How To Move To The UK from Canada: 2023 Guide

busy street London, with people rushing in a led billboard on the background.

For many years, the UK and Canada have enjoyed a robust commercial and diplomatic relationship thanks to a long shared military and government history. In addition, there are more than 75,000 Canadians living in the UK and about 603,000 British nationals in Canada. That is why the process on how to move to the UK from Canada could be easier than you think. 

To move to the UK from Canada, you’d need an approved visa grounded on work, business, study, family, or marriage. If your parents or grandparents are British, you can apply for a British passport instead after proving that your family’s place of birth is truly in the UK and they have British nationality. 

There are many ways Canadian citizens can relocate to the UK. Some of them require preconditions like a job offer, but not always. For instance, everyone aged between 18 and 30 can apply for a Youth Mobility Scheme visa and stay in the country for up to 2 years.

Additionally, if you’ve family and friends living in the UK to assist in your move, don’t hesitate to ask them, they probably know better. You might also consider getting the help of professionals to make your move to the UK from Canada a success and for you to avoid running into legal problems with the UK immigration office.

Before you move to the UK from Canada, read this article, where we compare Toronto and London.

Can you move to the UK as a Canadian?

UK and British passports.

Canadian citizens can move to the UK by applying for a long-term visa, whether the reason is work, studies, internships, or reuniting with a partner. Besides, they can stay in the UK for up to 90 days visa-free.

Historically, Canada was part of the British Empire, and after it became independent, Canada shared a prosperous economic relationship with the UK. More than 30% of the Canadian population is actually British.

Due to this, many Canadians have British roots and siblings residing in the UK, which could allow them to move to the UK easier. Canadians who don’t have British roots could still immigrate by applying for one of the different visa options.

For example, they can apply for a work or study visa to relocate to the UK permanently. These visas can lead to British citizenship in the future.

Also read: How to move to the UK from the US.

How long can a Canadian stay in the UK without a visa?

That said, as a Canadian, you are allowed to stay in the UK for up to 90 days without a visa. It also applies to other nationals, including all countries in the EU & EEA, Switzerland, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, United States, Ireland Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man.

In addition, there are some other countries, nationals of which can stay in the UK for up to six months without a visa. You can read more on this here.

Canadians with British relatives

Canadians with a British parent don’t need to apply for a UK visa, and they can get a British passport. Thanks to your parent’s British nationality, you may also be eligible for a British nationality to help in your passport application.

So if you’re born after January 1, 1983, and have a British parent, you could file for proof of your British citizenship at the UK embassy in Canada. 

Also, as long as you don’t have a criminal record, pending court order, have been extradited to the UK, or have received any United Nations travel restriction, you’d have a good chance of approval in your British passport application.

1. UK Ancestry visa

Suppose instead of a British parent, you have a living British grandparent residing in the UK. In that case, you cannot immediately apply for a British passport unless you establish your British citizenship under naturalization.

However, you could still apply for a UK Ancestry visa that would allow you to move to the UK from Canada. To get this visa, you need to show proof of the following: 

  • You are older than 17
  • Clean police and court record 
  • Your full birth certificate
  • Grandparent’s proof of birth in the UK 
  • Proof of income and capacity to sustain yourself 
  • Evidence that you’re fit to work or you intend to seek employment in the UK 

Keep in mind that you cannot claim UK ancestry through step-parents.

Once your visa is approved, you can stay in the UK for five years and renew your visa for another five years.

If you have a spouse or children, your UK Ancestry visa right would also extend to them, so you can bring them to the UK. 

2. Family and spouse visa

If you are married to a British national, you are eligible for a Spouse visa. Through this visa option, you could live with your spouse permanently in the UK. Here are some of the requirements for the application: 

  • Proof of marriage recognized by the UK 
  • You’ve been living together for at least 2 years 
  • If you are an unmarried partner – you’re engaged or scheduled to marry in the UK within 6 months  

Moreover, this visa is available not only for married couples but also for fiancees, civil partners, and unmarried partners who have been living together for at least 2 years before the visa application.

However, some additional requirements apply for this visa, including:

  • Proof of the previous relationships, whether married or not, have ended already 
  • Residential evidence that both of you’ve been living together for at least 2 years 
  • The partner who is sponsoring should have at least £18,600 in savings or yearly income 
  • You have an appropriate accommodation for you and your partner in the UK  

3. Youth Mobility Scheme visa

If you’re a young working professional between 18 and 30, you could apply for a Youth Mobility Scheme visa. This visa allows you to stay in the UK for up to 2 years to seek employment or finish your studies. 

The benefit of the Youth Mobility Scheme visa is that you don’t need sponsorship from the employer compared to other visas.

To apply for a Youth Mobility Scheme visa, you should meet these requirements: 

  • Proof of age – not below 18 and not above 30 
  • You do not have any children who are underaged and are not financially independent 
  • Proof of Canadian citizenship (or Australia, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Republic of Korea, or Taiwan)
  • Readily-available funds of at least £2,530
  • No prior visit to the UK using a Youth Mobility Scheme visa
  • Results of tuberculosis test – if required

You have to apply 6 months before you want to travel to the UK.

This visa is pretty unique in the sense that you are allowed to do several things in the UK, including:

  • study
  • work
  • internship
  • be self-employed and set up a company

Once your Youth Mobility Scheme visa expires, you could apply for other visa options, such as a work visa. Like the Family visa, you could stay in the UK for up to 5 years with a long-term Work visa.

4. Work visas

There are several different Work visa types in the UK. For the majority of them, you need a job offer in order to apply.

For example, if you’re a skilled worker with a job offer in the UK, you can apply for a skilled worker visa. Or if you’re an athlete who signed a contract with any UK-based sports organization, you may be eligible for an international sportsperson visa. 

Besides, there are some Work visas available for entrepreneurs and executives transferring between companies.

Some of the most common UK Work visas are:

  • Tier 1 (Entrepreneur visa – for investors, entrepreneurs and industry leaders. These visas don’t require you to have a job offer in the UK.
  • Tier 2 (General) visa – is for skilled workers and requires a job offer with a permanent contract (longer than six months) from a recognised employer. The workplace should hold a UK Sponsor Licence.
  • Tier 5 (Temporary) visa – for skilled workers who want to work in the UK for a period of six months or less. They also must have a job offer when applying. The employer must hold a UK Sponsor Licence.

Can Canadians work in the UK?

magnificent view of London bridge during sunset.

Depending on the visa you apply for, you might be eligible to work as a Canadian. However, you aren’t allowed to work in the UK as a visitor during your 90 visa-free days. You may work remotely for your foreign employer but not in the UK directly.

To work in the UK, you must apply for a Work visa, and to apply for this visa, you must have a job offer. That might sound strange, but the plan of action is to find a job first, only after thinking of the required paperwork.

As a native English speaker, you have great chances of getting a job in the UK. Here are some further tips that could help you land stable employment in the UK if you’re planning to move and live permanently in the country. 

1. Before getting a job, prepare your portfolio and skillset 

There are different job standards in the UK, so you should ensure your portfolio stands out before getting a job. Try compiling your previous work achievements and highlighting them in your following interview to showcase that you’re a one-of-a-kind applicant.

If you’re not confident with your portfolio, try improving your technical and soft skills relevant to the job you aim for. 

You also have to adapt to the British English vocabulary and accent. So, start by immersing yourself in British conversations and get a feel for how people in the UK talk and what their usual conversation techniques are.

Doing so could give you an advantage in your following job interview with a UK company or organization. 

2. Familiarize yourself with the British office and other work norms 

Another way to help you land a job in the UK is by analyzing the models or traditions in a British office or employment. With this knowledge, you could quickly distinguish the do’s and don’ts of your potential new job and have a general idea of how the workforce behaves in the UK.  

It might be a culture shock at first, but analyzing these norms before you get a job would help you prepare better and act more naturally once you have that job and are residing in the country already. 

3. Keep sending out job applications before moving to the UK 

It’s wise to secure a job even before you move to the UK because if you land an appointment before you move, you’d already have a stable source of income that could sustain your expenses.

Having a job offer waiting for you before your move also gives you peace of mind that could help you focus more on the other aspects of immigration. 

Some visa options require you to have a job ready or a certain amount of funds before moving into the UK. So doing an advanced job hunt before you move in will significantly improve your chances of approval for your work visa. 

4. Secure work permits or UK visas 

Whichever option you choose, ensure that your UK visa is approved and you have a legitimate copy. It would be best if you also processed other work permits once you have a job waiting for you to avoid the additional hassle of processing these when you move to the UK. 

By preparing permits and visas beforehand, you could allot more time to focus on other documents relevant to your immigration and relieve some of the pressure of moving to another country.

Securing these permits and visas before moving into the UK will also help you secure bank accounts and other financial instruments faster than when you wait to do it once you’re in the UK.

5. Apply for a Youth Mobility Scheme visa

Finally, if you have no luck getting a job in the UK, simply apply for a Youth Mobility Scheme visa if age isn’t a concern. This will allow you to live in the UK for up to 2 years and look for work in the meanwhile.

How to retire in the UK as a Canadian

Currently, the UK doesn’t have a retirement visa or a retirement residence permit. In the past, the UK had a retirement visa program, but it was canceled.

Therefore, if you are a foreign national, e.g., Canadian, you will need a long-term residence permit to retire in the UK. It might include a partner visa, work visa, Ancestry visa, or something else.

If you find yourself meeting one of the visas mentioned before or you hold British citizenship, you can successfully retire in the UK as a Canadian.

If you want to receive a pension in the UK, you must be eligible first. The requirement for a partial pension is to contribute to National Insurance for at least 10 years. However, you are only eligible for a full pension after paying into insurance for 35 years or longer.

How much does it cost to move to the UK from Canada

As with any expenses, it’s hard to estimate the average. However, fees for UK visas and some other costs are fixed so you can have at least a rough overview.

UK visa fees:

  • Ancestry visa – £516 to apply
  • Youth Mobility Scheme visa – £259 to apply, and you must have proof of £1,890 in savings
  • Work visa –  a visa fee ranges from £625 (for up to 3 years) to £1,235 (for more than 3 years)
  • Family visa – £1,538 applying from Canada and £1,048 if applying in the UK

If your job is on the shortage occupation list, the fee for a work visa is different – £479 and £943, respectively.

Another considerable expense when moving to the UK is your flight cost. It can be anything from £400 to £1,000.

Cost of living in the UK vs Canada

If you are moving to the UK with your family, the average cost of living for a family of four is about £3,000 to £4,000 per month. A couple will need just above £2,000.

Living expenses in the UK are very similar to what you used to. However, the rent can be much more affordable in British cities than in Canadian (of course, with the exception of London). For instance, renting a one-bedroom apartment in Manchester costs about £750 vs £1,200 in Vancouver.

Yet, renting prices in London are comparable with Toronto. One-bedroom apartment in the city center costs £1,662 per month to rent.

Moving to the UK from Canada: checklist 

Before you move to the UK as a Canadian, here are some crucial items that you should prepare and think about: 

1. Approved visa 

To enter the UK without a visa, you either need to have a Canadian or another qualified passport. Otherwise, you must apply for a UK visa, even if you travel only to visit the country. See the countries that need a UK visa.

Without a valid visa, UK immigration officers might deny entry to the country, and you’d have to travel back to Canada.

So ensure that you read through the visa options and their requirements, and then choose the best option that would serve you in the long run and would not give you too much hassle in procuring it. 

2. UK Residence 

Since housing costs more in the country, renting an apartment is your go-to option so you’d have a safe and comfortable shelter after you move into the UK from Canada.

If you have a family member or a friend willing to let you stay in for a couple of days, do not hesitate to ask for their help.

Remember, even if you’ve funds to pay rent, some landlords or lessors prefer UK residents or foreigners who have stayed in the UK for years over those who have recently moved in and have only lasted for a few weeks. 

3. Job offer

Securing a source of income before you move into the UK will allow you to build up a safety net for yourself and give you a way to sustain your expenses once you move in. Having a job offer waiting for you before you move in is a security you should not overlook. 

Also read: What is the best for living: the UK or Ireland?

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