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Driver’s License  

If you wish to operate a vehicle while in Nova Scotia, you will need a driver’s license. If you don’t have an existing license and want to get a Nova Scotia driver’s license, you must be at least 16 years old. Anyone under the age of 18 years must have written consent from a parent or guardian. To obtain a leader’s permit, you’ll need to pass a written knowledge test and a vision exam.   

If you already have a valid driver’s license from another part of Canada, or another country, you can legally drive in Nova Scotia for up to 90 days without having to obtain a Nova Scotia driver’s license. After 90 days, you will need a Nova Scotia driver’s license, upon which you will need to visit an Access Nova Scotia location. 

You can book an appointment at your nearest Access Nova Scotia online. 

Nova Scotia Identification Card 

While living in Nova Scotia, it’s recommended that international students obtain a Nova Scotia Identification Card. This card is useful as another piece of identification separate from your passport, including your date of birth and your photo. Nova Scotia ID Cards can be obtained from Service Nova Scotia, a division of Access Nova Scotia. 

To obtain an ID card, you must bring the following to an Access Nova Scotia location:  

  • Your passport with a valid study permit 
  • Post-secondary institution ID 
  • One additional piece of identification (i.e., your bank card, which must be signed) 

Note: There is a fee of $17.70. 

You can book an appointment at your nearest Access Nova Scotia online. 

Cell Phones 

There are some considerations for international students when it comes to purchasing a Canadian cell phone plan. Do you want to sign onto a plan (2–3-year contract) or use a pre-paid phone plan? Do you need long-distance calling? International texting? Moving2 Canada has some useful tips.  

If you are looking to switch your mobile plan to a Canadian carrier, there are several carriers available in Nova Scotia to choose from, as well as some pre-paid options. Be sure to research the available plans from each service provider to choose the one that’s right for you (e.g., international calling, wireless data, etc.).  

Social Insurance Number (SIN) 

If you plan to work in Canada, you should apply for a Social Insurance Number (SIN). A SIN is a 9-digit identification number that you need to work in Canada, file taxes, or have access to government programs and benefits. 

To apply for a SIN, visit a Service Canada location in person. You will be required to provide identification documentation when you are applying. 

Emergency Line (911) 

If your health, safety, or property is threatened, and you need help right away while in Nova Scotia, the emergency phone number is 911. Call 911 for emergencies and get connected to the fire, police, or ambulance services you need. The 911 operator will notify emergency responders, like fire, police, or ambulance.  

There is no charge to call 911 from any phone, including your cell phone or a pay phone. Anyone in Nova Scotia can call 911. If you are not comfortable speaking English, 911 operators have access to language interpreters in more than 170 languages.  

Non-Emergency Line 

If you ever need to contact emergency services and one’s health, safety, or property is currently in danger, you should not call 911. Instead, there are non-emergency lines you can contact to reach non-urgent resources.  

Examples of non-emergencies include: 

  • Parking complaints 
  • Noise complaints (music, dogs barking) 
  • Minor thefts such as a stolen bicycle or car break-in 
  • Following up with police on a file 
  • Requests or complaints about car towing