Moving to Canada: what you need to know

Canada has long been a favourite destination for UK expats. As the second largest country in the world, Canada has no shortage of things to do and places to go, boasting everything from stunning, snow-tipped mountains to bustling, metropolitan cities.

If you’re preparing for a move to The Great White North, here’s what to expect from the emigration process and expat life once you settle in:

Applying to work or study

British citizens applying to study or work in Canada will require an Eletronic Travel Authorization (eTA) to fly there. To study, you will need a study permit. Working in Canada may require a work permit depending on the type of work you intend to undertake.

Shipping your belongings

Once you have arranged accommodation in Canada, you will need to ship your belongings over using an international removals company. When your belongings are being shipped over, it is important to remember that in Canada you must be present in Customs in order to clear them – if not, they will be “held in bond” by the Customs Office.

Cost and quality of living

Canadian property is generally more affordable than in the UK and many other countries. Overall cost of living can also be lower, depending on the city you settle in.

At the time of writing, Canada is 2nd in the Social Progress Index, demonstrating a very high quality of living compared to the rest of the world, especially in access to education and healthcare and personal rights.


With much of its vast landmass uninhabited, Canada is among the world’s lowest in population density. While this varies across the country, even the most populated provinces are far more dense than much of the developed world.


Approximately 85% of Canadians speak English, although only 58% recognise it as their mother tongue. Much of Canada is French speaking, especially in Quebec, where it is the official language.


Canadian weather varies across the country and throughout the seasons, though winters can be harsh in many parts of the country, with temperatures sometimes dropping below -40°C in the interior and Prairie provinces. Snow can cover the ground for almost six months a year in noncoastal regions, and can persist year-round in parts of the north. On the east and west coasts, average high temperatures are generally in the low 20s °C, while some interior regions can exceed 40 °C in summer months.

See also: How does Canadian culture differ from the UK?

With partner offices in Calgary, Toronto and Vancouver, Pickfords relocates hundreds of expatriates to Canada every year. To find out how we can help you fulfil your expat dream, visit our website or call 0800 019 8557.

Top 10 things to do in Sydney

The most populous city in the #1 expat destination, Sydney boasts good wages, a high standard of living and a laid back atmosphere. As well as being a great place to work and retire to, Sydney’s many tourist attractions make for some great experiences.  Here’s our top suggestions for things to do in this Australian state capital:

Explore the Royal National Park

Step inside over 15,000 hectares of bushland lining the coast of Sydney. The beautiful Royal National Park is ideal for swimming, trekking, bike riding, picnics and a wealth of other activities for the whole family.

Spot the sea life at Gordon’s Bay

Sandwiched between Coogee Beach and Clovelly Beach in New South Wales, the secluded oasis of Gordon’s Bay is the perfect snorkelling spot, home to starfish, sea urchins, cuttlefish and blue gropers, all ready to discover along the 600-metre underwater trail.

Go wild at Taronga Zoo

Say hello to elephants, chimpanzees, pygmy hippos, Komodo dragons, koalas and platypus at the wonderful Taronga Zoo. In addition to meeting the diverse wildlife, the zoo boasts some of the best harbour views in the city, so be on the lookout for the Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House as you travel the winding paths through the various enclosures.

Take an Aboriginal tour

Discover 60,000 years of indigenous history on a Sydney Aboriginal tour. The culture of the first Australians is rich with inspiring art and fascinating stories. From art gallery and museum tours to coastal walks and mountain treks, there are many different ways to uncover the intriguing history of this incredible country.

Sip a Hacienda cocktail

Drink in the incredible harbour views over a cocktail or three at the Hacienda Sydney vista bar. Relax in their soft lounge furniture under lush foliage and gentle orb lighting, enjoying their classic Cuban food and drink menu.

Climb the Harbour Bridge

The iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge sits at the heart of the harbour, giving you an uninterrupted panorama of the city and it’s surroundings, 134m above sea level at the summit.

Take a dive at Camp Cove

Whether you’re a keen snorkeler, paddleboarder, scuba diver, or simply a fan of serene ocean views, Camp Cove near Watsons Bay is the pinnacle of beautiful Aussie beaches.

Discover Wendy’s Secret Garden

Inspired by the late avant-garde artist Brett Whitely, Brett’s widow channelled her grief into creating an enchanting landscape that blends native and exotic flora, herbs, towering fig trees, flowers and berries. Wendy’s Secret Garden is a delight to explore, home to a menagerie of friendly parrots, kookaburras, owls and wagtails.

Get cultured at Art Gallery NSW

The Art Gallery of New South Wales boasts nearly 40 annual exhibitions of Australian, European and Asian art and holds workshops, talks and film screenings for the ultimate gallery experience.

Enjoy Aussie cuisine at Carriageworks

Enjoy organic, bio-dynamic and other seasonal produce at Carriageworks Farmers Market in Eveleigh, prepared and sold by farmers and artisan producers across the state.

If you’re considering a move to Sydney, contact Pickfords for a free move consultation on 0800 019 8556 or request a call back.

The benefits of using a BAR-certified moving company

When moving home, you want to be confident that your removal company can be trusted to meet your needs without any issues. Whether you’re about to undergo a small, local move or are shipping a large household overseas, assurance that your goods are in safe hands will be paramount.

For over 100 years, The British Association of Removers (BAR) has promoted excellence within the removals industry, awarding membership only to reputable, professional and safe British removal companies.

To be a member of BAR, a moving company must meet a range of stringent criteria and undergo regular inspections to check that their employees, processes, facilities and vehicles all meet the highest standards set out in the BAR Code of Practice.

Customers choosing to work with a BAR-certified moving company can rest assured that their move will be handled with the utmost care and attention. In the unlikely event that any issues arise, the BAR’s advice and conciliation service to help resolve the matter.

Choosing a BAR-certified removal company guarantees the best possible service, giving you peace of mind throughout your move.

To find out about moving home with a founding member of the BAR; contact Pickfords for expert local, national and international packing and removals. Click here for a quote or find out more.

Moving to Hong Kong: what you need to know

Holding a powerful role in the global economy, Hong Kong is a thriving business hub with many financial institutions, international businesses and factories running their headquarters out of the territory.

Expats moving to Hong Kong are greeted with a strong Eastern culture, but with clear Western influences. Hong Kong is said to be ‘where east meets west’; the two cultures have grown to exist alongside each other.

So what’s required to emigrate to the financial and cultural hub of Hong Kong, and what can expats expect once they get there?

Entry requirements

Hong Kong is part of the People’s Republic of China, though as a Special Administrative Region, it has its own immigration controls. It is possible to visit and stay in Hong Kong for up to six months without a visa, but after that you are required to apply for one.

While Hong Kong is part of the People’s Republic of China, you are not allowed to travel to mainland China without a Chinese visa.


Hong Kong has a population of over 7.18 million and is one of the most densely populated areas in the world, with a population density of 6,300 people per square kilometre. Hong Kong also has one of the lowest birth rates in the world, with 1.11 births per woman of child-bearing age. It is estimated that by 2033, 26.8% of the population will be aged 65 or over.

The vast majority of Hong Kong residents are of ethnic Chinese origin, making up over 93.6% of the population. Approximately 50% of the population belong to an organised religion, with Buddhists and Taoists being the two largest groups, followed by Protestants, Catholics, Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs.


Because Hong Kong was initially established as a colony of the British Empire, English is still one of the official languages, as well as Chinese. Due to the territory’s multiculturalism however, there are a variety of other languages commonly spoken, including Cantonese, French, German, Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese.


Situated just south of the Tropic of Cancer, Hong Kong has a humid subtropical climate, with four distinguishable seasons. Spring is usually warm and humid, while summers are hot and rainy. Autumns are quite sunny and pleasant, and winters are relatively dry and cool. Hong Kong is sometimes subjected to typhoons in summertime, which can lead to flooding and landslides. Shops and banks will be closed when a level 8 typhoon warning is given.

Quality of life

While overall wealth has increased, recent years have seen the quality of life drop in Hong Kong, partly down to increasingly unaffordable property prices. The latest quality of life index, compiled by the Chinese University of Hong Kong, found that housing affordability was at its lowest point in a decade, despite an improved unemployment rate and increase in wages.


It is important to note that there is no NHS equivalent in Hong Kong; no healthcare is provided free of charge. It is vital that you get medical insurance arranged if you plan to move to Hong Kong, otherwise, should you fall ill or injure yourself, you could be hit with very high medical bills.


Hong Kong law is based mainly on UK law. Residents can receive on-the-spot fines for littering and spitting, and a zero-tolerance system is in place for those travelling without a ticket on the Mass Transit Railway. All Hong Kong residents are required to carry a valid Hong Kong ID card with them at all times, and can face prosecution if stopped by the police without one.

With a key partner office in the heart of Wan Chai,  Pickfords relocates hundreds of expats to Hong Kong every year. To find out how we can help you fulfill your expat dream, visit our website or call 0800 019 8557.


Pickfords wins British Government removal contract for a second term

Pickfords is delighted to announce that on Monday 20th June 2016 it was officially confirmed as the appointed contractor to the British Government for overseas removal services. The contract will run concurrently with the existing contract held by Pickfords and commences on 1st September 2016.

The contract covers removal services for numerous British Government Departments who post staff overseas including the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Department for International Development, British Council and many others.

The team at Pickfords is immensely proud that it has been awarded the contract for a second term and Steve Boyd, Pickfords Government Services Director commented, ‘This award is a reflection of the hard work of the Pickfords Government Services team, the quality of our tender submission and our promise to the British Government to continue to provide value for money at all times ensuring service quality is never compromised’.

Pickfords has already embarked on the implementation program with the British Government and will work with them in the coming weeks to ensure that we align our services with the dynamics of the new contract.

Oz trike trek propels Legion fundraising

Pickfords Truro is proud to sponsor ex-REME member Andy McReady, who will ride 2,493km (1,549 miles) from Perth to Port Augusta, Australia on a recumbent trike in aid of The Royal British Legion in September.

Sixty-seven-year-old Andy is expecting to make the journey, a distance nearly twice the length of mainland Britain, in 28 days plus six rest days,pulling a twin wheel trailer carrying camping equipment and food.

Andy hopes to raise as much money as possible for The Legion, a leading British charity who provide financial, social and emotional support to British armed forces veterans and their families.

Pickfords Truro will transport Andy’s trike to and from Perth to allow his ride to take place. Andy was quick to show his gratitude to his local Pickfords branch in a letter addressed to Damian Dawes, Truro Branch Manager:

“On behalf of myself and the Royal British Legion, thank you for for your agreement to sponsor my ride. Your company’s extremely generous offer will allow the ride to proceed. Our grateful thanks to you and your colleagues for your gracious help which is so gratefully received.”

If you would like to sponsor Andy for his incredible ride across Australia, please visit


Moving back to the UK: a repat checklist


Has the sun set on your time abroad? Whatever your reason for returning to the UK, there are a number of things to remember as you prepare. Here’s our handy checklist for UK repatriates:

Get your tax affairs in order:

Update your health records:

  • Register with a UK GP and dentist
  • Notify your medical and travel insurance providers
  • Transfer your GP, dental and other healthcare records to the UK

Sort out your children’s schools:

  • Notify your children’s host schools that they will be leaving
  • Contact your local UK education authority to arrange school places in your home county

Prepare to move home:

  • Arrange to sell or end the lease on your foreign property
  • Arrange for accommodation in the UK
  • Notify your bank, building society, utility companies and local council (for electoral registration) in both your host country and the UK of your new address
  • Arrange to have your mail forwarded to the UK
  • Book your international removal company

If you’re looking to return to the UK, find out about moving with Pickfords, get a quote or contact us on 0800 019 8557 or

Christmas around the world


One of the most celebrated global holidays, Christmas is associated with a wide variety of traditions across the world. If you’re in search of an expat adventure in the New Year, what local festivities can you expect come Yuletide?

Australia (Happy Christmas!)

In lieu of ice and snow, Australians traditionally host outdoor Christmas picnics and sing carols on the beach!

France (Joyeux Noël!)

Christmas begins on 6 December (Saint Nicholas’ Day) in many regions of France, a day when children are given sweets and small gifts.

Children hope for more candy on Christmas Day (25 December) after leaving out their polished shoes in front of the fireplace the night before, to be filled with goodies by Père Noël (Father Christmas).

Germany (Fröhliche Weihnachten!)

Christmas markets are incredibly popular in German city squares. Homes are decorated with lights and ornaments in December, although the Christmas tree isn’t put up until Christmas Eve.

Iceland (Gleðileg Jól!)

The darkest time of year in Iceland is juxtaposed with bright Christmas lights and fireworks both in city centres and back gardens.

Children put their shoes on the windowsill for Santa Claus (Juletide Lads) to fill with small treats.

Italy (Buon Natale!)

The traditional nativity scene, ‘presepe’ is common across Italy, prominently seen in town squares, churches and private homes, usually the central focus of any Christmas decorations.

Father Christmas (Babbo Natale) usually hands out presents to children on Christmas Day, although many families still wait to exchange gifts on 6 January, the day of Epiphany (La Befana).

Japan (Merii Kurisumasu!)

Traditional Christmas dinner in Japan is… KFC! The fried chicken restaurant is so popular in the country that, for Christmas Day, you have to pre-book a table!

The Netherlands (Zalig Kerstfeest!)

Christmas is celebrated in 6 December in the Netherlands. Children await the arrival of SinterKlass (Santa Claus) and his sidekick Black Pete. Good children receive sweets and nuts, so long as they fill their shoes with hay and sugar for Santa’s reindeer horse!

The Philippines (Maligayang Pasko!)

Star-shaped Christmas lanterns (paról) are a popular tradition in the Philippines, as a symbol of the Star if Bethlehem. The lanterns are sold in local markets, made out of bamboo and paper and sold in local markets.

 Singapore (Sheng Tan Kuai Loh!)

Christmas is a highly commercialised affair in Singapore; flashy decorations and bright fairy lights abound, especially in shopping centres and private homes.

 South Africa (Geseënde Kersfees!)

The warm weather encourages families to gather for a ‘braai’ (South African BBQ) on Christmas Day after attending church mass.

Know any more Christmas traditions in different countries? Let us know in the comments below!

To find out more about moving abroad at Christmas (or any other time), contact Pickfords.

See also: New Year around the world

Pickfords shortlisted for International Moving Company 2015

Pickfords has been shortlisted for an EMEA EMMA (Expatriate Management and Mobility Award) in the International Moving Company of the Year category by the Forum for Expatriate Management.

The EMMAs celebrate excellence and innovation in global mobility. An independent judging panel assess nominees against a strict set of criteria, including client communication, innovation, knowledge, skills and expertise in their nominated category.

The announcement follows Pickfords’ win in 2013, and ‘Highly Commended’ nomination last year.

The awards will be announced at a gala dinner and ceremony at The EMEA Global Mobility Summit at the Lancaster London Hotel on 6 November.

EMEA Shortlisted button

Meeting the challenges of relocating your team overseas

iStock_000010361595_Medium (2)Sending employees overseas can be a great opportunity for both your employees and the business: employees get to experience a fresh start in a new country with expanded professional horizons, while the employer stands to grow their business in new international markets.

As an employer, there are a number of things you will need to consider when sending employees abroad:

Employee preparation

For long-term or permanent relocations, encourage your chosen employees to visit the country for pleasure before making the moving for work; this can be a great way for them to get familiar with the country, culture and everyday situations.

Make sure permanent travel plans are only made once everything in the employee’s old life is sorted and in place.

In order to get the best results and outcome for the relocation, it is important that the person you choose is travelling light and ready to get fully involved in all aspects of your expanded business in their new country of residence.

Potential challenges overseas

Unfamiliarity with the local legal processes and requirements is often a sticking point for anyone acclimatising to living in a different country. There may be certain rules regarding registration, obtaining an ID card, registering a vehicle, etc, that are doubled in confusion if you have to communicate in another language too. Providing additional assistance and expert advice on the ground will help staff settle in without any dramas.

Living miles away from familiar faces can cause feelings of isolation, so it’s important to ensure settlement includes all aspects of normal life. Integration into the community takes a little time and effort; employees may need advice and assistance in establishing  a social support network.

One of the hardest things to come to terms with when relocating is missing family and friends back home; but you can help employees by arranging low-cost travel options and encouraging them to download low-cost or free communication applications to their devices, such as Skype or WhatsApp.

If you are considering relocating some of your team overseas, Pickfords can help. We offer a range of international services for those looking to relocate overseas.