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.
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.
- 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.
An important step in getting your finances set up is by opening a Canadian bank account as soon as possible.
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 .
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.
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.
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.
If you move to a major Canadian city or town, you can take advantage of public transportation, like the bus, subway or train. But if you immigrate to a more rural area, you might consider buying a vehicle to get around.
Scotiabank offers the StartRight auto finance program, which is a loan created especially for newcomers. With the StartRight loan, you may be able to qualify with no Canadian credit history to purchase a new car, or one that’s up to four years old, and take up to five years to repay your loan. To apply, you need to provide Proof of Permanent Residence (three years or less in Canada) and your arrival date.
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.
This article is provided for information purposes only. It is not to be relied upon as financial, tax or investment advice or guarantees about the future, nor should it be considered a recommendation to buy or sell. Information contained in this article, including information relating to interest rates, market conditions, tax rules, and other investment factors are subject to change without notice and The Bank of Nova Scotia is not responsible to update this information. References to any third party product or service, opinion or statement, or the use of any trade, firm or corporation name does not constitute endorsement, recommendation, or approval by The Bank of Nova Scotia of any of the products, services or opinions of the third party. All third party sources are believed to be accurate and reliable as of the date of publication and The Bank of Nova Scotia does not guarantee its accuracy or reliability. Readers should consult their own professional advisor for specific financial, investment and/or tax advice tailored to their needs to ensure that individual circumstances are considered properly and action is taken based on the latest available information.
® Registered trademarks of The Bank of Nova Scotia.
† Interac e-Transfer is a registered trademark of Interac Corp. Used under license.
™ Scene+ and the Icon Design are trademarks of Scene Plus IP Corporation, used under license.
1 Eligibility: you are eligible for the Student Banking Advantage Plan (chequing account) if you are enrolled full-time in a university, community college, or another recognized post-secondary institution in Canada or the United States. You will be required to confirm your student status by providing proof of enrollment.
2 Additional fees apply for shared ABM services, cross-border debit transactions and other banking services not included in the Student Banking Advantage Plan account package.
3 Scene+ ScotiaCard® debit card: Earn 1 Scene+ Point for every $5 on debit purchases (up to a maximum of 300 points per transaction and 600 points per day) made from an eligible Scotiabank chequing or savings account using your Scene+ ScotiaCard debit card linked to a Scene+ membership, including Interac Debit contactless and Visa Debit transactions. Normal Interac Debit contactless transaction limits apply. Scene+ Points accumulated using your Scene+ ScotiaCard debit card will be updated within 2-3 days to the associated Scene+ account. Scene+ points are calculated on debit card purchases, less any refunds, returns, or other similar credits. Other conditions apply. Scene+ points can be redeemed for travel, entertainment, shopping, dining, banking or online at www.sceneplus.ca. Visit www.scotiabank.com/sceneplusrewards for complete details.
4 Scotiabank StartRight Program, created for Canadian Permanent residents from 0–3 years in Canada, International Students and Foreign Workers.
5 Conditions apply. Subject to credit approval.
6 Your TransUnion Credit Score and other TransUnion Credit Score services are provided by TransUnion Interactive, Inc. ("TransUnion") and are made available to you as a customer of The Bank of Nova Scotia (“Scotiabank”) at no additional charge. Accessing your TransUnion Credit Score will not impact your Credit Score. Scotiabank and its affiliates are not responsible for the TransUnion Credit Score or any of the information provided to you through TransUnion's Credit Score services.
To access your TransUnion Credit Score, Scotiabank will share your personal information such as name, address and date of birth with TransUnion so that TransUnion can identify you and provide your Credit Score. Your information will not be used or disclosed by TransUnion for any other purposes.