Checklist for Newcomers - Foreign Student


First month - When you arrive in Canada

Congratulations, You’ve Arrived!

Whether or not you’ve started school, here are some things you can do now to help your first few months go smoothly:

Get Organized

Arrange phone and Internet service

Apply for a Social Insurance Number (S.I.N.)

All Canadian citizens, newcomers and temporary residents who want to work in Canada and have access to government programs need a Social Insurance Number (SIN) — a unique number that identifies each individual. Applying for a SIN is easy to do through Service Canada, but you’ll need some documentation, such as:

You can apply in person or by mail (or by phone if you’re in New Brunswick).

Arrange Finances

Open a bank account

If you haven’t already, start the process for opening a bank account. As part of your RBC Student Banking Package, we have eliminated the standard fees on a bank account so you’ll enjoy this service FREE

Call 1-800-769-2511 and we’ll be happy to speak to you in the language of your choice.

Banking Tutorials:
Opening your first bank account(opens PDF in new window)

Apply for credit

One of the easiest, most effective ways to start building a credit history is to get a Canadian credit card. Your credit history will help you qualify for a mortgage, a car loan or even start a business in the future

In the meantime, a credit card will help give you access to day-to-day services like cell phone, Internet and car rentals. It can take up to 18 months or more to establish a good credit score, so it’s important that you start the process as soon as possible.

As part of your RBC Student Banking Package you will enjoy a FREE credit card with no credit history required.

Banking Tutorials:
Build your Credit History(opens PDF in new window)

Apply for Services

Apply for a health card (if you haven't already)

Visit the website for the Ministry of Health of the province or territory you’re moving to. There, you will find information about the documentation you will need (such as your birth certificate, passport, Confirmation of Permanent Residence and/or your permanent resident card) and how to get your health card as quickly as possible.

Looking Ahead

Consider bringing over your spouse or common law partner to work while your study

Your spouse or common-law partner may apply for a Work Permit once you are a full-time student at an authorized institution with a Study Permit. For more details, visit Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

3 - 12 months - When you arrive in Canada

You’re Starting to Get Settled

Now that you’re getting comfortable with student life and have taken care of all the immediate needs, here are a few more things that you may want to look into:

Get Organized

Get a valid driver’s license

Driver’s licenses are issued in the province or territory where you live. Find out more about getting licensed to drive in Canada.

Evaluate Language Skills

Improve your language skills

Most colleges and universities offer English as a second language (ESL) and French as a second language (FSL) classes, sometimes for free. You may also find essay clinics to help you understand Canadian standards for written academic work.

Or, find out where the Language Instruction for Newcomers (LINC) assessment centre is in your community and register for language classes

Prepare for School

Check out International Student Associations and networks

These offer a great introduction to student life, allowing you to make new friends who share a similar background, and benefit from more experienced foreign students

Consider getting a part time job on campus

Under certain conditions, you may work on campus without a work permit if you have a valid study permit. For more details, visit Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

Arrange Finances

Transfer funds from overseas

In Canada, there are a number of secure and convenient ways to transfer money to or from another country — through a financial institution, a money-transfer service and even Canada Post. As with any financial transaction, you’ll want to work with a reputable organization that you trust.

Banking Tutorials:
Send Money Overseas(opens PDF in new window)

3 - 12 months - When you arrive in Canada

You’ve Made it Through your First Year!

You’re hopefully starting to feel more at home in your new country. Now is the time to start thinking about your long-term needs. As always, we’re here to help.

Looking Ahead

Consider working in Canada after finishing your studies

The Post-Graduation Work Program allows some international students to gain Canadian work experience in their field of study. You will need a Work Permit to work in Canada after finishing your program. To find out more, visit Citizenship and Immigration Canada

Consider becoming a Canadian citizen

Find out what is necessary to become a citizen. You can start preparing for some requirements, such as learning to speak English or French, even before you are ready to apply.