Travelling outside Canada

Whether you plan to travel for a few days or a few months, if you're an international student, there are things to consider before you leave and re-enter Canada.

Have your documents in order

You need proper documents to re-enter Canada if you leave, so be sure to check your document expiration dates and renew them if necessary before you travel. If your study permit will expire while you are outside Canada, you should speak with an international student advisor before traveling. It is possible to apply for a new initial study permit (not a study permit extension) while outside of Canada, but it may take longer depending on your location.

It is best not to leave Canada while an immigration document extension is being processed, especially if your current document will expire while you are abroad. Please see an international student advisor for details.

Check Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC)'s processing times to plan ahead. 

Visiting the United States

Entering the United States

Citizens of some countries require a US visa. Citizens of other countries may be required to complete an ESTA or an I-94/I-94W form. All US immigration questions should be directed to the United States Consulate-General located in downtown Vancouver, as UBC does not provide advice on US immigration issues.

Always check with the US Consulate for the most up-to-date information before beginning your visa application. 

If you have a summer internship in the US, contact the US Consulate’s visa section to find out the type of visa you will need.

Reentering Canada after travelling to the United States

If you have a valid study permit or work permit, or hold valid visitor status in Canada, and you leave Canada and visit only the United States, you do not need a valid Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) to re-enter Canada, provided you return to Canada by the end of the authorized period of your stay in Canada. [See the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, Part 9, Division 5, Section 190(3)(f)].

If you are on implied status and need to travel to the United States, see an international student advisor before traveling.

What to expect at the Canadian border

Prepare for your border crossing by reading Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC)'s helpful tips. Below is some additional information to help you prepare for your initial entrance to Canada:

  1. Get your immigration documents in order. Before leaving for Canada, make sure that you have your passport, Temporary Resident Visa or Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) (if you require one), and an up-to-date UBC admission or enrolment letter. To obtain your study permit from the border officer, you will also need the letter of introduction issued by the IRCC. Consider also bringing proof that you have enough money to support yourself in Canada.
  2. Check the terms outlined in your immigration documents. Make sure your name, dates, and other information are correct.
  3. Visit the Canadian Border Agency website for travel tips and customs regulations. You may want to make a list of items in your luggage and fill in the form BSF186 for the valuables you are bringing to Canada.
  4. At the border, answer every question truthfully, consistently and calmly. You may be asked what you will do and how long you are going to study in Canada. Service at the border is available in English and French. If you do not understand what is being said, ask if an interpreter is available. Expect to spend 1-3 hours at the border during busy periods, during which time you may be unable to use the telephone or leave the immigration area.
  5. Plan your journey from the border to your destination. If you are arriving in Vancouver by plane, visit the Vancouver Airport website as well as the Translink Trip Planner to map out your route from the airport. You may also consider taking a taxi.

Resources

Canada Border Services Agency

Phone (within Canada): 1.800.461.9999

Phone (outside Canada):  1.204.983.3500

TTY (text telephone): 1.866.335.3237

Email:  contact@cbsa.gc.ca

Web: Travel tips | Entry requirements | What you can bring to Canada | Border wait times

International Student Development

Phone: 604.822.5021

Fax: 604.822.5099

International Student Advisor (RCICs): isa@students.ubc.ca

General enquiries: international.house@ubc.caWebsite

Talk to an advisor

International Student Advisors (ISAs) are Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants (RCICs) who can help.

Drop-in advising at International House:

Monday 1 pm - 4 pmTuesday 1 pm - 4 pmWednesday 1 pm - 4 pmThursday 1 pm - 4 pmFriday 1 pm - 4 pm

When emailing us, include your student number in the subject line and the following in the email body:

  • Your name
  • Your citizenship(s)
  • All permit and visa expiration dates  (if applicable)
  • Currently in Canada (YES or NO)