Pre-Arrival Guide

Before you arrive in Toronto, there are some things you will need to prepare for – everything from organizing your travel documents to finding somewhere to live. Check out our Pre-Arrival Guide and Next Steps Checklist for details.

Pre-arrival guide

Toronto Pearson International Airport

When you land at Toronto Pearson International Airport in August or September, our welcome booth and friendly staff will be there to greet you. 

Read this page for details about what to expect at Customs, and how to get from the airport to U of T.

Transition advising

As an international student at U of T, you will encounter many new experiences and challenges. Our transition advisors are here to help you adjust to the University and life in Canada.

We can help you:

  • Adjust to CanadaLearn how to form friendships in Canada, succeed in the U of T classroom, live in Toronto’s climate, or deal with feeling homesick.
  • Build your new community – Get involved on- and off-campus, find groups and sign up for activities.
  • Make a plan – Achieve your goals during your time here at the University of Toronto.
  • Find help when you need it – Get access to helpful programs, services and information.


If you are a new student at U of T, then orientation is for you! Orientation is a great way to meet your new classmates and discover useful information about the University.

Orientation activities take place in the week or two leading up to the start of classes in early September. If you arrive in January you will find some orientation activities taking place, but on a smaller scale.

Read more about orientation activities

Wondering what “frosh” means?

A frosh is someone who is new to University. The word comes from the term “freshman,” which is more common in America. If you're a first-year student, then you're a frosh. You'll hear the word a lot during the week of Orientation activities, which is often called Frosh Week. 

Living in Toronto

Welcome to Toronto! This page provides a variety of information that will help you get acquainted with your new city.

Looking for more general information about living in Toronto? The Toronto Wikipedia page is a good place to start exploring. The City of Toronto also has a helpful website about Living in Toronto for newcomers to the city.

You can also check out CIE’s Pre-Arrival Guide to help you prepare for your arrival at the University of Toronto.


UPDATE: Applying for Child Care Subsidies 

Child care subsidies may be offered by municipalities to help with the cost of child care.  In the City of Toronto, if you are applying for a child care subsidy, file your Canadian income tax return immediately to receive your Canada Revenue Agency, Notice of Assessment (NOA). Once you apply, you will be put on the wait-list for a child care fee subsidy. When the child care subsidy office contacts you they will request a copy of The Notice of Assessment to consider your eligibility for subsidy in the City of Toronto.  The Toronto child care subsidy office main information contact number is 416-338-8888 (press option #2 for child care).

Other municipalities generally will only offer child care subsidies to help Canadian citizens, landed immigrants or refuges with the cost of child care.

Please contact the Family Care Office if you require further information.

Posted: June 26, 2018 

Income taxes

International students are encourage to think about filing applications for income taxes with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). The CRA has information on what your duties and responsibilities are in income tax filing, and the CIE offers supportive programming to help along the way. Many students believe they will get money back – which may or may not be true – depending on a many factors on your specific tax situation.

Be sure to review the information on this site and sign up for an information session to learn more about the Canadian income tax system.

Academic support

Academic culture can vary greatly from one country to another, and many students need time to adjust to new rules and expectations. We can help you understand how things work at U of T.

Read through this page or talk to a CIE transition advisor about any classroom challenges you might be facing. Getting tips from someone who knows the system can be a big help. Find out more about academic support offered at U of T.

English Language Support

As an international student, you have access to language support programs and many other academic resources while you are here at U of T.

CIE programs

Other programs

  • Graduate Centre for Academic Communication – Get individual support or try a workshop or non-credit course (for grad students who are either native or non-native English speakers) offered at the School of Graduate Studies (SGS).
  • Arts and Science English Language Learning Program – Participate in a 7-week series of communication workshops (Communication Café) or a 3-week writing activity online. Open to all undergraduate students enrolled in the Faculty of Arts and Science.
  • Engineering Communication Program – Build your professional-level communication skills as an undergraduate engineering student.
  • Writing Centres – Make an appointment with a writing instructor or visit the drop-in centre to improve your writing. Read more about Advice on Academic Writing.
  • Academic Success Centre – Choose from a variety of lectures and workshops to help you develop the skills you need to succeed as a student.
  • English Language Program – Check out the academic courses in English offered by the University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies.

Grad Step Up

Grad Step Up is an orientation for all new international graduate students at U of T.

Starting graduate school in a new country and in a new university system can be a lot to navigate. Grad Step Up is a full-day event designed to help bridge this transition. At Grad Step Up you will have a chance to take part in sessions designed to help you become familiar with the expectations and resources available to you at U of T. You will also have a chance to meet other international graduate students from many different departments at U of T.

Date: Thursday, August 29, 2019

Time: 8:30 a.m. to mid-afternoon

Location: St. George Campus

English Conversation Communities

Are you a multilingual graduate student or postdoctoral fellow looking for a drop-in space to have informal conversations in English? Participating in CIE's English Conversation Communities is a chance for you to practice your English skills in a friendly group environment. These groups are led by volunteer graduate students who are welcoming and supportive to hear your ideas. Chat about Toronto slang and idioms, meeting new people, campus life, and other fun topics in a pressure-free environment. No registration required!

Useful English tips

The Useful English tips page provides some basic information and vocabulary to help you navigate university and city interactions in English.