To-Do’s On Day 1 of Your Working Holiday In Canada

June 8, 2018
Posted in Working Holiday

To Do's On Day One - 1

It can be super exciting to start a new adventure in a different country, find work, and make new friends during your Working Holiday in Canada. However, we know that it can also be a bit scary and stressful because you might be unsure of what you need to do during your first couple of days after arrival in order to get settled during your Working Holiday in Canada.

In order to help you get settled as fast as possible, we’ve compiled a quick and easy to-do list for the 1st day of your Working Holiday in Canada. From searching for accommodation to getting a SIM for your cell phone, we cover everything that you should do on your 1st day in order to make your experience as stress free as possible!

Remember, you will get help with all of the essentials listed below if you are with any of our Working Holiday in Canada programs! You can even get a sneak peak of our orientation above! We will pre-book a bank appointment to open a free account for you at one of our partnered banks, help you get your SIN, get your cell phone set up with our partnered carrier’s free SIM card, and more. Rest assured that Stepwest will be with you along every step of the way!

Item #1 – Start Looking For Accommodation Immediately

A general word of advice is that accommodation is usually rented starting on the 1st of the month (you can sometimes find an availability on the 15). This is important to note because if you arrive near the beginning of the month, you may need to stay in an airbnb, couch surfhostel, or hotel until the end of the month. You should leave yourself some time to look so it’s a good idea to come to Canada a few weeks before the end of the month. Remember to be prepared financially so you can cover your costs for wherever you are temporarily staying. While in a temporary accommodation like an airbnb or couchsurf, you can start to browse through rental postings online on site such as:

Rent Hello Quoloc
Kijiji Padmapper
Craigslist Rent BC


For a very detailed guide on how to rent, specifically in Vancouver (although most tips can apply to renting anywhere in Canada), you may refer to our guide: How To Rent In Vancouver For Working Holidays 

Item #2 – Get Your Social Insurance Number (SIN)

In order for you to start working during your Working Holiday in Canada, you need a Social Insurance Number (SIN). This is a 9-digit number that you can get in-person from any Service Canada branch. If you have all of the required documents listed below, then you should be able to obtain your SIN in less than 15 minutes. No appointment is needed to get a SIN, walk-in are accepted. You can find your nearest Service Canada branch right here.

For both banking and SIN you will need to bring:

  • Passport
  • Work permit issued at the airport
  • An official second piece of ID from your home country (Birth Certificate, Driving license, etc.)

Item #3 – Open a Bank Account

In order to open a bank account for your Working Holiday in Canada, you will need to book an appointment at any local bank. Sometimes, appointments can be booked and fulfilled on the same day so you should be able to get a Canadian banking account quickly and easily. On the topic of banking and money, if you need currency exchange with good rates in order to convert cash that you brought from your home country, be sure to check out Vancouver Bullion and Currency Exchange in the Vancouver area and Interchange Financial in the Toronto area.

Item #4 – Set Up Your Cell Phone

You will need to set up your cell phone in order for you to go about your daily life during your Working Holiday in Canada. To cut costs, you have the option of bringing your unlocked phone from home and getting a pre-paid SIM card in Canada. Alternatively, you can also get a plan and phone package once you’re here. On average, a typical monthly plan from any major carrier will cost you about $45 for call, text, and a set amount of data. The 3 major carriers found in Canada are: Bell MobilityRogers, and Telus Mobility. There are also “spinoff” brands that are more cost effective and geared towards young people. These “spinoff” brands include: Freedom Mobile, Fido, and Koodo. Any other smaller brands we would advise you to consider carefully, since some (not all!) have the tendency to have poor quality reception.

If you are a Stepwest Working Holiday participant, you can get a free SIM card from our partner carrier! For more details be sure to ask one of our coordinators  during your orientation session at Stepwest.

Phone plans generally break down as follows:

  1. Pay as You Go. This is the pricier option, and requires you to buy a new phone or to bring your own unlocked phone from home.
  2. Month to Month Plans. This is the cheaper option and requires a monthly term contract.
  3. Long Term Plans. This requires a term contract of usually 1-3 years (may include a free phone in the contract), and is a longer commitment

Item #5 – Get A Provincial ID Card

It’s also a good idea to get a provincial ID for the province in which you are having your Working Holiday in Canada. In British Columbia, you can obtain a BCID at your local ICBC branch with your passport, work permit, SIN, and permanent address. Your ID will be mailed to you within a few weeks of your application. For those residing in BC, you can find your local ICBC branch here. Although you can technically do without a provincial ID card, it’s still recommended because it makes getting into bars and clubs in Canada a lot easier when you have more than 1 piece of ID (just your passport might not suffice as some places require 2 pieces of ID to validate your age!). We also have a more detailed guide on how to get one here!


These are the essentials you can (and should!) get sorted on your first day in Canada! Once you’ve made your way through everything on this list then you are ready to start your Working Holiday in Canada. Want some help with the essentials we’ve listed above and with finding your Working Holiday job in Canada? Register with our Working Holiday programs and take advantage of the ongoing support and guaranteed job placement by Stepwest – or your money back! We offer 2 great programs: our Working Holiday City Job program and our Working Holiday Resort Job program. Whether you want to explore the city of Vancouver or work and play at a top Canadian ski and snow resort, we’ve got the right program for you!

Apply Now


The material on our website and on this webpage is intended to provide only general information and comment to our clients and the public. Although we make our best efforts to ensure that the information found on our website is accurate and timely, do not, under any circumstances, rely on information found on our website as legal advice. Nor do we guarantee the accuracy of any information contained on websites to which our website provide links. For assistance with your specific enquiry or problem, please contact a lawyer or other licensed professional.

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