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Getting Started at UC San Diego


Welcome to UC San Diego! As you make plans to arrive to the U.S., UC San Diego is committed to supporting our international students as you acclimate to their academic life. The following checklist will help you embark on this new and exciting journey ahead.



Arriving at UC San Diego:

Step 1: Follow up with Admissions for Any Outstanding Requirements or Questions (if needed)

ISPO understands that you may have outstanding documentation that you need to provide to UC San Diego admissions offices, or you may have questions about your admission for the upcoming term. We also understand that some students may need to consider delaying their program of study due to external or unforeseen circumstances.

Undergraduate Students: For all admissions-related questions, including deferral options/requests, please contact Undergraduate Admissions.

Graduate Students: For all admissions-related questions, including deferral options/requests, please contact Graduate Admissions and your academic department's graduate coordinator.

Step 2: Have Your Immigration Documentation Ready at Port of Entry

Be ready to present the following documents to the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) official:

  • Current passport (valid up to 6 months after your entry date)
  • Form I-20 or DS-2019 (you must print your electronically-issued document for travel)
  • Valid F-1 or J-1 visa stamp in your passport



  • Travel support letter (available for download within the iPortal
  • Copy of enrollment in Tritonlink 
  • Copy of financial support that is no more than 6 months old 
  • ISPO Emergency Contact Card: in case you need a phone number to give to CBP to verify your student status

Step 3: Arrange Transportation to UC San Diego

Step 4: Print Electronic Form I-94

Your Form I-94 is an online arrival and departure record. It shows when you last entered the U.S., in what status, and for how long you are permitted to remain in the U.S. Visit to generate this document upon arrival.

For more information and for resources if you are having trouble locating your I-94 record, visit ISPO's Form I-94 page.

Print or save a copy of it and keep it safe!

Step 5: Complete Check-In for I-20/DS-2019 Activation

After arrival to the U.S., complete the required Check-In for I-20/DS-2019 Activationwithin 10 days of your program start date at UC San Diego. 

Step 6: Attend Orientation

ISPO’s New International Student Orientation will be delivered in hybrid format with both in-person as well as online components to  accommodate all of our students! For more information about orientation please visit


Important notes:

  • Undergraduate degree-seeking students must attend their mandatory College Orientation.
  • Graduate students are encouraged to attend the Division of Graduate and Postdoctoral Affairs and department orientations.
  • Parents and family members of newly admitted international students are also encouraged and welcome to attend International Parent & Family Orientation.
  • These orientations are different from the International Student Orientation. 


Getting Started On Campus

Step 1: Set Up your UC San Diego Email

Every UC San Diego student is assigned a UC San Diego email account.  To activate your account, you may:

  • Visit Academic Computing Services (ACS) Applied Physics & Mathematics Building (AP&M) in Room 2113, or
  • Visit the ACS website and follow the directions. A Personal Identification Number (PID) is necessary to receive an e-mail account.
  • A PID is not the same as an application ID.
  • A PID is usually the letter A followed by 8 digits. Use your application ID to login through TritonLink to receive a PID. 

Step 2: Register for 12 Units No Later than the Add/Drop Deadline

Undergraduate Students:


Graduate Students:

  • To access Web Registration (WebReg) and a variety of other TritonLink online tools you will need a User ID and password. You should have already received your User ID which is the Personal Identification (PID) number stated on the application status page of the online application. With your User ID you can now create your password. Create your password here.


EAP Reciprocity Students:

  • Enroll in classes via WebReg on TritonLink. Students must have their PID (Personal Identification) number to enroll in courses. To obtain a PID, go to MyApplication and click on "First Time User” to complete the required personal information for your student account.
  • Your UC application ID number is assigned to you by UCEAP. You can obtain it from your home university international office.  For detailed information on the enrollment process for EAP students, see the UCEAP website. Campus fees are automatically waived. If you receive a bill, contact ISPO at

Step 3: Apply for your UC San Diego Triton Card (Student ID)

  • Upon arrival at UC San Diego, obtain a UC San Diego photo ID card. It may be necessary to show an ID card to receive services at the university. A UC San Diego student ID card can also get you discounts at various attractions around San Diego.
  • All students enrolled for the school quarter are entitled to a UCSD Student ID Card. This is your official university ID card, and you are issued just one active card.  
  • Most undergraduate and graduate students may submit their photo electronically to the Campus Card office.
  • For more information visit the Campus Card information page.

Step 4: Learn About Transportation Options (Parking and Triton U-Pass)

Learn about your options for commuting to campus or getting around campus and the local community by visiting UC San Diego's Transportation Services website. You can apply for your U-Pass (universal, unlimited transit pass program for students) and learn about other commuter options.

Note: UC Education Abroad Program Reciprocity and Global Exchange students are eligible for the U-Pass.

Step 5: Stay Informed through ISPO's iStudent Newsletter

ISPO’s iStudents Newsletter is a listserv-based newsletter that provides important information to UC San Diego international students dependents temporarily residing in the U.S. The iStudents newsletter also announces critical deadlines, changes in regulations, and offers concrete advice.

International students’ UC San Diego email addresses are automatically subscribed to the ISPO listserv and all students are responsible for checking their UC San Diego email account. Please note that all important campus messaging is communicated through UC San Diego email.

Step 6: Stay Connected through ISPO's Social Media

Follow us on Instagram and Facebook for a chance to win free give-always, stay updated on the latest announcement and connect to our international community at UC San Diego!

Step 7: Review Eligibility to Accept and Begin Employment. Apply for your Social Security Card (if Eligible) to Work

Visit to learn about the different types of employment opportunities international students can engage in during and after their program of study at UC San Diego.

Students who are engaged in paid employment will need to apply for a Social Security Number for tax purposes. Visit our Social Security Number information page, to learn more about Social Security Cards.

Step 8: Apply for your California Driver's License

Visit our  Transportation page to learn more about California driver's license.

Step 9: Arrange Banking and Financial Matters

Visit our Money and Banking page to find detailed information about how to open up a bank account and arrange for wire transfers.

Step 10: Cell Phone Service

In order to activate cell phone service in the U.S., it is helpful for customers to have a valid Social Security Number and established credit history. Customers without a Social Security Number and credit history may still activate service but may have to pay a security deposit at the time of application. 

Major US cell phone service providers:

Other cell phone service providers:  

Step 11: Housing Assistance

For questions related to on-campus housing contracts or other issues, please use the following resources:


If you need assistance with off-campus housing, you may visit the Off-Campus Housing Office website to access an online database of available housing listings.

The International Students & Programs Office Housing Resources page also provides information regarding local host family programs, on-campus housing, short-term housing, and off-campus housing options.

Step 12: Meet Health Insurance Requirements

  • International students at UC San Diego are required to buy health insurance coverage. You will be billed for the UC San Diego health insurance policy each quarter (3-month period). Your UC San Diego insurance policy will begin on the first day of the quarter.   
  • If you arrive in the U.S. prior to the start of Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP) coverage or plan to remain after SHIP coverage ends, plan to have your own travel insurance coverage up to the date of SHIP coverage start and/or after coverage ends.  
  • We also strongly recommend that you buy additional health insurance coverage for family members (spouse and children) who accompany you to the U.S.
  • Remember that the U.S. government requires health insurance for all J-1s and J-2 dependents while in the U.S. 
  • Learn more about UC San Diego's Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP)

Step 13: Complete your Immunization Reporting Requirements

All incoming students are required to complete a Tuberculosis Screening Questionnaire and Immunization Screening (including for COVID-19) by the deadlines stated on the Student Health Services (SHS) website

If not completed and submitted prior to the deadline, a hold will be placed in your Tritonlink record, preventing you from adding or dropping classes. 

For more information about these requirements, visit the main SHS website.

Step 14: Take a Campus Tour

Explore UC San Diego through a campus tour!

Information for Families

Global Education at UC San Diego welcomes the spouses and children of new students and offers many programs for them including:

Two large volunteer organizations, the Friends of the International Center and the Oceanids, organize many of these activities. 


Global Education can also provide assistance to meet your family’s needs such as:

If you have any questions, please contact ISPO.


Get Involved and Check Out the Global Hub


There are so many ways for you to get involved virtually at UC San Diego! The Globally Engaged Tritons Calendar ( feature all virtual events focusing on global engagement and our global community here at UC San Diego.

Want to learn more about campus wide events? Visit the University Centers for a calendar featuring  events hosted by all different parts of campus.  

The Center for Student Involvement

  • The Center encourages and facilitates student involvement in student organizations, campus-wide events, leadership and service opportunities.
  • The Center is committed to providing developmental opportunities for all UC San Diego students and challenges them to become empowered, motivated and experienced leaders and citizens through a comprehensive co-curricular experience.
  • Explore the Center for Student Involvement website ( to learn more about student organizations and see how you can get involved.