Check if you’re eligible to enter Canada

Not all students can travel to Canada. Check if you can travel before making travel arrangements. 

Latest updates

On August 25, 2022, IRCC announced an extension of temporary policies allowing online courses outside Canada to count towards the Post-Graduation Work Permit until August 31, 2023, if meeting eligibility requirements.

Travel restrictions, testing, and quarantine requirements may change without notice. Visit COVID-19: Travel, testing, and borders for updates.

Last updated Thurs, Aug 25, 2022

Travelling to Canada: step by step

Step 1: Check if you’re eligible
Not all students can travel to Canada. Check if you can travel before making travel arrangements.

Step 2: Before you travel

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

Step 4: While travelling

Step 5: After you arrive

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Travel restrictions

As of October 20, 2020 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.

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. Be sure to check the latest updates.

For travels within Canada, check if there are any provincial or territorial restrictions before travelling.

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 will study in Canada for more than 6 months, do not travel to Canada until you have received your Letter of Introduction, even if you are fully vaccinated and have an eTA or TRV.

SECOND, YOU MUST HAVE EITHER OF THE FOLLOWING (US CITIZENS ARE EXEMPT):

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. 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 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 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.

 

2a. Fully vaccinated travellers

Travellers who meet the Canadian government’s definition of a fully vaccinated traveller can come to Canada if they 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.

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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, unvaccinated travellers 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 June 20, 2022, proof of COVID-19 vaccination is no longer required to board flights and trains in Canada. Learn more about boarding flights and cruise ships in 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. 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 to geo.ubco@ubc.ca.

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) 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 inside Canada and want to travel abroad, you may leave and return to Canada if you meet the requirements for the travel restrictions. 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.

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 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.

See also IRCC’s travelling to Canada tool for guidance on travel restrictions.

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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 up to 4 weeks before you begin studies would be considered reasonable. If you must travel earlier, prepare a detailed explanation and supporting documents, if possible, in case the airline or border officer asks. 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.

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.

Review Canada Border Services Agency’s (CBSA) handout for students arriving in Canada [PDF] for a summary of what you need to travel as an international student.

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Booking your flight(s)

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

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 get your study permit at your first arrival airport in Canada. For example, if you arrive in Toronto and then take another flight to Vancouver, you must get your study permit in Toronto. Consider booking flights that have a long layover to allow time for immigration.

Driving across the border

The largest border crossing near UBC is the Douglas (Peach Arch) border crossing, which has onsite COVID-19 testing.

Learn about the process to travel to Canada by land and see the driving to Canada checklist.

Also, see considerations when temporarily importing a vehicle.

This information is accurate as of August 25, 2022, and is subject to change. Follow the latest updates on travel restrictions due to COVID-19 and the IRCC international students COVID-19 page. See also CBSA’s updates on travel for non-Canadians.