Going abroad on an academic program inevitably involves navigating institutional paperwork and policies.  The following section should help to make this process a little easier.

Fee Payment

 What fees you pay and to whom depends upon the type of academic travel you are undertaking.  For most exchange programs you pay your tuition and certain fees to your home institution and incoming exchange students from the partner institution do the same. For overseas field trips and, semester or year abroad programs run by your institution you will pay tuition and program costs at home.  Letter of permission programs require you to pay the host institution.  Keep in mind you may be subjected to higher international student fees.

Transfer of credit

If you take courses offered by another institution (usually on exchange or letter of permission) the credits must be transferred back to you home institution.  In most cases, you need to get preliminary approval for specific courses before you leave to ensure they will count toward your degree requirements.

Some things to consider:

  • Be sure that you have a clear understanding about what courses you can take and what credit you will get at your home institution.
  • You may need to show course outlines or document the number of class hours for each course you take abroad.
  • Talk to your academic advisor before you go. Get things in writing so that, if your counsellor leaves the institution before you return, you can prove that your overseas courses were approved for credit. 
  • Be sure to find out how your courses will be counted. Will they be transferred as specific courses (e.g.., The History of Painting from 1860) or will they be given generic credit (e.g.., General 3rd year Art History).
  • Ask what will appear on your transcript? Will your grades be converted to a letter grade, Pass/Fail or GPA?
  • Finally, remember that if you need to change courses while you are away be sure and check with your program counsellor or academic advisor. 

Registration and Course Enrollment– now and for when you return.

Before going on an overseas program, you need to let your institution know what you are doing and where.  This is usually done by registering as an exchange, letter of permission or semester/year abroad student.  By registering properly you ensure that you will be billed correctly for your tuition and fees (if applicable) and that your status for your time away is recognized.

Also, if you are on a longer term program (one semester or more) you will need to register for subsequent semesters either in advance of going, or while you’re away.  This may mean registering for a second semester on exchange or registering for the semester following your time abroad.  Here are some tips for ensuring you maintain your registration and avoid late fees or other problems:


  1. Put the deadline dates for registration and course selection in your calendar.  Being away doesn’t make you exempt from the usual procedures.
  2. Find out if you can do your registration on-line from overseas.  Be sure and determine if there are any browser settings such as cookies which need to be set a certain way.
  3. Find out if you can do you registration before you leave and have it activated at the proper time while you’re away. 
  4. Identify a friend who will navigate things for you back home.  Pick a reliable person who is willing to run around on your behalf, get signatures and stand in lines.
  5. Be sure and check with your program counsellor or academic advisor to ensure that the courses you select will count toward your degree.


Finding money to finance your study abroad is hard. Expect to do a lot of research, to use a lot of energy and your imagination to fund your trip. For more information on money matters go to the Minding Your Finances section.

Student Loans

If you are currently on a provincial or federal student loan program, you may be qualified for funding for study overseas, especially if you will be registered and paying regular tuition and fees to your home university. However, in some cases, you may not be eligible for interest-free status during your study abroad. You may be required to pay interest on outstanding student loans. Arrange for a Power of Attorney to take care of your finances while you are overseas.

If you are applying for government student loans, make sure your application is submitted prior to the deadline or decisions regarding bursaries and funding could be delayed.  Also remember:

  • Clear any debts i.e. parking, library and bursaries.
  • Be sure to plan ahead for filing your income tax.

You can visit the Canada Student Loans site at - http://www.hrdc-drhc.gc.ca/student_loans/

Check with your academic department or on your institution's website to find other scholarships or bursaries available to students studying abroad.

Code of Conduct

When studying at another institution on an official program you will be viewed as a representative of you home University and Canada.  Disruptive behaviour, excessive partying or insensitivity to local standards of behaviour could cause trouble not only for you, but for your home institution and all those who study on the program after you.   It is important to remember:

  • You must abide by the local laws.
  • On programs run by your institution you will be governed by the usual appropriate institutional policies and rules including, sexual harassment policy, Student Right’s and Responsibilities, academic misconduct, etc..
  • Your participation in a program can be terminated in accordance with University policies and procedures.
  • It is quite possible that whatever you get up to abroad will eventually get back to your home institution, don’t think that “no one will know”, they will.
Travel Preparation and Logistics