Before making travel plans

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

Latest updates

As of Thurs, Jan 5, 2022, all travellers flying from China, Hong Kong, and Macao who are 2 years old or older require a negative COVID-19 test result from no more than 2 days before departure (molecular test or antigen test with documentation to show it was monitored by a telehealth service or an accredited laboratory or testing provider), or a positive COVID-19 test from 10 to 90 days before departure. See the news release for details.

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

As a temporary measure, some international students can work more than 20 hours a week starting from Nov 15, 2022 to Dec 31, 2023. If you are eligible for the temporary measure, you might also be exempt from requiring a co-op work permit for co-op placements during this period. Check the FAQ for important eligibility details.

Travelling to Canada: step by step

Step 1: Before making travel plans
Not all students can travel to Canada. Check if you can travel before making travel arrangements.

Step 2: Before you travel

Step 3: What to bring

Step 4: While travelling

Step 5: After you arrive

Back to the overview

COVID-19 emergency border measures ended on October 1, 2022. Travellers are no longer required to be vaccinated to travel to Canada, take pre-entry or after-arrival COVID-19 tests, quarantine, use the ArriveCan app, or wear a mask on planes and trains.

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

Immigration documents

To travel to Canada for studies, you must have two types of documents:

  1. Valid documents to study in Canada, and
  2. Valid documents to travel to Canada

1. Have valid documents to study in Canada

First, you must fall into one of the following categories:

  • Have an original, valid study permit
  • Have a valid Letter of Introduction (study permit approval letter)
  • You will study in a short-term program for less than 6 months as a visitor and can study without a study permit
  • You are a US citizen or US permanent resident, or a resident of Greenland or St. Pierre and Miquelon, and will apply for a study permit on arrival in Canada

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 have an eTA or TRV.

2. Have valid documents to travel to Canada

Second, you must fall into one of the following categories:

  • Have a valid Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) (a sticker in your passport)
  • Have a valid Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA)
  • Are a US citizen or lawful US permanent resident who holds valid status in the US (you do not require a TRV or an eTA).

Find entry requirements by country or territory.

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 four weeks before you begin your studies would be considered reasonable. You cannot work in Canada until you have begun full-time studies and meet the requirements.

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.

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 your studies. Contact International Student Advising for support.

Do not travel or purchase non-refundable flight tickets or make non-refundable accommodation deposits until you have received the right documents to travel to Canada (see above).

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Booking your flight(s)

Be aware of local rules if you are transiting airports en route to Canada. See the International Air Transport Association (IATA) page for guidance on international visa and passport requirements, and COVID-19 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.

Getting to UBC or your final destination

UBC does not offer airport pick-up services. You can plan your trip via public transit by using Translink’s trip planner or Google Maps.

Driving across the border

The largest border crossing near UBC is the Douglas (Peace 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.

Get advice on whether you should travel

If you have unusual circumstances, to receive advice on documents to travel or the timing of travelling, 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.

This information is accurate as of October 7, 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.