After you arrive
Once you arrive in Alberta, we recommend reading the Welcome to Alberta guide to help you get settled.
Learn about Alberta’s communities, regions, geography, climate, and services with this interactive map.
Renting a home
When renting a home, you will need to sign a rental agreement or lease with a landlord. The agreement may be for a fixed period of time (for example, one year), or month to month.
Besides your monthly rental payment, there may be other costs you need to consider.
Rental prices may or may not include utilities, such as electricity and heating. Check with the landlord before you sign an agreement. If utilities are not included, ask for an estimate of monthly costs. Remember that heating will be more expensive in winter.
Most landlords require you to pay a security deposit before you move in. This covers any potential damage to the home. If there is no damage, you receive the full amount back when you move out.
Additional information on renting in Alberta can be found on the following websites:
Buying a home
You can buy a home in Alberta by contacting a realtor or through a private sale.
A realtor (or real estate agent) is a professional who helps people buy and sell homes. Realtors charge a fee for their services. Most of the time, the seller pays all realtor fees, but you should ask about this before you agree to work with a realtor.
Additional information on buying a home in Canada can be found on the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation website.
Low-income and emergency housing options
If you have a low income and need help with your rent, you may qualify for financial support through Alberta's Direct to Tenant Rent Supplement Program.
If you find yourself without housing, you can go to an emergency shelter, or use short-term or long-term supportive housing. Learn more about emergency housing.
Public transit in Alberta includes buses and trains. They can help you travel within a city.
- Edmonton routes, schedules, fares and passes are available online.
- Calgary routes, schedules, fares and passes are available online.
Other communities also have local transportation options. To learn more about these, contact your municipality or search online.
Long distance travel
Red Arrow offers long distance bus services.
Alberta has 2 major international airports:
Getting a driver's licence
In Alberta, new drivers must go through a Graduated Driver's Licence (GDL) program. This includes a knowledge test, one year of supported driving experience and a full road test.
If you already have a driver's licence, you can exchange your Canadian or international licence for an Alberta licence.
Driving and the law
There are important laws that you must follow to drive in Alberta.
In Alberta, wearing a seatbelt is required by law. You can be fined for not wearing a seatbelt. Child safety seats are also required for children under the age of 6 who weigh 18 kilograms (40 pounds) or less. Learn more about traffic safety in Alberta.
Police in Alberta give out traffic tickets for offences such as speeding, distracted driving (for example, talking on a cellphone) and causing an accident. Tickets can also be issued by photo radar. Some tickets require you to appear in traffic court and may involve demerit points. Too many demerit points cause you to lose your licence.
Alberta has very tough penalties for people who drive impaired by alcohol or drugs. Learn more about driving responsibly.
If you are in an accident, you must report it to the police. This may involve calling police to the scene, waiting for the police to arrive or going to a repair centre in the case of small accidents. If there is a serious injury or fatality, or if a driver appears impaired (drunk or high), you must call 911. Learn more about how to report a car accident in Alberta.
Buying, insuring and registering a vehicle
There is a process for buying, insuring and registering a vehicle in Alberta.
- Learn how to buy or lease a vehicle.
- Learn how to insure a vehicle.
- Learn how to get a licence plate.
The Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan (AHCIP)
Alberta provides free basic health insurance through the AHCIP. This plan covers permanent and temporary residents. It does not cover visitors or tourists.
You must register for the AHCIP within 3 months of arriving in Alberta.
The AHCIP covers many medical expenses, but not everything.
Private health insurance is recommended for services not covered. Many employers offer insurance plans that help pay for these services. Any fees should be included as part of your job's compensation package. If your employer does not offer a health plan, or if you are self-employed, you can buy personal health insurance from a private insurance company.
Learn more about expenses covered by the AHCIP.
How to access health care services
After registering for the AHCIP, you will receive a personal health care card.
Doctor, laboratory, health clinic and hospital visits are free with your card. If you do not have your card, you may be charged for a visit.
You do not need an appointment to visit a walk-in clinic.
You must make an appointment to see a family doctor. For help finding a doctor who is accepting new patients visit the Find a Doctor website.
You can also phone 811 to get free health advice with Health Link 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Out of province users can reach Health Link by phone at 1-866-408-5465.
Learn more about Health Link.
Public health offices and community health centres
These facilities are different from hospitals or clinics. They offer services such as immunization and support programs. They also offer information on many health-related topics. To find a nearby public health office or community health centre, call Health Link at 811 or visit MyHealth.Alberta.ca.
Emergency medical services
If you can’t safely get to a hospital on your own, call 911, and an ambulance will arrive to take you to the nearest hospital. You may be charged a fee for using an ambulance if you do not have private health insurance that covers this service.
Mental health services
Many people will experience a mental health illness at some point in their lives, and even if you do not suffer yourself, you may be affected by the mental health issues of a loved one. Free health services are available for mental health issues, addictions, crisis situations and more.
Primary and secondary education
Public education for children age 5 to 19 years old is free. In Alberta children between the ages of 6 and 16 must attend school. Parents can choose to send their child to kindergarten. The school system is divided into 12 grade levels.
Post-secondary and adult education
Adults of all ages take post-secondary programs to earn credentials, improve their knowledge and learn new skills.
If you are interested in further education or training, visit Alberta Advanced Education for information, resources and support.
Types of post-secondary institutions and programs
You can choose from a variety of institutions and post-secondary programs:
- Universities offer undergraduate and graduate degree programs.
- Public colleges offer certificate, diploma, academic upgrading, university transfer, apprenticeship, continuing education and applied degree programs.
- Private colleges offer certificate, diploma, academic upgrading, university transfer, continuing education and some degree programs. Private colleges are sometimes affiliated with a religious organization.
- Polytechnic institutes offer certificate, diploma, applied degree, apprenticeship and continuing education programs. Most courses are related to trades or technical work.
- Private vocational schools offer training for specific occupations such as auctioneer, bartender, model or computer-aided-drafting technician.
- Apprenticeship training programs provide a combination of classroom and on-the-job training in a trade. There are over 50 apprenticeship-training programs in Alberta. For more information visit Tradesecrets.
Adult education is also known as continuing education. It consists of classes or courses for adults who want to:
- finish their high school diploma
- upgrade their qualifications
- learn about new topics
- gain new skills
Community adult learning programs support learning organizations in every region of the province and can provide literacy and adult learning programs.
Universities, colleges, school boards and community leagues also provide adult education.
There is no law in Alberta that specifies at what age children can be left alone. You should use good judgment and consider the age and maturity of your child if you are thinking about leaving them unsupervised. Most Albertans pay for child care for children under 12. Childcare options include:
- licensed daycare centres responsible for the supervision of children under 7
- family day homes provide parents with licensed child care services in a home setting
- out-of-school-care programs provide care for school-aged children outside normal school hours
- pre-school or nursery programs encourage children between the age of 2 and 5 to learn, play and develop.
If you cannot afford to pay for child care, government financial child care support is available for eligible families.
Children with special needs
If your child has a special need, such as ongoing medical care, a disability or a developmental delay, help is available through your local Child and Family Services.
The Family Support for Children with Disabilities Program (FSCD) can also provide support.
The Alberta government partners with other organizations to provide supports for newcomers to the province.