VIU Homestay student and bedroom

Host Family Resources

Welcome to the VIU Homestay Program's resource hub for our current host families. This page has commonly used forms, information about preparing for a new student's arrival, addressing challenges with students, and more.

Physical copies of most resources can be requested from the VIU Homestay Program by VIU host families, or on their behalf by their students from the Homestay & Off-Campus Housing Office in Building 255, Centre for International Education. Office hours are from 8AM to 4PM, Monday to Friday. We are happy to mail you documents if you're unable to make it in!

Don't see something that you'd like? Contact the VIU Homestay Program by phone at 250-740-6159 or by email at to see if we can send you a copy!

Host Family Resources

The Host Family is responsible to arrange to meet and greet their student at the student’s point of entry to Nanaimo and drop them off for their departure at: the Nanaimo Airport, a BC Ferry Terminal, a bus terminal, float plane terminal, or in some instances, at VIU, or an affiliated campus. We ask that host families identify themselves with a sign. You can request bright coloured copies of the Greeting Sign or print them off at your home. Click on the image below to download your copy.

VIU Homestay Greeting Sign

The Homestay Manager or Coordinator must be informed, in advance, of any proposed changes to the Homestay arrangement by the student or the host family. Of note, the provisions of the Residential Tenancy Act do not apply to Homestay, thus it allows us some discretion to address any problems in a more timely fashion. Please see page 21 in the Hosting Experience Manual for more information on student, host, and the Homestay Office's responsibilities.

VIU Homestay Moving Notification Form

Please let us know about your experience with your students! We love to hear about activities you were able to do with your student. We also appreciate hearing aspects that were challenging about a placement. Evaluations help us with matching future placements for your home.

VIU Homestay Host Evaluation of Student Form

Below are different examples of Household guidelines to prepare for your student. Every host family is different, but we do require written guidelines to be presented to the student in order to help communicate household expectations in writing which will be a resource students and hosts can go back to review. Please click on the examples below to download and to edit them for your home.

Homestay House Guidelines Example

Homestay House Guidelines Example with Icons

Host families are required to read, sign, and agree to the conditions of the letter of agreement in order to participate in the program. We encourage Host Families to review the LOA on a regular basis. 

VIU Host Family Letter of Agreement

The Hosting Experience Manual acts as a support and resource for host families to provide the best hosting experience. Being familiar with the content is part of your responsibility as a host family, as outlined in the VIU Homestay Host Family Letter of Agreement. The most current edition of the manual is from May/June 2019. If you would like to have an electronic copy or you would like to request a new hard copy please email



Damages are an eventuality when welcoming other people into your home. If you encounter a situation where there is damage caused in your home by your student, you will need to submit a damage claim to the VIU Homestay Program. 

Damage claims are reviewed by the Homestay Coordinator and/or Manager. Some damages may be assessed as wear & tear in which case a student would not be expected to provide compensation for the damage in question.

Please contact the VIU Homestay Program for more information if there is an incident in your home that may require a damage claim.

VIU Homestay Program Damage Claim Guidelines

The VIU Homestay Program sends out a regular newsletter. Our staff endeavours to release monthly updates, though at peak times of the year, updates may be less frequent.

To subscribe to the newsletter or to read past updates, please visit here: VIU Homestay Newsletter.

Preparing for a Student's Arrival

Once the VIU Homestay Program has matched you with a student, our office will send you a Match Letter with further information about the placement. The letter will include important information, such as the anticipated length of stay for the student, their arrival date and location, and more. Please read this carefully.

The VIU Homestay program requires that the host picks up the student at the student’s point of entry to Nanaimo or designated location which may include but is not limited to: the Nanaimo Airport, a BC Ferry Terminal, a bus terminal, float plane terminal, at VIU or an affiliated campus.

Please meet your student with an easily identifiable sign with the student’s full name.

When you return home, give the student a tour of your home and how things work. Your student will likely be tired, overwhelmed and in an unfamiliar environment so keep the initial tour to the essentials. Provide them with the information they need to know right away. Then give them time to rest.

The VIU Homestay Program recommends preparing a small welcome basket for the student's room. Great things to include are a welcome letter or card from your family, a copy of your household rules, instructions on how to access the internet, and a few small snacks/beverages. Including a family picture and writing in each family member's name can be very helpful for your student to learn your family members' names.

Typically on the day after your student arrives, after your student has had a some time to rest, you should begin to introduce the remainder of your household guidelines and rules. Having written copies of your household guidelines is very helpful for many students so that they can refer back to them later. Your student is receiving a lot of new information when they arrive from you, the VIU Homestay Program, VIU, and their classes. It can be challenging to remember everything!

The VIU Homestay Program recommends checking in with your student after 1 week in your home and revisiting your household guidelines and rules. You and your student will start to have an idea of what rules are working and what might need tweaking so you can discuss what adjustments you can make so that you and your student are comfortable in your home. Often students will find it very difficult to bring up a rule that is not working for them, so it is best to check-in with your student regularly.

Please review pages 7-12 of the Hosting Experience Manual to help you prepare and anticipate some of the needs for the student.

Students may be uncertain what food and snacks are available to them in your home. Creating cabinet space where you can put food items that are specifically for your student will help them know they can "help themselves." The phrase help yourself and make yourself at home is unfamiliar for a lot of students. Some students might see themselves as guests in your home and, therefore, have a difficult time breaking out of that mindset.

Showers, bathtubs, and toilets may work differently in the student’s home country, so the student may need an explanation/ demonstration. Some cultures do not put used toilet paper in the toilet (it is put in the waste basket), so you may need to show the student your preferred disposal procedures. Similarly, you may need to ask your student to close the bathroom door, or place the shower curtain inside the tub when the student showers.

You may want to check-in with your student if they are warm enough at night. Canadians tend to keep their homes cooler than many students are used to. Not every culture uses fitted sheets, top sheets, and layered blankets. In the summer, you may want to check that your student is not too hot at night as many students come from countries where homes have air conditioning. A fan might help the student be more comfortable on hot nights.

Check-in with your student that they have been able to email or send a message home. Your student may need help on the first day they arrive in the event they have difficulty with logging into your wifi.