Arriving in Calgary

Use this guide to plan for important steps as you prepare for your studies and arrival in Calgary. The Welcome Centre student staff can help answer questions along the way.

New Student Checklist

  1. University of Calgary Documents: carefully read any documents or emails you receive from the University of Calgary so you are aware of any steps you need to complete or deadlines.
  2. Canadian Immigration Documents (International Students): find out whether you require a Study Permit and Visa at the nearest Canadian embassy or consulate. If you are not sure, contact one of our regulated immigration advisors (international.advice@ucalgary.ca).
  3. Plan for Your Expenses: learn about what to expect for expenses in Calgary and what strategies you’ll use along the way.
  4. Accommodation Options: decide whether you will choose to apply for on-campus housing through Residence Services or if you will look for off-campus housing once you are in Calgary.
  5. Medical Insurance: as a UCalgary student, it is important you understand your medical insurance options. Your options will depend on whether you are from Alberta, another province, or outside Canada—and if you are studying for a short time or for a full degree. International students can learn more here. New-to-Calgary students can learn more here.
  6. Travel Arrangements: book your flights or arrange your travel so that you have time to attend New Student Orientation and arrive before classes start. Learn about transportation options in Calgary.
  7. Register for Courses: know when you are able to register for courses and what you need to do. Helpful resources are available through the Office of the Registrar and New Student Registration Assistance. Exchange students should contact iexch@ucalgary.ca with questions.
  8. International Student Services (International Students): learn about the services and programs that our office provides. Sign up for programs that interest you!
  1. Arrange a place to stay! If you are not moving directly into on-campus Residence, arrange for temporary accommodation for your first few days while you settle or search for long-term off-campus accommodation. There are student deals for the on-campus Hotel (Hotel Alma) or several budget-friendly hotels near campus; learn more under Accommodations.
  2. Get Connected! There are several mentorship programs to consider for international and non-international students:
  3. New Student Orientation: Register for New Student Orientation. International students, make sure you register to attend the international student-specific orientation—it’s a great opportunity to learn information about adapting to life in Calgary and meet other new students.
  4. UNICARD: Submit your photo to speed up the process of picking up your UCalgary student identification card (UNICARD).
  5. Prepare for Your Arrival (International Students): We recommend you travel with some Canadian cash (or plan to exchange some when you arrive in Calgary) to pay for any immediate needs such as food, transportation, and temporary accommodation.
    • Know where you are travelling to in Calgary. Bring a copy of the address with you.
    • Are you relying on a cell phone or electronic devices? Remember your charger and an adaptor.
    • Do you need to travel with medication?  Learn how to travel with medication and what documentation you need to bring with you.
  6. Travelling with Important Documents (International Students): Make sure you carry all required entry documents with you when you travel to Canada. Do not pack these in your suitcase—keep them with you at all times. Important documents to carry with you include your passport (with visa, if required), immigration letter authorizing your Study Permit, and your University of Calgary acceptance letter and enrollment letter (if you have already enrolled in courses).
  1. Canadian Cash (International Students): we recommend you exchange or withdraw some money to Canadian currency, so you have cash ready in case you encounter any issues with your bank card or have immediate small expenses as you get settled.
  2. Check-in with family or friends: let them know you have arrived
  3. Cell phone: choose a mobile provider and cell phone plan that meets your needs
  4. UNICARD & UPASS: Once you are on campus, pick up your official student identification card (UNICARD) at the UNICARD office (Building: Dining Centre, Room: 18) and, if you are a full time student, your transit pass (U-PASS). The U-PASS is included in tuition for most degree-seeking students; exchange or visiting students will need to pay for it as a part of their fees ($145).
  5. Accommodation:

    On-campus: Move-in information & rental insurance information

    Off-campus: Stay in temporary accommodation while you explore convenient off-campus rental options. Make sure you understand your rights as a tenant and ask questions before signing a lease. Take care to avoid rental fraud with these tips. We strongly recommend you have a written lease (rental agreement). You will need to arrange:

    • How to pay rent each month
    • Utilities (if applicable: heat, electricity, telephone services, internet)
    • Household goods (if needed, furniture)Rental Insurance (strongly recommended to protect your belongings; usually $15-30 CAD/month based on your individual situation)
  6. Banking: If you are opening a Canadian bank account, you must bring two pieces of identification (such as passport, driver’s license (Canadian), student identification card). We recommend you bring your UNICARD and letter of enrollment to ask about student deals. There are several banks near campus—find one that is convenient for you (see our website).
  7. Apply for Provincial Healthcare: If you'll be living in Alberta for 12 months or more, you're eligible to register for Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan (AHCIP). You must register within your first 90 days in Alberta—you're not automatically registered. If you will be living in Alberta for less than 12 months, you will need to purchase medical insurance, if you have not already. Learn more about provincial healthcare
  8. Social Insurance Number (SIN) (International Students): If you are eligible to work in Canada or intend to receive income (eg. scholarships) in Canada, you must obtain a confidential nine-digit number. Learn more here. You will need your study permit, passport, and letter of enrollment to apply.
  9. Update Contact Details: once you have your new phone number and address, update your Calgary address and telephone number in your Student Centre account.
  10. Keep Documents Secure (International Students): save pictures of your passport, study permit (and visa, if relevant); keep insurance and rental agreements saved securely somewhere electronically for future reference. Make sure you know when your study permit will expire.
  11. Campus Safety Supports and Important Contact Numbers

    Campus Security/Safewalk (24-hour)

    403-220-5333

    SU Wellness Centre and After Hours Support

    403-210-9355

    City of Calgary Emergency Services (ambulance, fire, police)

    911

    International Students - We also recommend you find the nearest consulate location and contact details for your country of citizenship.  
  12. Free Phone Apps to Download:
    • UC Emergency App: informs you of on-campus emergencies
    • Transit: Google Maps, Calgary Transit, Uber - helpful for directions, maps, and public transport
    • The Weather Network: to help plan your day, travel and clothing options
  13. UCalgary Courses & Tuition Payment: Finalize your class schedule through your Student Centre account--add (or drop, if necessary) courses and pay any remaining tuition by deadlines.
  14. Exchange Students:
    • Exchange students must pay fees like UPASS, student services, and Active Living. Check your fees through your Student Centre. Payment options are available here.
    • If you need forms from your home institution signed, speak with the exchange team (iexch@ucalgary.ca).
  15. Find Your Classrooms: Your Student Centre includes your course schedule with times, dates, and locations. Find your classrooms using the UCalgary Interactive Room Finder.
  16. SafeWalk: When you arrive on campus you can always call the University of Calgary’s SafeWalk team if you are feeling uncomfortable walking alone. This service is free and available to students, staff, and campus visitors thanks to the collaboration between Campus Security and the Students' Union. Call 403-220-5333. Learn more here.

Landing at the Airport

When you land at the Calgary International Airport (YYC) you will need to go through Canadian customs if you have arrived on an international flight. You will collect your baggage after speaking with a border agent. If you are arriving on a domestic flight you can go directly through to the main terminal where you collect your baggage there.

Check and see what you require in order to successfully pass through Canadian Customs.

While at the airport, if you need any assistance just find one of the many “White Hat” Volunteers for a warm Calgarian welcome. These volunteers are happy to chat with you and even walk you through the airport. They are easy to spot wearing their white cowboy hats. There is also an information booth at the airport on the arrivals floor where you can ask for additional help.

The University of Calgary campus is located approximately 18 km west from the Calgary International Airport. Visitors have several options for ground transportation from the airport to the University of Calgary. Below are transportation options:

  1. Taxi 
    A taxi stand can be found immediately outside of the Arrivals area (follow the signs for “ground transportation”). The cost from the airport to the University campus is approximately $40. It takes around 35-45 minutes depending on traffic. If you are tired from your travels, or if you have heavy luggage, the extra cost of taking a taxi rather than using public transit may be a good idea.
  2. Uber
    Requesting an Uber from the Uber app might be a good alternative to a taxi. Usually Uber costs a bit less than Taxi. Through the app they will let you know where in the airport to meet. Keep in mind that Uber costs may vary according to demand (rush hour or rainy days can increase the cost), so comparing prices is important before requesting an Uber or Taxi.
  3. Public Transit 
    If the cost of a taxi may be an issue, you may wish to use the Calgary Transit system.  The Calgary airport is served by public buses that can then connect you to the "C-Train" which is Calgary’s Light Rail system.  There is a C-Train station at the University of Calgary called University Station. Make sure you are on the train heading North Bound towards Tuscany Station. Visit the Calgary Transit webpage (http://www.calgarytransit.com) for bus routes and fare information. Before you get off the bus, be sure to get a 'transfer' from the bus driver which will allow you to use Calgary Transit for 90 minutes without having to pay another fare. Using Calgary Transit may be difficult and long if you are carrying large amounts of luggage or arriving at night.

Please note: Calgary Transit is not a 24-hour service. If you plan to arrive in Calgary late at night, check to make sure your transit route is still running. Again, transit schedules can be checked at www.calgarytransit.com.

Plan Your Travel

If you are travelling from the airport to your accommodation (either on or off-campus), one helpful website or app is “Google Maps”. You can use this website to view travel times and compare routes between using public transit, a ride-share service like uber, or driving/taxi.