Before you travel to Canada

Before you travel to Canada, you'll need to make sure you have the right documents to enter the country.

Travelling to Canada: step by step 

Step 1: Check if you're eligible

Step 2: Before you travel
Before you travel to Canada, make sure you prepare the right documents supporting essential travel, get a COVID-19 molecular test within 72 hours before your flight’s scheduled departure time or arrival at the border and have valid health insurance coverage for when you arrive.

Step 3: Prepare your quarantine (self-isolation) plan

Step 4: While you travel

Step 5: After you arrive

Back to the overview

Gather documents supporting essential travel

Check if you’re eligible to travel before preparing documents.

As proof you are a current, enrolled UBC student, you will need a Letter of Enrollment which has been recently issued, ideally the same week that you travel. You can download this in your Student Services Centre (SSC) under "Grades and Records”. If you are not able to get a Letter of Enrollment from the SSC, contact an Academic Advisor or graduate program staff for a customized letter of enrollment.

Furthermore, you must show that you have sufficient proof of funds for yourself and any accompanying dependents. The amount you need to show proof for will depend on if you are a new or returning student and whether or not you have dependents.

See step 4 for a list of documents to bring when you travel.

Get a COVID-19 molecular test

As of February 15, 2021, all travellers five years of age or older will be required to test negative for COVID-19 before travelling from another country to Canada.

If you are flying to Canada, you must take the test within 72 hours before your flight’s scheduled departure time. You must then receive and present your digital or printed negative test result to airline staff before you can board your flight. If you are taking multiple flights, you must take the test within 72 hours before the scheduled departure time of the flight which is destined for Canada.

If you are traveling by land from the US, you will need to provide proof of a negative test result taken within 72 hours before arrival.

If you have previously tested positive and recovered from COVID-19, instead of a negative COVID-19 test, you must provide proof of a positive COVID-19 molecular test conducted between 14 and 90 days prior to your flight or entry by land. 

There are different types of COVID-19 tests. You must get a molecular test, such as a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test or a Loop-mediated Isothermal Amplification (LAMP) test. Not accepted are antigen screening or other types of tests such as Diffractive Phase Interferometry. See the list of acceptable tests.

The COVID-19 molecular test must be performed at a reputable laboratory or testing facility, such as one recognized by local government or accredited by a third party, for example a professional organization, or International Standards Organization accreditation. Testing sites for some countries are on the COVID-19 testing page. If there are no testing sites listed, contact your local health authority to get information on testing locations. Confirm if an appointment is needed and schedule an appointment, if required.

Your test results must include:

  • Your name and date of birth
  • The name and civic (street) address of the laboratory/clinic/facility that administered the test
  • The date the test was taken
  • The test method (must be a molecular test)
  • The test result

Costs and coverage for COVID-19 testing for travel purposes will depend on the country you are in and your local health insurance coverage. COVID-19 testing costs for travel will not be covered by the AMS/GSS Health and Dental Plan, the BC Medical Services Plan, or iMED.

Even if you have a negative test result, you still need to complete the mandatory 14 day quarantine period. 

At this time, having a COVID-19 vaccine does not exempt you from the COVID-19 molecular test or quarantine. See vaccinated travellers entering Canada for updates.

See COVID-19 Testing for Travellers for the latest updates.

Confirm your health insurance coverage

If you’re new to UBC

As a new student, you have temporary health insurance coverage for your first three months through iMED. Once you’ve arrived in Canada, you must apply for the BC Medical Service Plan (MSP) to cover your remaining time at UBC. Learn more about health insurance

Confirm your arrival date

You will receive an email from David Cummings Insurance Services (DCIS) with information related to your temporary iMED health insurance and instructions on how to confirm your arrival date in Canada. You must confirm your arrival date with DCIS. 

We strongly recommend that starting 3 weeks before your travel date, you confirm your arrival date before travelling by providing your scanned flight tickets to DCIS.

You can also confirm your arrival with DCIS up to 3 weeks after you’ve arrived in Canada by providing your scanned flight tickets, boarding pass(es), study permit, passport stamp, or landing documents.

Get your virtual iMED card

Once you confirm your arrival with DCIS, you will receive your iMED card by email. If you don’t receive your iMED card, please email DCIS at

Confirm the iMED coverage period on your iMED card is correct. iMED coverage should start from the month you arrive in BC plus two months to cover the BC MSP waiting period.

If your plans change

If your travel plans change, request an adjustment of your iMED coverage period. Once you know your new arrival date, submit an iMED date change request online through DCIS website before December 31, 2021. You will then receive a new iMED card with your new coverage period.

Returning students

Before you travel, check whether you have valid BC Medical Services Plan (MSP) coverage.

If you've been outside of Canada for six months or less

If you have been outside of Canada for less than six months and you did not cancel your MSP, ensure your MSP coverage has not expired. You should be able to be covered under MSP, however consider contacting BC MSP to confirm.

If you've been outside of Canada for more than six months

If you have been outside of Canada for more than six months, contact BC MSP to confirm your eligibility for coverage. If you can still be covered under MSP, no further action is required until your MSP expires.

If you don’t have MSP

Before you travel to Canada, you will need to get private health insurance, such as the Global Campus Health Plan, to cover the three-month MSP waiting period. Make sure the private health plan you choose has adequate coverage as some private health insurance companies are no longer covering COVID-19 testing and treatment.

As soon as you re-enter BC, apply for MSP online. See the Medical Service Plan Response to COVID-19 for the latest updates.