Welcome to Canada and Scotiabank

Welcome to Canada! We’re happy that you’ve chosen our country to continue your education and hope you will experience all the amazing things that Canada has to offer – from its people to its natural beauty and everything in between. 

Congratulations on starting your post-secondary education – all your hard work and planning have paid off as you begin the next phase of your education at one of Quebec’s premier educational institutions. 

We’ve pulled together some key information on this page to help you more easily transition into life in Canada and set you up for success in school and your new home. You’ve already taken an important first step by visiting our Scotiabank Express branch to put your finances in order.

At Scotiabank, we’re here to make sure you get personalized financial advice that will help you meet your shorter-term financial goals and responsibilities, while also establishing a foundation for success in the future.

If you have any questions or need guidance, reach out to a Scotiabank advisor . We’re here to support you as you settle in. 

To learn more about banking in Canada, visit the scotiabank.com/adviceplus  for advice, tips, tools and timely financial information. We’re constantly adding new content, so make sure you check back frequently.  

Your Scotiabank team

5 things to do as you start your studies in Montreal

How to make your transition as smooth as possible 

Congratulations, you’ve finally arrived in Canada. After all your hard work, research and planning for this day, you’re now a university student, eager and excited to start this new chapter of your life. 

There are some essential things you’ll need to do – both as a student and member of your new Canadian family – to ensure your transition into your new home is as smooth as possible. 

Here is a checklist of key items you’ll need to take care of. 

1. Get your Social Insurance Number (SIN)

Your Social Insurance Number (SIN) is a nine-digit number that you’ll need in order to work in Canada and to access benefits and services from government programs. Service Canada (a department within the Government of Canada) is responsible for issuing SINs. There is no fee to apply for a SIN. 

Some reminders:

  • If you haven’t yet done so, apply immediately.
  • Your SIN belongs to you and it’s illegal for anyone else to use it.
  • You are responsible for protecting your SIN.

For more information, visit the Government of Canada website at Canada.ca, Social Insurance Number – Overview.

2.  Set up a bank account

An important step in getting your finances set up is by opening a Canadian bank account as soon as possible. The good news is since you’re in our Scotiabank Express branch, we can help you with this today. 

Your must-have account for daily transactions

A chequing account is a bank account designed for everyday activities like withdrawing cash, paying bills and sending money. It doesn’t typically earn interest. 

For students we recommend the Student Banking Advantage® Plan , which includes:

  • No monthly account fee1
  • Unlimited debit and Interac e-Transfer† transactions2
  • Earn points on everyday purchases with the Scene+™ program3
  • Available through online and mobile banking

Check out our latest student bank account offers .

3. Start building your Canadian credit history

Now that you’re in Canada, you may have started hearing a lot about “credit.” 

A credit card, which is issued by a bank, is the most common method of paying for goods or services on credit. Obtaining “credit” allows you to obtain a good or service before paying for it, with an understanding that it will be paid for later.

Many banks require that a person have a credit history before approving them for a credit card, which can put some newcomers at a disadvantage. A credit history refers to your payment history and your ability to consistently pay your credit card bill, and any other bills, on time. When you apply for credit in Canada, lenders will normally check your credit history to help with their decision as to whether to give you credit

Did you know?

The Scotiabank StartRight® Program4 offers you the chance to apply for your first credit card without providing a credit history beforehand. If approved, having a credit card can help get you started on building your credit in Canada. You may be eligible for up to a $5,000 credit limit on a Scotiabank credit card!5 Once you’ve been approved for a credit card, it’s important to use it responsibly in order to build a good credit score.

What is a credit score?

A credit score is a number that represents your financial health at a specific moment in time. It indicates how risky you are to money lenders, and how likely you are to pay your bills on time. In Canada, your credit score generally falls between 300 and 900, and the higher the better.

A good credit score is important for a healthy financial life in Canada. Without it, it may be difficult to get a loan, mortgage or credit card, and you may experience higher interest rates on these products. A good credit score allows you to get more easily approved for such things as a rental property, a cell phone or the purchase or lease of a car. 

Tips for building a good credit score

  • Always pay your bills on time – paying at least the minimum payment
  • Try to pay your bills in full whenever possible, or as much as you can afford
  • Don’t spend more than your credit card allows
  • Limit yourself to just one or two credit cards
  • Read your monthly account statements to ensure they’re correct – and report any errors as soon as possible 
  • Know your credit score and monitor any fluctuations (your credit score falls betweeen 300 and 900 – the higher the better)


You can check your credit score

Once you’re a Scotiabank customer and signed up for online or mobile banking, you can register for the TransUnion Credit Score tool6 at no cost.  With this tool, you can check your credit score, view your personal credit report, and get practical tips on how to build a good credit history.

4. Get a transit card to get around the city

If you are a full-time student, under the age of 25, you are eligible to pay/receive a reduced fare on the metro, bus and commuter train in Montreal when you use the OPUS Card . The card is available for a fee of $15. It’s a rechargeable metro card that will be very useful and cost effective if you don’t live near the campus and need to take public transportation to get to school, or if you simply will be using the metro system on a regular basis.

For example: 

A one-month pass, for unlimited use, is $90 for the regular price. With the OPUS card, the reduced fare for students is $54 a month.

5. Set up a phone plan

Canada is known for having some of the most expensive cell phone plans in the world, especially when it comes to data. It’s important to choose a plan that fits your needs and budget.

Some students, particularly those from the U.S., may be able to extend their current plan to allow for their move to Canada. However, many students may find it cheaper and more practical to obtain a new cellphone and cell plan here in Montreal. The sooner you get a local phone, the more you’ll avoid costly roaming charges from your home provider.

Getting a phone

Some companies will provide a free phone/device when you sign up for a plan with them. Some service providers may also sell used certified phones at a discounted rate. 

To help you decide what plan is best for you, here are some questions to consider:

  • What is important for you to have

              - Do you need a data plan?
              - Do you need long-distance calling? International texting?
              - Do you plan on using a smartphone?

  • What are the overage charges should you go over your limit of text messaging, minutes or data?
  • Is the plan flexible? Can you add on or remove different services?
  • Do you want to sign onto a monthly contract plan (usually a two- to three-year term) or use a pre-paid plan?

For a newcomers’ guide to understanding Canadian cell phones, visit the Moving2Canada  website.

What is the difference between a monthly contract plan and
pre-paid phone plan?

A monthly contract plan is where you pay for the services you have selected typically on a set day every month. With this type of plan if you exceed your limit for calls, texts or data, the phone provider will charge you for the overage by adding it to your next monthly bill. Overage charges can be expensive, so try to stay within your limit and find out in advance what the overage fees are on your plan. Always pay your bill on time, as being late will negatively impact your credit score. 

A pre-paid plan, also referred to as “pay-as-you-go,” is where you pay for your services in advance. You purchase a certain amount of calling minutes, texts and data. Once you use up your allotment, you will no longer have access to those services, unless you pay more to refill your account. 


Getting to know Montreal 


The metro area population of Montreal is over 4 million, making it the second-largest city in Canada. 

It’s one of the five largest French speaking cities in the world. Paris is first.

Montreal has the highest number of restaurants, per capita, in Canada and the second highest in North America after New York City.

Montreal was home to the first Olympics ever held in Canada – the 1976 Summer Olympics. 

Montreal is also home to the world- famous Cirque du Soleil.

Places to visit

Mount Royal is the mountain park at the heart of the city and is the most iconic landmark. It is the highest point in Montreal at 234 meters. It was designed by Frederick Law Olmstead – the same landscape architect who crafted New York’s Central Park.

As one of the longest commercial strips in Canada, Sainte-Catherine Street is the perfect place for shopping. You’ll find international fashion brands, as well as amazing regional retailers, such as the beloved department store Simons. 

Old Montreal , which is part of downtown Montreal, is European in character. Cobblestone streets, a café culture and historic 17th- and 18th-century architecture all contribute to the quaint charm that is unique amongst cities in North America.

Things to do

Montreal has a vibrant summer festival scene. The Montreal Jazz Festival, starting on June 28th is the biggest of its kind in the world.

There are more than 350 kilometres of bike paths in Montreal.

Come winter over 200 kilometres of cross-country ski trails can be found in the city. Parc du Mont-Royal is one of the best known ones.

Foods to try

When you visit Montreal don’t miss trying Montreal style bagel, poutine or a smoked meat sandwich.

Sports teams

Montreal is home to several professional sports teams, including: the Montreal Canadiens (National Hockey League); the Montreal Alouettes (Canadian Football League); and Montreal Impact (Major League Soccer).


On average it snows 60 days a year in Montreal. 

The largest single day record for snowfall was 43 cm on March 4, 1971.

The lowest temperature ever recorded in Montreal was -37.8°C (-36°F) on January 15, 1957. To stay warm in this cold weather, you should consider buying an extra warm coat or jacket, insulated and waterproof boots, winter hat (tuque), mittens, scarf for your neck and face, long johns or leg warmers, snow pants, and heavier sweaters (wool or fleece).

The record high temperature was 39.6°C on August 1, 1975. 

Related articles

Your guide to a Tax-Free Savings Account and how they can help you save for your goals.