Housing & Campus Life

Daily Needs

We help make your move easy.

Life in a new country can be complicated. Below are the basics to get you going on driving, parking, mobile phones, wifi, postal services and banking in the U.S.


Cell phone: If you have an unlocked cell phone from your home country, you can convert it to a local cell phone service.

WiFi: Free Internet service for your laptop computer is available at numerous public areas in west Los Angeles, including some restaurants and cafes, coffee shops, certain parts of the UCLA campus, UCLA Extension buildings, and most local libraries.

Internet at home: Check with your housing provider or building manager for information on accessing the Internet from home.

Postal Services

Express Post Offices

Full-Service Post Office

  • Federal Building, 11000 Wilshire Blvd., at the corner of Wilshire Blvd and Veteran Ave


Checking Account: If you are here longer than four weeks, you may want to open a checking account to use ATM cards and credit cards for shopping and everyday purchases. It’s not customary to keep and carry a lot of cash.

Send/receive money from abroad using:

  • Western Union
  • MoneyGram

International currency: Can be exchanged to U.S. dollars at the following locations:

  • International Currency Express—Beverly Hills
  • Travelex Currency Services—Beverly Hills
  • Currency Exchange International—Century City

Several banks near UCLA offer student discounts on monthly service charges for checking accounts, but you may have to contact more than one bank to find the one with services you need.

  • New accounts—Minimum balance typically required of up to $100. Banks require two to three days to open an account, but if you deposit an overseas check or bank draft, it may take up to a few days or weeks until you can withdraw money from your new account.
  • Identification—A passport, your I-20 and a credit card are typically needed.
  • Social Security number (SSN)—Not required. If you are asked for an SSN, ask the bank manager if a supplementary letter from UCLA Extension’s International Student Services Office (ISS) will help.
  • ATM card—Provides you access to cash from the bank’s automated teller machines and other ATM’s for a fee. If your bank issues an ATM that acts as a debit card as well, you can use it at most grocery stores for basic shopping and to get cash.
  • Online banking—Manage your account and pay bills via the internet.


  • Your home country driver’s license: Can be used if current, not expired.
  • California driver’s license: To apply, check the DMV for the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office nearest you. You will need to schedule an appointment for a written exam and driving test. A California Driver’s License or a California ID card provide a useful and common form of identification when paying by check, or for proof you are 21 years or over.
  • Taxes: Each year, you will be taxed to register your automobile with the DMV.
  • Automobile insurance: You will need to buy auto insurance, show proof that you have it when you register your car, and must carry proof with you in your car at all times when you drive. If you are stopped by police or involved in an accident, you must show your license, vehicle registration, and auto insurance card.
  • Renting a car: Many car rental agencies have a minimum age for drivers of 22 or 25 years old. Check with the car rental company for these and other possible restrictions for international drivers.

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