Life in Vancouver - Canada

Canadian Culture

Living in Canada

Canada is a great place to live, work and study. If you have not visited Canada before, you may notice a few cultural differences.

During your time at UBC you’ll learn more about Canadian culture and understanding Canadians. For a few helpful tips to ease the cultural transition, visit UBC's guide to adjusting to life in Canada.

For international and newcomer Canadian students, we recommend the publication "Surviving and Thriving in Canadian Academia", a great overview of the norms of communication in Canada.

Living in British Columbia

Vancouver is located on the traditional territories of three local First Nations: the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh. UBC itself is located on the ancestral, unceded, traditional territory of the Musqueam people. To learn more about the First Peoples in Canada and the city of Vancouver and its location on unceded Coast Salish territory, the First Peoples: A Guide for Newcomers to Vancouver is a great resource. 

Purchase Taxes

The sale price of an item or service usually does not include the taxes, which are added on when you make your purchase. There are two taxes to be aware of, the Canada-wide Goods and Services Tax (GST) of 5% and the Provincial sales tax (PST) of 7%, and the amount of tax you will pay depends on what you are purchasing. There are several tax-exempt goods and services including groceries and BC ferries fares. For more information on tax please see the BC Government website.

You must be 19 years of age or older to purchase alcohol and go into some establishments that serve alcohol. In BC, you’ll need two forms of photo ID to get served. Appropriate ID includes:

  • passport
  • driver's license
  • student ID
  • British Columbia Identity card

It is most common to shop for alcohol in government-run liquor stores and private wine shops, but some eligible grocery stores may carry a selection of alcohol as well.

For more information on liquor policies in British Columbia, please visit the BC Government website.