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International Student Guides

Pre-arrival Checklist

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So, you’re planning to travel to Canada to study at BCIT. It’s the start of an exciting new part of your life and you want to make sure to be well-prepared. Follow the pre-arrival checklist below to stay on track!

1. Apply for a study permit (and co-op work permit, if necessary)

A study permit is required for almost all international students coming to study in Canada. Visit IRCC – Study Permit: About the process for more information, and be sure to apply for your study permit as early as possible!

If you are enrolled in a program with any kind of mandatory work component you must also have a co-op work permit.

If you are already in Canada studying in a different post-secondary institution and will transfer to BCIT, you must notify IRCC of your school change.

You will need to submit your study permit to BCIT in order to meet our study permit requirement (unless you are eligible to meet an alternative requirement). Failure to provide proof of your study permit by the deadline could result in you being withdrawn from your program.

Note that visiting Exchange or Study Abroad students doing only 1 term at BCIT do not need to have a study permit.

2. Make travel plans

It’s a good idea to start planning your trip far in advance and to arrive in BC early enough to allow you some time to adjust to your new surroundings and get set up before your program starts.

Be aware that travelers to Canada may still need to satisfy certain requirements related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Carefully review our Travel to Canada Guide for more information to help you plan for a successful trip.

3. Find housing

It’s never too early to begin researching housing options. BCIT has limited Student Housing available on our Burnaby campus, and there are many off-campus housing options. Check out our Housing Guide for some helpful options and tips to get you started.

4. Understand your medical insurance situation

International students must have basic medical insurance throughout their studies. Depending on the type of program you take at BCIT, you may be charged along with your tuition fees and enrolled in temporary private medical insurance with International. Complete an online Medical Insurance Self-Assessment for more detailed information tailored to your specific situation, or contact if you have questions about it (please include your BCIT student number.

Once you arrive in BC, you should apply for BC Medical Services Plan (MSP) as soon as possible. This is legally required for all international students staying in BC over 6 months. Note that 1-term Exchange and Study Abroad students are not eligible for MSP.

5. Connect with a Peer Mentor

Participate in our International Peer Mentoring program by registering as a mentee. International Peer Mentoring is a free peer-to-peer social support program that connects new international students starting their first term at BCIT with a mentor who is a continuing student in good academic standing.

New students can expect to receive an email at your inbox about 2 months before your program start with registration details. Note that capacity is limited and spaces are filled on a first-come-first-serve basis.

6. Register for International Orientation events

We encourage you to register for International Orientation events – both online and in-person. The orientation events cover a wide range of important topics, including travel requirements, housing, medical insurance, study permits, working in Canada, and local knowledge and culture. In-person events are focused on social engagement and are a fantastic opportunity for you to meet other new students.

7. Get orientated

Take advantage of all the various orientation resources available for BCIT students, including:

8. Stay tuned

In the months before your program begins at BCIT, you may receive important information in your email inbox. Make sure to check these emails and to respond as required.

Check out the International Student Update – a monthly newsletter for the international student community at BCIT with news relating to IRCC updates, travel, student services, and more.

Following BCIT and the Student Association on Facebook is another a great way to keep up-to-date.

9. Resources for newcomers

Visit WelcomeBC – Before you move to BC for some useful tips and resources available for newcomers to BC.