International Trainees

Please review the frequently asked questions we’ve compiled for international trainees. Additional useful information (e.g. living in Toronto) can be found in the Information for New Trainees section.

Not yet a trainee? Visit Undergraduate & Medical Students, Graduate Students, or Postdoctoral Fellowsto find out how to apply.

What steps do I need to take to live and work in Toronto?

Obtain a work permit

If you are an International Student/Fellow/Visitor, please ensure that you obtain a work permit. This will allow you to work in Canada. Please do not arrive in Canada with a Visiting Visa.

  • Ensure that you apply for a Work Visa before arriving in Canada. To work in Canada, a Work Permit has to be applied for in the country of origin. Citizenship and Immigration Canada will require that your supervisor complete the online offer of employment St. Michael’s Research Guide to completing Immigration Canada’s Online Form and pay the appropriate fee.
  • You can apply to get a Work Permit from Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), phone 1 800 622-6232
  • Work Permit Contact Information: if a person already has a work permit and wants to extend the date phone 1 888 242-2100

Apply for a Social Insurance Number

Once you have a valid Work Permit, you may apply for a Social Insurance Number (SIN). The SIN is a nine-digit number used for administration by the Canadian government. You require a SIN to work and to receive government benefits in Canada. To apply, visit an office of Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), complete a form and provide proof of your identity and status in Canada. This will require a passport with employment authorization or student visa; a letter from your employer is useful.

More information can be found online at, including how to apply from outside of Canada.

Open a bank account

You must open a bank account that will be used by payroll to deposit your pay. You will need your SIN and/or passport with work permit and proof of address.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada Information on Banks and Financial Institutions

Obtain Health Insurance

The Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) covers all your essential diagnostic and treatment services.

Generally, to be eligible for Ontario health coverage you must:

  • be a Canadian citizen, permanent resident or among one of the newcomer to Canada groups who are eligible for OHIP as set out in Ontario’s Health Insurance Act ; and
  • be physically present in Ontario for 153 days in any 12-month period; and
  • be physically present in Ontario for at least 153 days of the first 183 days immediately after establishing residency in the province; and
  • make your primary place of residence in Ontario.

OHIP coverage normally becomes effective three months after the date you establish residency in Ontario. The ministry strongly encourages new and returning residents to purchase private health insurance in case you become ill during the OHIP waiting period.

For details about applying for OHIP, visit the Ontario Health Insurance Plan website.


  • International postdoctoral research fellows beginning research/teaching activities for 12 months or more are eligible for OHIP coverage.
  • If you have a work visa, your family is not covered by OHIP unless you have a letter from your employer stating that you will be staying for three years.

Frequently Asked Questions

Health Care Connect refers Ontarians who don’t have a physician to a family health care provider who may be accepting new patients. Visit the Health Care Connect website for more information.

Your foreign driver’s license is valid for three months after your arrival. In order to obtain an Ontario driver’s license, you have to pass a knowledge test, a vision examination and a road test (holders of licenses obtained in some countries are exempt). A driver’s license also serves as a picture ID card. Visit the Ministry of Transportation website for more information.


The housing service at U of T contains useful information.

All newspapers have a classified advertisement section with housing information:

The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) is a quick, convenient and safe way to get around Toronto.

If you are new to Ontario, you can find answers to common questions about your new home on www.Settlement.Org