Preparing for your stay

We encourage you to arrive in Ottawa a few weeks before classes begin so you can become familiar with your new environment, including the climate.

You must attend a mandatory information session for international students. You will receive an invitation to this session by email.

Here is some essential information to help you prepare well for your stay in Canada.


Guide for international students

It is important to set a budget to make sure you can cover all your expenses during your studies. In your annual budget, plan an amount for your tuition fees and an additional average amount of $20,000 to $30,000 CDN to cover your living expenses.

2021–2022 Tuition fees
  Undergraduate – 2 terms per academic year Graduate – 3 terms per academic year
Tuition fees – International student $14,911 up to $22,167
Tuition fees – International student studying in French $11,911 up to $17,667
Other living expenses - Estimated
  8 months 12 months
University residence $8,035 $12,000
Off-campus housing (shared and unfurnished, between $1,000 et $1,200 per month) $8,000 –  $10,000 $12,000 – $15,000
Meals $4,000 $6,000
Clothing, outings, miscellaneous items $1,500 $2,250
Telephone and internet $1,200 $1,800
Textbooks and other school supplies $1,200 $1,800
Mandatory health insurance (UHIP) $636 $636
U-Pass: public transit $218.03 per term $218.03 per term
Approximate total of other living expenses (living in residence) $27,000 $40,000

Mandatory insurance for international students

When you arrive at SPU, you must enroll in the University Health Insurance Plan (UHIP). UHIP covers costs related to basic health services, such as hospital services, ambulances, medical services, laboratory services, etc.

You will also receive Green Shield insurance, which covers medication, dental care, vision tests, etc.

International services are not covered by Canada’s provincial health plans.

The statement of account you will receive from SPU includes fees for UHIP and Green Shield insurance (in September only). You must print this statement yourself from your UOCampus account.

Premiums for these two kinds of insurance can also be paid at SPU’s Financial Services.

Coverage period

As a newly enrolled student, you will be covered by UHIP as of the 10th day of the month before the beginning of the first year of your program at Saint Paul University.


Beginning of program (1st year) September 1
Beginning of UHIP coverage August 10

UHIP coverage ends on August 31 every year.


UHIP coverage may be extended to your immediate family (spouse, dependent children). However, they are not automatically covered. You must contact SPU’s Financial Services within 30 days of their arrival in Canada.


The monthly cost for UHIP (based on the 2020–2021 year) is $53 CDN per person. The annual cost of UHIP, from September 1 to August 31 (based on the 2020–2021 year), is $636 CDN per person.


Temporary housing

The Ottawa Tourism and Tourisme Outaouais websites can help you find temporary housing in the region based on your needs and your budget. This gives you some time to choose your housing.

On-campus housing

The Saint Paul University Residence gives students the option of living on campus. Two students share an apartment that includes two bedrooms, a kitchenette and a bathroom.

The Saint Paul University Residence will provide you, upon your arrival, with bedding and towels in the room you have rented. These will be loaned to you for 5 days, if you ask. This will give you more time to buy these items, which are bulky to bring in a suitcase.

Off-campus housing

Consult the ads for rental accommodations on the Saint Paul University website or on the University of Ottawa’s Student Housing Billboard and the City of Ottawa’s geoOttawa app to become familiar with the different parts of the city.

The average cost of housing downtown is higher than housing in the suburbs:

  • One bedroom in a private home: from $500 to $800
  • Apartment-style studio for one person: from $750 to $1,000
  • One-bedroom apartment (3½ rooms): from $1,000 to $1200
  • Two-bedroom apartment (4½ rooms): from $1,200 to $1,600


Getting to Saint Paul University from the airport

The Ottawa International Airport is located about 12 km from Saint Paul University.

The best way to get to the SPU campus from the Ottawa International Airport is to take a taxi. You can expect to pay about $50 for the ride.

The airport is served by public transit. However, plan your trip as you will need to take at least two buses to get to SPU.

If you request it, a representative of Saint Paul University can pick you up at the airport. Email

Public transit

The City of Ottawa is served by the public transit service OC Transpo.

Full-time students will get the universal transit pass, or U-Pass, which is mandatory. This pass gives you unlimited access to bus transit. It is valid on OC Transpo buses and on Société de transport de l’Outaouais (STO) buses, which serve the neighbouring city of Gatineau.

The U-Pass is valid from September to April, and costs $437 CDN (based on 2020–2021 prices).

These fees will be included in your statement of account from SPU.

Driving in Canada

To drive in Canada, you must have a driver’s licence issued by the government of the Canadian province where you are living.

You will need an International Driving Permit (IDP) to be able to drive beyond 60 days after your arrival in Canada.

You must apply for an IDP in your home country before arriving in Canada, as you cannot apply for it once you are in Canada.