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A Before-and-After Checklist for Postdoctoral Fellows

Coming to a new institution, and/or embarking on a postdoctoral fellow appointment, can involve major life changes. The following checklists are meant to guide postdoctoral fellows in their transition to Wilfrid Laurier University and the town of Kitchener-Waterloo.

The lists are by no means definitive, but are instead useful steps to consider before and after taking up the appointment.

Before Coming to Laurier

  • If you are a foreign postdoctoral fellow, coming from a country other than Canada, make sure you have a valid passport with an appropriate expiry date, as well as a letter from your Canadian visa service confirming that your work permit has been approved.
  • If you are travelling with accompanying dependents, be sure to have the appropriate documents for them as well. For school registration, it is advisable to bring your children’s birth certificates bearing both parents’ names.
  • Make sure you have appropriate plane, train or bus tickets.
  • Ensure that you can provide evidence of financial support if you are receiving funding from a source outside Canada and/or Laurier (i.e., confirmation of fellowship from your home country, university, or research organization).
  • Ensure that you can provide evidence of successful PhD/doctorate degree completion: original or notarized/certified copy of your PhD diploma, or original registrar statement or original certificate from the graduate studies office from your university attesting successful completion of all PhD degree requirements and admission to the PhD degree. As well, ensure that this evidence is in English, and that any such translations are notarized.
  • Don't forget to purchase travel insurance.
  • Pack warm clothes: summers can be hot and humid (30° C to 40° C / 86° F to 104° F), and winters are cold (at times 0° C to –30° C / +32° F to –25° F).

After Arriving at Laurier

All postdoctoral fellows:

  • Report to the appropriate department/academic research unit and meet with your research supervisor and/or the postdoctoral administrator/coordinator in your department/research unit, who will provide useful information regarding your stay at Laurier.
  • Provide banking information so that your pay can be deposited directly into your account.
  • Obtain a Laurier OneCard, which serves as your university identification card, library card, etc. You can obtain your OneCard by simply taking your letter of appointment and photo identification (e.g., government-issued drivers licence, passport) to the OneCard Office in the concourse at the centre of the Waterloo campus. Having your Laurier identification number at hand is recommended.
  • Set up a Laurier email account (Outlook). Contact the ICT HelpDesk at
  • Your Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) coverage won’t begin until you’ve resided in Ontario for three months. In the meantime, you are required to apply for UHIP coverage, which is an affordable basic health plan alternative that is comparable to OHIP, to cover you for the three months until OHIP starts. You can apply for UHIP at Service Laurier, located at 202 Regina St., Waterloo.
  • If your postdoctoral appointment is for six months or longer in duration, you may apply for the health and dental benefits available for postdoctoral fellows. Note that enrolment to the health and dental plan is limited to within the first 30 days of the commencement of the appointment. Visit Laurier Connect (login required) for further information.

Additional requirements for international postdoctoral fellows (who require a work permit):

  • If you do not have a Social Insurance Number (SIN) (foreign nationals only), you must apply for one from Service Canada, which is located in Market Square, Suite 200, at 25 Frederick St. in Kitchener. You will need a SIN in order to open a bank account and to get paid. You will need to provide the Service Canada representative with your work permit and a piece of photo identification, such as a passport.
  • If you are a new resident of Ontario, you are required to apply for Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP), the free government health plan, at the Service Ontario office at 30 Duke St. W. (2nd floor) in Kitchener. This should be done as soon as possible. In order to apply for OHIP, you will need to provide proof of your local address. A copy of your lease should be adequate proof of residency.

Once you have your SIN, present it, together with your work permit (and bank account information), to the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies on the day your appointment commences.


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