Centre for International Experience


Frequently Asked Questions for New International Students

The home for all new international students at the University of Toronto is the Centre for International Experience, located in the historic Cumberland House. To facilitate your transition to the University, these FAQs provide quick answers to some common questions. Please feel free to contact the Centre for further assistance. 

Pre-Arrival and Arrival Questions

What documentation do I need to enter Canada?

When you are going through customs at the airport or border, you will be asked to show the examining officer the following documents:
  • valid passport
  • Canadian entry visa (depending on your citizenship)  and
  • study permit or letter of introduction.

If you are issued a letter of introduction, you must submit this letter to a Canadian Immigration Officer upon arrival at the border in order to obtain your actual study permit. Be sure to carry these documents with you — i.e., keep them accessible. Do not pack these documents into your checked baggage if you are travelling by air, since you will not collect your baggage until after you have cleared immigration.
Please note that in some cases, students who are studying for less than six months at the University (short term capacity) may enter with a visitor's visa — this is more applicable to exchange students than other international students. However, students must visit the nearest Canadian Consulate in their city and country of residence for more information.

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How do I get to the University from the airport? 

For detailed information regarding how to get to your U of T campus from the airport, please see the Getting to U of T from the Airport web page.
Check out the Airport Welcome Booth when you arrive at Pearson International Airport to receive a welcome package and make a free phone call home.


What is Orientation and when does it start?

Orientation activities at CIE focus on the cultural adaptation of newly arriving students to life at the University and Toronto. These activities will commence August 26th and conclude September 6th. Please visit the Orientation page of CIE's website for more details. You do not need to attend daily sessions. There is a schedule of workshops and events from which you may choose.

There are also Orientation activities scheduled for early September through the various colleges, schools and faculties. Depending on your program and year of study, you may also be eligible to participate in these activities.

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Where can I find information about health coverage?

All international students are covered under a mandatory University Health Insurance Plan (UHIP). Please visit the UHIP pages of CIE's website for further details.

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If I want to improve my English, what programs are available?

If your first language is not English, CIE's English Communication Program (ECP) provides you with an opportunity to further develop your communication skills in English, while gaining insight into Canadian culture and life at the University of Toronto (U of T). Sessions are offered during the Fall, Winter and Summer semesters. You may also be interested in visiting the School of Continuing Studies' website for information about additional language programs at the University.

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What are my housing options?

There are many types of housing available to you when you come to U of T. CIE has devoted a page of this website to explaining the basics of housing at the University. Full details about housing at the University of Toronto may be found at the following Housing Service websites:

Please Note: On-campus housing options for exchange students are coordinated by the Exchange Officer. Exchange students do not apply directly to the residences.

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When should I arrive?

If possible, it is helpful to arrive at the University a few weeks before classes commence to settle in and acquaint yourself with the campus and the city. If your travel arrangements permit, the most convenient time to arrive is between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., the standard hours of operation for offices and businesses in Canada. The University, other offices and banks are closed on Monday September 2nd, 2013 which is the Labour Day Holiday in Canada. However, the Centre for International Experience at 33 St. George Street will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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Questions about Work Regulations

Can I work on the University campus?

If you are an international student who is registered full time and holds a valid study permit, then you are eligible to work on campus. Please see CIE's Working in Canada web page for more information about on-campus work.

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Can I work outside of the University?

After 6 months of full time status, you may be eligible to apply for an off-campus work permit. This online application process will require school verification, which is done by designated college registrars and/ or the School of Graduate Studies. Please see CIE's Working in Canada web page for more information.

Exchange students are not eligible for the off-campus work permit.

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Do I need a Social Insurance Number (SIN)?

You will need a Social Insurance Number if you are hired for work in Canada. You must ensure that you have proper authorization to work before applying. For details on applying for a SIN,  visit CIE's Social Insurance Number  web page and/ or the Service Canada website.

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Settling-In Questions 

What is the climate like in Toronto?

There are four seasons in Toronto. Spring (March-June), summer (June-September), fall (September-December), and winter (December-March). Seasonal variations and overlap of seasonal temperatures is common.    

Temperatures for 2012 


 Average High Temp (˚ C)
 Average Low Temp (˚ C)





































Source: Environment Canada

Because the seasonal temperature differential in Toronto is very wide, you will need a variety of types of clothes to live here for a full year; different kinds and weights of clothing will be necessary. If you do not already possess winter clothing, you should wait to buy it in Canada. Lightweight clothing, chiefly cotton, is popular in the summer. In spring and fall, when the weather is cooler, sweaters and a lightweight waterproof coat are useful.   Canadian students prefer to dress casually for classes and, indeed, for most occasions. Slacks or jeans are acceptable for both men and women, and the emphasis is on comfort and practicality.

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Where do I obtain my University of Toronto Student Card (TCard)?

The TCard allows you to access the University libraries, student services and activities. You can also put cash on the card to be used for such services as photocopying, computer printing, etc.

Please take your official letter of admission to U of T with you when going to obtain your TCard.  TCards can be obtained at the following locations:
  • St. George campus students: Robarts Library, Rm 2054A of the North Lobby (2nd Floor)
  • UTM and UTSC students: Registrar's Office

What is the cost of living in Toronto?

Please visit CIE's Cost of Living web page for information about the cost of living in Toronto.

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How do I open a bank account?

It is advisable that you visit a number of banks to compare products and services.  To set up an account, the bank will require you to show 2 pieces of identification (e.g., passport, study permit, driver's licence), one of which must be photo identification.

The following is an alphabetical list of Canadian Banks you may wish to research: