While travelling to Canada

Make sure you're prepared before you leave for the airport.

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 and webpage for details. This measure has been extended to April 5, 2023.

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.

Last updated February 10, 2023.

Travelling to Canada: step by step

Step 1: Before making travel plans

Step 2: Before you travel

Step 3: What to bring

Step 4: While travelling

Make sure you know what to expect at the airport or border

Step 5: After you arrive

Back to the overview

Before boarding the plane

You should not travel to Canada if you have symptoms of COVID-19.

If you experience symptoms during your travel or on arrival, tell the flight attendant (if flying) and the Canada Border Services Officer when you arrive. You might be referred to a Quarantine Officer for a health assessment and directions. Avoid public transportation and check provincial and territorial requirements for what to do if you are sick.

You will need to show documentation to airline agents prior to being permitted to board your flight, who may not have in-depth knowledge of Canadian immigration laws. If you should be eligible to travel and have issues boarding your flight, firmly request that the airline staff contact CBSA to confirm your eligibility to travel—airlines have a direct phone number for this purpose.

All travellers are encouraged to wear a well-fitted mask or respirator.

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What to expect at the Canadian Airport or Border

If you need a study permit

You’ll need to get your study permit at your first airport of arrival in Canada. For example, if you arrive in Toronto and then take another flight to Vancouver, you must get your study permit in Toronto. If you have connecting flights, try to schedule a layover for a few hours to allow time for immigration.

  1. Answer questions on the electronic Primary Inspection Kiosk.
    You must declare if you brought with you currency equal to or greater than CAD $10,000 and/or any food, plant, or animal products.
  2. Present your kiosk receipt to an officer.
    Let them know you need a study permit, and the officer will direct you to immigration.
  3. Pick up your checked luggage, if you have any.
  4. Proceed to immigration.
    Present your Letter of Introduction to the officer.
  5. Check your study permit before you leave the officer’s desk.
    Confirm all personal information and conditions are correct. If they are not, notify the officer. If you leave the airport with incorrect documents, it can take months to correct them.

If you arrive by car, there are no kiosks. Answer the officer’s questions, let them know you need a study permit, then proceed to secondary examination for your study permit.

Degree-seeking and exchange students are eligible to work on- and off-campus. Other non-degree-seeking students, such as VIRS or unclassified students, are eligible to work on-campus only. To prevent delays in starting work, ensure your study permit includes at least one of the following conditions:

  • “May accept employment on or off campus if meeting eligibility criteria, per paragraph R186(f), (v) or (w) and must cease working if no longer meeting these criteria”
  • “May work 20 hours per week off campus or full time during regular breaks if meeting criteria outlined in paragraph 186(v) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations”
  • “May accept employment on the campus of the institution at which registered in full-time studies”

If you’re flying directly to Vancouver International Airport (YVR)

How to reduce wait times if you’re flying directly to the Vancouver International Airport (YVR)

In addition to following the listed steps above, you can reduce your wait times by voluntarily providing some information through the new Voluntary Compliance Portal (VC Portal) which is a pilot project UBC requested between CBSA and the YVR Airport Authority. Your study permit will be printed before you arrive, thereby reducing wait times and limiting congestion for enhanced safety through the arrival process.

Eligibility requirements for the VC Portal:

  • You must have a Letter of Introduction indicating that your study permit has been approved, and
  • You must not have had a layover in Canada on this trip, and
  • You submit the online form at least 72 hours before your departure

The VC Portal is only for study permits at this time. If you have also been approved for a co-op work permit, you can still submit your study permit details. You will not be negatively impacted if you do not use the VC Portal, and using it does not guarantee the CBSA officer will allow you to enter Canada. This is a voluntary option for faster processing and your information will be sent only to the CBSA at YVR.

If you have a study permit

Have all your documents ready to present on arrival in case the officer asks, even if you have a valid study permit.

If you have an eTA and want to apply for a work permit

If you have a valid Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) and want to apply for a co-op work permit, or Post-Graduation Work Permit, or your spouse has an eTA and wants to apply for a spousal work permit, you can apply for the work permit in person on arrival in Canada at the airport or border crossing. Prepare your application and documents in advance then bring all original, printed documents with you. Follow the steps above to proceed to immigration to apply. If the officer approves, you will receive the work permit on the spot.

Visit working in Canada for more information about these work permits and for tutorials to prepare your application.

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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. See also CBSA’s updates on travel for non-Canadians.