Getting Started at UC San Diego

Learn about necessary and recommended steps to a smooth start in your life at UC San Diego.

Visit our International Programs page for more information on programs organized specifically for UC San Diego international students.

International Student Document Self-Check

After arrival into the USA, complete the International Student Document Self-Check within 15 days of your program start date at UC San Diego.

Options for Fulfilling Document Self-Check 


Please choose only ONE of the following options to complete your document self-check:


*Note: There is no need to notify International Students & Programs Office when you complete document self-check unless you have questions or if you believe there is an error in your visa status. While it is not required to bring documents to International Student Orientation, failure to complete the document self-check may result in the loss of your F-1 or J-1 status, especially if your documents were processed incorrectly at the port of entry and you do not get them fixed. Please remember that maintaining your visa status is your responsibility but ISPO is here to help with any questions.


You are strongly encouraged to attend an International Student Orientation! If you have NOT completed document self-check OR have any questions, bring the following:
  • Original or copy of Form I-20 (F-1 Students) or DS-2019 (J-1 Exchange Visitors)
  • Copy of electronic I-94 arrival / departure card (accessible at only after arrival to the U.S.) 
  • Original or copy of passport


*Important note: all undergraduate degree-seeking students must attend their mandatory College Orientation. Graduate students are encouraged to attend the Office of Graduate Studies 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.

UC San Diego E-mail and Printing Accounts

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

  • 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.
    • PID is usually the letter A followed by 8 digits. Use your application ID to login through TritonLink to receive a PID.  

To set up a Laser Printing Account, follow the instructions at the Laser Printing Account Setup website. You may create an account or add funds to an existing account. The laser account will automatically be attached to the current ACS login account(s) and any future ACS accounts you obtain.

UC San Diego Course Registration

Undergraduate Students:

Enroll in classes via TritonLink. Meet with an academic advisor if you need assistance with selecting courses. You are not required to visit your academic advisor before registering for classes.

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. To create your password, visit

EAP Reciprocity Students:

Enroll in classes via 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 Gabi Hoffmann, the EAP Coordinator, at

UC San Diego Triton ID Card (Student ID)

Campus Identification Card

Sample student ID card

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.

All students enrolled for the school quarter are entitled to a Triton ID Card. This is your official university ID card, and you are issued just one active card. 

During orientation, the ISPO staff will also assist students in getting their ID cards as needed.

Campus ID cards are processed Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. (hours may change during the summer) at Student Business Services in the Student Services Center, Suite 355.

Most undergraduate and graduate students may submit their photo electronically to the Campus Card office.

For more information visit the Campus Card information page here.


ISPO News is a listserv that provides important information to UC San Diego international students, professors, scholars, and dependents temporarily residing in the USA. ISPO News also announces critical deadlines, changes in regulations, and offers concrete advice.

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 mainly through UC San Diego email.


We welcome you to join our Facebook group called International Students and Program Office (ISPO).

Here are some ideas of how you can use this site:

  • Ask advisors questions about your status
  • Ask your peers about classes and professors
  • Read about new US immigration regulations
  • Learn about events and activities sponsored by the UC San Diego International Center
  • Post a request for a roommate
  • Start a discussion about where to shop or where to eat near UC San Diego
  • Post an item you want to sell
  • All ISPO group members have access to these postings so they can respond to your requests or add comments to your listings. 

We hope you will join our Facebook group. To access the website, you will need to establish a Facebook account by creating a username and password and join the UC San Diego network by using your UC San Diego email address. 

Afterwards, you can enter information about yourself. However we strongly advise you to protect your personal information and privacy. For more information about protecting your privacy online, visit Blink's Security Announcements: Social Media and Security page.

Social Security Card

California Driver's License

Banking and Money Matters

In the United States, it is customary to use checks and debit/credit cards rather than using cash because it is easier and safer. It is best to open an account at a bank so that money can be taken out of the account when needed. It is not safe to carry large amounts of cash.

Most banks are open Monday through Friday from morning until mid-afternoon, and some are open also on Saturday morning. Upon opening an account, a debit card will be offered so you can withdraw money from automated teller machines (ATMs). A few ATMs are located behind the Price Center on campus and at the Student Center. Using an ATM at a different bank may cost additional fees.

The two main types of bank accounts are:

  • Checking Account: Allows checks to be written for purchases and for paying bills.
  • Savings Account: Offers a place to keep your money and earn interest.

Some checking accounts also pay interest. Most people pay their bills online or with checks. Cash should NEVER be sent in the mail to pay for a bill or for any other reason.

Opening a Bank Account
To open an account at most banks you will need one or two valid forms of identification and a local postal address to receive mail. A passport and a UC San Diego identification card are usually sufficient. At least $25 is usually required to open an account, and there will be a monthly service charge for the account unless a “minimum balance requirement” (as much as $500 or higher) is maintained. There will also be a charge to have checks printed. Banks often have “hidden” fees so be sure to inquire about all possible fees. Not all banks require a US Social Security number to open an account, however, bank services may be limited (no online banking etc.) if you do not have a Social Security number.

Below is a list of banks and credit unions located on-campus or near UC San Diego:

Transferring funds from your home country

Full-service banks with international banking capabilities sell international money orders and receive deposits from banks outside of the USA. The best way to transfer funds from your country of origin to the United States is by electronic wire transfer directly from bank-to-bank. This method allows immediate credit and use of the money. Other methods of obtaining funds from abroad (example: money order, checks, etc.) will cause a delay of two weeks or longer in availability of funds.

Cell Phone Service

In order to activate cellular phone service in the United States, 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:

  • Verizon Wireless
  • T-Mobile
  • AT&T
    • AT&T now offers waived deposits for International Students! Qualify for up to 3 waived deposits per qualified student, plus waived activation fees and a monthly discount for qualified plans! For the program overview and for contact info visit the retail store right off campus. AT&T will be on site to support your needs during the international student orientation.

  • Sprint

Housing Assistance

Health Insurance

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 United States prior to the start of 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. International students registered to attend International Student Orientation will automatically have their SHIP coverage updated by UC San Diego to start on September 18, 2017. There will be no additional fee for early start of SHIP coverage for students registered to attend International Student Orientation.

We also strongly recommend that you buy additional health insurance coverage for family members (spouse and children) who accompany you to the United States. Remember that the U.S. government requires health insurance for all J-1s and J-2 dependents while in the United States.

Learn more about UC San Diego's Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP).

Tuberculosis Screening

The California Department of Public Health recommends that all incoming college students be assessed for their risk of developing Tuberculosis (TB). Therefore, effective Fall 2010, all incoming students will be required to complete a Tuberculosis Screening Questionnaire prior to starting classes.

Tuberculosis is a serious contagious disease spread in the air from person to person that can be passed on to others before a person knows they are infected. Most people who have been infected with TB bacteria have latent, or inactive, disease and are not contagious. They can, however, develop active disease in the future unless they take a course of preventive treatment. Active TB disease causes serious illness and must be treated with long courses of antibiotics.

Fill out the online Tuberculosis Screening Questionnaire. You will need to sign on using your UCSD Personal ID Number (PID) and password. This will take you to the Student Health Service Online Services page. Go to Forms in the left column, then scroll down to the Tuberculosis Screening Questionnaire.

If you answer YES to any question, download the TB Assessment Form to be completed by a healthcare provider before you start classes. TB testing can be done either at Student Health Services for a fee or by an outside health care provider, who must then submit the TB Assessment Form to SHS. 

DEADLINE: The Tuberculosis Screening Questionnaire (and TB Assessment Form, if required) should be received by SHS prior to the start of classes. If not completed and submitted prior to the start of classes, a hold will be placed in your Tritonlink record, preventing you from adding or dropping classes.

For more information about TB and TB testing, visit:

Read Student Health Service's TB FAQs (PDF) to review the most commonly asked questions.

For more information, contact Student Health Services at(858) 822-1015 or (858) 822-5382 or email

Campus Tours

UC San Diego offers tours of the campus Monday through Saturday at 10:00 a.m., excluding holiday weekends. Additional tour times are available in the summer and spring break. For more information, visit the Triton Center in the Student Services complex on campus and go to the tour reservation form.

Information for Families

The UC San Diego International Center welcomes the spouses and children of our new students and scholars 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.

The International Center can also provide assistance to meet your family’s needs such as:

  • Childcare options in the area.
  • Preschools, elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools in the area.
  • Opportunities in San Diego for recreation, sports, theater, and other cultural activities.
  • Volunteer opportunities at UC San Diego and the local community.

If you have any questions, please contact the International Students & Programs Office.

Get Involved

The Center for Student Involvement encourages and facilitates student involvement in student organizations, campuswide events, leadership and service opportunities.

The Center is committed to providing developmental opportunities for all UCSD 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.

Additional Resources