Work permit, PVT, or confirmation of permanent residency: you have finally arrived at the end of your trek, physically—you survived packing, moving, and the waiting lines—and above all administratively—aaaah the formalities of immigration… Congratulations!
Now that the paperwork has no more surprises for you, you can relax a bit, right? In fact, technically you have not quite reached the end of your troubles…
At this stage, there are still 2 or 3 steps to accomplish before your are completely ready for your new life in Quebec. Nothing terrible, you simply need to acquire your SIN, your RAMQ card, and your driver’s license.
What is a SIN?
“SIN” stands for “Social Insurance Number” (“NAS” in French for “Numéro d’Assurance Sociale”). This is your official identification number in Canada. You will need it for your relations with various official institutions: social security, employment, credit, bank, taxes, pensions, etc.
The number has nine digits that you should learn by heart. It’s easy enough to obtain one, just present your proof of identity and proof of your immigration status in Canada to an official at Service Canada.
RAMQ, what’s that?
RAMQ (pronounced “RAM-cue”) is the “Régie de l’Assurance Maladie du Québec” (the government agency that handles state run health insurance). You need your RAMQ card to prove that you are eligible for free health care in Quebec.
Registration with RAMQ is a bit more complex than getting your SIN. Which documents to bring with you depend on your situation and notably on your status in Quebec: proof of identity, proof of immigration status, proof of residence, birth and/or marriage certificates, the list can sometimes be quite long… It’s possible that you might experience a gap in coverage. That’s why it’s important to be well informed before your departure!
How to obtain your SIN and RAMQ card?
We advise you to inform yourself before your arrival and to be sure to have all of the documents on hand necessary for these administrative formalities.
In Montreal, the most simple option is to handle these administrative tasks in the days following your arrival. The offices of the RAMQ are located downtown, near the metro station Place des Arts, which is walking distance to Service Canada in the Guy Favreau building. So you can do both in one trip, starting with RAMQ which opens earlier in the morning. A half-day will usually suffice.
Obtaining your driver’s license is a whole other ball game. It’s nevertheless obligatory if you plan to stay in Quebec for more than 6 months.
First, you must make an appointment by phone, then present yourself at the SAAQ, the “Société de l’Assurance Automobile du Québec” (literally “the automobile insurance society of Quebec”, SAAQ is the governmental organization that handles everything automobile: driver’s license, registration, plates…), with all of the necessary documents. Depending on your country of origin and the issuer of your license, you may be allowed a simple exchange, or you may have to retake all or some of the exams.
In Montreal, you handle all of this at the Henri Bourassa office, in the north of the island. The office is accessible via public transportation, though it is tricky to get there and the office is only open during the week. Plan for at least a long half-day trip…
We can help!
With more than 200 successful relocations under their belts, Clothilde and Gwen are experts in the administrative steps and documents necessary to quickly and easily obtain your SIN, your RAMQ card, and your driver’s license.
Don’t hesitate to contact us, we will give you specific and personalized advice, adapted to your situation. And for more comfort and peace of mind, we can even accompany you in person to help you handle these administrative tasks and offer you the most serene relocation experience possible!