Practical information for living in Canada


When relocating to Canada, you will need to apply for an eTa (electronic travel authorization). This online pre-screening includes people from more than 50 countries, allowing them to utilize air travel into Canada, including Australia, Britain, European countries, Japan and many more.

Additionally, if you are going to be staying in Canada for more than 6 months, you must also apply for a study visa. However, if you will be in the country for under this time, then you will only need an eTa. If you’re in Canada for an internship or to work, then you’ll also need a work visa. If you have been accepted at a university or have gained employment, then your application is typically accepted.

Before you travel, you must apply for your study permit in Canada, so be sure you have all of the required documentation. This permit will allow foreign nationals the opportunity to study at designated learning institutions in Canada.

To keep a study permit in Canada, you must:

  • Stay enrolled at a designated learning institution.
  • Work towards the completion of the program.
  • Keep up with all of the conditions of the study permit.
  • Cease your studies if you do not meet the requirements.
  • When your permit expires, you must leave Canada.

There may be additional conditions, such as:

  • The level of studies
  • If you can work while in Canada
  • Whether or not you can travel to other cities while in Canada
  • The date your studies must stop

Your study permit will usually extend 90 days past the end of your study program. This gives you time to prepare for your exit or to apply for an extension to your time in Canada.

Keep in mind that for your work permit, an offer will be required from the employer in Canada before you can receive a Temporary Work Permit from the Employment and Social Development Canada, also known as the ESDC. A Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) may also be required. There are a number of steps to achieve:

  • If necessary, the employer must apply for a Labour Market Impact Assessment.
  • The employer must make a Temporary Job Offer.
  • The worker must apply for the permit.
  • The Work Permit can now be issued.

The Temporary Work Permit may be issued for a few days to several years. In most cases, there are two steps to follow. First of all, the employer in Canada must get permission from the government to hire people from outside of Canada. Once this is granted, then the worker must apply for and receive the Work Permit.

The worker may only provide services for the company or business listed on the application for the Work Permit. If new employment is found, a new application for a new Work Permit must be submitted.


The Social Insurance Number (SIN) is a unique number that residents of Canada use for identification purposes. You will need this nine-digit number to work in Canada or to participate in any government programs.

This number serves as identification for those who:

  • Earn money through employment or investments
  • Pay taxes
  • Add funds to pension plans
  • Utilize government programs

Be sure to apply for your SIN as soon as possible, as that you cannot receive payment from an employer without it. Your employer must request your SIN within three days of work commencing.

Additionally, while a bank might request a SIN, it is not required. You do not need one to simply be a student, either.

Opening a bank account

When you open a bank account, think about:

  • Whether you need to use it for savings or paying bills
  • The charges or fees associated with the account
  • If you’ll earn interest on your balance
  • If you are protected by deposit insurance

Ensure that you understand the terms before signing, and always ask for copies of the agreement.

You may also be able to open an account before your arrival in Canada. You may contact them by phone, email or even live chat. You’ll have to:

  • Answer a few questions to determine your international status and the type of visa you will have.
  • You’ll wait to communicate with someone from the account-opening department.
  • Have your immigration papers ready.
  • Make an appointment to go to a bank branch upon your arrival in Canada.

Most of the country’s main banks offer special programs for new international clients. However, some students also find that they do not need an account, but simply access the Automated Teller Machines (ATMs).

Once in Canada, to open an account, you will need to bring:

  • A birth certificate or passport
  • Your Study or Work Permit
  • Another article of identification
  • Funds for a deposit
  • Your Student ID or offer of admission for available student plans.

Getting a Sim card

Many stores offer SIM cards (called SIMs by Canadians), and the prices will vary with your requirements. They can typically be purchased at the airport, kiosks, supermarkets and more in Vancouver, Quebec, Toronto, Ontario, Montreal and Ottawa.

Canada has four main providers: TELUS, Rogers, Bell and Freedom Mobile. They offer affordable plans, or they sell prepaid credits. They all offer 2G service, while most are also offering 3G and 4G/LTE.

There are no real regulations for purchase, except to show your passport and register the SIM online, using your new address in Kingston. Sometimes the attendant can even do this for you.

You may also run across lesser-known providers, but the prices will be very similar, but the coverage could really differ. But don’t be afraid to shop around for special deals or promotions. When you’re on a student budget, every little bit counts!

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