April 11, 2024

Ready to come to Canada?! I am excited that you now have your student visa and you are good to go!

Asides from having the ArriveCAN, Visa, all docs, etc., this is a list of things to do as a new international student in Canada.

1) Arrange accommodation

Given the current housing situation, you may need to start looking for a house before arrival and have a places you are finalizing. To get support for your rental needs in Canada, talk to Payfi here.

They have some support for newcomers who are trying to find a place to stay in Canada.

If you know people in the city you are heading to, they could also be of help. I personally don’t advise you to sign a long lease before arrival, its good to inspect first and be sure (or get someone to inspect for you before you arrive in Canada).

To search for houses, you can use Kijiji, Facebook Market, rent faster, rent board, 4rent, rent seeker, or realtors website

Other options are University residence (or Air BnB in the first few days) if you don’t know anyone in the city. But ensure you have a place to stay even if it is for a few days or weeks so you can arrive and start to do your house search in person.

To save some cost, you can also consider finding other students to share a house with.

2) Obtain your study permit:

This is inevitable but many new students do not know. What most (if not all) foreign students have from their country is a temporary resident visa. A study permit is issued upon arrival. So, put your documents in your hand luggage to avoid unnecessary delay.

3) Obtain your Social Insurance:

If the condition of your study permit allows you to work in Canada, you need to get your Social Insurance Number (S.I.N). You may be able to get one at the airport upon arrival (ask there). If not, check here for how to apply at Service Canada.

4) Attend your orientation events:

This is very important! Here you get to know more about your university, program, things to do or not do, and network with people. If you need someone to share a house with, you may also find one at the orientation. And with the COVID-19 situation, orientations are mostly online now.

5) Submit copies of your study permit/docs:

I’m not sure if this is a standard procedure in all universities, but some universities require you to submit your documents upon arrival. Find out if this applies to you and do as required. The Universities may need this to provide updates about your student status to the Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

6) Get your student ID Card:

With your student ID comes a lot of other benefits. Some of these are free bus pass, access to libraries, access to recreational facilities, or university events. Some university buildings may even be accessible with your ID alone, so get yours ASAP.

7) Register for classes:

One of the perks of attending orientation is that you get to know the classes to register for. Some classes have limited spaces that are filled quickly, make sure you register ASAP. Also, contact the program coordinator or international office for guidance.

8) Update your address:

Once you have a Canadian address, don’t forget to update your address and other information on your university/student account. Your old address and contact information when you applied for admission will remain on your student account until you change it.

9) Sort out your health insurance or health card:

International students mostly have health/dental insurance provided by their student union and representatives. You can confirm this from your international student office. Some Provinces would also require you to have a health card to see a Physician, find out if this applies to you and get one as soon as possible.

10) Bank Account:

Popular Canadian Banks are RBC, Scotia, BMO, CIBC and TD. On this, I will advise you to find which one offers the best incentive to you as a student. You may need a session with a financial advisor to understand your options, so book that ASAP. Also, if you are coming to Canada with foreign currencies, or US Dollars, change your foreign currency at the bank not at the airport. You will get better exchange rates at the bank.

11) Get a Phone (Number):

There are many phone service providers in Canada. Find out the one offering you the best incentive as a student. If you already have a good phone, you may consider getting a prepaid number or sign a phone contract without the extra cost of a new phone.

12) Get a Driver’s Licence:

Driving is an essential activity in Canada. If you want to buy a car/drive in Canada, you should find out the licensing procedure and get on it as soon as possible. What you need to get a licence is different in each province. And getting a licence is important because some jobs would require you to have a Canadian Driver’s licence.

13) Get a Provincial ID Card:

Many places in Canada would require you to provide two pieces of Government-issued photo ID to access certain resources. As an international student, the Provincial ID comes in handy for this purpose. Find out how to get one in your city/province, and get it ASAP!

14) Prepare for Winter:

Depending on when you arrive in Canada, the weather may be extremely cold or not. If you are in the Prairies (Saskatchewan and Manitoba Provinces) where Winter can be extreme, get the necessary clothing. Make sure you buy your winter jacket, hand gloves, boots, etc as soon as you can. If you are on a tight budget, go to thrift stores like Value Village.

15) Adhere to health protocols, put in the work, and have fun:

Don’t break rules out here, that could have far-reaching consequences. Also, all work & no play……….

Put in the work & enjoy reasonably. One key to success as a student is work-life balance.

I wish you the best in Canada!

If you have questions on Career & Personal Development, Education Decisions, Global Opportunities, Building a Personal Brand, or related discussions, and want to reach out to us, click here.

NB: The posts and information on this website are not legal advice.

Β© Olu of Canada

13 thoughts on “15 Things to do as a new student in Canada.

  1. Hi Olu, afternoon. I recently got a study visa to study at USASK. I dropped my Fall, 2021 classes to avoid payment for registered classes as visa was yet to be approved as at then. I intend coming to Canada in December in preparation to resume for Winter, 2022 classes.
    Please, is their any landing assistant I can get and cheap accommodation in Saskatchewan pending when campus accommodation is opened for resumption?
    Your assistance and guidance will be appreciated.


    1. Hello, congratulations to you. In addition to these 15 things, you can get in touch with the International Student and Study Abroad centre (ISSAC) https://students.usask.ca/international/issac.php . They will help you will arrival plans, free airport pickup, and info on where to quarantine if you need to.

      January is also a cold time due to the snow and winter, so prepare for that. And check AirBnb or Kijiji for short-term rentals. The university residence may also be able to offer you short term rental before the new year lease will open in January, so talk to ISSAC about it too.

  2. Hi Olu,
    This is a nice piece.
    I do have a question, can one enter Canada 3months before school resumption/start date?

    1. 3months before school resumption/start date will be too early to enter Canada before your study. One, you can’t work before school will start. Two, you will incur so many expenses in 3 months. Three, you must have a genuine reason to enter that early or you may be sent back by CBSA or not be issued a study permit. IRCC recommends entering Canada not more than 30 days before resumption.

  3. Hiiiii Olu.. Thanks so much for this
    What are the chances of getting admission to pursue a Masters degree in public health in Canada with a B.SC Degree in Anatomy but with Neco
    Does the neco affect my chances any way?

    1. Does the school you are applying to require o-level result for a Masters Degree application? Checking their requirements and comparing it what you have is the best way to determine your chances.

  4. Thank you Mr Olu for this very key information.
    I needed a further clarification on this. My program start date is on 9th Jan 2023 and I have already booked my flight for 5th December, 2022. Hope is not too early to enter canada. Thanks

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