top of page



Following this step-by-step guide to settlement in the Northwest Territories will ease your transition into your new life in the Northwest Territories.

Included in this landing guide you will find contact information for each service agency that you will require to begin your new life in the Northwest Territories, whether you are moving to the city of Yellowknife or the surrounding areas.

Learn more about life in the Northwest Territories.

In this Landing Guide to the Northwest Territories is information on:

General Information on the Northwest Territories

Official provincial website:


Official City of Yellowknife website:

Visit here for a map of the Northwest Territories:


Health Care in the Northwest Territories

You must register with Northwest Territories healthcare as soon as you arrive. For more information, please visit the Northwest Territories Department of Health and Social Services website at:


Employment in the Northwest Territories

To begin working legally in the Northwest Territories after arrival, follow these steps:

  • Apply for your Social Insurance number (SIN). For information, visit:

  • Ensure your credentials are assessed with the Canadian Centre for International Credentials.

  • If you work in a trade, ensure that you have the certifications required by law in the Northwest Territories to practice your trade. For trade certification, begin by contacting Red Seal, a nation-wide trade certification organization at:

  • Register with appropriate territorial regulatory organization for your profession, where applicable.

  • Register for language classes, if required, to improve English or French language skills.


Following these steps will ensure that you are prepared to begin working in the Northwest Territories.

Note: Foreign workers must have valid authorization to work in Canada on either a temporary or permanent basis.


Finances in the Northwest Territories

Open an account at a local bank or financial institution as soon as you can after you arrive. Popular banks in Canada: HSBC, Scotia Bank, Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), Bank of Montreal (BMO), TD Canada Trust, the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC), National Bank of Canada, and Desjardins Bank

For general information on banking and financial matters in the Northwest Terrtories and the rest of Canada, visit the Canadian Bankers Association website at:

Canadian Money is made of cents and dollars. There are 100 cents in 1 Canadian dollar. Currency is found in coins of 1 cent ($0.01) called the “penny”, which are no longer used in commercial transactions, 5 cents ($0.05) called the ‘nickel’, 10 cents ($0.10) called the ‘dime’ , 25 cents ($0.25) called the ‘quarter’, 1 dollar ($1.00) called the ‘Loonie’ for the Canadian loon featured on the coin, and a two dollar ($2.00) coin called the “Twoonie” as it is the equivalent of two Loonie's. Bills, or paper currency, are found in denominations of five dollars ($5.00), ten dollars ($10.00), twenty dollars ($20.00), fifty dollars ($50.00) and one hundred dollars ($100.00).

To find out what your home currency is worth against Canadian currency, talk to a representative from a local bank, or visit this popular currency exchange website:


The most used forms of transactions are made with cash currency, cheques, debit banking cards, and credit cards.

If you have children who are under 18 years of age, you may be eligible to receive the Canada Child Tax Benefit. For information, visit the website for the Canadian Revenue Agency ( or call toll-free 1-800-959-2221.


Schooling and Education in the Northwest Territories

Children under 16 must be registered for school. Schooling generally begins at age four or five. Most children stay in school until they finish high school, generally at 18 years of age.

The Canadian public school system is generally divided into three levels: Elementary, Secondary and Post-Secondary, either college or university. Some districts or private schools may organize their grade levels differently, though education standards are regulated by the provincial government.

The academic year for all levels of education begins in September and runs through June for elementary and secondary students, and to April for college and university students. Standard holidays include Christmas and New Years holidays in December and January, and a spring break in either March or April.

Contact the local school board in your neighbourhood for information on registration. The Northwest Territories Department of Education, Culture and Employment can be found here:

Drivrs Lic

Obtaining a Driver's Licence in the Northwest Territories

If you are planning on renting, leasing, or buying a car, you must have an official Northwest Territories driver's licence. For more information on how to obtain one, visit: 

Note: Every vehicle and driver must have insurance. Contact a local insurance provider to become properly insured before you drive.


Housing in the Northwest Territories

There are multiple different housing options in the Northwest Territories. If you have not visited your new city or town before arriving in the Northwest Territories, it may be advisable to rent a temporary apartment when you first arrive, and/or hire a real estate agent to guide you through the housing process and provide you with knowledgeable advice on the best areas to live for you and your family.

Typical housing options in the Northwest Territories

Apartment buildings are large, multi-unit buildings owned by one person or company where each inhabitant rents a unit.


Studio or bachelor apartments are generally one room with a kitchen area and bathroom and are suited only for a single individual. Larger apartments can accommodate families as they have bedrooms and additional living space.


A large multi-unit building where each unit is owned by the inhabitant is called a condominium, and each unit is called a condo.


Often apartments and condos are found in homes that have been divided into separate living spaces.


Houses can be connected in a row, called townhouses or row houses, or detached, as separate, individual dwellings.


Housing is generally more expensive in cities, though average living costs vary given size of family, location and level of income. Many families choose to live in suburbs which are towns located just outside of the city limits, where housing is more affordable. Suburbs also provide good neighbourhoods, schools, shopping and healthcare, all within close proximity to the amenities of the city. Housing in the country can be even less expensive and is desirable for many families, but you will require a vehicle in order to travel for your basic needs including groceries, work, school and healthcare.

Much of the Northwest Territories is more rural, therefore you should be prepared to own a car for convenience.


Pets: If you are renting your home or live in a condominium, it is important that you ensure pets are legally allowed on the premises before you move in with your family pet, or purchase a family pet. It is also important to check with city bylaws to ensure that your animal is legal to own as a house pet in the Northwest Territories.

It is important that you take your family, your place of work, neighbourhood and finances into account before deciding on a place to live. Working with a certified realtor can be a big help to newcomers.


What can you bring into Canada?

Canada has strict rules concerning what can and cannot be brought into the country. There are regulations regarding food, alcohol, nicotine products, plants, animals, cars and other products. To avoid problems, be sure to check in advance what is and what is not allowed to come to Canada, as well as what procedures must be followed to bring certain items into the country.

For animals and food, contact:
Canadian Food Inspection Agency
Animal Health, Agriculture Canada
59 Camelot Drive
Neapean, Ontario K1A 0Y9

(613)225-2342 (ext:4629)

For automobiles, contact:
Transport Canada
Place de Ville, Tower C
330 Sparks Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0N5

(613) 990-2309


Weather in the Northwest Territories

Summers can be mild in the Northwest Territories, but it can be very cold in the winter, when temperatures can go below -30, even -40 degrees Celsius. It is very important to ensure that you are prepared for the cold weather. Invest in warm winter clothing, including sweaters, winter jackets, boots, hats, scarves and gloves or mittens. If you do not dress warmly in the winter you will risk becoming ill or getting frost bite. Frost bite is severe damage to the skin caused by winter wind exposure.

Canadians keep candles and matches, warm blankets, flash lights, first aid kits, and small snow shovels in their cars and homes in case of emergencies. In most parts of Canada your car must have specially designated winter tires in order to legally, and safely, drive in the winter.


Emergency Services in the Northwest Territories

In emergency situations, dial 911. When you dial 911, you are connected with an operator who will assist you and dispatch emergency services to your location if necessary.

In non-emergency situations, if you only require the police, you can find contact numbers for major cities below.

Yellowknife RCMP: 867-669-5100

General Disclaimer

The information on this page is a compilation of information from multiple researched sources. Although the information is updated regularly, we are not responsible for information that may have changed subsequently. This is not a federal or provincial government document and neither were involved in collating this information. 

bottom of page