Check if you’re eligible to travel

There are a number of steps to take if you’re planning to travel to Canada for your studies.

Travel restrictions

As of October 20, 2020 most UBC students can travel to Canada if they meet the below requirements. 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 of January 15, 2022, most travellers must be fully vaccinated to travel to Canada, with a few exceptions.

Country specific travel restrictions, testing and quarantine requirements may be announced without notice. Be sure to check the latest updates.

For travels within Canada, check if there are provincial or territorial restrictions before travelling as well as provincial or territorial proof of vaccination requirements

To travel to Canada, you must meet two requirements:
 
  1. You must have valid documents to travel, and
  2. You must be:
    A. Fully vaccinated, or
    B. Travelling for an essential purpose and exempt from the vaccine requirement.


1. Have valid documents


First, you must have one of the following documents:
 

If you will study in a short-term program (for less than 6 months), you do not need a study permit to travel to Canada. 

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.

If you are a degree-seeking student, do not travel to Canada until you have received your Letter of Introduction, even if you are fully-vaccinated.

Second, you must have either of the following:
 

US citizens and lawful US permanent residents who hold valid status in the US do not require a TRV nor eTA. 

Find entry requirements by country or territory.

IF YOU ARE A US CITIZEN OR PERMANENT RESIDENT, OR A RESIDENT OF GREENLAND OR ST. PIERRE AND MIQUELON 

As of September 25, 2020, you can apply for a study permit in person at the airport or border crossing on arrival in Canada. Make sure you carry all original documents for a study permit application with you to be prepared to apply on arrival. If you are under the age of 18 and not fully vaccinated, contact Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) for advice on whether you can travel without an approved study permit.

If you have already submitted an online study permit application which is still being processed, you will 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, you likely will not be eligible for a refund. 

2a. Fully vaccinated travellers

Travellers who meet the Canadian government’s definition of fully vaccinated traveller can come to Canada if you have the right documents. 

If your accompanying children are under 18 years old, visit children or dependents for COVID-19 pre-arrival testing and quarantine requirements and COVID-19: Requirements for fully vaccinated travellers and unvaccinated children less than 12 years of age for additional details. 

Learn more about requirements for fully vaccinated travellers and fully-vaccinated travellers entering Canada during COVID-19 for arrival steps.

2b. Travelling for an essential purpose and exempt from the vaccine requirement

As of January 15, 2022, international students and PGWP holders need to be fully vaccinated to travel to Canada. Exceptions include international students under the age of 18 studying at approved institutions such as UBC. In addition to pre-departure testing, you will need an on arrival and day-8 test, and must complete a 14-day quarantine. See requirements for unvaccinated travellers and unvaccinated travellers entering Canada

As of November 30, 2021, all travellers aged 12 years of age plus 4 months must be fully vaccinated to board a plane or train in Canada. You can take a connecting flight to your final destination, so long as the scheduled departure time of your domestic flight is within 24 hours of the departure time for your flight to Canada.

As of August 31, 2022, foreign nationals need to be fully vaccinated to board a flight or train to depart Canada.

You can get vaccinated in British Columbia free of charge.


What is considered an essential purpose?

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 if you are studying in a certificate, diploma, or degree program 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.

Get advice on whether you should travel

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.

How the travel restrictions may impact you

  • If you are in a certificate, diploma, or degree program and applied for a study permit from outside of Canada, you must wait until you have received your Letter of Introduction (study permit approval), and TRV/eTA (if needed) before traveling to Canada. You should not travel as a visitor even if you are fully vaccinated. You will need to continue waiting for your final study permit approval before traveling. 
  • If you are an exchange, VIRS, unclassified, or visiting student studying less than 6 months and are fully vaccinated, see the FAQ for details.
  • If you are studying online outside of Canada in Winter Session 2021 or Summer Session 2022 (September 2021 - August 2022), your online courses will count towards the Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) until August 31, 2022 if you meet the eligibility criteria. See the FAQ for new students (program start Summer Session 2020 or later) or continuing students (program start Winter Term 2 2019 or earlier) for details.
  • If you are inside Canada and want to travel abroad, you may leave and return to Canada if you meet the requirements for the travel restrictions. As of November 30, 2021, travellers 12 years and 4 months of age or older must be fully vaccinated and require proof of COVID-19 vaccination for domestic and international flights departing from airports in Canada. Foreign nationals who reside in Canada temporarily will be allowed to leave the country without being fully vaccinated up until August 31, 2022. Be sure to check the current provincial and federal guidance on travel. Be aware that travel restrictions could change without notice for Canada or your country of destination and flights could be cancelled. Make sure you are eligible to travel to your destination country, have adequate health insurance covering COVID-19 testing and treatment, and stay up to date on the latest travel restrictions before planning your return to Canada. Consider what alternate arrangements you might make should your travel plans be interrupted. As of January 15, 2022, you must be fully vaccinated to return to Canada. Exceptions include international students under the age of 18 studying at approved institutions such as UBC.
  • If you have completed your program and are not fully vaccinated, you will need to be fully vaccinated to travel to Canada as a worker, unless exempt
  • If you have completed your program, are fully vaccinated, and have a valid Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) or Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA), you can travel for non-essential reasons. See options to apply for the PGWP from inside or outside of Canada and learn about travelling as a worker.
  • If you are not currently enrolled or are travelling for non-essential reasons, you can only travel to Canada for purposes other than studies, such as tourism, dealing with housing arrangements or to gather your personal belongings, if you are fully vaccinated and meet the requirements of the current travel restrictions.
  • If you have dependents (spouses/common-law partners or children), or if you want a parent to accompany you, please see children or dependents and the travel wizard for details. They must have the right documents, such as a TRV or eTA, and/or a Letter of Introduction for a study or work permit (if applicable). All family members must follow the travel restrictions for all travellers. As of January 15, 2022, they will need to be fully vaccinated to travel to Canada, unless exempt. 

Review the COVID-19 Travel: Checklists for requirements and exemptions and COVID-19 awareness resources for more scenarios.

When you can travel

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 a month before you begin or resume studies should 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 are not fully vaccinated, you must complete your 14 day quarantine after arrival in Canada before attending any in-person activities.

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 take a gap in studies and are not currently enrolled, you should avoid travelling to Canada more than a month before you resume studies.

Booking your flight(s)

As of February 28, 2022, international flights carrying passengers can arrive at all airports in Canada.

Be aware of local rules when transiting airports en route to Canada. See the International Air Transport Association (IATA) page for guidance on international restrictions and measures. 

You will need to take a COVID-19 on arrival test at your first arrival airport in Canada, if required.

If you intend to stay somewhere in Canada that is not in commuting distance to your campus and you are not fully vaccinated, 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 any further travel restrictions.

Driving across the border

The largest border crossing near UBC is the Douglas (Peace Arch) border crossing. Some border crossings have reduced service hours.

Also, see considerations when temporarily importing a vehicle.