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.
The suspension of direct flights from India has been extended to August 21, 2021. See the alert on suspension of flights for more information. Mental health supports are available through UBC health services and the BC government.
As of July 5, 2021, fully vaccinated travellers who have received vaccines approved by Canada at least 14 days prior to the day you enter Canada are exempt from the 3-night government hotel stay, the 14-day quarantine, and day-8 COVID-19 test, if meeting all eligibility requirements.
Starting August 9, 2021 at 12:01am EDT, all travellers coming to Canada by air will no longer require a 3-night stay in a government approved hotel, but those who are not fully vaccinated must still quarantine for 14 days. Furthermore, the government plans to allow fully vaccinated US citizens and permanent residents currently residing in the US to enter Canada for non-essential travel, such as parents from the US travelling to accompany or visit you.
Starting September 7, 2021, provided Canada’s COVID-19 epidemiology remains favorable, the government intends to open Canada’s borders to all fully-vaccinated travellers for non-essential travel.
If you are required to quarantine upon entry to Canada to begin or continue your studies, you may be eligible for the UBC Quarantine Bursary.
On October 20, 2020 Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) amended travel restrictions for international students. 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. As a result, as of October 20, 2020 most UBC students can travel to Canada if they meet the below requirements and have a quarantine plan.
Country specific travel restrictions may be announced - be sure to check the latest updates.
There is no requirement to be vaccinated to travel to Canada. You can get vaccinated in British Columbia free of charge.
As part of the Phase 1 of easing border measures for travellers entering Canada, as of July 5, 2021, fully vaccinated travellers who have received vaccines approved in Canada are exempt from the 3-night stay in a government approved hotel, 14-day quarantine, and day-8 COVID-19 take home test, if meeting all eligibility requirements, but must still prepare a 14 day quarantine plan—see step 3 for more information.
As of August 9, 2021, travellers coming to Canada by air will no longer require a 3-night stay in a government approved hotel, but those who are not fully vaccinated must still quarantine for 14 days. Fully vaccinated travellers will be exempt from post-arrival testing but may be randomly selected for testing. Furthermore, the government plans to allow fully vaccinated US citizens and permanent residents currently residing in the US enter Canada for non essential travel.
Starting September 7, 2021, if the epidemiological situation remains favorable, fully vaccinated travellers from any country can travel for non-essential travel.
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.
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, contact 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 plans to allow 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.
You can not travel for purposes other than studies, such as tourism, dealing with housing arrangements, or to gather your belongings, even if you have a valid study permit. In this case, your travel will be considered ‘non-essential’.
You must either have time to quarantine for 14 days before your in-person component begins unless you are fully vaccinated or be able to study online during your quarantine period.
You can find the documents you need to prepare for your travel in the next step. You must still meet the criteria to be exempt from the travel restrictions (such as being a current international student), regardless of your vaccination status.
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 the document to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 studies would be considered reasonable. If you must travel earlier, prepare a detailed explanation for the airline and border officer if asked. The 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, be sure to arrive at least 14 days beforehand to have enough time to complete your 14 day quarantine.
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 2021 (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 enrolled in classes in Summer Session 2021, then your travel to Canada in summer would be seen as essential. You should arrive no earlier than four weeks before your studies begin. If you travel earlier, prepare a detailed explanation for the airline and border officer if asked.
Until August 9, 2021, all international flights must land in Montreal, Toronto, Calgary, or Vancouver. As of August 9, 2021, international flights will also be able to land in 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 and book your 3-night stay in a government-approved hotel at your first arrival airport if travelling before August 9 and are not exempt from the hotel requirement, and will not be able to travel to your final destination until after you have a received a negative test result from your on arrival COVID-19 test, after which you can complete the remainder of your 14 day quarantine.
If you need connecting flights in Canada and are fully vaccinated or are travelling on or after August 9 when the 3-night stay in a government approved hotel stay is no longer required, contact CBSA for advice on where to quarantine and travelling to your final destination. We anticipate this will be clarified in the coming weeks and 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.
If you are travelling from India while the current suspension of direct flights is in place until August 21, 2021, and will travel through an indirect route, you must schedule flights to allow time to get a COVID-19 test in a third country and make sure to follow local entry and travel restrictions. See the alert on the suspension of flights for more information.
Also see the Public Health Agency of Canada’s COVID-19 Travel Toolkit.
The largest border crossing near UBC is the Douglas (Peach Arch) border crossing, which has onsite COVID-19 testing.
Also, see considerations when temporarily importing a vehicle.