This guide is intended for immigrants selected by Québec. It brings together information and advice to ease your settlement and successfully integrate into Québec.
An integration assistance agent can assist you in your integration efforts even before your arrival in Québec. For more information, consult the Accompagnement Québec page.
To facilitate your integration into Québec society, it is important for you to appropriate and abide by Québec’s key values.
They revolve around five main thrusts, which make Québec a distinct society:
- Québec is a French-speaking society.
- Québec is a democratic society.
- Equality between women and men.
- The rights and responsibilities of Quebecers.
- Québec is a secular society.
The climate in Québec changes with the seasons and varies by region.
Winter in Québec should not be underestimated. For this season, consider:
Keep the temperature of your home at a minimum of 20 °C during the day and 17 °C at night. Inside, homes are equipped with heating systems that provide comfort during the cold season.
Get clothes to keep you warm:
- Insulated coat
- Tuque (hat)
- Gloves or mittens
- Insulated and waterproof boots
With the right clothes, you can enjoy a variety of outdoor sports, regardless of the season. Seasonal activities are an opportunity to come together and meet other people. Consider signing up for outdoor sports to take advantage of the seasons and make a circle of friends.
Before immigrating to Québec, it is important to learn about the cost of living.
In Québec, the average per capita income is comparable to that of most industrialized countries. However, the cost of living is lower.
Of course, your perception of the cost of living may vary depending on:
- Your country of origin
- Your savings
- Your consumption habits
Choosing a region of Québec to settle in
Do you want to discover what the regions of Québec have to offer? There are 17 regions in Québec that offer several opportunities.
Learn about the regions before you arrive in Québec to determine which region matches your interests and your life plan.
By registering for the Accompagnement Québec integration service , an integration assistance agent (IAA) can assist you in discovering the regions of Québec while presenting you with job opportunities.
There are many differences between regions, including:
- Job opportunities
- Fields of employment sought
- Cost of living
Developing a network of contacts
To meet new people when you arrive in Québec, you can:
- Contact a community organization assisting immigrants who can put you in touch with other people
- Register for sports or cultural activities
- Get involved in your children’s extracurricular activities
You will need to quickly find housing when you arrive in Québec. It is recommended that you find temporary housing first. This will allow you to take the necessary time to assess your needs.
In the beginning, find housing:
- Rented by the week or the month
- That fits your budget
- In a central district
- Ideally furnished
To find housing, you can:
- Consult online classifieds sites
- Join Facebook housing search groups
- Walk the streets and locate rental housing
By registering for the Accompagnement Québec integration service , an integration assistance agent (IAA) can assist you in your search for housing.
Community organizations assisting immigrants can also help you.
When you rent accommodation, you must sign a lease with the landlord. A lease is a rental contract that indicates:
- Your responsibilities and commitments as a tenant
- The responsibilities and commitments of your landlord
The lease must contain:
- The name and address of the owner
- Your name
- The amount of the rent
- The exact address of the housing you have rented
- Other mandatory information prescribed by law
Before signing a lease, read it very carefully. Once you have signed it, you cannot undo it, barring exceptions. If you must vacate your home before the end of your lease, consult the Assignment of a Lease or Subleasing page on the Tribunal administratif du logement website to find out what options are available to you depending on your situation.
Information to provide
The owner of the accommodation may ask you for private information, including:
- Social insurance number (SIN)
- Driver’s licence number
- Health insurance card number
You are not obligated to give this information. You cannot be refused rental accommodation if you have not provided this information.
However, you may have to prove that you have the necessary income to pay the rent.
For this purpose, you can use:
- Receipts from a previous rental
- Paid utility bills
If you cannot provide these documents, you can present a letter of recommendation, for example from a community organization assisting immigrants .
Refusal to rent
A landlord cannot deny you the rental of housing on the basis of discrimination, such as:
- Ethnic origin
- Pregnancy or presence of children
- Sexual orientation
- Gender identity or expression
- Social condition
If you believe you are the victim of discrimination, contact the Tribunal administratif du logement du Québec or the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse du Québec .
Buying a house or a condominium
Buying a house or a condominium (condo) requires careful attention.
You can sell or buy a property yourself, but the majority of transactions are done through a real estate broker.
When you have chosen the property you want to buy, you must make an offer to purchase. If the person selling the property agrees to your terms, you must follow through on your offer to purchase. The purchase ends with a deed of sale signed in front of a notary.
If you are buying a property directly from a building contractor or real estate developer, they must give you a preliminary contract containing:
- Building information
- Clause that allows you to change your mind within 10 days of signing your contract This termination may involve a penalty—which must be provided for in the contract—and must not exceed 0.5% of the sale price.
Buying a condominium
Jointly owned housing, called “condominiums” or “condos,” allow you to buy an apartment rather than a house.
The apartment you buy belongs to you, but you share the common areas of the building with the other owners, such as:
- Elevators, stairs
- Parking lots
The community of co-owners, called the “homeowner association,” manages the building and maintains the common areas.
To cover expenses for building maintenance and work in common areas, you must pay condo fees. The fees are billed to you monthly, based on the value of your condo in the building.
Health and emergency services
All residents of Québec are eligible for the Régime d’assurance maladie du Québec [Québec health insurance plan] (RAMQ). This covers essential medical care. To access this care, you must register and obtain a health insurance card when you arrive in Québec.
Each member of your family must have their own health insurance card. Always carry it with you and never lend it.
As a general rule, health insurance does not cover your medical care during the first three months following your arrival in Québec. During these three months, it is strongly recommended that you obtain private insurance.
Québec has signed social security agreements with other countries . If you arrive from one of these countries, you could be covered by the Régie de l'assurance maladie du Québec (RAMQ) upon your arrival, without waiting three months. You must present proof of insurance or proof of affiliation to the health plan of your country of origin.
You can register on a waiting list for a family doctor (general practitioners). You can also find one yourself.
You must first see a family doctor before consulting a specialist doctor.
If you need to see a doctor quickly for a minor emergency, there are same-day or next-day medical consultation services .
Where to call in an emergency
It is important to know the telephone numbers to call if you need immediate assistance.
Dial 911 if you need emergency services:
- Fire services (fire fighters)
Dial 811 to quickly reach a nurse in the event of a non-urgent health problem. This service is free and confidential.
These numbers are accessible at all times, 24 hours a day.
Most cities in Québec offer public transportation by bus.
A metro (underground train) serves the territory of Montréal and connects the cities of Longueuil and Laval. Montréal and the surrounding cities are also connected by commuter train lines.
To learn about fares, schedules, routes and itineraries, contact the information service of your municipality’s public transportation company or consult their website.
When you arrive in Québec, you can drive with a licence that was issued in another country for six months following your arrival in Québec. After this period, you will no longer be able to drive with this licence and you will have to obtain a Québec driver’s licence.
There are agreements between Québec and certain countries to facilitate the exchange of driver’s licences. If the country in which you obtained your licence does not have an agreement with Québec, you may need to take driving lessons and pass theoretical and practical exams.
You must have a valid driver's licence to drive:
- A car
- A motorcycle
- A scooter
Buying or leasing a car
All vehicles must be registered with the Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ) .
Wearing a seat belt is compulsory for all passengers. Babies and young children must be seated in a booster seat, until they are 145 cm tall or until they are 9 years old.
In winter, it is important to adapt your driving, especially by reducing your speed. You must also change your vehicle’s tires for winter tires between December 1 and March 15.
In Québec, impaired driving is a criminal offence, whether under the influence of:
- Certain medications
Education and childcare
Spaces in childcare services, also called day care centres, are available for young children, from birth to age 5. As demand is strong to obtain a place, it is recommended to register your child as soon as possible in the days following your arrival.
You can search for childcare services for your child using the La place 0-5 platform. This platform brings together all the childcare services recognized by the Gouvernement du Québec.
Subsidized and non-subsidized childcare
There are two types of childcare services in Québec:
- Childcare services subsidized by the Gouvernement du Québec: They offer a reduced, fixed price per day of $8.35 in 2020.
- Non-subsidized childcare services: the childcare service determines the price of its services. If you enrol your child in a non-subsidized childcare service, you may, however, be entitled to a tax credit. This allows you to recover up to 75% of the amount you paid for childcare.
In Québec, you can enrol your child in kindergarten from the age of 4.
School is then mandatory at the age of 6 and until the age of 16.
Kindergarten prepares your child for elementary school.
The kindergarten is not mandatory. However, the majority of eligible children are enrolled.
Elementary school education
All 6-year-olds must be enrolled in elementary school, even if they have not completed kindergarten.
If your child is 5 years old, they may be admitted provided they are 6 years old before October 1 of their first school year. Elementary school education lasts six years.
After elementary school, you will need to enrol your child for secondary school. General secondary education lasts five years and allows your child to pursue post-secondary studies.
There is also another path in secondary education: vocational training. This training lasts one to two years depending on the program.
It allows you to qualify for a specialized trade. It is generally possible to register for vocational training before the end of general secondary education, but admission requirements are not the same for all study programs.
Would you like to study in Québec? Different courses are offered at different levels.
Check with educational institutions to find out the admission requirements for study programs and registration procedures.
If you are a foreign student with a study permit, you must comply with the conditions of your permit. Studying must be your main activity and you must have health and hospitalization insurance for the duration of your stay in Québec.
Loans and bursaries
The Programme de prêts et bourses (Loans and Bursaries Program) is intended to help you if your financial resources are insufficient to pursue full-time studies.
To be eligible, you must have Canadian citizenship or permanent resident, refugee or protected person status under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
The Programme de prêts pour les études à temps partiel (Loans Program for Part-Time Studies) aims to support you financially if you wish to pursue studies part-time.
To be eligible, you must have Canadian citizenship or permanent resident, refugee or protected person status under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
If you are not fluent in French, the Gouvernement du Québec offers free French courses to immigrants.
Knowing French is essential to facilitate your integration and fully participate in Québec society. It allows you to make yourself understood in everyday situations, such as when you need to communicate with your children’s teachers or consult a pharmacist.
Financial assistance may also be available for:
- Your participation in the courses
- Your transportation
By registering for the Accompagnement Québec integration service , an integration assistance agent (IAA) can assist you in registering for a French course.
When you arrive at Montréal-Trudeau International Airport and have immigration status, you are greeted by the personnel of the Reception Service of the Ministère de l’Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Intégration. They can register you to one of the free group sessions, designed specifically to help you settle and find work.
Accompagnement Québec is a new direct support service for immigrants.
It helps assess and respond to your needs as an immigrant to ease your integration into Québec society.
Integration assistance agents (IAAs) are present in all regions of Québec and collaborate with partner organizations and departments to:
- Prepare your arrival in Québec
- Assess your needs once you arrive in Québec
- Develop with you an individualized action plan to support you in your settlement and integration steps.
You can benefit from Accompagnement Québec as soon as you obtain your Québec Selection Certificate (CSQ) or your Québec Acceptance Certificate (CAQ).
Accompagnement Québec covers five areas:
- Community life
- Immigration steps
The Objectif intégration session is intended for immigrants. It lasts a total of 24 hours and is given in French throughout Québec.
The session focuses on:
- The democratic values and the Québec values expressed by the Charter of human rights and freedoms
- Cultural codes in the workplace
- The legal framework in the workplace
When you participate in a full session of Objectif Intégration, a certificate of participation and learning of democratic values and Québec values expressed by the Charter of human rights and freedoms is given to you.
In addition, you could receive financial assistance of $188 if you take the entire Objectif Integration session.
Many partner organizations of the Gouvernement du Québec can help you in your integration efforts. These organizations are located across the province.
You can take steps to have your competencies acquired abroad recognized. These steps aim to have your training and professional experience recognized in order to work in Québec. It is best to begin this process before you arrive in Québec.
If the profession you want to practice is regulated in Québec, you will have to take the steps with the regulatory body concerned. To find out if the trade or profession you want to practice is regulated, visit the Qualifications Québec website.
You can request a comparative evaluation of your studies abroad from the Ministère de l’Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Intégration.
This expert opinion generally indicates the educational benchmarks (or main diplomas) and areas of training in Québec that you can compare your studies with. A comparative evaluation for studies done outside Québec may be requested by:
- Regulatory bodies
- Educational institutions
Before you submit a request for a comparative evaluation for studies, find out whether you really need such an evaluation as part of a hiring or admission process.
You can start your job search even before arriving in Québec.
The names given to jobs may vary from country to country. This is why it is preferable to emphasize the description of your tasks and your competencies acquired abroad in your Curriculum Vitae (CV).
To prepare yourself well, consult the job search tips for information on:
- Preparing your CV
- Job interviews
- Steps to get a job
If you are an immigrant or from visible minorities, this program aims to help you gain your first work experience in North America in your field of training or professional experience.
When you arrive in Québec, it could be advantageous to complete an income tax return.
The Government of Canada and the Gouvernement du Québec provide tax credits and financial assistance to low-income individuals and families. You could receive an amount of money if you convert your income for the year before you arrived in Québec into Canadian dollars.
Thereafter, you must file two tax returns each year:
- One for the federal government (Canada Revenue Agency)
- One for the provincial government (Revenu Québec)
The tax year runs from January 1 to December 31. Income tax returns must be submitted to both governments no later than April 30 following the tax year:
- By mail
- By Internet
- In person
By filing your tax returns before April 30 of each year and declaring all of your income, you avoid having to pay interest and penalties on amounts you may owe.
The tax return allows the federal and provincial governments to verify if you are eligible for various social programs such as:
- Family allowances
- Parental leave
If you have difficulty filing your income tax returns, contact Revenu Québec and the Canada Revenue Agency . The customer service personnel will give you all the information you need and, if necessary, will direct you to free or inexpensive tax clinics. You can also seek help from an accountant.
Opening a bank account
To make everyday purchases, you need a bank account.
You can open a bank account by going in person to a financial institution and providing the required identification.
Compare the services of different institutions before choosing where you will open your bank account. Choose the institution that offers you the account that best suits your needs. For example, you could choose the financial institution that:
- Offers you the best return
- Charges the least administration costs
When you open an account, the financial institution gives you a bank debit card. This allows you to pay for your purchases in most stores. The amount of your purchases is then deducted directly from your account. Service charges may be added to each transaction depending on your agreement with your financial institution.
Banking services are almost all automated. You will find bank machines in most banks, credit unions and other public places (convenience stores, shopping centres, etc.).
Applying for credit
With credit, a financial institution or a business advances you an amount of money. You can then repay this amount later. However, you will have to pay interest on the amount you borrowed. This interest is usually high and is in addition to the amount you have to pay back.
Easy access to credit requires great caution. Their advertising is often enticing. For example, they may offer you gifts, bonus points and other incentives.
Before credit spending, make sure you can make the full payment. Remember, this is in addition to any other financial obligations you already have.
The Associations de consommateurs du Québec (Québec consumer associations – website in French only) can help you balance your personal or family budget.
Consuming goods and services
The Office de la protection du consommateur is a Québec government body ensures that merchants comply with the Consumer Protection Act, among other things.
In particular, this act governs transactions carried out between consumers and merchants. This means that merchants have different obligations toward you. These merchants can be, for example:
- car dealerships;
- furniture stores;
- financial institutions;
- telephone service providers.
The Office can help you avoid problems that can occur when you do business with a merchant. And if you have any problems, the Office is there to inform you of your rights and recourse options.
Know your rights and freedoms
In Québec, the exercise of human rights and freedoms is governed by two charters:
Discrimination is prohibited by the Québec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. The following are the grounds of discrimination that are prohibited by the Charter:
- Gender identity or expression
- Sexual orientation
- Civil status
- Age (except to the extent provided by law)
- Political convictions
- Ethnic or national origin
- Social condition
- Handicap or use of a means to overcome a handicap
Obtaining legal services
Various services are available if you need to settle a legal dispute.
If you have a claim for less than $15,000, you can go through small claims . The procedure is simple and easy to access.
You are not represented by a lawyer. A free mediation service is available to help you resolve the dispute. Ask courthouse staff for more information.
Mediation is a service that allows you to prevent and resolve conflicts. It is more flexible and faster than a trial.
If you are not fluent in French or English, interpretation services are sometimes available free of charge.
Legal aid services
If you have a low income, legal aid offices give you access to the services of a lawyer, or even a notary. Services are free, or offered at a nominal fee.
Crime victims assistance centres
Centres d’aide aux victimes d’actes criminels [crime victims assistance centres] (CAVAC) offer services to overcome the physical, psychological and social consequences of a crime.
- Victims of crime
- Relatives of victims
Crimes may include:
- Domestic violence
- Any other criminal act
There is a CAVAC in every region of Québec. Assistance can take different forms, including support throughout the legal process, before, during and after a trial. The services are free and confidential.
Steps to take with the federal government
Upon arrival, you must go to a Service Canada office to request your Social Insurance Number (SIN). This is a nine-digit number.
You need it to:
- Have a job
- Open a bank account
- Benefit from the programs and financial assistance offered by the government
It is recommended to memorize your SIN.
The permanent residence card is proof that you have resident or permanent resident status in Canada.
If you leave Canada, you will need to present this card in order to return.
To obtain your card, you must apply to the federal government.
Last update: August 4, 2021