Pre-Arrival Checklist for Studying in Vancouver, Canada

May 25, 2022   |   7 Min. Read

We understand how anxious it would be to start off a new journey in a totally new country. But don’t worry, we’ve got your back! Whether you are already enrolled in one of the academic programs in Canada or just planning to study here, this blog, we have divided into 3 sections: Travel documents for international students, Things to prepare before arrival, and a Packing list to Vancouver to cover everything you need before moving to Canada.

Travel Documents for International Students:

We believe bringing all your travel documents is the most critical thing on the checklist, as the customs in Canada may deny your request for entry. It is important to make sure you have prepared ALL of them and double check all documents are VALID.


A dark blue-covered passport with a flight ticket in it. It is one of the important item on checklist to Vancouver
Photo by Nicole Geri

First and foremost, a valid passport is a key to entering different countries, and it is the most important item on the checklist for Vancouver Canada. If you don’t have a passport, you can apply in your home country, and its cost may vary depending on your nationality. If you already have your passport, make sure to check the EXPIRY DATE on your passport before booking the flight tickets. Most countries require a passport to be valid for at least six months before entering a country. If your passport expires sooner than that we advise you to renew your passport as soon as possible!

A Letter of Acceptance

A Letter of acceptance is also named an offer letter or an acceptance letter. You will receive a letter of acceptance when you have been accepted into one of the designated Canadian post-secondary institutions, and you will need it to apply for your study permit.

Please note that some letters of acceptance may be conditional, which means you must fulfill a certain requirement before starting your main program of study.  A common prerequisite requirement is to complete the English as a second language (ESL) or French as a second language (FSL) program.

Study Permit

You will need to a valid study permit if your program is longer than six months. So, it’s crucial to apply for it before entering Canada! 

Required Documents:

Optional documents:

  • Letter of explanation – You can provide a letter explaining why you want to study in Canada, and you understand your responsibilities as a student in Canada.
  • A certificat d’acceptation du Quebec (CAQ) – If you are going to stay and study in Quebec for more than six months, you will need a Québec Acceptance Certificate (CAQ) issued by Gouvernment du Québec (your school will provide you with full details on how to apply for it).
  • Custodian declaration (minor children) – If a minor is coming to study in Canada, he/she requires a custodian, and you must include the Custodianship Declaration form in your application.
  • Other documents – Follow the visa office instructions for your country or region for local requirements, and include all documents in your application.

Important note: The cost of applying for the study permit will be $150 CAD.

Student Visa (Temporary Resident Visa) or Electronic Travel Authorization

A Temporary Resident Visa (TRV):

TRV is an entry visa for your arrival in Canada. Only citizens from specific counties would need a TRV. Wondering if you need a TRV? Check out the IRCC website: Find out if you need a visa to travel to Canada. When you are applying for TRV, we recommend you include these supporting documents in your application:

  • Letter of invitation
  • Enrollment letter from your school
  • A copy of your status document e.g., study permit
  • Proof of funds (showing that you can financially support your stay in Canada)

Important note: The fee for a Temporary Resident Visa for visitors is $100CAD

An Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA):

It allows foreign nationals from visa-exempt countries to enter Canada. You can also find out if you need an eTA on the IRCC website: Find out if you need a visa to travel to Canada. You can apply for eTA online with a simple process, and your eTA will then electronically link to your passport and be valid for up to 5 years.    

Important note: the application fee is $7 CAD

Things to Prepare Upon Arrival

Apart from bringing all your essential travel documents, you may not familiar with this new country and need to prepare several things beforehand; like booking accommodation and reserving a transportation service that takes you to your place. And here are what you need to prepare before you arrive in Vancouver, Canada:

Finding an Accommodation

Finding a place to call home in Vancouver is challenging, stressful, and costly. Especially when you are a student or a newcomer, you may need help with where to start and which apartment rental platform in Vancouver is more reliable.

The good news is that the GEC team has summarized tips for renting in Vancouver for first-timers.

Student health insurance

Another critical item on the checklist is you are required to have health insurance while you are studying in Canada. Since international students won’t get covered by the government of Canada, you may need to purchase one from a private healthcare organization or provincial government. (If you are coming to British Columbia in Canada, we have a quick tutorial guide on how to apply for your MSP card in B.C.)   

A Mobile Phone Plan

Cell/ mobile phone plan is so expensive in Canada, ranging from $30/month to $100+/month depending on optional services and data usage.

However, we have picked the top cell phone plans for students in Vancouver for you to choose from.

Transportation from Airport

It is optional on the checklist for Vancouver Canada. However, You may need a helping hand to take you to your apartment when you first arrive in Canada, and we’ve got you covered! We partnered with Beaton’s Meet & Greet to provide safe and professional transportation services from YVR Airport to anywhere across Metro Vancouver. Service Starts at $70 per trip. (Book your trip)

Packing list to Vancouver, Canada

Since you only have limited luggage space, it is beneficial to prepare a packing list for coming to Vancouver. Certain items are more expensive in Canada compared to the country you may be traveling from. So, we listed some must-bring items you should pack before moving.

Currency Exchange

Instead of bringing US dollars to Canada, plan ahead and convert your local currency before arriving in Canada as only selected stores will accept US dollars in Canada. Also, it’s hard or expensive for you to convert from USD to CAD since you won’t have a bank account in Canada upon arrival.

Note: the most amount you can bring into Canada is $10k Canadian Dollars, so make sure you don’t carry more than that with you when entering Canada.


At the top of your packing list should be your meds! Bring medicine prescribed by your doctor. Check with your doctor to see if you can get medicine for the next few months until you can find a family doctor in Canada.

Over-the-counter medicines are pretty expensive in Canada. We suggest bringing medicine like ibuprofen, Advil, cough tablets, Vicks, Voltaren, etc.

Note: some prescribed meds are not allowed to bring into Canada, double check with the information provided by the Government of Canada.

Universal Travel Adapter

Bring a universal travel adapter from your home country. While it is easy to find one in Canada, it is more expensive to do so. Also, you may want to focus on settling in your new place after a long flight rather than going out to look for an adapter. Save yourself some money and time and bring one with you.

Personal Grooming

It is always a good idea to pack grooming items in small sizes. When you arrive in Canada after a long flight, the first thing you’ll want to do will be to take a hot shower. Pack a small bottle of shampoo, conditioner, and soap. Bring toothpaste and a toothbrush. It is also a good idea to bring a towel with you for the first couple of weeks.


Beddings are not cheap in Canada. Residences like GEC may provide you with furnished units with bedding. However, bedding is often not included elsewhere.

Here is a full list of what you will need:

  • Flat or fitted sheet (Fitted sheets are always the best option for messy sleepers)
  • Pillowcase
  • Comforter
  • Duvet cover

Ask your accommodation provider about the type of bed that will be available for you. This way, you can bring the right size of bedding.

Driving Records

If you have driving experience (license) in another country, bring your records. Insuring your car with an international license is very expensive in Canada. Submitting your records to ICBC will decrease the amount you have to pay for your car insurance.

You can get the following documents accepted by ICBC:

  • an original driver’s abstract or driver’s license history document (which is our Ontario requirement for example.)
  • a letter of experience from the licensing authority that issued your first license (not a learner’s license).

Read more about additional details your documents should have.


Please note that Canada has a snowy winter!  Don’t forget to bring your winter gear with you, especially if you are coming for your winter semester. If you would like to purchase winter clothes here, the winter coat may be a little bit pricey, but it should be easy to find in anywhere around the city.  In addition, Vancouver rains a lot, so it won’t hurt to bring a pair of rain boots with you, or you can purchase them from the local stores as well.

And yes! This is the tailored checklist for preparing and packing things for Vancouver, Canada. Preparing to come to Vancouver from a foreign country may indeed be difficult, especially if you have never visited Canada before. So, if you want more information about Vancouver, you can take a look at our blog post: What is the Cost of Living In Vancouver As A Student [February 2023]. You can also follow our Instagram and Tiktok for more updated news about student life!