers for major cities below.

Halifax Police: (902) 490-5016 

Sydney, Cape Breton Police: (902) 563-5100 

North Sydney: (902) 794-1254

Glace Bay: (902) 842-1001 

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