Property rights to remember when moving from the U.S. to Canada - PropertyBlawg

Property rights to remember when moving from the U.S. to Canada

by camerontyler on June 13, 2012

When you move from one area to another, there will always be differences. However, these differences are often magnified when your new location is in another country. If you’re planning to move to a new country, it’s important to research the differences between the two locations before you actually make the move. For example, if you intend to move from the United States to Canada, it helps to research the property laws in Canada to determine what differences you may encounter. Below are some of the most important issues to consider before making such a move.

Right to purchase

Even if you’re not a Canadian citizen, you can still purchase property in Canada. You can either purchase an existing home or buy vacant land and build a new home on it. In either case, you’ll need to find a qualified Canadian lender to finance the purchase of the property. In addition, if you require the services of a real estate broker, you’ll need to locate one who’s licensed to work in Canada.

In most cases, Canadian lenders will finance up to 65 percent of the cost of the property for non-citizens. However, some borrowers may qualify for up to 75 percent financing if they have a strong credit history. If you’re moving to Canada, plan on offering a down payment equal to at least 25 percent of the purchase price. This is an important point to consider, since most American lenders will finance at least 80 percent of a property’s purchase price. In fact, Federal Housing Administration lenders in the United States will finance as much as 96.5 percent of a home’s price.


Land ownership in Canada isn’t the same as ownership in the United States. Canada is governed by British-derived common law, which stipulates that citizens and residents can’t actually “own” the land. Instead, the Crown grants them rights to hold the land and use it indefinitely. This is considerably different from the United States, where land ownership is more absolute in nature.

Right to use land

As in the United States, land in Canada is zoned by the government for specific uses. Each province has the power to zone the land within its boundaries as it sees fit. For example, land that the province has designated as commercial property can’t be used as a residential homestead or farm. For this reason, it’s important to check the zoning on any property you consider to make sure you’ll be able to use it for your desired purpose.

Moving to Canada

When the time comes to actually make the move to Canada, make sure that you hire a moving company that is licensed to work within Canada and the United States. You should also choose a company that’s familiar with international moving in general. In addition, you should check with the Better Business Bureau to ensure the company you choose is in good standing.

Moving from the United States to Canada is an exciting undertaking, but it can be stressful and confusing as well. By doing research in advance and remembering the aforementioned key points, you can gain an understanding of the laws and customs in your new home. This planning will not reduce the complications of the move and help you to make better decisions at every stage.

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