Pre-arrival tips and resources
Before you travel
Plan your travel and housing
- Plan your travels:
Do not travel or purchase non-refundable flight tickets until you have been approved for a study permit and received your TRV or eTA. If you have connecting flights, try to schedule a layover at your Canadian port of entry for a few hours to allow time for immigration.
If you are landing at Edmonton International Airport, keep in mind it is 30 km from Edmonton's city centre. You can get to the city by bus, shuttle or taxi.
- Plan your stay:
If possible, try to arrange accommodations before travelling to Canada. Residencies, rental opportunities and other accommodations may be available.
Many students choose to stay at a hostel or a short-term rental while they look for a place to live. If you are arriving right before the start of term (August or December), you may want to reserve accommodations ahead of time.
When to travel to Canada
We suggest that students plan to travel to Canada 2 weeks to 1 month before their program begins. A CBSA officer may have concerns if you arrive several months early. Please note, you are not allowed to work prior to starting your classes.
What to pack
- Pack the following important documents in your carry-on luggage, as you will be required to present them at the Canadian border to obtain your study permit:
- Travel documents:
- Immigration documents:
- These documents are not required to travel to Canada, but if you have them we advise you bring them:
- Travel insurance
- Medical and immunization records
- Driver's license
- Marriage certificate or proof of common-law status
- Diplomas and transcripts
- Language test results
- If you are traveling with dependents, they must have the following:
- Work permit, visitor permit or study permit approval letter
- eTA or TRV, if applicable
- Please read the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) guidelines to learn what items you can and cannot bring to Canada.
Upon arrival in Canada
Crossing the border
You'll need to get your study permit when you first enter Canada, not necessarily at your final destination. For example, if you arrive in Vancouver and have a connecting flight to Edmonton, you may be required to get your study permit in Vancouver.
Upon entry in Canada:
- Answer questions at the electronic Primary Inspection Kiosk, which will issue a receipt.
- Present your receipt to a CBSA officer and let them know you need a study permit. The officer will direct you to immigration, which is usually located nearby.
- Pick up your checked luggage.
- This may happen before or after you get your study permit.
- If you're continuing on a connecting flight, your luggage can be picked up at your final destination.
- Proceed to immigration.
- Present your letter of introduction to the officer and answer their questions.
- They may ask you about your travel documents, and you should feel comfortable discussing all items.
- If the officer is satisfied with your answers, the study permit will be issued.
- Check your study permit before you leave the officer's desk.
- Confirm all personal information and conditions are correct. If they are not, notify the officer right away. It is okay to confirm details and ask questions about your study permit. Do not feel pressured to leave the desk immediately.
- Work permissions:
- To prevent delays in starting work, ensure your study permit includes at least one of the following conditions:
- "May accept employment on or off campus if meeting eligibility criteria, per paragraph R186(f), (v) or (w) and must cease working if no longer meeting these criteria."
- "May work 20 hours per week off campus or full time during regular breaks if meeting criteria outlined in paragraph 186(v) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations."
- "May accept employment on the campus of the institution at which registered in full-time studies."
- If you leave the airport with incorrect documents, it can take months to correct them.
After you arrive in Edmonton
- Public Transit:
Edmonton Transit System (ETS) includes busses and a light rail (LRT), which can take you directly to NAIT. Students in degree, diploma or certificate programs may take advantage of the U-pass program during the fall and winter semesters, which is administered by the NAIT Student Association.
While NAIT does not have its own student housing, we have NAIT housing agreements with other residential options.
- Banking and money:
Edmonton has many banks with accessible branches and ATMs. To open an account with any of them, you may need your passport, study permit and proof of address. Use this account comparison tool to determine which option works for you. We recommend you bring some Canadian money with you in case you are unable to access your funds immediately.
- Alberta health care:
Canadian residents, including international students, can enjoy access to many health services free of charge; however, to book an appointment for a health visit, you will need to present an Alberta health care card. You must apply for the card within 90 days of arriving in Alberta.
- Cellphone services:
Edmonton has several cellular service providers. SIM cards can typically be purchased at their kiosks in shopping malls.
- Internet and computer services:
While some accommodations may have internet included, many will require you to arrange your own service using one of these local providers. You may also reach out to NAIT Information and Technology Services (ITS) for computer support, software discounts and more.
- Dressing for the weather:
- If you are arriving in August or December, it is important to consider Alberta's climate. While wearing cotton clothes is ideal in the summer, wool or synthetics (like polypropylene) are much safer in the colder seasons. We recommend getting clothing made with wool and synthetics which insulate the body and dry quickly.
- Layering is a great strategy for Alberta winters. You will feel warmer if, instead of wearing your jacket over just a t-shirt, you add additional layers such as a wool sweater or polyester hooded sweatshirt under your jacket. If you plan to spend a lot of time outside, wearing wool socks and thermal underwear is recommended.
- Consider getting the following accessories when preparing for Canadian winter: winter hat, scarf, gloves, warm winter boots, wool socks. These will help protect your head, ears, fingers and toes from the cold winter elements, and can help keep the rest of your body warm as well.
Working in Canada and getting a social insurance number (SIN)
If you plan to work in Canada, you will need a social insurance number (SIN) to file your taxes. This is a 9-digit number that you will provide to your employer before starting work. SINs are issued by a government agent called Service Canada. Visit their website for service centre locations and a list of required documents to get a SIN.
Once you are issued a SIN, keep it in a safe place. It is important to protect yourself from identity theft.
one AT NAIT card
Your one AT NAIT card is your official NAIT identification card and allows you to add funds to use at eat AT NAIT and shop AT NAIT locations. It also gives you access to all of our recreation facilities, library, printing on campus and, with an active U-pass sticker, will give you access to Edmonton Transit Services (ETS). Get yours here!
How to avoid scams
Canada is one of the safest countries in the world. Nevertheless, its residents can sometimes become victims of scams. In particular, you may receive phone and email scams. Learn about scams and how to avoid them.