First things to do

First things to do2019-11-21T15:19:15-05:00


You do not need your passport if you travel inside of Canada. People often carry two pieces of identification with them. The most common form of identification is a driver’s license. It is not required that you carry all your identification with you, but two pieces are often helpful. The most accepted forms of identification are:

  • Driver’s license
  • Permanent Resident Card
  • Citizenship Card
  • Social Insurance Number (SIN)
  • Birth Certificate
  • Credit Card

Social Insurance Number (SIN):

You must have a social insurance number (SIN). This number and the card it comes on are part of your basic Canadian identity. A SIN is an important identification when you apply for the child tax benefit, complete your income taxes, contribute to pension plans or when you seek information from other government services.

To get your SIN, ask for help at an Immigrant Settlement Agency or go to the nearest Employment Centre. You will need to bring:

    • Passport
    • Immigration papers
    • Another form of identification (preferably in English or French)
    • Proof of address

Sometimes people ask for the SIN as a form of identification. If possible, give them another piece of identification. Never give your SIN to anyone who is not authorized.

To receive free public health care services, you must first have an Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) card. You can obtain free basic health care services by showing the doctor, nurse, or other health care worker a valid OHIP card. The Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) pays for services that are medically necessary. These services include visits to your family doctor and specialists.

You should apply for OHIP as soon as you arrive in Ontario. Generally, there is a three-month waiting period from the date you arrive until you are covered. During the 3-month waiting period, you are encouraged to buy health insurance from a private company, which provides coverage for some (but not all) medical services. Contact Canada Life and Health Insurance Association (CLHIA) at 1-(800)-268-8099 for names of companies providing such coverage. However, you MUST buy this insurance within 5 days of arriving in Ontario, or the insurance companies may not provide coverage for you. Generally, the coverage you will buy would be for “visitors to Canada.”

Applying: You may ask for help from an Immigrant Settlement Agency . If you are eligible, you can get an OHIP card by completing the Ontario Ministry of Health application form called: “Registration For Ontario Health Coverage”.

Application forms are available from:

Ontario Ministry of Health
Fuller Building
75 Albert Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1P 5Y9
Phone: 1-(800)-268-1154
Ontario Government website

Once you have completed the application, take it to the Ministry of Health office. Make sure to bring your immigration papers, an original document that proves you live in Ottawa (such as your telephone bill or bank statements with your name and address) and other documents as proof of identity (such as your passport, social insurance card, credit card that has your name and signature on it).

Opening a Bank Account:

There are many kinds of banks in Ottawa. Each bank offers different services. You can visit banks during working hours and ask someone about their services and the kinds of accounts that they offer. You can compare bank service charges among banks. You will need two pieces of identification to open an account at a bank, trust company, or credit union. Usually, one piece must have your picture on it. You do not have to be employed to open an account.

Driver’s license:

You must have automobile insurance if you own and drive a car. You must also properly license the car. If you do not have a car, you can rent one for a day, a week, or as long as you need from a car rental company. Most car rental companies can give you information about driving rules. Most car rental companies charge the amount of time and distance. You will also need to buy accident insurance and gasoline. You can find a car rental company by looking up the words Automobile Renting in the yellow pages of the telephone book.

You can use a foreign driver’s license for some time after you arrive in Canada. You will then need to take a driving test and get an Ontario driver’s license. Contact the Ontario Ministry of Transportation for information about licenses and driving rules. For more details, visit

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Our Mission!

OCISO supports immigrants through the journey of making Canada their home by providing creative and responsive programs that are culturally and linguistically appropriate, by building community through mutual respect and partnerships, and by fostering healthy and inclusive spaces for open dialogue and healing.

What we do 🙂

We are community based non-profit organization that has been providing services in Ottawa since 1978. We are motivated by the stories of new immigrants, and we are there every stage of the journey. OCISO directly serves over 10,000 immigrants and refugees every year. Our work is augmented by the generous efforts of our enthusiastic, caring and talented staff, volunteers, both established and new Canadians.