News direct from the British Consulate in Calgary

English: no original description

English: no original description (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

News direct from the British Consulate in Calgary


Press Release: Tuesday 6 August 2013




The British Government is making important changes to the passport service for British nationals living overseas. From 12 August 2013, the application process will be centralised and British nationals in Canada should submit their passport application to Her Majesty’s Passport Office in the UK.

This important change follows reviews by the National Audit Office and is designed to achieve economies of scale, greater security and consistency in decision making. All British passports have enhanced sophisticated security features designed to reduce the likelihood of identity theft and passport fraud.

Notes for Editors

Before 12 August, British nationals living in Canada submitted passport applications to a regional processing hub in Washington, United States. From 12 August, information on the UK Government website will advise British nationals on the new passport application process.

All the information required to make an application will be found at Applicants will be required to send their applications to the Passport Customer Service Centre in Durham. There will be no change to processing times.

Fees charged to British nationals applying overseas are based on the current costs of providing the service. As overseas volumes are much less than UK volumes it is harder to gain efficiencies overseas. That is why we have taken the decision to repatriate the issuing of passports to British nationals overseas to the UK. Once this has been completed Her Majesty’s Passport Office will be seeking to create closer alignment between the two sets of fees.


For further information:

Nathan Skolski

Head of Media and Public Affairs

Tel: 613-364-6131

Cell: 613-327-0928

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The tipping culture in Canada

So I have been asked this  question a few times now, about the tipping culture in Canada, and so thought it would make a good article.

Note,  this is in reference to Calgary- but is similar, as far as I know,  across the country (but let me know if you have had a different experience of this)

So  the ‘servers’  (waiters and waitress’s)  get paid minimum wage and so they  ’rely’ quite heavily on their tip to top up their salary . In bars and restaurants, all food/beverage prices  that are posted don’t include ‘service’ (unlike UK where it is embedded) so… its hard to get used to having to pay it at first. Also  it is apparently ‘discretionary’ but is usually between 10 and 20% but 15% is typically the  ’usual’.  It is usually fairly easy to work out though, because the GST  (VAT equivalent) , for Alberta is 5% (again is added- not already included)- so  usually just x the GST by 3 and do that as a tip.

Note- though, that in some restaurants or bars, if it is a group of 6 or more- they often say it is minimum 15% or sometimes 18% and that it is added automatically to the bill- MOST will tell you about it when they give you the bill- but not all!!

In Taxi’s  I am not sure what the ‘expected’ is- i usually round it up to the next 0 or 5 depending on the length of journey, time etc.

At petrol pumps, some of them have full service pumps, where the guys will fill the car, wash front screen/check washer fluid etc- but note tip is NOT  required here….

For bell boys etc, if they help with luggage, I usually do $1 /piece. For other services, eg spa/beauty/hair etc I believe it is discretionary but I now use a salon with a no tipping policy, so I don’t feel quite so ‘uncomfortable’!! Note I did do some research to get a ‘Canadian’s view’ regarding Canadian tipping policies, and this is from a Bar,  in the South, called the Windsor Rose (which by the way, allows children in during the day on a Sunday- and offers a good brunch menu at the weekends too) … what it should be- and this was the response-

Tips don’t end at providing wages for just your server… the kitchen staff preparing your meals, the bartender pouring your drinks, the host greeting you at the door and expediters running your food orders all receive a portion of the gratuity you leave behind. Costs towards broken dishes and lost cutlery are also covered with gratuities. Some guests are unaware that by not leaving a gratuity, your server is actually paying to serve you at the end of the day. This is because the allocated portion to his or her colleagues is due no matter how much is left by the costumer. Tipping in Canada is calculated at 15 – 20% of the total bill. Auto-gratuities only occur on large parties to ensure the server will not suffer a large loss after service.
So as you can see, it is actually a bit more in depth than we would first think- and while it is still deemed to be discretionary, by realising the reasoning for it, and being aware that is is not included in the price of the food- hopefully  can make it a little easier and less awkward, when its time to ‘pay’!

Great Tips when applying for jobs in Canada

jobs in canada


If you are looking to apply for jobs in Canada, you need to be aware that they don’t use ‘CV”s here, it is a ‘Resume’ ( can be pronounced  res-zoo-may  or res-you -may) and note there are a few differences, in that Resumes tend not to have quite as much detail- see below for a great article by an English recruitment manager, living and working in Calgary  :


Tips on Writing a Resume:

There are a lot of different ways to write a resume and plenty of tips on the internet on what to include or avoid in the document.  What you must remember is the purpose of the resume is to give you a start towards getting the interview you want.  It is a personal marketing tool that you will use to summarize and highlight your skills and experience.  Once you are at the interview that is your opportunity to elaborate on your background.


When moving to Calgary, the first thing I would suggest is to speak to somebody that is working in the industry sector you are aiming for before to get their advice specific information to include. Secondly, think about what type of job you are applying for.  If it is a permanent position you should think that the employer will want to see how your career has developed to show your potential.  If it is a temporary or contract role then it may be better to highlight skills you have and your adaptability.

What to include in your resume:

Ensure that you put your full name and contact details including your telephone numbers and email address at the top of the first page.  Soon after that, you will need to state what the position is that you want to apply for and your career objectives. Then highlight a couple of achievements that relate closely to the job you are applying for.

When writing about your employment history it is very important to put the information in reverse chronological order so your most recent job is at the top.  Follow this rule when you are writing about education, training and courses you have attended that are relevant to the industry sector you are in.

In regards to describing the job duties, it does not want to read like a full job description.  It should be factual and show off your main responsibilities in the position.

Try and convert English terminology into the Canadian equivalent – for example, change pound values to dollar values. To find out more about this, speak to people in your industry to find out other language differences. (or send us a message at and we can try and help/offer suggestions…. )

What not to include in your resume:

Your resume is a positive reflection of your abilities and experience so do not put on there anything that could be seen in a negative light. For example poor grades you have received. If you have had a bad experience with a past employer, I would recommend including the information on the resume and highlight the positive aspects of the position.  Do not leave employment gaps as this will raise questions by the potential employer.

You do not at this stage have to include a list of references, do not put a photograph on the resume unless it is applicable to the industry sector you are in (modeling or acting) and there is no need to list hobbies and interests on the resume either.

In Canada, there is also no requirement to add your date of birth, marital status or gender.

In terms of the format of the resume, try to stick to one font and an easy to read layout.  Also, any spelling mistakes on the resume will immediately put off an employer so make sure you use the spell checker!

Remember, you have around 20 – 40 seconds to impress the person reviewing your resume due to the volume of these they see everyday so first impressions count. Your resume should be about 2 pages long; however it is most important to make sure that the first page has current and relevant information on it.  If the recruiter or employer doesn’t like what they see on the first page, they are never going to look any further.

If you are looking for further help and guidance on this, please contact Hays Specialist Recruitment on 403 269 4297.

Ellisa Nuttall

Manager - Calgary

Recruiting experts in Construction

HAYS Recruiting experts worldwide


The Bradie Building

Suite 660 – 630-6th Avenue SW

Hays is the proud sponsor of the Job Board at Buildex 2012 – Meet us at the Edmonton Expo Centre, Northlands on March 20th – 21st 2012


 Thank you Ellisa for sharing this useful information about Resumes- one of  many  things  its helps to be aware of, when applying for jobs in Canada.

How to prove your credit rating when you are new to Canada

Image representing Equifax as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase





Here are the directions- from a great mortage broker , about how to pull your ‘credit bureau’  from the UK, as this is a great way to prove your credit rating when you are new to Canada.

How to pull credit bureau from – UNITED KINGDOM


The UK Equifax will not allow for Canadian Equifax to pull credit bureau directly from the UK database so the UK client has to do it himself by:

Go to: www.Equifax.CO.UK – get the one you have to pay for (the free one would have to be mailed directly to an address in UK) and the one you pay for is emailed to you directly and instantly. It costs approx. 15-16 GBP and you must have current UK credit card to pay for it.

Note that Equifax may ask questions such as dates when credit cards have been issued or when mortgage in UK was obtained in order to confirm identity. To avoid delays in obtaining your credit report, please review this information before calling.

If having trouble please call the consumer bureau in Ireland at:


(They can also mail the credit bureau from this end but if doing it this way, it can take up to months to receive.)




- Gabrielle Thome

For more information please call:

Gabrielle Thome, Benefit Mortgage Brokers Corp. ph; (403) 453-0275 or or visit

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How to Cope With the Cold Weather in Canada

How do Brits cope with the cold weather in Canada? I’ve just seen its minus 28. Can’t imagine that type of cold. Do things carry on as normal or do things stop etc?

Facing north, +15 sign and covered walkway lin...

Image via Wikipedia

Great question,  so I know it ‘sounds’ unimaginable  the cold weather in Canada is really not as bad as it seems it is not too bad for several reasons:

1) Here in Calgary it’s a ‘dry’ cold and so as long as you have your extremities covered up-usually it is quite tolerable for short periods of time!

2) A lot of homes/apartments have garages- so you can choose not to be exposed if you have a car eg, house to car, then a lot of work places/shopping centres etc have indoor car parks.

3) If you work downtown- then they have a ‘unique’ indoor pathway above ground that links all the office blocks together (its called the + 15) 4) Even when the snow comes typically every one is ‘fairly’ prepared (although if it comes over night unexpected- the first morning can be a bit of ‘gong show’- but after that the roads get cleared and everyone carrys on).

Life stays pretty normal, with work, school etc- but if is -20 (or below) then kids don’t go out to play- otherwise they carry on with snow pants/hats gloves etc.

Also- there is so much ‘to do’ during the winter months, ice-skating, skiing, sledging, snow shoeing to name but a few- I lived in the Middle East (U.A.E ) for 3 years, and having lived with small kids there and now here, I can honestly say that the extreme winters here are MUCH ‘easier’ to cope with than the pounding heat of 40+ with 98% humidity. Here you can at least bundle up, and go out and enjoy… IF you want to………

Also on another note, Calgary/area is quite unique as we have ‘Chinooks’ which basically is a ‘warmer’ weather front/wind that comes in ‘warms’ everything up from time to time over the winter, so the really cold snaps generally only last from a few days to few weeks max. I have been here when it has gone form -35 to +15 in a matter of days- crazy really!

Also Calgary/Alberta is famous for its ‘blue skies’- and it really is quite stunning to see the snow covered Rockies in the distance against a brilliant blue sky…..THAT of course is my opinion- I guess not everyone feels the same about how they cope with cold waether in Canada,  but its how you ‘embrace’/choose to live it and note I do love the sun/warmth as much as anyone- but I guess what I am saying is that equally I love the diversity and different things that each season brings (the summers are quite hot too- with tons of out door opportunites- but that is a whole other subject!)

Cheers- and again any other questions, feel free to ask!

Mel McCartney

Pre-schools in Calgary

Pre Schools in Calgary

If you are living in Calgary (or moving to Calgary), and if you have small children, you will soon learn that your child won’t be starting ‘regular’ school at age 4 as they often can do in the UK, but there is always the option of a ‘pre-school’.

This is something that you have to pay for, and it starts at ages 3 or 4, but it is completely optional. It is not always structured- but is a great way to start developing social skills, and seperation, and hence a good way to ‘prepare’ a child for starting school. Of course they also do focus on developing fine and gross motor skills/creative play.

To find a list of current pre-schools in Calgary, a good resource is the Calgary’s Child Newspaper (which has lots of great info in)- and the hard copy of this can be picked up at most of the public facilites, eg Calgary Recreation Centres, and some of the supermarkets (eg Safeway) or you can search it in line and this link below is a direct link to the pre-school section.

There are various types of pre-school, eg Montessori Programs (more independance focused and activities are ‘reality’ based), Play -based programs/learning through play (more hands on/social skills) and traditional learning (more structured/traditional school like setting) and so this may influence which type of program you decide upon. But another thing to consider is that some of these programs fill up very quickly, so you are best to start looking in to these options as soon as you can, and if there is not space for your first choice, try and at least get on a waiting list

However, if you are not quite ready to ‘send’ your child to a learning/play facility indepnedantly- there are of course many otpions , such parent toddler groups and variuos activities. Also, note the The Calgary British Expats Meet Up Group, is starting up a parent/toddler ‘meet up’ for parents with babies and toddlers,so a good way to meet a few new faces/get the children together.

If you have any other questions, or want more help with locating/choosing a ‘pre-school’ or finding a local play group, then please feel free to e-mail me or call- I am always happy to help.