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New Students

Before setting off on your journey to University Canada West, it is important that you have with you everything you need to begin your life at university. This includes all the required documentation. For international students, this is particularly important, and we recommend you carry original documents in your hand luggage, with photocopies in your suitcase.

What to Bring:

Here is a list of documents you need to bring when starting a course at University Canada West:

  • Letter of acceptance from University Canada West
  • Necessary visa and study permit
  • Medical insurance
  • Valid passport or travel document
  • All original academic documents (i.e. transcripts and certificates)
  • Homestay information (if applicable)
  • Loan approval letter from the bank (if applicable)
  • Marriage certificate and/or proof of common-law status (if applicable)
  • Medical records and immunization records, translated (if applicable)
  • International driver’s license, driving insurance records (if applicable)
  • Two years of official school records for your school-age children (if applicable)

And here are things you need to bring besides your documentation:

  • University contact details, in case of emergency
  • Canadian money
  • Clothing for all weather conditions
  • Kitchen utensils (if not provided with your accommodation)
  • Home comforts, to help you settle in

Arriving in Vancouver

If you are flying to Vancouver from abroad, you will land at YVR, Vancouver's airport. You can take the Canada Line to downtown Vancouver.  If you are arriving by bus from the United States, you may be dropped off either in downtown Vancouver or the Pacific Central station which is close to the Main St/Science World train station.  From there, you can transfer to another trainor bus line, taking you to your final destination.

You should also review current customs regulations and prepare a list of items you will be bringing with you. Visit Canada Border Services Agency to find out more.

Public Transport

Most cities and towns in British Columbia have a well-structured bus system in place. Local bus maps and schedules can be collected from any public library or transport station.

TransLink is Metro Vancouver’s regional transport authority. It coordinates buses, SkyTrain (rail), SeaBus (boat) and the West Coast Express. If you plan to use public transport in Metro Vancouver regularly, it is cheaper for you to purchase a pass.

Public transit is the easiest way to get to the UCW campus; we are close to all three major train lines (Canada, Millennium and Expo line), bus stops and the Sea Bus.

Visit TransLink for information on prices, routes and the types of passes available.

Currency

It is a good idea to have Canadian currency with you upon your arrival, as there is a chance your debit/credit cards may be incompatible with the local system.

Taxes and Tips

In British Columbia tax is not included in the prices shown on display in stores and restaurants.  Tax is added at the time of payment.  

Gratuity (tipping) is essentially a gift of money, over and above payment due for a service; a 'tip' is given to your server at a restaurant, a taxi cab driver, a hairdresser, etc. Gratuity is not included in your bill.

It is customary to tip approximately 15% to 20% on the total bill before taxes, 5-10% for poor services and 25% for exceptional services.  Though tipping is not mandatory, it is common courtesy in Canada.

Weather

Vancouver weather is generally mild all year round with temperatures averaging from five Celcius in winter to 23 Celcius in summer. Winters can be wet, so don't forget your raincoat and an umbrella.

Health

The Government of British Columbia has a health plan called the Medical Services Plan (MSP). The services are for eligible British Columbia residents; Canadian citizens, landed immigrants, or government-assisted refugees.

Post-secondary international students with study permits and people with work permits for six months or longer may also be eligible for MSP.

MSP pays for basic, medically required health costs, for example doctor visits, medical tests, and treatments. Some health costs are not covered by MSP. These include dentists and physiotherapists.

Please contact Health Insurance BC (HIBC) for more information.

Registering for MSP

All residents of British Columbia must register with MSP. There may be a waiting period, meaning you may not be eligible for MSP coverage for up to three months. As medical costs can be very high, it is recommended that you buy private medical insurance for this time.

When applying for MSP, ensure that you give your name exactly as it appears on other official documents.