Financial resources are important when you're living in a city like Vancouver. In this section, find tips and guidelines for budgeting, banking, obtaining medical insurance, filing taxes as a student, and more.


Cost of living

We have built a Cost of Living Calculator so that you can start building your personal financial plan. This cost calculator highlights general categories of expenses you will have as a graduate student, including tuition fees for most programs (this does not take special circumstances into account, such as taking a leave of absence, being on extension, etc.).


Setting up an account

If you have not already done so, setting up a bank account can help you manage your finances. You should carefully research which bank offers the best account for you as bank fees vary. Some banks might have special student accounts. You should pick a bank with opening hours that work for you and have branches and ATMs in close proximity as additional fees will apply for withdrawals from other banks.

Banking for International students

As an international student, it may be easier to have a Canadian bank account as you might otherwise occur high fees for international transactions. For more information about setting up a bank account visit the UBC international student web site.

Accessing money on campus

The following banks are located on or near campus:


Insurance is important to make sure you have financial support if your circumstances change. Medical insurance is obligatory for UBC students. You may also wish to consider tenant and car insurance if you are renting or own a car.

Medical Insurance

Medical care can be expensive if you have no insurance. There are three types of health insurance (basic, extended, and emergency). Students are required to have basic health insurance before attending UBC. See health insurance basics for more detailed information about insurance requirements.

Students have access to extended medical insurance as part of their tuition fees. For more information visit the UBC Alma Mater Society website

The AMS/GSS Health & Dental Plan provides extended health and dental coverage, specifically designed for students to cover expenses not covered by your basic health care plan. This plan covers expenses such as prescription drugs, dental care, travel health coverage, vision care, and more. For more information visit the Graduate Student Society website.

International students

After you arrive in BC, you must apply for the BC government-run Medical Services Plan (MSP). As a new-to-UBC student, when you register for courses, UBC automatically enrolls you for the iMED temporary private health insurance to cover you during the 3-month MSP waiting period. You will need to confirm your arrival date with David Cummings Insurance Services (DCIS) to obtain your iMED card.

More information about health insurance and how it may affect you can be found on the UBC international student website.

Tenant insurance

It is worth considering tenant insurance if you are renting a property. It may save you money if your home is subject to damage, fire or theft.

Car insurance

If you are moving to study at UBC, then you may have to update your insurance and driver’s licence for it to remain valid. For more information, see the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia website. It is very important to find out when your driver's licence from outside of BC will lose its validity (typically after 3 months). After that period you are legally not allowed to drive anymore in BC unless you get a BC driver's licence.

International students

If you are bringing your car from abroad, there are various factors to be aware of. For more information see ‘bringing a car’ on the International Student Development web site. 

As a UBC student, you will have access to several student discount options that can save you money.



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.

student discounts


UPass is a significantly reduced monthly public transit pass for Vancouver. read more

Travel at UBC: UBC Travel Smart

UBC students who travel on university business such as to a conference or as part of a field project can be eligible to use the Travel at UBC program that provides university discount rates. During registration for the online booking engine (requires UBC credentials), please enter "Student" in the field labeled "Position/Title" and indicate your research unit/department/faculty in the appropriate field. After logging into the system, you can search for travel options and pricing. Please note that this program cannot be used to book flights for family members or friends. read more

International Student Identity Card (ISIC)

ISIC can provide discounts for travel (flights, trains) and attractions such as museums. It is the only internationally recognized proof of full-time student status in the world and is a student travel discount card in 70 countries worldwide, including Canada. If travelling abroad, the ISIC provides discounts on accommodation, admission to historical sites and museums, and transportation. The price of the ISIC is $20.00. read more

Entertainment Book

The Entertainment Coupon Book might help you save significantly on dining out, visiting Vancouver attractions etc. And the best thing is: by buying the book, you help an organization to raise money for their cause. read more


Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies does not recommend any commercial enterprises but provides this list of local services for information only.