Survival Skills: How to Get a Phone Number in Canada?


Having your own phone number in Canada is essential to communicate with your friends and family. With so many service providers, it is hard to choose the best one. This short guide will help you through the process, and your phone will be ringing in no time!

Some of the biggest Canadian operators are Rogers, Telus, Bell, and Fido. After evaluating different plans and services, we found the best value for you: Fido.

1. What do you need?

Two Pieces of ID: your passport is mandatory. The second piece of ID could be anything from a government issued ID card, driving license, study permit or visa, or SIN number, to any valid credit card under your name.

A Canadian Address: whether your stay is short or long, you will have a place to call your Canadian home, for example, your ILAC homestay or residence. Make sure to bring your Accommodation Letter as a proof of the address.

A Plan: a good option for short-term students is a monthly plan without contract. The best value we found for you is 3GB of data with unlimited text and call within Canada for CAD $65 (+13% tax). Keep in mind that plans and offers change almost every month.

A Way of Payment: you can choose between Prepaid or Postpaid. The difference? With a Prepaid Plan, you pay first and it runs out after 30 days. Your phone service will stop working unless you add more money. With a Postpaid Plan, you use your service first and pay later. Be careful, your phone service won’t be cut off, so your bill will continue to increase!

For both options, you can pay with any valid credit card, but be careful about the extra fees you may have when using international cards. You can also use a debit card but only VISA is accepted. At some specific locations, you can pay in cash as well.

2. Our special tips before leaving your country:

Local International plan: if you’re staying in Canada only for a few weeks, you can set up an international plan with your local provider before leaving your country.

Unlock your phone: a new SIM card won’t work in Canada unless your local operator unlocked your phone. If you are already here and you don’t know if your mobile is unlocked, go to a Canadian operator and they will check for you! 

Turn your data off: go into your phone’s settings and turn off your data before you land in Canada. This is an important step to avoid any roaming fees, as most smartphones will immediately connect to a Canadian cell tower. Be aware that Canada does not have caps on roaming fees.

3. Our special tips once you are in Canada:

Use messaging/calling apps: Viber, Messenger, WhatsApp, Kakao Talk and Skype, are some of the great apps that will let you call or message your friends and family with an Internet connection.

Use Free Wi-Fi: Fortunately, you can find free Wi-Fi almost everywhere: ILAC, shopping centres, some train stations, airports, hotels, coffee shops, restaurants, libraries, and even some stores such as Canadian Tire.

4. The questions you should ask your provider:

  • Where can I call as part of my mobile phone plan?
  • Will I incur extra charges if I call to another province or outside of Canada?
  • How much will it cost me if I use my phone in another Province or Country? (Think about the fact that you may take the ILAC Trips to Montreal, New York, Chicago, Seattle, etc…)
  • Is caller ID and voicemail included? (In Canada it is considered as an option and is not automatically included in some plans).
  • How much are extra roaming fees?

5. Closest locations:

From ILAC Toronto: 10 min walking

Fido, 2 Bloor St East, The Hudson’s Bay Centre, Toronto, ON M4W 1A8

From ILAC Vancouver: 7 min walking

Fido, 701 West Georgia Street Pacific Centre, Vancouver, BC V6B 1Z3

Written by Marine Gas

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