The Au pair Arrival

You’ve hired an Au Pair…Now What?

There are many things that families can do to prepare for their Au Pair’s arrival and set the experience up for success. Do not think for a second that once you’ve signed a contract the next step is waiting for your Au Pair’s plane to land. You’ve still got work to do!au pair arrival to canada

Keep in contact with your Au Pair. Send frequent emails and photos and stay connected in the time before she arrives in Canada. The more you get to know each other the more at ease everyone will be upon her arrival. If your Au Pair is comfortable remaining friends on Facebook or allowing you to follow her on Twitter and Instagram keep in touch this way as well.

In advance of you Au Pair’s arrival, try to Skype a number of times with your Au Pair and include your children. That way, your kids will be somewhat familiar with the new addition to your family and your Au Pair will develop some level of comfort with the family too.

If she has yet to apply for her IEC Working Holiday Visa, ensure that you keep in frequent contact with her and help her through the process. Don’t assume she is figuring it all out on her own. Ask frequent questions about the status of her application and guide her if necessary. Depending on where she is from and whether English is her first language, she may have questions relating to the CIC application component.

Send your Au Pair a welcome letter after she accepts your job offer. Some ideas if your Au Pair is from abroad include a postcard from Canada or a luggage tag with a Maple Leaf. If it is close to winter, send a pair of “red mittens” from The Bay. This not only will make you feel warm and fuzzy but will also raise the excitement of your Au Pair and contribute to her certainty that she made a great choice in your family.

What your Au Pair should expect

Upon entering Canada

au pair upon arrival to canadaUpon arriving at the point of entry, your Au Pair will meet with Canada Border Services Agents (CBSA) who will issue your Au Pair her work permit. Your Au Pair will need to have with her the following items:

  • Point of Entry (POE) Letter of Introduction (LOI) issued by Customs and Immigration Canada (your Au Pair will receive this upon successful completion of the Visa application process). The LOI is valid for entry within 12 months of the date of issue and once the Au Pair enters Canada her work permit will be valid for 12 months from date of entry into Canada. For example, it the LOI is issued on May 1, 2020 the Au Pair will have until April 30th, 2021 to activate the work permit. If she were to arrive in Canada on January 1st, 2021 her permit would expire on December 31st 2021;
  • An up-to date passport – the passport must be valid for the entire duration of the work permit
  • Proof of private healthcare insurance valid for the duration of the stay in Canada;
  • Proof of suicient funds to support the Au Pair for 2 months (equivalent to $2500 Canadian dollars). This proof must be in the form of a bank statement issued within a week or two of the Au Pair’s arrival or can also be in the form of a letter of confirmation from another person who is financially able to support the Au Pair;
  • Proof of Canada-approved medical examination and medical clearance in order to qualify for an open work permit (an “open work permit” means the permit has no restrictions with respect to working with children).
  • Quarantine Plan – This will vary depending on when the Au Pair arrives and what restrictions are in place at the time in that province.
  • The Au Pair need not have a return ticket, however she must be able to prove she has sufficient funds to be able to purchase a return ticket.Every Au Pair should make sure that the Canadian Border Services Officer has indicated “Open” or “Any Employer” in the Employer section and the Employer location is also left blank. The Au Pair should also check to make sure the expiry date of the work permit is correct. It is also very important for the Au Pair to ensure that there are no restrictions listed on the permit with respect to working with children. If there are restrictions listed, the Au Pair will need to return to the border and have the CBSA officers correct the mistake. This can be a huge pain so it is better to ensure things are done right the first time around.The eTABeginning in March 2016, foreign nationals who fly or transit through Canada will need an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA). We have been advised by CIC that when an IEC work permit is granted, so too will be an eTA. There should be no more work required on your Au Pair’s part in order to acquire an eTA.

    Her Arrival in Canada

    Meet her at the airport. This part is essential. You CANNOT expect your Au Pair to find her way to your home, even if you live in the city and near transit. You MUST be there to welcome her. Take the whole family if you can. Remember how important first impressions are. You want your Au Pair to feel welcome. Have the children make a welcome sign and take it to the airport of hang it up at home.

    Make your Au Pair feel special when she arrives at your home. Perhaps some fresh flowers in her room or new toiletries in her bathroom. Have her bedroom prepared and leave some empty picture frames for her to add her own family photos or photos of friends.

    The First Few Days…

    Your Au Pair will need a Social Insurance Number. If your Au Pair was not issued a SIN immediately upon her entry to Canada (sometimes this is done in conjunction with the work permit upon entry into Canada, but not always) you will need to assist her in attending a Service Canada office or applying for the SIN via an application. It is important to note that if you live within 100km of a Service Canada office, your Au Pair cannot use the application and must attend a Service Canada office. This is verified via postal code on the application. The SIN card usually takes only a few weeks to arrive. She will need to present her passport and work Visa when applying in person for the SIN so don’t forget those

    If you know other Au Pairs in your area, introduce your new Au Pair. Make an effort to introduce your Au Pair to neighbours, friends and family. In larger cities (Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa) there are Facebook groups set up by Au Pairs for the purposes of arranging activities and meet-ups. Make sure your Au Pair knows about these groups before she arrives in Canada so that she can establish a few relationships with other Au Pairs prior to setting foot on Canadian soil.

    It is important to remember that although your Au Pair is an adult, she is still young. She will need your friendship, support and guidance for the first month as everything about your home, neighbourhood, city and country will be foreign to her. Be patient and communicate often. Take the time to show her your city and treat her a bit like a tourist for the first week. This will help you build a relationship in her first few days. Don’t be surprised if she is a bit of a home-body in the first month. Once she gets her bearings and makes friends this will change and she will feel more comfortable being on her own and venturing out.

    It is a good idea to provide your Au Pair with an orientation week. Take the bus with her (something you may not have done yourself for years!) and show her how the transit system works. If you are giving her the responsibility of driving your vehicle, then spend time showing her around your streets and city/town. This is also a good opportunity to test her driving skills and to assess whether any lessons are required. If your Au Pair is from Europe, chances are that she may be intimidated by the size of North American vehicles. It will probably take a bit of practice before she feels comfortable driving your car.

    Give your Au Pair an agenda or day-planner. This will help her organize and plan her day with the children. It is a good idea to help her plan out her first few weeks with the children. Every parent knows that children operate well using a schedule. Your Au Pair will have a much more successful day with the children if there is a schedule she can adhere to, even if it is a loose guideline. Beyond the first few weeks a schedule is handy so that you can review what she has planned or conversely, look to see what the children did while you weren’t home.

    Your Au Pair may also be jet-lagged so try not to create too busy a schedule for her in the first week.

    The Importance of the Au Pair Handbook

    We cannot stress enough the importance of the handbook. Create a handbook for your Au Pair detailing important numbers, emergency contacts, favorite foods for the kids, schedules, “how to’s” etc… The handbook should be something that your Au Pair can use throughout her stay with you to reference household and childcare related questions. The Handbook is crucial and every family should consider this a mandatory component of hiring an Au Pair. It is a bit of work to create, but is easily amended year after year as you transition through new Au pair handbook

    Go through the handbook with your Au Pair the day after she arrives and then go over it weekly with her in the first month, especially if there are points in the handbook that you think need reflection. Do not expect your Au Pair to read through it on her own and grasp everything you have documented. You need to go through it page by page with her, elaborating when necessary. The handbook allows you to conveniently remind your Au Pair of her duties and responsibilities on a regular basis. Many jobs in both the public and private sector have job profiles which employers often refer to when evaluating employees. The handbook is similar. The handbook will save you all sorts of grief down the line as well. Your Au Pair will never be able to say to you that she didn’t understand her responsibilities or the house rules if you have gone over the handbook with her very carefully. Be aware of the language barrier with some Au Pairs though; make sure she understands.

    Suggested handbook topics include:

    1) Basic Family Information – Include all important medical and health related numbers (Dentist, Doctor etc…) Reference any medicines the children are required to take and where to find them as well as any special instructions. List neighbours and their addresses in case of emergency.
    2) School Information – Include addresses, phone numbers, teachers names.
    3) About the Children – A section which speaks to the intricacies of their personalities
    4) Activities – List the children’s likes and dislikes
    5) Behaviour and Discipline – Talk about your expectations regarding your children’s behaviour and how to deal with any digression from the expectations
    6) Meals and Food – List favourite foods and reference house rules when it comes to food around the house.
    7) Car Usage – If you expect your Au Pair to use your vehicles, make mention of any expectations regarding the car.

    8) Play Dates – Talk about play dates and the who, what, where and when’s
    9) Places to Go and Things to do – Include a hard copy Google map of your area. List popular cafe’s and restaurants within walking distance. Detail where parks are, recreation centres or places your Au Pair will regularly take your kids. Note where the closest cinemas or shopping districts are located. List favorite places for your children to visit and note any special passes you may have. Make a point of picking up local bus schedules and route diagrams.

    10) Safety and Security – Guidelines around locking the house, giving out personal information etc…
    11) Au Pair Household Responsibilities and Rules – Touch on her responsibilities for cleaning her room and bathroom, other tasks pertaining to the children and areas of the home that are considered her domain to manage. If you don’t want your Au Pair doing laundry past 11 pm, then make note.
    12) Work Schedule. Pay and Vacations – Most of this will already have been touched on in the employment contract you signed with your Au Pair, however an overview in the handbook would be a good reminder.
    13) Expectations regarding Visitors and Guests – Detail your expectations regarding guests in the home. Speak to overnight guests as well as visiting family from overseas.
    14) Telephone/Cellphone/TV – Detail your expectations when it comes to the use of technology especially during working hours. Make note of your WiFi password. Speak to whether you want your Au Pair posting pictures of your children or home on social media.
    15) Special Dates to Remember – Write down important birthdays in the family, anniversaries, stat holidays and/or other special dates. Include when garbage days generally are and/or other deliveries.


    Although you now have a live-in Au Pair, do not discard your list of babysitter phone numbers. There will be occasions when your Au Pair has made plans and you cannot rely on their availability. If you make last-minute plans, you may be needing to call on those old babysitters for help.

    On the flip side, if you Au Pair cares to make extra money on the side, she may wish to babysit for your friends, neighbours etc. Make sure you have a discussion with your Au Pair about this as you do not want her to be taken advantage of by others and you want to ensure she knows that her job with your family should be her first priority. Facebook groups offering babysitting services are a great place for your Au Pair to look to secure babysitting jobs in your neighbourhood.

    Should She Apply for Provincial Medical Services Coverage?

    Because your Au Pair comes to Canada with ample insurance as a requirement of the IEC Working Holiday program, there is no need to apply for provincial healthcare coverage. In some provinces, she will be eligible right away and in others she will have to prove residency for a certain period of time before being eligible. If you want more information on Provincial health care programs and the requirements.

    What to do when things go awry…

    We are hoping you never wind up in this situation, but if you do, our team is here to support us and here are some tips.

    If the issue is your Au Pair’s job performance…

    First communicate with your Au Pair. Is she happy? Are there things that are bothering her? Perhaps there is something at the root of her disinterest.

    Second, consider that she may have just forgot what her responsibilities are and you need to go over your handbook again. This is why the handbook is such a valuable tool. Reference the handbook and ask your Au Pair to review.

    Third, if handbook reminders fail, then you need to start retraining your Au Pair. Consider “how-to” videos on completing certain tasks (like using appliances or loading the dishwasher, for example). Remember that Au Pairs live in a technology age where some of them may be more likely to respond to a You-Tube video or an Instagram photo than remembering the demonstration you gave in a rushed fashion weeks ago. Communicate your concerns and create lists for your Au Pair. Whatever you do, don’t pick up the slack yourself. If your Au Pair is not fulfilling her duties and you start doing the things she was hired to do then you are setting yourself up for disaster and resentment.

    If the issue has to do with personality conflicts in the home and “attitude” then perhaps go back to your notes and remind yourself why you chose this particular Au Pair. This is why we advise you to keep a notebook diary while you are going through the hiring process. What made her so great that you wanted to hire her? Perhaps you need to reflect on the great attributes that brought her to you. Has something happened that has made your relationship sour and what can be done to rectify this? A heart to heart talk will likely be necessary and hopefully you and the Au Pair can turn things around. There are sometimes Au Pair / Family relationships that cannot be salvaged and in those cases it is best for both parties to move on.

    Thankfully the Au Pair has a working Visa that will allow her to find another job and maybe another family would be a better fit for her. Don’t feel guilty! Your children’s safety, your family’s harmony (and your sanity) are paramount. With the Au Pair option for childcare becoming more popular, there are more and more Au Pairs advertising their ability and we should be able to find a replacement, even if it is only short term, while we search for a new more permanent Au Pair.

    Taxes and other things you can do to help your Au Pair

    Assist your Au Pair with her tax return in the Spring… it is a simple return and she may qualify for a small amount back. There is free software (Turbo Tax for example) available on-line for basic returns. It should only take 15 minutes with your assistance. The average Au Pair gets at least $100 back on her return.

    Time to do it all over again!

    At the end of your Au Pair’s term with your family, ask her to write you a letter of reference that you can pass on to your future Au Pairs. Make sure you take some family photos if you haven’t been throughout the year and host a farewell dinner for her.

    Some great ideas for farewell gifts are custom photo books, custom jewellery, or treat your Au Pair to something she has been wanting to do but hasn’t (bungee jumping or zip trekking). After all, she has taken such great care of your little ones for the past year, she should be rewarded for her hard work and effort.

    It is likely that your Au Pair’s departure will be a tearful good-bye. The relationship you have built over the past year will carry you far into the future.