Two female students sitting on the floor smiling

Coming from abroad

Arrival checklist

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 passportTemporary 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 moneyto 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.

Applying for a study permit at the border

Citizens and permanent residents of the United States, as well as residents of Greenland and St. Pierre and Miquelon, can apply for a study permit directly at an international airport in Canada or at most major US/Canada border crossings.

What you need to apply

  • Collect all documents required for a study permit application as if you’re applying by paper. Don't forget to check if you need a medical exam in advance, prepare the correct supporting documents, and read the instruction guide carefully.
  • Pay the application fee ($150) directly at the border by debit or credit card, or cash in Canadian dollars.
  • If you’re under 17 years old and come to Canada without a parent or legal guardian, you must secure a custodian. If you’re 17 or 18 and studying in British Columbia, the visa officer may require you to secure a custodian as well.
  • If your spouse or common-law partner will accompany you, make sure to document your relationship, for example: marriage certificate or common-law partnership declaration, and other supporting documents.
  • If you prefer to apply for the permit in advance (online or by paper), check the website of the visa office that is responsible for your country or region or apply online on the CIC website.

International and coming to UBC from a Canadian high school?

If you are international and are admitted to UBC from a secondary school in Canada, you must obtain a new study permit prior to starting classes at UBC because your study permit for studying in secondary schools does not allow you to study at the university/college level. You can do this by following the same process as extending your study permit.

You must apply as soon as possible and make sure you have a new study permit before you attend UBC. You can apply to renew your study permit online when you are in Canada. If you will not be in Canada in time to apply to change your study permit’s conditions, contact an International Student Advisor at International House.

If you already have a valid study permit for post-secondary study in Canada, you can use that permit to study at UBC. As a post-secondary student, you can transfer between programs of study and institutions without applying for a change to the conditions of your study permit - you simply need to change your Designated Learning Institution (DLI) online.

Health coverage

International students are automatically enrolled in iMED and the AMS/GSS Health & Dental Plan (except exchange students, who are not automatically covered by the plan) when you register for classes. When you arrive in Canada, you’ll need to apply for BC’s Medical Services Plan (MSP) if you will stay in BC for more than 6 months.

Canada Border Services Agency contact info