As if moving away from your home, family and friends isn’t enough, there are a lot of logistical things you need to figure out when moving to Canada. This is by no means a comprehensive guide, just some tips from fellow international students — check out UBC’s International Student Advising Centre, Student Services, as well as the Immigration, Refugees, Citizenship Canada website for the most detailed and up-to-date information!
Your new journey in Canada starts as soon as you receive your study permit at the border. Your permit will be valid for the length of your program of study, plus an additional 90 days. This piece of paper is what allows you to stay in Canada — keep it in a safe place, and keep a picture of it on your phone as well!
Your study permit is only valid to the date of your passport, so make sure your passport is renewed and valid for the length of your study program. Otherwise, after renewing your passport, you’ll have to renew your study permit AND everything else you applied for using it (BCID, health insurance, etc.).
If you plan to work, you may or may not need a work permit depending on your job. You do not need a work permit if you are “enrolled in full-time studies for immigration purposes,” while co-ops and internships will require one. To work, you’ll also need to apply for a Social Insurance Number (SIN). To learn more about study permits, visit students.ubc.ca/career/career-resources/working-canada.
Banking, phone plans and health care
Opening a bank account in Canada is essential — there are a number of large banks in Canada, and RBC, BMO and CIBC have branches right on campus for all of your financial needs. When it comes to phone plans, you can get one that is tailored to your usage. Rogers, Bell and Telus are popular carriers, but Fido and Virgin may be more affordable. A lot of carriers offer student discounts — it never hurts to ask!
A BCID is a government-issued ID that every UBC student should have. To get yours, book an appointment at a driver’s licensing office (the ICBC office at 4126 MacDonald St is closest to UBC) and make sure to bring two pieces of valid ID (check the ICBC website for details). Getting sick or injured in a new country is scary — make sure you’re protected in the worst case scenario.
MSP is a mandatory health insurance plan that UBC international students are automatically eligible for — all you need to do is apply online. There’s a three-month waiting period, so it’s recommended that you apply as soon as you arrive in Canada. In the meantime, you’ll be covered by iMED, a temporary health insurance plan.