Go Global Office of Global Engagement

VIRS fee, iMED & budgeting

Visiting International Research Students (VIRS) are not charged UBC tuition, but are required to pay two separate fees:  

  1. VIRS program fee 
  2. iMED health insurance 
VIRS program fee

All applicants pay a $415 program fee while submitting the application. This fee covers administration as well as access to a limited number of student support services upon acceptance*. If you choose to extend your research period beyond one year from your original date, a second $415 fee will apply. 

To pay the fee, follow the instructions outlined in "Ready to apply" on the VIRS Application for Admission.

Host faculty supervisors sometimes choose to pay this fee for the student. If this is the case, either note this on the VIRS approval form or ask the professor to contact Go Global to arrange payment. 

 *Note: Your iMED fee is additional and not part of the VIRS program fee.  

iMED health insurance

iMED is mandatory for all VIRS students. After acceptance, all VIRS students will be registered with a VIRS course code which automatically enrolls you in the mandatory iMED insurance program adjusted to the duration of your program.   

iMED is a temporary basic health insurance plan required for new international students and gives you health insurance coverage during the three-month waiting period for BC's Medical Services Plan (MSP) or the duration of your study period if you are not eligible for MSP. It covers doctors' visits, most emergencies, some medications and other services.

iMED insurance fees 

The iMED fee depends on the duration of your research period. 

If the your research period is one to six months, you will be assessed $79 per month​*​​, in addition to a $10.76* direct billing fee. For example, students studying for five months pay $405.76. 

If your research period is longer than six months, you must apply for a BC Medical Services Plan (MSP) for coverage. However, there is a three-month waiting period before you are get MSP coverage. So during this three-month waiting period, you are insured by iMED. Your costs are $237* for the first three months, in addition to $10.76* for the direct billing fee for your iMED and the monthly premium for MSP for the following months.  

You are charged for iMED in advance of your arrival, but this does not mean you are paying for the months you are not in Canada. Read "Coverage Dates" (below) ​​​to understand how your fees align with your research dates. 

*Subject to change from year to year

Paying iMED insurance fees 

iMED fees will be charged to your tuition account at UBC . Your tuition account can be found under "Financial Summary" in the UBC Student Service Centre. Please use your Campus Wide Login (CWL) to login and pay iMED by the listed deadline.  

It is your responsibility to pay your fees by the deadline. UBC will notify you if you miss the deadline about "overdue fees." This could result in:

  • Accruing interest charges on outstanding balances
  • Placing you on “financial hold”  

If you cannot make these payments on time, contact us at go.global@ubc.ca.

Coverage dates 

The automatic iMED coverage dates match the standard academic term at UBC: 

  • Aug. 1 for Winter Session Term 1 (September-December) 
  • Dec. 1 for Winter Session Term 2 (January-April) 
  • April 1 for Summer Session Term 1 (May-June) 
  • June 1 for Summer Session Term 2 (July-August) 

However, most VIRS students' research dates do not align with UBC's academic terms. Most likely you will need to request to have your coverage dates updated: complete the iMED date change form (PDF) and supportive documents to iMED after arriving in Canada. Visit the forms page at the iMED website and select “coverage dates change form.” 

Receiving your iMED card 

Students get their cards at different times, but it should arrive by email before you arrive at UBC. If you have paid your iMED fee and you have not received your card before you arrive in Canada: 

  1. Search "DCIS" in your email. 
  2. Check your email spam or junk folder. 
  3. Contact imed@david-cummings.com and go.global@ubc.ca. Include your name and UBC student number. We will check your status. 

Opt-out options 

Typically, having coverage under a different private health insurance plan or a government health plan from your home country does not make you eligible to opt-out of iMED. There are very limited circumstances in which a VIRS student may opt-out of iMED. See opt-out eligibility for more information. 


British Columbia and Vancouver have a high cost of living. VIRS student are not eligible for UBC housing. Plan your budget and consider costs related to off-campus housing, food, travel, tourism, personal expenses and money to cover contingencies. 

Include in your budget: 

  • Return flight costs 
  • Visa and study permit application costs 
  • Clothing for each season in British Columbia
  • Costs of your accommodation, which can vary depending on where you live, whether you'll live with roommates (flat-mates) or live on your own, and the quality of the housing 
  • Food. Will you prepare your own meals or dine out? 
  • What about sightseeing and entertainment? Will you be visiting many places in the area? What will your social life be like? 
  • Your transportation fees. A monthly 1-zone transit pass costs a minimum of $104.90/month. 
  • Cell phone fees. Canada has some of the most expensive mobile phone plans in the world. Plan for at least $50-60/month. 

Plan on at least $2,200 CAD per month to live in Vancouver.  

Financial requirements vary depending on individual goals, the cost of living in Vancouver and personal preferences. To get a clear financial picture of your studies at UBC, create a budget with both university and living costs. Use this sample budget worksheet (PDF) to estimate your monthly expenses for exchange. Fill in the table with realistic amounts for each category that applies to you.