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/eTA
COVID-19 border measures ended on October 1, 2022
As of October 1, 2022, all COVID-19 border restrictions, including testing and quarantine/isolation requirements, vaccination, and mandatory use of the ArriveCAN travel, are no longer necessary for all travellers entering Canada whether by land, air or sea. Please see the most up-to-date information on the Government of Canada website.
Whether you apply for a study permit or not, you must have either a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) or an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) in order to enter Canada. US citizens are the only foreign nationals who are exempt from this requirement, and all other foreign nationals require either a TRV or eTA. The TRV or eTA will be automatically issued to you when you apply for a study permit. If you don’t apply for a study permit, you must apply for your TRV or eTA separately.
Study Permit and Working in Canada
As an exchange student, you can work on campus (with no limitations on hours per week) or up to 20 hours per week off campus if you have a post-secondary study permit with work eligibility stated on it and you’re registered in a full-time course load. If you're going to study at Dalhousie for only one term, you still need to apply for a study permit. In your study permit application, it's important that you include a letter of explanation to clarify why you are applying for a study permit for one term of study. If you receive approval for a study permit and wish to work on and/or off campus during your studies, we strongly encourage you to verify that the study permit states eligibility to work on and off campus when it is issued to you at the airport.
Please review our Immigration Application Guide (pdf - 117kb) and the Online Immigration Application Tip Sheet (pdf - 188kb) for more information.
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 my.dal.ca. 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!
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.
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
New to Dal 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 New to Dal 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
Online New to Dal supports are available to students via Brightspace.
Review our Immigration and COVID-19 Updates page
Exchange Students to Dalhousie must follow the government's current travel and quarantine requirements. Please review our Immigration & COVID-19 Updates page for full details about quarantine, travel, testing, and other information.
Please note: Exchange Students to Dalhousie are not eligible for Dalhousie's financial assistance for accommodation costs associated with quarantine. Please check with your home university for financial assistance options available to you.
Arriving in Halifax
Plan for the upcoming semester and arriving in Nova Scotia
When you arrive
Attend New to Dal - International Student Orientation
Find out about New to Dal orientation events and resources by visiting Dal.Ca/New-To-Dal.
Pay your university fees
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.
Get your DalCard (university ID card) and Upass (transit pass)
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 dal.ca/upass.
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.
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.
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)
Bank of Montreal (BMO)
Royal Bank of Canada (RBC)
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 (www.verizonwireless.com) or AT&T website (www.att.com) for more details.