Getting started

For COVID-19 related information, visit the UVic COVID-19 website and the COVID-19 Information on the International Resources web page. Please note, as information can change without notice, for the most current immigration information, always visit the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s website and the Government of Canada website

UVic is a place to explore curiosities, original ideas, and practical solutions. It is a place to root your values in experience and expand your imagination of what is possible. You are about to become part of a legacy of achievement and success that dates back more than a century on our campus. We look forward to welcoming you!


Travel arrangements

When should I arrive?

Due to COVID-19 and the Government of Canada’s Quarantine Act, all individuals travelling to Canada are required to guarantine (self-isolate) for 14-days upon their arrival to Canada. To help support you, as a UVic student, make the necessary arrangements for arriving in Canada and self-isolation, UVic has created a Self-isolation Program. This program includes accommodation options.

We recommend that you plan to arrive in Victoria a few weeks before the start of term so you have time to complete self-isolation, settle in, recover from travelling, and participate in orientation events designed to help you have a smooth transition to UVic.

If family members will accompany you to Canada, allow more time for settling in. The Family Centre at UVic is an inclusive family resource centre located in the Student Family Housing complex supporting a diverse student family community living both on and off campus.

What are my travel options?

The University of Victoria (UVic) is located in Victoria, British Columbia. Victoria is situated on the southern tip of Vancouver Island. There is no fixed connection (bridge or roadway) connecting Vancouver Island to mainland BC. 

Travelling to Canada by air

Currently, all international flights to Canada (including flights from the U.S.) will be landing at one of Canada’s four major airports:

The closest international airport to Victoria is the Vancouver International Airport (YVR)

Follow the Flying to Canada requirements checklist to plan your arrival to Canada.  

As of February 21, 2021, at 11:59 pm ET, air travellers are also required to complete a 3-night hotel quarantine at the Government approved hotels. You will only be allowed to continue travelling to your final destination to complete the remaining 11 days of quarantine after you receive a negative result from the COVID-19 test you take upon arrival. 

For the latest information about the COVID-19 mandatory quarantine or isolation, refer to the Government of Canada’s website.

Travelling to Victoria from mainland

To get to Victoria from mainland, you must follow most current public health measures to to choose your transportation options. Below are the options to travel to Victoria from mainland:

By Sea

BC Ferries is a regularly scheduled ferry service between Vancouver mainland and the island.  

There are ferries (Black Ball Ferry Line, Washington State Ferries and Clipper Ferries) from the Washington State, US. However, due to the US-Canada border closures, these services are currently suspended until further notice. 

By Air

What can I expect at the Canadian port of entry?

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, travel restrictions and health measures have been put in place that limit travel to Canada. At this time, if you are to travel to Canada under the travel exemptions as an international student, you must meet the following requirements:

  1. You must have a valid study permit or a valid letter of introduction that shows you were approved for a study permit. (Note: An approval-in-principle letter is not sufficient for travel.)
  2. You must be attending a designated learning institution (DLI) with a COVID-19 readiness plan approved by its province or territory. UVic is a DLI with an approved COVID-19 readiness plan. 

Your travel to Canada will be considered essential (non-discretionary) if you have all of the required documents and your DLI is on the approved list. You will note that UVic is on the list.

 As a UVic student, you must bring the following documents to prove your essential travel to Canada:

  • a valid study permit information letter (If your study permit information letter in no longer valid, you should request for a new one a week before you travel via UVic Online Tools > Tools and Forms.)
  • verification of enrolment for the term you will be studying in (Upon registering for courses, you can access this via UVic Online Tools > Tool and Forms.)

Your travel to Canada won’t be considered essential (non-discretionary) if

  • your study program has been cancelled or suspended
  • you’re entering Canada for any reason other than to study (e.g., Coming to Canada too early before your program starts may be seen as non-essential travel.)

For a complete required documents list, be sure to visit the IRCC Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): International Students website.

Contact the Border Information Service before you travel if you have questions about travelling to Canada.

Visit the  page for a video about travelling by air to Canada. 

What other documents should I bring?

In addition to the documents listed in the preceding section, you should also bring any of the following documents that apply to your situation:

  • birth certificate or baptismal certificate
  • driver's licence
  • vehicle registration, licence, and insurance papers
  • immunization, vaccination, dental, and health records
  • health insurance documents
  • marriage certificate or proof of common-law status
  • separation or divorce papers
  • adoption papers
  • language proficiency scores
  • official school records or academic transcripts
  • medical or psychological documents if you plan to access services for students with a disability or short or long-term health issues
  • letters of reference from former employers
  • documents required for entry into other countries you plan to visit

Make photocopies of all important documents and keep the photocopies in a safe place, separate from the originals.

What personal items should I bring?

You are allowed to bring personal items into Canada, but there are restrictions on things like pets, plants, food products, and herbal remedies. Current regulations are available on the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) website.

If you plan to bring many personal items, consider having them shipped or mailed after you arrive in Victoria.

Clothing

Students at UVic tend to dress casually with an emphasis on comfort and practicality.

If you plan to work, you will need business attire for interviews and certain job placements.

You may wish to bring some formal or traditional clothing from your home country for special occasions.

Victoria has the mildest climate in all of Canada, but we do have four distinct seasons, and appropriate clothing is required for each. The west coast of Canada is famous for its rain, so you will need a raincoat, waterproof shoes or boots, and an umbrella. For winter months you will also need a warm jacket, gloves, a scarf, and a hat.

The weather can be difficult to predict at any time of year, so we recommend dressing in multiple removable layers.

Vehicles

If you plan to bring a vehicle to British Columbia (BC), visit the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) website to make sure you meet all the legal requirements.

Bring goods or money across border

Exchange enough currency to cover your immediate expenses in Canada, such as airport taxes, food, and transportation. Ask for Canadian dollars in denominations of less than $50. If you do not want to carry cash, major credit cards are also widely accepted.

Ask your bank at home about the best way to transfer money to Canada. Some international students use a bank draft for large dollar values. Other students rely on international wire transfers.

If you arrive in Canada from abroad with currency or items valued at, or more than, $10,000 Canadian dollars, you must report it on the CBSA Declaration Card. For more information about how to bring goods acrossed the Canadian border, refer tot he CBSA wesbite

A few more suggestions...

Consider bringing the following:

  • items that will remind you of home and help you feel comfortable in your new surroundings, such as photographs of friends and family and your favourite books and music
  • contact information for family and friends so you can stay in touch
  • comforting food recipes that remind you of home
  • a sleeping bag or blanket, sheets, a pillow, and a towel or two
  • a bilingual dictionary or translation app if English is not your first language
  • a voltage converter and plug adapter if your appliances and electronic equipment are not compatible with Canadian electricity (110 volts, 60 Hz)
  • a four month supply of any medications you require (all medications must be in the original packaging and should be accompanied by a prescription from your physician)

Getting settled

Attend orientation events

Do not miss the many fun and informative orientation events designed to help you have a smooth transition to UVic.

We encourage you to attend as many orientation events as possible. If you miss our International Student Welcome, some session recordings and presentation slides are accessible on the UVic Orientation website.  

Get your identification cards

Please read the Identification Cards handout for important information about getting a UVic ONECard, a provincial identification card, and an International Student Identity Card (ISIC).

Open a bank account

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

The major banks in Victoria include BMO, CIBC, CWB, HSBC, RBC, Scotiabank and TD Canada Trust. Research your options before making a decision.

Please read the Banking handout for important information about choosing a financial institution and opening an account.

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

Connect with your campus

Learn about the many services and resources on campus that are available to support you in achieving your personal, academic, and career goals.

Join the UVic Global Community! Our UVic Global Community Facebook group provides daily updates. Our bi-weekly newsletter helps you stay informed. Our programs support your transition to UVic.

 

Explore Victoria

The Tourism Victoria Visitor Centre can help you discover all that this wonderful city has to offer.

Please read the Shopping in Victoria handout for information about local shopping and dining options.

Please also read the Safety handout and the Culture Shock handout to learn tips for staying healthy, happy, and safe while studying at UVic and living in Victoria.

Begin your program of study

According to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), if you are in Canada with a study permit you must actively pursue and make timely progress towards completing a program of study at a Designated Learning Institution (DLI).

This means your academic enrollment status at UVic will impact the validity of your study permit. Your enrollment will also have implications on your work authorization and eligibility to apply for a post-graduation work permit.

Make sure you understand the structure of an academic year at UVic and that you are familiar with the definitions* of full-time studies and part-time studies for undergraduate students or for graduate students.

* Please note there are different definitions for JD students in the Faculty of Law.

An easy way to confirm your registration status at UVic is to check your verification of enrolment, which you can access through UVic My Page in the Student Services section under the Online Request Forms tab.

Your program planning choices will impact your registration status at UVic, so please seek academic advice early and often:

  • Undergraduate students who are engaged in a program of study leading to a UVic credential should contact the appropriate academic adviser.
  • Graduate students who are engaged in a program of study leading to a UVic credential should contact the appropriate graduate adviser or graduate secretary.
  • Incoming exchange students and incoming study abroad/visiting students should contact International Student Services (ISS).

Make sure to consult with the International Student Advising (ISA) team if you have questions about your academic enrollment status at UVic and whether your program planning choices will satisfy the conditions of your study permit and maintain your authorization to work in Canada.


Transportation

Transit system

The transit system in Victoria operates seven days a week, 365 days a year. UVic is a major transit hub in the community.

Exchange and visiting research students:  UPass privileges are not automatically included on your UVic ONECard, but you can opt in by purchasing a UVSS or GSS membership package.

Bicycles

UVic has lots of great resources for cyclists, including the SPOKES bicycle loan program.

Cyclists are required by law to wear a helmet at all times and to use both a front headlight and a rear light at night.

Vehicles

To drive a vehicle in British Columbia (BC), you must have a valid driver’s licence and insurance.

Visit the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) website for comprehensive information about moving to BC from overseas.

UVic offers several alternative driving options.

If you plan to drive a vehicle onto campus, you must either park where there is a meter or purchase a parking permit.

Taxis

Taxis are generally too expensive for regular use but can be convenient in certain situations.

Taxis in Victoria are operated by well established companies that provide safe transportation and electronically metered fares.

The taxi companies in Victoria include BlueBird Cabs, Victoria Taxi, and Yellow Cab.


Communication

UVic email account

Be sure to create a UVic email account so you receive important messages from UVic.

Important messages will include notifications about your registration date and time and your movement on waitlists.

If you do not want to check multiple email accounts, you can arrange for messages sent to your UVic email account to be automatically forwarded to the email account you plan to check regularly.

Computers

Computing facilities are available on campus.

The Computer Help Desk is the first place to contact when you have computer-related questions.

A Computer Store is located in the UVic Bookstore and stocks a selection of hardware and software.

If you have a laptop or other mobile device you can access free wireless internet on campus. Many businesses in Victoria, such as coffee shops and restaurants, also offer free wireless internet.

Phones

Free phones for local calls are located around campus.

Most UVic students use mobile phones to communicate with friends and family.

The major mobile phone providers in Victoria include Bell, Chatr, Fido, Freedom, Koodo Mobile, Rogers, PhoneBox, Public MobileTelus Mobility, and Virgin Mobile. Research your options before making a decision.

Please read the Mobile Phones handout for important information about choosing a mobile phone provider and comparing plans.

If you will make many international calls, consider using calling cards. They are cheap and flexible. You can buy them at post offices, convenience stores, grocery stores, gas stations, and online. Ask other students from your country for advice about the best long distance calling rates. Another option is to use an internet program such as Skype or Google Voice.

Information for minors:

In British Columbia (BC), everyone under the age of 19 is considered a minor. Minors are not able to enter into a mobile 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.

A contract with a minor and co-signer is similar to most contract situations. The main exception is that the primary user of the mobile phone is not legally responsible for paying the bills, and any resulting impact to credit score is attributed to the co-signer.

In the absence of a willing and eligible co-signer, the most common solution for minors is to choose prepaid service. Some of the major mobile phone service providers listed on the other side of this handout offer prepaid service. In addition, SpeakOut Wireless is offered by 7-Eleven (www.speakout7eleven.ca) and Petro-Canada Mobility is offered by Petro-Canada (mobility.petro-canada.ca).

Internet

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

If you live off-campus then you should consider getting your own internet services so you have the ability to study, stream, download, and connect with your friends and family at home. Note that some landlords include internet with your monthly rent or you may be able to split the cost of internet with your roommates.

Monthly internet costs range from approximately $50 to $100 per month, based on which internet package you purchase. 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. Make sure the package you select offers a speed that is suitable for your needs. Typically, most people select an internet speed that is at least 50MBps - 100MBps. Most internet packages require you to sign a one-year contract, purchase a modem/wifi router, and pay an installation or initiation fee. Be sure to confirm all the fees, read the contract thoroughly before you sign, and do not hesitate to ask the internet provider if you have any questions.

Some internet service providers in Victoria include:

Bell www.bell.ca/Bell_Internet

Fido www.fido.ca/pages/#/internet

Juce www.juce.ca/

Lightspeed lightspeed.ca/

Teksavvy www.teksavvy.com

Shaw www.shaw.ca/internet

Telus www.telus.com/en/internet

Canada Post

Canada Post provides delivery service for letters, documents, and parcels within Canada, to the US, and internationally.

There is a post office in Heart Pharmacy, which is located in the Student Union Building.

If you have questions about any of the information on this page, please contact International Student Services (ISS).


Last updated: September 2020