Travelling to Canada: step by step
Step 1: Check if you're eligible
Not all students can travel to Canada.
Step 1: Check if you're eligible
Not all students can travel to Canada.
As of November 26, all foreign nationals (including students and workers) who have travelled through South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini or Mozambique in the last 14 days will temporarily be barred from travelling to Canada. If you have travelled from one of these countries in the past 14 days you will need to get a COVID-19 test.
You must be fully vaccinated with a Canada-approved vaccine to board flights or trains bound for domestic and international destinations.
As of November 30, 2021, the Canadian government’s list of approved vaccines to be considered a fully vaccinated traveler will include Sinopharm, Sinovac and COVAXIN, matching the World Health Organization’s Emergency Use Listing.
As of January 15, 2022, international students and work permit holders must be fully vaccinated to travel to Canada. Exceptions will include international students under the age of 18 studying at approved institutions such as UBC.
If you are studying online from outside Canada, the temporary policy allowing courses to count towards the Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) has been extended to August 31, 2022, if meeting eligibility requirements.
If you are studying online from within Canada, then according to the temporary policy, “If your courses were moved online due to the pandemic, the time you spend studying online from within Canada still counts toward the length of your PGWP. It’s highly recommended that you attend in-class options when offered.” Get more information about distance learning from inside of Canada.
The FAQs and Travelling to Canada guide will be updated shortly.
Last updated Fri, Nov 26, 4:40 pm
As of October 20, 2020 most UBC students can travel to Canada if they meet the below requirements and have a quarantine plan. The British Columbia (BC) government has approved UBC’s COVID-19 readiness plan and UBC is included in the list of Designated Learning Institutions able to reopen to international students outside Canada.
Country specific travel restrictions may be announced. Be sure to check the latest updates.
There is no requirement for international students to be vaccinated to travel to Canada. You can get vaccinated in British Columbia free of charge.
As of September 7, 2021, fully vaccinated travellers from any country can travel for non-essential travel. If you are a fully-vaccinated degree-seeking student, you cannot travel as a visitor and must have a letter of approval for study permit or valid study permit (except for US citizens who can apply at the airport/border crossing).
For travels within Canada, check if there are provincial or territorial restrictions before travelling as well as provincial or territorial proof of vaccination requirements.
If you are a US citizen or permanent resident, or a resident of Greenland or St. Pierre and Miquelon, you can apply for a study permit on arrival in Canada – see below.
A study permit approval-in-principle is not acceptable for travel.
Do not travel to Canada until you have received your Letter of Introduction, even if you are fully-vaccinated.
As of September 25, 2020, you can apply for a study permit in person at the airport or border crossing on arrival in Canada. If you will travel, make sure you carry all original documents for a study permit application with you to be prepared to apply on arrival. If you are a US citizen travelling from a country other than the US and are not fully vaccinated, contact Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) for advice on whether you can travel without an approved study permit (see 'get advice on whether you should travel' below). Starting August 9, 2021, Canada allows fully vaccinated US citizens and permanent residents currently residing in the US to enter Canada for non-essential travel.
If you have already submitted an online study permit application which is still being processed, you will probably need to submit and pay for a new application on arrival in Canada. After you have entered Canada, send a webform to request that your online application is cancelled as well as request a refund. If processing has already begun on your application, such as you have received your study permit approval-in-principle, you likely will not be eligible for a refund.
As of October 20, 2020, your travel will be considered ‘essential’ so long as you have a valid study permit or study permit approval letter and you are a current, enrolled UBC international student, even if all your courses have moved online. When you arrive in Canada, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officer will check all your documents to determine whether or not you can be admitted to Canada.
Fully vaccinated travellers who meet the requirements of a fully vacconated traveller can come to Canada.
Based on the current travel restrictions, all current, enrolled UBC international students are considered to meet the requirement of traveling for an essential purpose if traveling for studies. You do not require a letter indicating you must travel to Canada for in-person studies. If you receive such a request please forward a copy of the request through the International Student Advising online form.
If the above does not apply to you, to receive advice on whether or not you should travel, you may email or call the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). If you are calling, please ask for and take note of the agent’s badge number, the date and time you speak with the agent, and record notes of your conversation in case you need to refer to this in the future. Please note the CBSA officer you meet with when you arrive in Canada will make the final decision on whether you can enter Canada.
You may also consider contacting your airline to confirm what documentation they will request to board your flight.
There is no specific earliest date you can travel; however, an officer may have concerns if you are travelling several months before you begin your studies. Arriving up to 4 weeks before you begin or resume studies would be considered reasonable. If you must travel earlier, prepare a detailed explanation for the airline and border officer if asked. The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officer you meet at the airport/border crossing will make the final decision on whether or not to admit you to Canada.
If you have in-person studies or co-op, you must complete your 14 day quarantine after arrival in Canada before attending any in-person activities, unless you are exempt from quarantine as a fully vaccinated traveller.
Do not travel or purchase non-refundable flight tickets or make non-refundable accommodation deposits unless you have received your Letter of Introduction (study permit approval) or have your original study/work permit and TRV/eTA.
If you are an undergraduate student and are not enrolled during Summer Session (May to August), consider avoiding travelling more than 4 weeks before you resume studies. It is not clear how officers will view your travel.
If you are outside Canada, take a gap in studies and are not currently enrolled, you should avoid travelling to Canada more than 4 weeks before you return to resume studies while you are not enrolled.
As of August 9, 2021, all international flights can land in Montreal, Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver, Halifax, Quebec City, Ottawa, Winnipeg, and Edmonton.
Be aware of local rules when transiting airports. See the International Air Transport Association (IATA) page for guidance on international restrictions and measures.
You will need to take a COVID-19 molecular test at your first arrival airport in Canada if you are not fully vaccinated or are fully vaccinated and randomly selected to do so.
If you need connecting flights in Canada, contact CBSA for advice on where to quarantine and travelling to your final destination. We will update the guide when more information becomes available.
If you intend to stay somewhere in Canada that is not in commuting distance to your campus, please note that the current travel restrictions are based on being a current student at UBC and UBC’s COVID-19 readiness plan which was approved by the province of BC. Please contact CBSA to discuss your eligibility to reside in another destination/province in Canada. Check provincial and territorial requirements for further travel restrictions.
Also see the Public Health Agency of Canada’s COVID-19 Travel Toolkit.
The largest border crossing near UBC is the Douglas (Peace Arch) border crossing, which has onsite COVID-19 testing.
Also, see considerations when temporarily importing a vehicle.