Welcome to TRIUMF and GAPS

The page is intended to be a resource repository for incoming graduate student / post-docs.  Please note this list is not exhaustive, but should help you get started. Make sure to check out the TRIUMF HR page for newcomers also. Again, welcome to TRIUMF and GAPS!


Before you Show up

Applying for a study/work permit (postdoc or graduate student from outside of Canada):

  • Start with the HR checklist

  • As a postdoc or graduate student coming from out of Canada, you need to apply for a study or work permit. This is done through the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

  • As an applicant for a study/work permit from out of Canada, you should:

    • Gather all the necessary documents, especially the LMIA papers from TRIUMF.

    • Apply online, wait for approval, and only then buy your flight tickets.

  • Your passport’s EXPIRY DATE must be AFTER the end of your contract with TRIUMF. If this is not the case, it will require additional applications to IRCC.

  • Spouses qualify for open work permits.

Child care:

  • Securing a daycare spot is incredibly difficult in Vancouver. Please see our dedicated page for more info.


  • Two weeks of rental housing (either at TRIUMF house or some other short-term rental) are usually covered. Ask your supervisor for details.

  • UBC has some family housing available, but TRIUMF is 4th on their priority list. If you’re interested in housing at UBC, make sure you’re eligible then apply early to get on the waitlist.

Once you’re here

Get a SIN at ServiceCanada

Bank account:

  • There are five big banking institutions in Canada: TD Bank, Scotiabank, BMO, RBC, and CIBC. There are also local / online alternatives, such as Vancity and Tangerine.

  • Coming to Canada without Canadian credit history makes acquiring credit cards difficult. You might have to put some money up to cover the credit limit


  • The three big telcos are: Rogers, Bell, and Telus. The smaller mobile phone companies (Koodo, Fido, etc) work off these networks and are usually cheaper.

Health insurance:

  • MSP (Medical Services Plan, BC Public Health Insurance ) 

    • TRIUMF does not offer health insurance coverage for students, so they have to pay MSP premiums themselves. Warning: international students have to pay the maximum. 

    • Important: For international arrivers, there’s a 3-month wait period before MSP kicks in. You'll need to buy private health insurance to bridge this gap. TRIUMF traditionally uses Allianz, but feel free to shop around. This will be reimbursed by TRIUMF.


Working at TRIUMF


  • As a grad or postdoc, you are automatically a member of GAPS, TRIUMF's graduate student and postdoc society.  If you've found this document, then you probably know that you can visit the GAPS website at gaps.triumf.ca 

  • In order for GAPS to be able to reach you to tell you about events, TRIUMF announcements, scholarship, job opportunities etc., you need to sign up for either the Grads or Postdocs mailing list. You can do this at lists.triumf.ca 

  • Check out the GAPS mattermost channel for active discussions


Living in Vancouver


  • Vacancies are scarce in Vancouver, and rent is steep. It helps to get your important documents in order before applying for housing: blank cheques, a reference letter from a past landlord, employment and character references will all likely be requested, and submitting these along with your application can help your chances of landing a place.  

    • TRIUMF supervisors can furnish letters as proof of employment / stipend

  • Craigslist is the main source for rental housing listings in Vancouver.

  • Scammers are a big issue, particularly when trying to find housing without being in Vancouver. Here are some warning signs: 

    • The landlord says they’re out of the country but requests a deposit 

    • They communicate only over email and don’t want to meet 

    • They request a cash deposit 

    • They request personal info like a SIN, bank account or credit card number 

  • The Residential Tenancy Act details your rights and responsibilities as a tenant. This page also gives a helpful breakdown of what you should know as a tenant.  

Things to do (there’s so much! This is just a starting list)

Extra stuff