Getting Settled in Your New Home

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On this Page:

Medicare | Social Insurance Number | Housing, Financial & Related Matters | Child Care | Schooling in Quebec | Driver's Licence ||


You must apply in person at the Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec (RAMQ) (Health Insurance Board) - with all your family members - for Quebec medical coverage. You must do this before applying for McGill Benefits.

For non-Canadians and repatriated Canadians, McGill will offer you provincial plan replacement coverage during this period as of the start date of your employment with the University. The McGill plan cannot be activated until you have an official letter confirming registration with the Régie. Be insured at all times.

NOTE: Foreign nationals must renew their Medicare card in person at the RAMQ upon receipt of a new Temporary Work Permit.

Eligibility for Quebec Medicare You are eligible if:
  • you are a Canadian citizen resident in Quebec and spend at least 183 days a year in Quebec; OR
  • you are a Canadian from another province who takes up residence in Quebec (the three-month waiting period applies); OR
  • you are a repatriated Canadian taking up residence in Quebec (the three-month waiting period applies); OR
  • you are a foreign national with a Canadian work permit of six months duration or greater (the three-month waiting period applies).
The Régie is conveniently located close to the downtown campus.
Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec (RAMQ)
425 Boulevard de Maisonneuve West, 3rd Floor
Montreal, QC H3A 3G5
Tel: (514) 864-3411
Waiting Period After you have applied, there is a three-month waiting period before Quebec Medicare takes effect.
Registration with the Régie de l'assurance maladie It is essential that incoming staff register with the Régie de l'assurance maladie (RAMQ) on arrival, since the three-month period begins only when the staff member has registered with RAMQ. Even staff from countries with social security agreements with Quebec must register with the RAMQ immediately. (See the section on Exemptions below.)
  • proof of residence (see below for list of acceptable document types);
  • your work permit, including the names of accompanying family members;
  • identification for you and your family members (marriage certificate, birth certificates, passports, and additional travel documents);
  • student visas for any family members who are entering the country as students.
Proof of Residence Documents Accepted
  • residential lease (the entire document)
  • deed of purchase of residential property (the entire document)
  • employer’s attestation issued not more than 30 days prior to the application date and confirming that the person holds employment in Quebec for more than six months (your McGill Board of Governors’ appointment letter).
Exceptions Citizens of the following countries who were covered by their country’s health plan prior to departure are not subject to the three-month wait. An attestation of the coverage by the plan in the country of origin must be supplied when registering with the Régie in person upon arrival in Montreal. These countries are:
Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Luxembourg, Norway, Portugal, Sweden
Canadians from Other Provinces You will need proof of coverage in your former province of residence.
All Staff After the waiting period, each eligible person receives an individual card commonly referred to as the carte soleil (literally the “sun card” because of the sun pictured on it). The card contains your photograph and your individual medicare number.
Note: that the accompanying letter sent with the card contains important information on restrictions and obligations. Be sure to read it carefully.

To remain covered by the Québec Health Insurance Plan, all persons who have taken up residence in Québec must be present here more than half of the year. The Régie conducts checks to ensure compliance. Specifically, your total number of days of absence in a given calendar year Calendar year

In the calendar year (January 1 to December 31), you must be away for less than 183 days (absences of 21 days or less do not count).

Please remember that in order to remain covered by the McGill Supplemental Health Plan you must be covered by the provincial health care plan.

For more information please visit:
Interim Coverage Those covered by this regulation who have applied to the RAMQ will be issued an official letter by the RAMQ confirming the anticipated start date of their medical coverage. This letter is needed by McGill to provide interim insurance. You should bring it to your McGill Benefits session.
Insured Services
  • medical services including x-rays and hospitalization
  • optometry services for persons under 18 or 65 and over
  • some dental services for children under 10 years of age
Provincial Plan Replacement Coverage If you’re traveling outside Canada while under McGill's Provincial Plan Replacement Coverage, please pick up a copy of the Emergency Travel Brochure at the Benefits Office. If you are traveling for business, please fill out the employee business travel information form (sign-in required).
Health Insurance Card Once obtained, always carry your Health Insurance Card card (or Carte Soleil) with you when you go for medical treatment or you will be asked to pay in advance and apply for a reimbursement.
Temporary Work Permits & Health Card Renewal Renewing the Health Insurance Card (or Carte Soleil)
  1. All Health Insurance Cards have an expiry date which appears on the front of the card.
  2. Foreign nationals must renew their Medicare card in person at the RAMQ upon receipt of a new Temporary Work Permit.
  3. No renewal notice will be sent to temporary residents.
    Staff on temporary work permits must therefore contact the RAMQ by telephone to renew their Health Insurance Card once they have been issued a new immigration document.
  4. Contacting the RAMQ
    425 de Maisonneuve Blvd. West, 3rd Floor
    Telephone 514-864 3411
Health Insurance Info Line The RAMQ has a 24 hour Health Insurance Info Line. Please call: (514) 864-3411.
ADDRESS CHANGE - Quebec Government One-Stop-Website The Quebec Government has a one-stop website to change your address information for the following: Medicare, Family Allowance, Income Tax Return, Quebec Pension, Quebec Drivers Licence.
Medical Services The CLSC Network Quebec has developed a network of health clinics called CLSCs (Centres locaux de services communautaires). If you have questions and concerns, call the Info-Santé CLSC line in your neighbourhood. Nurses are on call 24 hours a day 7 days a week to provide professional advice and refer you to the appropriate resources. Consult the Santé Montreal website for the telephone number of your neighbourhood clinic.

Emergency Response (911)

The Montreal system is served by a telephone emergency response system. Dialing 911 allows for immediate communication with ambulance and other emergency services. Family Physicians Due to a shortage of general practitioners, it is very difficult to find a family physician who will take on new patients. We suggest consulting colleagues in your department to see if they can recommend a doctor. For more information, contact the Advisor for Faculty Relocation.
Major Montreal Hospitals
  • Jewish General Hospital, 3755 Cote Ste Catherine Road, (514) 340-8222
  • Lakeshore General Hospital, 160 Stillview Avenue, Pointe-Claire, (514) 630-2225
  • Montreal Shriner’s Hospital, 1529 Cedar Avenue, (514) 842-4464
  • MUHC Glen Site - Montreal Children’s Hospital, 1001 Decarie Boulevard, (514) 934-1934, OR Emergency: (514) 934-1934 x24499
  • MUHC Glen Site - Montreal General Hospital, 1001 Decarie Boulevard, (514) 934-1934, OR Emergency: (514) 934-1934 x38737
  • MUHC Glen Site - Royal Victoria Hospital, 1001 Decarie Boulevard, (514) 934-1934, OR Emergency: (514) 934-1934 x38737
  • St. Mary’s Hospital Centre, 3830 Lacombe Avenue, (514) 345-3511, OR Emergency: (514) 734-2690
Emergency & Information Numbers
  • 911 is the general emergency number for ambulance, fire, police, gas leaks
  • Quebec Poison Control Centre 1-800-463-5060
  • 311 is the City of Montreal General Information Hotline
  • 811 is the 24-Hour Info-Santé Hotline

Social Insurance Number (SIN) Card

You must have a Social Insurance Number (SIN) to work in Canada. To apply for a SIN, you must complete an application form available from your local Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) office. Application and complete information can be found at the Service Canada website.

You must also provide primary documents that prove your identity (passport) and status (work permit and letter of appointment) in Canada. It is important that documents are originals or certified copies and that they are written in English or French.

Permanent residents returning to Canada may present their original Confirmation of Permanent Residence.

It is recommended that you obtain a Social Insurance Number for all accompanying family members.

NOTE: Foreign Nationals on a Temporary Work Permit must renew their SIN following receipt of a new Temporary Work Permit.

There is no charge for a SIN application. SIN card registration for new arrivals must be done in person at:
Montreal Downtown/Southwest
Guy-Favreau Complex
Office 034
200 René-Lévesque Blvd West
Toll-free tel: (800) 206-7218.

Assistance with Housing, Financial, and Related Matters

To obtain more information about house-hunting in Montreal, useful tips and websites, please contact Michelle Cubano-Guzmán at telephone (514) 398-1339 or by michelle.cubano [at] (email).

Rentals There are several types of housing available in Montreal:
  • single family homes, duplexes and triplexes, row housing, and apartments (or flats) for both purchase and rental. The market is very active.
  • Rental leases are typically for one year, but are available year-round
    Note: that leases often start July 1st.
  • There is a standard Quebec lease which is used.
  • The Régie du logement (Quebec Rental Board) settles disputes between landlords and tenants.
Régie du logement Web: Régie du logement, or telephone: (514) 873-2245
McGill Off-Campus Housing Although primarily designed for students, this website also provides useful links for house hunting and gives general and very helpful information about rentals in Montreal. For listings of available apartments in Montreal, please contact the off-campus housing office directly via offcampus.housing [at] (email), or visit their website at McGill Off-Campus Housing.
Macdonald Campus Housing Some staff housing is available on the Macdonald Campus. For further information contact the Manager of Campus Housing at (514) 398-7717.
Purchasing a Home The local newspapers list houses for sale by district. Appointments to visit are arranged by the listing real estate agent. There are also many “open houses” on Sundays. Helpful websites are:
Banking In order to open a bank account in Montreal, it will be helpful to obtain a letter of introduction and credit references from your current bank. Requirements to open a bank account in Canada:
  • passport, and one additional photo ID
  • contract letter from McGill (Board appointment letter)
  • permanent address (you can use the McGill University address)
  • valid Canadian Visa (Work Permit)


The child care system in Quebec is highly regulated. A government permit is required to operate a daycare, based on the number of hours the service is offered, and on an approved number of places for different age groups. In Quebec, the following types of daycare exist:

Child Care Centres "Centres de la petite enfance" (CPEs) Subsidized by the government at a cost to families of $7 a day per child, CPEs usually have long waiting lists of up to 2.5 years. The waiting period may vary depending on the child’s age. To find a CPE close to your residence, and get on various waiting lists, please consult the Quebec’s Ministère de la famille child-care locator as soon as possible.
Private Day Care Centres or "Garderies" Although the daily charge is considerably higher than at a CPE, you may be eligible for a tax credit for child-care expenses. For more info on private daycares, please consult the website of the Association of Private Daycares in Quebec.
Home Day Care "Service de garde en milieu familial" These may be government subsidized and affiliated to a coordinating office (or “Bureau Coordonnateur”). For contact info or a list of coordinating offices, please consult the website of the Coopérative de services enfance famille.

Daycares in a family environment can also be private, in which case they are not affiliated with a coordinating office. In these cases contact information can be obtained from the following website.
Preschools (age 2 to 5) Preschools are typically available mornings or afternoons, for a minimum of two (2) or three (3) days a week. Rates are similar to those of private daycares.
McGill Daycare Centres McGill University also has two affiliated Daycare Centres which fall under the category Centres de la petite enfance (CPE): Your children can be placed on the McGill Daycare waiting list even before your arrival, if you provide a birth certificate or proof of pregnancy and a copy of your offer letter along with your application. For admission forms go to this website.

Schooling in Quebec

The language of instruction in public schools in Quebec is French, with a few exceptions where English is used (see below Instruction in English). The Quebec public school system is administered by school boards that govern school districts. Children have a right to attend the school located in the area designated by their home postal code. Access to a school outside of the district, but in the same school board, is possible only if space is available and permission is granted by the school board. Admission to public schools is usually held in January according to the procedures set by the school board. The school year starts in late August or early September and generally ends before June 24th, a civic holiday in Quebec.

Note: that non-Canadian children of school age, who are older than 5 years, require individual study permits in order to enter Canada as students, and to attend school from 1st grade onwards.


High school goes from Grade 7 to Grade 11. Children must be 5 by September 30th of the school year in order to start Kinder. A study permit is not necessary to attend Kinder. For details regarding derogation, please visit: Admission et inscription.

Note: The link to the left leads to a French-only language page.


Classe d’Accueil (Welcome Class) The Classe d’Accueil (Welcome Class) provides support for children who are enrolled in a French public school, but who do not speak French. They are placed in a special class where they learn French while pursuing the regular school disciplines with other children who are not francophone. The Accueil program usually lasts a year, after which children return to their corresponding regular class. To access the Accueil program, the child must be assessed in person by the Commission Scolaire de Montréal. For details please visit: Accueil.
Note: This link leads to a French-only language page.
French Public School Boards of the Island of Montreal
Instruction in English There are also English public schools in Quebec. To receive instruction in English, children must obtain a Certificate of Eligibility to Study in English in Quebec. To review eligibility criteria, please visit: Instruction in English.
English Public School Boards of the Island of Montreal
Private Schools Private schools are also subsidized by the Government of Quebec, but to a lesser degree than public schools. French and English private schools hold the admissions process during the Open House "season" that runs from late September through November. Please check each school’s website for admissions process and important dates. Entrance exams are sometimes required from Grade 1 and onwards.
NOTE: Some private English schools require a Certificate of Eligibility to Study in English.


For more information about schooling in Montreal, please contact:
Michelle Cubano-Guzmán, Advisor, Faculty Relocation, michelle.cubano [at] (email), or telephone: (514) 398-1339

School Zones Schools are governed by zones. Priority is given to children who reside within that zone. If there are available spaces after registration, then children outside that zone may register.
Kindergarten & Study Permits Children five years old or younger, and attending Kindergarten, do not need a study permit.

Driver’s Licence

Obtaining A Driver's Licence

Obtaining a Driver's Licence A driver’s licence from the employee’s country of origin or another Canadian province is valid for the first six months following arrival in Quebec. The  licence must be valid and for the type of vehicle driven here. The driver may obtain a Quebec driver’s licence by submitting a certified true copy of the work permit and passing the driving test.

Staff with a driver’s licence from another Canadian province or one of the following countries are exempt from the driving test: Austria, Belgium, France and its territories, Germany, Great Britain (not the entire UK), Japan, Netherlands (including Dutch Antilles), South Korea, Switzerland, Turkey, and the United States.

If you have a driver’s licence from any of the countries listed above, please make an appointment at the licence bureau, and bring the following documentation:

  • your valid temporary work permit
  • your passport
  • your current driver’s licence, translated into French by a certified translator
  • proof of Quebec residency (letter from employer, lease or deed)
Please make your appointment to take the driving test as soon as possible as there may be a waiting time of several weeks or months.

Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ)
Tel: (514) 873-7620
Quebec’s Automobile Insurance Plan Quebec driver’s licences include no-fault insurance for bodily injury to oneself or another person. However, you must purchase private vehicle insurance for property damage. The party at fault pays for property damage through his/her private insurance.

All Quebec residents are compensated for bodily injury sustained in an automobile accident. If injured in an automobile accident, telephone (514) 873-7620 in Montreal, or 1-800-361-7620 toll-free from elsewhere in Québec.

You may purchase vehicle insurance even if your vehicle has not been registered in Quebec. Please contact that Advisor for Faculty Relocation for details or contact the Insurance Bureau of Canada.
Residential Parking Permits A residential parking permit is required to park in certain areas of Montreal. These may be obtained from your local Access Montreal office. You must bring:
  • car registration, showing your address
  • insurance certificate, showing the same address
  • recent utility bill, showing the same address
  • payment for the period from July 1st to the end of September (following year)
For more information, contact Access Montreal by dialling 311 to contact the City of Montreal.
Six Month Grace Period After six months, your old driver’s licence will no longer be valid. You must obtain a Quebec driver’s licence or risk being arrested if caught driving after this period.