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International Student Guides

Pre-Departure Checklist

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So, you’re planning to study at BCIT as an international student. 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-Departure 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 Failure to provide proof of your study permit by the deadline could result in you being withdrawn from your program.

If you receive your study permit approval letter from IRCC, please forward a copy of that to This helps us at BCIT to know that you are on track for beginning your studies as planned.

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

If you’re not already here in Canada, review our Travel to Canada Guide for a list of required documents to enter Canada and more to help you plan for a successful trip.

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.

If you plan to fly, review some of the helpful pages on the Vancouver International Airport (YVR) website:

3. Find housing

BCIT has limited Student Housing available on our Burnaby campus, and you should apply early if you prefer to live on campus. There are also many off-campus housing options near all of BCIT’s campuses. Check out our Housing Guide for some helpful options and tips to get you started.

4. Understand your medical insurance situation

International students are required to 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, and 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 visiting Exchange or Study Abroad students doing only 1 term at BCIT are not eligible for MSP.

5. Estimate your cost of living

The cost of living in Vancouver is relatively high by global and Canadian standards, though this can vary considerably based on your personal situation.

For more detailed information to help plan your budget visit:

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 oriented

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

8. 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 6 weeks before your program start with registration details. Note that capacity is limited and spaces are filled on a first-come-first-serve basis.

9. 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. You can also set up email forwarding from your myBCIT inbox to your personal email address.

Look out for 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 social media is another a great way to keep up-to-date.

10. Resources for newcomers

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