New Student Checklist

Prepare for your stay at Dal

Congratulations! It's official— you will be visiting Dal to study! You're a Dal student!

Now that you've been accepted to study at Dalhousie, you have an important check list of things you must do. The following check list will help guide your preparations for coming to Dalhousie.

Before you arrive

Apply for a study permit or TRV

In order to study in Canada for more than six months, you must apply for a Study Permit at the nearest Canadian visa office in your home country.

In addition to the study permit, you may be also required to obtain a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) which gives students permission to enter Canada. It is only required for citizens of certain nationalities. Please check the list of countries and territories whose citizens require an entry visa.

If you are studying in Canada for less than 6 months AND choose not to apply for a study permit you will have to apply for an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA).

Many students who plan to study in Canada for less than six (6) months do not apply for study permits, they simply apply for a visa or an eTA. But we encourage all visiting students to apply for a study permit for the following reasons:

  • It allows you to work on and off campus (20 hrs per week off campus) while studying full-time in Canada. A part-time job can be a great source of income while abroad. 
  • It is easy to extend if you want to stay in Canada longer.  Some students love it here so much they want to stay longer.  This could be you! It is much easier and less expensive to apply for a study permit before you begin studying in Canada, than after.
  • It allows you to access cell phone plans and other utilities much easier.  If you are simply a visitor to Canada you may not have access to a lot of great utility plans and other business options that students with study permits can take advantage of. 

Study Permit

A study permit gives students permission to undertake academic study in Canada and is required for students in programs that are longer than six months in duration. However, IRCC recommends that "even if you do not need a study permit, it is a good idea to apply for a permit before you come to Canada." In addition, having a study permit will allow you to work on and off campus (20hrs per week off campus) if you wish to do so.For detailed information on the study permit application process and the documents required, please visit the IRCC website

Set up your Dal email account

After you pay your admissions deposit, you can set up your email (allow one or two days for your payment to be received). 

Step 1: Know your Banner number  

Your Dal ID begins with B00 and appears in the top right hand corner of your acceptance letter. It is the primary way we identify you as a student.

Step 2: Activate your Net ID

Your Net ID is a unique username that you will use to login to Dalhousie’s online services.

To activate your Net ID:

  • Go to Click ‘New User?’ and follow the instructions.
  • Click ‘Activate my NetID’ and follow the instructions.

Register a password reset email:

  • This will help you recover your password if you forget it during your time at Dalhousie.
  • Click ‘New User?’ and follow the instructions.

Step 3: Use your Dal email

Now that you have your Net ID and password, you can access your Dalhousie email account by logging into MyDal and clicking on "Outlook" in the top menu.

IMPORTANT: Your Dal email is where all official university information is sent, including details about orientation, residence, tuition fees, health plan, and more! Your profs will likely use it a fair bit for class info as well. Make sure you check it regularly!

To learn more about you Dal email, visit the Email webpage. Here is where you'll learn how to create a personalized email address (with your name instead of a bunch of numbers!). 

Selecting and registering for classes

As an international exchange student, your process for registering for classes is very different from other students.

When you receive your acceptance letter, there will be information provided to you about how to select and register for your classes.

Have this document handy when you start to officially register. Class registration can seem complicated, but it’s important to take care of it as soon as possible.

Need support with the class registration process? Email us

PLEASE NOTE: It is not possible to register for courses without having been admitted to Dalhousie as an exchange student.

Registering for Classes

Registration for classes will depend on the type of exchange program you are in (see below).

Department-Specific Exchange Programs: Contact the administrator of your particular program for assistance with class registration.

Admitted exchange students will receive documentation in their welcome email which explains how to obtain permission to register for courses.

Exchange students submit their first Class Request Form when they apply to Dalhousie University. Use this form for all subsequent requests. Please consult the Academic Timetable to fill this form out properly. Submit your completed Class Selection Form to the International Centre.

Find a place to live


University is more than a learning experience – it’s a living experience! Residence is a great way to make friends and get involved in the Dal student community. If English is not your first language, on-campus housing provides a relaxed and friendly environment in which you can develop your language skills.

Students choose from a variety of different styles of residence – all are conveniently located and offer meal plans. Learn more about Dalhousie residences.

Applying to residence

  • Have your Net ID and password ready
  • Login to Dal Online. Click on ‘Web for Students’
  • Complete the online ‘Residence Application’
  • Room assignments will be emailed to your Dal email as they are processed.

NOTE: If you are coming to Dalhousie on exchange for the fall term only (September–December), unfortunately there is no space available in residence during this period - see off-campus housing options. Students who come to Dalhousie for the winter term only (January–April) or for a full academic year (September–April) may inquire with the Residence office directly about availability.

Off-campus housing

Find your home away from home. There are many off-campus housing options within walking distance or along bus routes and meal plans are also available to non-residence students if you choose to live off-campus. View listings on Dalhousie's Off-Campus Living website, which can also help with your search and provide tips to prepare you for off-campus living.

Register for International Student Orientation

Orientation is the best way to get all the information you need to know about life at Dal and in Halifax and meet other international students.

During orientation, you will have a chance to:

  • explore the campus
  • meet the International Centre staff
  • learn about Dal's services and resources
  • learn how to get involved in clubs, teams, and other groups
  • meet other students and make new friends

Review the International Student Orientation Schedule

Check out the 2020 Exchange Student Orientation schedule here

Arriving in Halifax

Arriving at the airport and getting to campus

There are several options to travel from Halifax airport to your accommodations.

Dalhousie University welcomes new and returning students to a primarily remote online learning environment for the fall semester. Full in person, on-campus courses will not resume before January 2021. 

Contact the International Centre immediately if you are planning to travel to Canada and Dalhousie University and review our Immigration Information and Updates page for immigration and COVID-19 related updates. 


All the important things you have to do before you leave home and after you arrive on campus. Make this the top of your "to-do" list.


Our helpful tips can help answer many of your questions about Dal, from getting your bus pass to accessing campus WiFi and where to buy groceries. Make sure to check out the tips for international students.


Welcome to Nova Scotia, Canada!

The moment you have been waiting for is finally here! Your plane has landed at Halifax Stanfield International Airport and you can't wait to get to your new home. Once you have made your way through Canadian Immigrations and Customs (where you will get your study permit), you will need to know how to get to Campus.


Get your Study Permit at Canadian Immigration

When you arrive at the airport in Canada, you will pass through Canadian Immigration. Tell the immigration officer that you are coming to Canada to study and present to the officer the following documents.

  • Letter of Introduction from the Canadian Consulate or High Commission:
    This is the letter you receive from the visa office if you applied, and have been approved, for a study permit. It is sometimes called the letter of introduction or introductory letter. Officially, it is called the Port of Entry (POE) Introduction Letter.
  • Valid passport, with Temporary Resident Visa (TRV)/entry visa (if required).
  • An original or copy of your letter of acceptance from Dalhousie University.
  • Evidence of financial support (proof of funds documents)
  • Letters of reference or other documents recommended by the Canadian embassy, consulate, or high commission.
  • Record of Health Immunizations (if required)

Keep all these items in your carry-on luggage, as well as cash, traveller’s cheques, and other valuable documents with you. Do not put them in your checked baggage.

Respond to all questions the immigration officer asks you with clear, simple answers. Service is available in English and French. If you do not fully understand the questions, ask for an interpreter. They are available in many languages.

After the officer processes your information, they will give you a Study Permit (a piece of brown paper that is often stapled to your passport).

DO NOT leave the airport or border until you have a Study Permit issued by an immigration officer.

You should check your permit for errors before leaving the immigration officer. It is much easier to have the Officer fix them immediately, than to try to get them fixed later.

If you are a student who expects to work during your time in Canada, it is very important to check for conditions that include the words “may work” or “may accept employment.” If your study permit does not include those words, please tell the immigration officer who issued your permit, as all post-secondary students should include such conditions.

Declare your personal items at Canadian Customs

When you arrive at the airport, you will have to declare your personal items with the Canadian Border Services Agency

Prepare a list of all the goods you are bringing into Canada in advance (e.g., clothing, electronics, etc.) including vehicles. Be prepared to show your list to the Canada Border Services Agent. Make two copies of the list. You can bring in other non-consumable goods (e.g., clothing, electronics, etc., BUT NOT food items from your home country) after your initial arrival, but you must report these goods to the Canada Border Services Agency. They will require a refundable deposit.



When you arrive

Attend International Student Orientation

Exchange and Visiting Students Schedule

Check back soon for the updated Orientation schedule.

Pay your university fees

Exchange students

Your tuition fees are paid to your home university. There are some fees you will be responsible for paying during your time at Dalhousie. Please see Student Fees at Dal for more details.

Study Abroad students

You are responsible for paying all your tuition fees to Dalhousie University.

You can access your account statement through DalOnline, under Web for Students and Student Records. Your account statement will include your list of payments. You will be able to see your full list of payments a week or two after the beginning of each term.

Outstanding balances must be paid by late September (fall term) or January (winter term) to avoid interest and related fees.

Fee payment instructions can be found on the Money Matters website.

Get your DalCard (university ID card) and Upass (transit pass)


Your DalCard is more than your official Student ID Card – it’s a debit card, library card, gym pass, key to residence and bus pass! You can go to pick up your DalCard at the DalCard Office

If you submit your DalCard phonto online and register for orientation you can pick up your DalCard at the International Centre on January 3 and 4, 2020.

Note: You must present one piece of government issued photo ID such as a driver's license or passport to pick-up your DalCard.


If you’re a full-time student in Halifax, a Metro Transit UPass is included in your tuition. The UPass is a sticker placed on your DalCard and will act as your bus pass until April 30. For more information about the UPass, visit

Accept or waive your health insurance

As an international student, you must get both the Health and Dental Plan AND the International Student Health Plan. 

If you start school in September, you are automatically billed and enrolled in both. 

If you start school in January or May, you are only enrolled in the International Student Health Plan and so you must opt-in to the Health and Dental Plan. 

For more information, visit the Student VIP website or contact the DSU Health Plan office

Health and Dental Plan

The DSU Health and Dental Plan provides coverage for medical, dental, travel, accident, vision and many other services and perks. 

International Student Health Plan

The DSU International Student Health Plan provides international students with basic health insurance coverage such as doctor and hospital visits. This plan is different from the DSU Health and Dental Plan above. The DSU International Student Health Plan is required unless you carry MSI or equivalent insurance.

Already have health insurance?

If you already have comparable health & dental coverage, you may be able to opt-out. Opt-out deadlines are strict so please visit the StudentVIP website for more information. 

Pick up your DSU health plan card

Pick-up your health insurance card/s from the DSU Health Plan Office, located on the 3rd floor of the Student Union Building

After you get settled in

Open a bank account

Below is a list of banks in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Visit their website to learn more about student banking.

Bank of Nova Scotia (Scotiabank)

Halifax and Truro

Bank of Montreal (BMO)

Halifax and   Truro

Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC)

Halifax and Truro

Royal Bank of Canada (RBC)

Halifax and Truro

Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD)

Halifax and Truro

When choosing a bank, don't forget to ask about:

  • Unlimited banking versus charges after a number of transactions and/or fees associated with the account
  • Access to a credit card that is pre-approved and preferably unsecured (i.e. does not require monies deposited to the credit card)
  • Additional incentives e.g. points card for movies, etc.

Get a cell phone

Cell phone plans can vary amongst providers.  It is a good idea for you to explore your options before signing a contract.  Here is a list of the main cell phone companies.

Tips for choosing a cell phone provider

  • Ask about extra charges
  • Find out the cost of cancelling your plan 
  • Ask about the benefits and the downsides of contacts versus pay-as-you-go options

Setting up your cell phone

Visit your chosen cellphone service provider and present:

  • Photo Identification - either a Passport or Driver’s License
  • Second piece of identification - either a credit card, Social Insurance Number card, or bank cheque

Note to American citizens and permanent residents of the USA:

Verizon Wireless and AT&T provide a nationwide plus Canada plan that makes it easy to call home and anywhere in Canada (and the US) at no extra charge, eliminating long distance charges and the need for calling cards.  Visit the Verizon wireless website ( or AT&T website ( for more details.

Set up the internet

If you live in residence, you will have access to high-speed Internet, which includes both ethernet and wireless connected. 

If you live off-campus, Internet providers  in Nova Scotia to consider include: 

See our Helpful Tips for how to connect to Wi-Fi on campus


Find out everything you need to know about campus with our helpful tips guide for new students