Preparing for your exchange

After you have been selected to participate in the UVic ICS Exchange Program, you'll work closely with us to prepare for your departure and upcoming cultural and academic experiences. We'll be there to help you every step of the way!

Step 1 - Receive acceptance email

2 - 3 weeks after the application deadline, we will confirm your application has been received and notify you if you have been selected to participate in our exchange program. If you have not heard from us by this time, please contact our office at

Note: Please be sure to check your junk mail folder and/or your UVic email (if you used this email in your application).

Pro Tip! You can download the Outlook app on your smartphone and log in to your UVic email to easily keep tabs on it.

Step 2 - Attend mandatory sessions

All Sessions are Mandatory

1) Pre-Departure Orientation

  • Learn about the next steps and receive your official UVic ICS Exchange Program confirmation letter
  • An introduction to cultural awareness and adaptation issues
  • A discussion of important safety and risk management strategies
  • A chance to connect and share experiences, travel tips, and itineraries with other UVic students who are going overseas or who have already returned from their exchange abroad

2) Go Global Advisory 

This session will cover very important academic content regarding your fees, exchange courses, credit and effects on your academic record.

Step 3 - Apply to the host institution

After you have been accepted to go on exchange and subsequently nominated to a partner (host) university, you will be required to complete the application process relating to that university. Your Exchange Advisers will discuss this process at the mandatory Advisory Sessions.

Each host institution has its own application procedures, and you must complete all requirements, including filling out all necessary forms. The ICS Exchange Team will provide you with the required forms or instructions and will assist you in completing them, if you need help.

Applying to host institutions generally calls for you to complete the following tasks by the host institution's deadline:

  • Complete host institution application form, including course selection
  • Complete host university housing form, if applicable
  • Order transcripts from non-UVic post-secondary institution, if applicable
  • Complete host university required health examination, if applicable
  • Submit all forms and required documents to the host university's International Office

You will receive a letter of acceptance or confirmation from your host university either directly or via the ICS Exchange Team. This confirmation will be required to apply for your student visa. This may take a few weeks.

Step 4 - Organize your academic documents

You will receive a number of documents which will be important for you to carry with you.  Over the coming months, assemble your documents so they are already before you travel to your overseas destination.

Have a copy your letter of acceptance from your host university 

Your host university issues this document once you have been admitted to the institution for the specified period and academic program. This letter will be required for the issuance of a student visa. We also recommend having a copy of this letter with you when you travel.


Have a copy of your ICS Exchange Program acceptance email/letter 

The ICS Exchange Team will give you an exchange confirmation email/letter.

Step 5 - Obtain your travel documents

Before you set off on your voyage, you must have the appropriate travel documents.

Begin the process early, preferably three or four months in advance of your departure date. In addition, have a very clear understanding of the additional documentation necessary for your destination country.

All travel arrangements and documents are your sole responsibility.


A valid passport is necessary when entering or leaving most countries. It can take four weeks or longer to obtain a passport, so give yourself lots of time. Passports are issued by Passport Canada. The Victoria office is located on the third floor of the Bay Centre. If you already have a passport, make sure it will not expire while you are away or for at least 6 months upon your return from exchange.

Student visa

Student authorization is often required to study in another country.

A student visa is an endorsement made on a passport by appropriate authorities of the country you will be visiting. It that states your passport has been examined and you have formal approval to enter the country for a specified period of time. Therefore, you will need an up-to-date passport to obtain a student visa.

To obtain a visa, contact the embassy or consular office of the country in which you will be studying, or view their website. You can also check Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada for more details.

You might need documents in addition to a passport and visa to enter the host country. The consulate for the country in which you are going to study can tell you exactly what documents are required. These may include:

  • Medical certificates
  • Immunization records
  • Birth certificate
  • Letter of admission to a university in the host country
  • Exchange confirmation letter

Health and immunization requirements will differ for each country. Keep in mind that these documents can take some time to acquire.

Proof of sufficient funds

Some institutions and visa applications require a record of sufficient funds to support yourself while you visit a foreign country. Such proof may include a copy of your bank statement or other evidence of funds.

Travel arrangements

Do not book flights or make other travel arrangements that cannot be changed until you have received your letter of admission from your host institution and your student visa from the country’s immigration department.

We recommend you use a travel agent for your travel arrangements.

International driving permit (optional)

Some countries recognize a driving permit from Canada, some accept an international licence, and some require you to take a test and obtain a licence in their country. An international driving permit is also a useful primary source of identification in other countries.

You can apply for an international driving permit from your local BC Automobile Association (BCAA) office. You do not need to be a BCAA member to obtain a permit.

Two passport-sized photographs are required which may be taken at the BCAA office at the time of application. You must also take your current Canadian driver's licence with you when you apply.

Step 6 - Arrange your payments and funds

Pay UVic tuition

You will pay UVic tuition for the academic year or term of the exchange before departure. UVic tuition fee payment deadlines are September 30 and January 31. If you are on exchange for a full academic year, make arrangements to pay for your second term while you are away.

You will retain registered status at UVic while you are away through a registration block called Approved Exchange Program. This block will cause the correct assessment of 7.5 units per term worth of tuition fees for full-time exchange studets, or 4.5 units per term for part-time exchange students, plus your UVSS and student activity fees.

Be aware that you might not get full credit value for fees paid. The assessed tuition fees are not based on the number of courses you take, nor on the transfer credit that you will receive. It is still your responsiblity to register in the appropriate corresponding number of courses at your host university to receive full UVic credit amounts for your paid fees. 

Pay debts to UVic

Make sure you pay all outstanding debts to UVic, including parking and library fines.

Assign power of attorney

If you receive a student loan, you must give someone power of attorney. This person will claim the loan on your behalf while you are away.

Power of attorney is a document through which you give authority to your "attorney in fact" (who need not be a lawyer) to act on your behalf. Power of attorney forms can be obtained through UVic's Student Awards and Financial Aid office.

The scope of the power granted can be quite limited or almost unlimited. Giving someone power of attorney for you can make business or financial transactions much easier because it allows them to act on your behalf while you are away.

Arrange funding

Be sure your finances are in order before you leave. This can help prevent many headaches and disappointments.

You will most likely open a bank account while overseas. One easy way of transferring your funds to this account is to take traveller's cheques or a bank draft. You may also make arrangements to have money transferred directly from a Canadian financial institution to your foreign bank account. There is usually a $40.00 fee to transfer funds.

If you use a debit card to withdraw cash, be sure you have a 4 digit pin number. Many overseas bank machines do not accept 5 digit pin numbers. Also, you may want to increase your daily withdrawal limit before you go because you will be charged a fee of at least $5.00 per withdrawal transaction.

Arrange emergency funds

You may need some currency when you first arrive and for a few days while you establish a bank account. It would also be a good idea to have instant access to emergency funds, such as a credit card, debit card or traveller's cheques.

Step 7 - Plan for your health and safety

BC Medical Services Plan (MSP)

You may remain eligible for British Columbia MSP coverage if you are registered full time at an accredited institution. You may also be covered by your parents' plan if they are BC residents. Be aware that you will still need additional health and accident coverage.

Health and accident insurance

Health insurance additional to the MSP coverage is mandatory. If you travel without insurance, you accept the responsibility for all medical expenses that you incur during your exchange.

You must make sure that your health insurance covers you during travel as well as during your stay in the other country. Your insurance should be comprehensive enough to cover any medical or dental costs you may incur during your stay out of Canada. In some cases, your host institution will require that you participate in their health insurance coverage.

Insurance is available from banks, travel agents, and insurance companies. If your family already buys insurance from a company that they know and trust, that may be the first company that you approach. Get several quotes for your insurance and compare coverage and price.

Find a company that will insure you for the whole period of your visit and will also allow you to extend your coverage while you're out of the country (in case you decide to stay a bit longer).

Each country may have different health insurance requirements. In the UK, for example, if you are a full-time student and in the country for more than six months, you are covered by the national health plan.

In Australia, you must buy a mandatory package. In all cases, you must purchase short-term travel insurance for coverage during your journey and for the period before their long-term coverage becomes effective.

UVSS extended health and dental insurance

You are automatically charged for University of Victoria Students' Society (UVSS) extended health insurance with your exchange tuition fees.

This insurance has a travel component. You can make special arrangements for this insurance to cover an additional 120 days before and after your program dates by presenting the acceptance letter from your host institution and a letter from the International Office to the UVSS.

It is your responsibility to read about what the UVSS insurance plan offers and decide if it is sufficient to cover your particular health care needs in your particular destination. You may decide that you need additional coverage from a private plan.

If you buy your own insurance, it may occur to you to opt out of the UVSS health insurance. However, be aware that opting out of the UVSS insurance is only allowed if you can demonstrate that you have other medical coverage for the whole 12-month period (For example, if your parents have you covered on their extended medical plan through their workplace). Being an exchange student is not accepted as a reason to opt out, even if you buy your own private insurance.


You may have arranged for immunizations when you applied for your visa, but you may want to obtain additional immunizations.

This might apply if you plan to travel to other countries before or after your exchange period. Check the following websites for up-to-date information on vaccination recommendations for your destination:

Note: As of October 30, 2021, you must be fully vaccinated in order to board a plane or train in Canada. This includes boarding a flight to your host country. See COVID-19 Boarding flights and trains in Canada for more details. 

Dental and medical check-ups

Some countries require medical examinations for visa purposes. Even if your destination does not, you may want to make sure you are in good health, especially dental, before you leave Canadian medical services.


Prescription medications may be difficult to find and may be more expensive in other countries, so it would be wise to take what you need with you. Keep your medications in their original packages, with labels, to avoid problems with customs inspections at the border.

International Office at host institution

We suggest you find and bring contact information for your host institution, including the telephone number and e-mail address of their International Office or international exchange coordinator. International Centre for Students can help you obtain this information.

Canadian Consulate

If you encounter any legal trouble or require other assistance while overseas, you will benefit from contacting the nearest Canadian Embassy or Consulate.

In the interest of your own safety, we suggest you record the address, phone number, and fax number of the  Canadian Embassy or Consular Office which is nearest to your host institution. Registration at the Embassy or Consular Office is highly recommended and has many benefits.

Step 8 - Plan ahead for your return to UVic

There are a number of things you can do while overseas that will help your return go smoothly. For further information, see our Returning home web page. 

Tip! After you review the steps for preparing to return home, make a note in your phone or calendar to remind yourself of when to begin this process. Starting early will make things much easier at the end of your exchange!