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Getting settled

As you settle into your new life at UVic, you'll find there are many ways to create community and have new experiences.

There are also some practical things you'll need to set up to help you manage your day-to-day life.

Learn from other students

International students talk frankly, openly and genuinely about what they love about life at UVic.

Connect with your campus

Be sure to create a UVic email account to receive important information from UVic.

Attend orientation events

Make sure to attend our International Student Welcome and other fun and informative orientation events. These events aims to connect new students with the campus community to ensure you make the most out of your student experience.

Discover student resources

There are many on-campus services and resources available to support you in achieving your personal, academic and career goals.

Join the UVic Global Community

Our UVic Global Community provides opportunities and creates space for students, staff and faculty to share perspectives, celebrate diversity, foster intercultural connections and cultivate an inclusive and globally minded-campus. 

Get your identification

UVic ONECard

The UVic ONECard is your official identification card at UVic. It is your library card, your access to the Student Wellness Centre, and your proof of identification for exams. You can also add money and use it as a debit card at many points on campus.

  • new cards are available from the ONECard office; your first ONECard is free

Changes to your bus pass

Starting September 2023, you’ll need to use the BC Transit UMO App or a physical BC Transit card to show proof of payment on city buses. The UVic ONECard will no longer operate as a bus pass (U-Pass). Learn more

Exchange and visiting research students: You are not automatically enrolled in the U-Pass program. You can opt in by purchasing a University of Victoria Students' Society or Graduate Students' Society membership package.

Provincial identification cards

BC Services Card

Learn more about the BC Medical Services Plan and find out if you're eligible to apply.

BC Identification (BCID) card

If you plan to stay in BC for more than 6 months and you want government-issued photo identification, consider getting a BCID card.

  • the BCID card will not replace your passport, but it will allow you to keep your passport in a safe place

BC driver's licence

If you do not have a driver’s licence, you must get one before you can drive a vehicle in BC.

If you are a full-time undergraduate or graduate international student and have a valid foreign driver’s licence and a study permit, you might not need a BC driver’s licence. However, if your foreign driver’s licence is not in English, and you do not also have an international driving permit (IDP), you will need to get a translation of your foreign driver’s licence from an approved translator.

International Student Identity Card (ISIC)

You might want to get an ISIC so you can take advantage of student discounts and benefits in 120 countries.

Open a bank account

Banking in Canada may be different from what you're used to. The Canadian Bankers Association shares helpful information on how newcomers can get started in their new country.

If you have a study permit, we recommend opening an account at a financial institution in Victoria.

The major banks in Victoria include:

Research your options before making a decision. Some banks will request your Social Insurance Number to open an account, however this is not required at all banks.

There are no bank branches on campus, but RBC and TD Canada Trust have automated teller machines (ATMs) on campus. If you use an ATM that is not owned by your financial institution, you may be charged a service fee.

Some things to consider when choosing a financial institution and type of account:

  1. Is there a branch located near UVic or near where you live?
  2. What are the days and hours of operation for that branch?
  3. Do they have many automated teller machines (ATMs) in Victoria?
  4. Are they a Sign-In Partner for IRCC’s online system?
  5. Do they offer account options that meet your needs?
  6. What fees are associated with each account option?
  7. Is there a minimum monthly balance for the fees to be waived?
  8. Is there a student account option with no fees?
  9. What other charges are associated with each account option?
  10. What interest rates are associated with each account option?
  11. What restrictions, if any, are associated with each account option?
  12. What credit card options are available for international students?
  13. What investment options are available for international students?

Apply for a credit card

You may want to apply for a credit card while you're in Canada. 

If you are not eligible for a credit card, MasterCard and Visa offer prepaid cards that are reloadable and can be used wherever MasterCard or Visa is accepted. 

Need help?

Visit the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) for more information about financial institutions and managing your money.

Once you have chosen a financial institution, contact them whenever you need financial advice. They can also provide information about your options for transferring money into Canada and sending money outside Canada.

Set up your technology

Cell phones (mobile phones)

Cell phone companies offer many different plans for students. This newcomer's guide to understanding Canadian cell phones is a good place to learn more about your options.

The major mobile phone providers in Victoria include: 

Most companies offer a pay-as-you-go option and an annual contract option. You can compare major service providers online at WirelessWave or in person at large shopping centres.

If you already have a cell phone and you want to continue using it in Canada, ask one of the cell phone service providers for advice. You can also ask other students from your home country if they have had success unlocking their cell phones and using them in Canada.

Some things to consider when choosing a service provider and plan:

  1. How does the service provider define local and long-distance?
  2. What are the policies and fees for incoming and outgoing calls, including local and long-distance
  3. What are the policies and fees for incoming and outgoing text messages, including local and long-distance?
  4. What are the policies and fees for internet access?
  5. What are the policies and fees for cancelling a plan?
  6. What are the policies and fees for upgrading, changing or repairing your mobile phone?
  7. How frequently will you use your cell phone for making and accepting calls?
  8. What days and times will you most often be making and accepting calls?
  9. Will you be making and accepting mostly local calls or long-distance calls?
  10. How frequently will you use your cell phone for texting?
  11. How frequently will you use your cell phone for accessing the internet?
  12. Do you want a plan with a contract, a plan with no contract, or prepaid service?
  13. How much money are you prepared to spend each month?

Cell phones for minors

In BC, minors (those under the age of 19) are not able to enter into a cell phone contract without a co-signer. A co-signer is an individual who is at least 19 years old and who is willing to sign a contract, on the minor’s behalf, taking full legal responsibility for making sure bills are paid.

In the absence of a co-signer, the most common solution for minors is to choose a prepaid (“pay-as-you-go”) service. Most of the major cell phone providers listed above offer a prepaid option. In addition, SpeakOut Wireless is offered by 7-Eleven and Petro-Canada Mobility is offered by Petro-Canada.

Wireless internet

If you live and/or study on campus, you will have access to UVic’s wireless internet service. You will need a UVic NetLink ID to access the network.

If you live off campus, you should consider getting your own internet service so you have the ability to study, stream, download and connect with your friends and family at home.

Note: Some landlords include internet with your monthly rent or you may be able to split the cost of internet with your roommates.

Some internet service providers in Victoria include:

Some companies offer promotions for students or have student “bundle” packages, which offer a discounted rate if you sign up for mobile, TV and internet services together.