First Day Essentials of Your Working Holiday in Canada

It can be super exciting to start a new adventure in a different country. You get to live like a local, find work, and make new friends! However, we know that it can also be stressful to know what to do during your first couple of days to get set up for 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 first 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 first day in order to make your experience as stress-free as possible!

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Remember, you will get help with all of the essentials listed below if you are on any of our Working Holiday Canada Programs – you can even get a sneak peek 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 every step of the way!


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 surf, hostel, 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, you can start to browse through rental postings online on site such as:

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



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.


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 Mobility, Rogers, 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


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 a 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 three great programs: our Working Holiday Vancouver program and our Working Holiday Ski Resort or Summer Resort 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!

Ready to Start your Working Holiday?

Fill in the form below with your questions and a member of our team will be happy to get back to you as soon as we can.