You must apply for a study permit if your main reason for coming to Canada is to study for more than six months. Before you can apply for a study permit, you must have been accepted at a school, university or college in Canada. You can apply for a study permit online, or by submitting your application form to the Canadian visa office that serves the country or region in which you live.
If you are from the United States, Saint Pierre and Miquelon or Greenland, you can apply at the point of entry when you arrive in Canada.
You must also have a passport that is valid for the entire duration of your studies in Canada. If the validity is shorter, you must request a study permit extension.
The Study section of the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) website will provide you with information on:
ESSENTIAL: Apply as soon as you receive your Letter of acceptance.
If attending an educational institution for six months or more in the Province of Quebec, you must also obtain a Quebec Acceptance Certificate (CAQ).
Submit an application to the Quebec regional office responsible for the territory in which your educational institution is located.
Quebec Immigration Services require the following to process your CAQ:
Upon receipt by Quebec immigration, your application will be processed and confirmation will be sent by mail to you and the Canadian embassy in your region.
Please visit the Immigration Quebec website, under the Foreign Student section for further details.
Talk to a travel agent to discover options or investigate the many online offers available. The following travel arrangements are important to consider:
An eye-opening experience
“The student exchange program at Saint Mary’s University, Halifax, funded by the Canadian Commonwealth Scholarship Program (CCSP), was more than just education, and was definitely an eye opener for me with several social and cultural experiences that I will forever cherish. It is amazing how only four months turned my life around and enhanced my intellectual growth, academic and professional network.”
Sarah Kiden – Uganda
Saint Mary’s University: Student exchange program in MSc Information Systems CCSP (2011)
It is one thing to travel as a tourist, but quite another to immerse yourself in a new culture as a full-time resident. As you adjust to your new surroundings you will experience a variety of emotions, ranging from excitement to frustration. This is completely normal and to be expected. This section will help to prepare you.
“Culture shock” is a term used to describe the anxiety that you experience as you integrate into a new society. Often characterized by physical and emotional discomfort, culture shock occurs as a result of the absence of familiar signs and symbols of social interaction.
There are five predictable stages of cultural adaptation. Although the length and intensity of each stage varies from person to person, everyone experiences culture shock at some point in their international experience. Moreover, as you progress along the stages, there may be times when you regress to previous stages. In time you will overcome difficulties and move forward again.
Under certain conditions, you may be able to work in Canada. Students who do not have a study permit are not eligible.
If you hold a study permit, you can work on campus for the institution you are attending if it is publicly funded and grants degrees. No separate work permit is required. The employer can be the educational institution, the faculty, a student organization, a private business or a private contractor who is providing services to the campus. You can also work as a graduate, research or teaching assistant at an off-campus site that has a formal affiliation with the institution, such as a teaching hospital, clinic or research institute.
Full-time students may also be eligible to work off-campus for any employer. These permits usually allow up to 20 hours per week during the term, and full-time during holidays.
The following students are ineligible for off-campus work:
More information on working in Canada is available at the Citizenship and Immigration website.
Some university programs require work experience. International students who want to enrol in a co-op or internship program must apply for a work permit in addition to their study permit. If you would like to work in Canada after graduating, you must apply for a work permit under the Post-graduation Work Permit Program.
If you would like to stay in Canada as a permanent resident after graduating, there are a number of programs available, each with its own requirements (see section 7.4).
If you are enrolled full time in a publicly funded post-secondary institution and you have a valid study permit, your spouse or common-law partner (person with whom you have been living in a conjugal relationship for at least 12 months) can apply for an open work permit, which means that neither an offer of employment nor a Service Canada labour market option is required. Your spouse/common-law partner’s work permit will be valid for as long as your study permit is valid.
More information on working in Canada is available on the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website.
Before deciding to seek employment during your studies, carefully consider the following:
A Social Insurance Number (SIN) is required to work in Canada or to receive government benefits. Obtain a SIN application form at the airport as soon as you arrive or afterward at any Canada Post outlet or Service Canada office.
Federal and provincial laws protect workers and employers by setting minimum wage levels, health and safety standards, and hours of work. They provide for maternity leave, and annual paid vacation. There are laws to protect workers from discrimination, including protection against unfair treatment by employers based on race, religion, nationality, gender, age, sexual orientation or disability.
Workers in Canada must be paid at least the minimum wage as stated by the provincial government. Your employer will legally deduct money from your paycheque for income tax, Canada Pension Plan, Employment Insurance and, where applicable, taxable benefits and union dues.
Inquire about employment opportunities in your area at your institution’s career centre, your local municipal government, newspapers, and online job banks.
Prepare your résumé in a Canadian format. You can find sample résumés and advice on the Services for Youth website.
The following websites also provide job listings
A variety of programs and funding is available to non-Canadians wanting to study in Canada. The first place to look for information is the International Scholarships website.
The majority of Canadian universities offer some form of financial assistance for international students studying at the graduate level. Assistance may include:
The value of these awards will vary significantly by department as well as by institution. For more information, contact the institution you plan to attend.
International students may also qualify for Canadian government financial assistance or external scholarships.
Some specific examples:
For more information on specific scholarships, consult the website of the Canadian embassy or consulate responsible for your country.
From coast to coast and everything in between, Canada offers many incredible sights: from the rugged shores of Vancouver Island to the Rocky Mountains in the West, the lakes and plains of the Prairies to breathtaking Niagara Falls in Ontario, the quaint fishing villages of the Maritimes to the frozen wonders of the North–each region is unique and well worth exploring.
View the Top Things to Do in Canada and for more information and visit the provincial and territorial tourism websites listed in Section 3.8.
Flying is the fastest way to travel across North America. Canada’s two largest air carriers, Air Canada and WestJet, serve most Canadian cities. Regional carriers include Porter Airlines, which flies out of the Toronto Island Airport to Ottawa, Montréal, Halifax and a number of U.S. cities. All Canadian carriers provide online booking services and most offer a range of prices for one-way flights.
VIA Rail provides passenger rail service in Canada. This includes twice-weekly service between Montréal and Halifax and transport between Montréal and Toronto to Vancouver.
Bus travel in Canada includes either local transit or long-distance vehicles. Besides city-run local transit, Canadian bus-line companies offer an extensive network of reliable bus service throughout the country, which includes frequent downtown-to-downtown services between major cities.
Canada’s currency is the Canadian dollar. There are one hundred cents to one dollar.
The Canadian dollar is available in $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 notes.
Canadian coins come in denominations of five cents (nickel), 10 cents (dime), 25 cents (quarter), $1 (loonie) and $2 (toonie). You will rarely see a 50-cent piece, although these are minted for special occasions.
Canadian banks are quite similar to their American or European counterparts in many respects. Most charge a fee for customer service and offer a variety of packages. A basic bank account will cost approximately $5 per month. Opening a Canadian bank account is optional, however, Canada’s major banks offer great student accounts and services that may save you international transaction charges and make managing your money easier.
Ask about student account options at any Canadian bank or inquire whether your current bank has established partnerships in Canada.
Most stores accept multiple payment methods, including cash, credit card and debit cards. Cheques are used frequently for large amounts, such as rent and bill payments. Your bank will issue personalized cheques when you open an account. Internet banking is common and is a widely accepted method to pay bills and complete other transactions. Many universities offer online banking options for tuition and account payments.
Visa and MasterCard are the two main credit cards accepted by most major businesses. American Express is accepted, although not as widely. Your existing Visa or MasterCard may be accepted in Canada, but be sure to check with your bank beforehand and be aware of exchange rates and any foreign transaction fees.
In Canada, automatic banking machines (ABMs) are numerous and easy to find. They are located in most shopping centres, tourist attractions and banks, as well as in some convenience stores and gas stations. Most ABMs are operated by a major bank. You can withdraw cash from ABMs not operated by your own bank, but a fee between C$1 to C$2.50 will be charged for withdrawal from a local account, more from a foreign bank. Inquire about international withdrawal fees from your home bank before attempting to use your ABM card in Canada.
All ABMs can be used for cash withdrawals. To access other banking functions like deposits, paying bills, printing account statements and transfers between accounts, you must use an ABM associated with your own banks.
Check with your bank whether your card will be accepted at Canadian ABMs, and whether the networks used by both banks–such as Cirrus, Plus, Interac–are compatible. Your bank can inform you about networks and international withdrawal fees. Some banks have agreements with Canadian bank.
You can also make cash advances from your credit card at Canadian ABMs, but fees and interest rates can be high. Inquire about fees directly at your credit card company before you depart and advise them of your overseas plans. Failure to inform them may flag your card as stolen once used in Canada, and may result in a frozen account.
Most banks are open Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. or 5 p.m. Some branches close later, at 7 p.m. one day a week, and some are open for reduced hours on Saturday. Most banks are closed on Sunday.
Traveller’s cheques are an easy way to transfer money to Canada. They can be purchased at most banks and come in a variety of denominations. They are secure and can be immediately cashed at any Canadian bank or currency converter. Do not forget to make photocopies of your traveller’s cheques in case they get lost or stolen.
You can also transfer money using a bank draft from another country, but it can take up to eight weeks for clearance at the Canadian bank and a service fee is likely.
Some banks can transfer money electronically into your Canadian account. Fees vary by institution, but costs average around $30.
Canada’s major banks include:
Canada’s universal health-care system is well developed due to joint federal and provincial government efforts.
Each province/territory manages health care for its region, covering all citizens for hospital and physician care. Virtually all Canadian post-secondary institutions have medical-insurance plans available to international students. Contact the Canadian educational institution you plan to attend for information about health insurance coverage for you.
Whether or not you plan to purchase coverage from a Canadian institution, it is highly recommended that you purchase travel health insurance. Contact your travel agent for more information.
In Canada, it is customary to tip service providers such as bartenders, waiters, hairdressers, concierges and cab drivers. A tip is a sign of appreciation for service provided and is not automatically included on the bill. Ask peers what tip is customary for various services in your area.
The Goods and Services Tax (GST) is a national tax of 5 percent added to the price of most goods. It is not indicated in the ticketed price of an item, but is added onto the total at the time of payment. Some provinces also have a Harmonized Sales Tax (HST), which combines a provincial sales tax with the GST. The combination of taxes per province at the point of sale is the following:
Some provinces have yet to adopt the HST and still charge a provincial sales tax and the GST separately, but they are both added together at the point of sale. The provincial sales tax for these provinces is the following:
Note: Alberta, Nunavut, Yukon and the Northwest Territories do not have a provincial sales tax.
IMPORTANT NOTE ON SALES TAX: Nationwide, sales tax is added at time of payment and is not indicated on the price tag. Therefore, the actual price you will pay will be five to 15 percent higher than what is listed or advertised.
|Milk (1 litre)||$2|
|Potatoes (4.5 kg)||$5|
|Groceries for one person (per month)||$250 - $350|
|Litre of gas/petrol||$1.15 - $1.30|
|Public transit fare||$2.50 - $3.00|
|Restaurant meal||$15 - $30|
|Fast food meal||$5 - $10|
|Cup of coffee||$2|
|Pint of beer||$5 - $7|
|Movie||$13 - $20|
|Mobile (cell) phone package||$50|
|Internet (1 month, high speed)||$40|
|Cable television (per month)||$25 - $50|
|Postage stamp (within Canada) (0-30g)||$0.61|
|Postage stamp (international) (0-30g)||$1.80|
|Youth hostel (per night)||$25|
|Rent (bachelor apartment, large city, per month)||$700 – $1,100|
|Rent (bachelor apartment, small city, per month)||$500 – $700|
 Adapted from “Culture Shock,” UNESCO Co-ordinating Committee for International Voluntary Service.