Before you travel to Canada

Before you travel to Canada, you need the right documents and a self-isolation plan for when you arrive.

Latest updates

The suspension of direct flights from India has been extended to September 21, 2021. See the alert on suspension of flights for more information. Mental health supports are available through UBC student wellness and the BC government.

As of July 5, 2021, fully vaccinated travellers who have received the full series of 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, all travellers coming to Canada by air 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, fully vaccinated US citizens and permanent residents currently residing in the US can 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.

See the backgrounder and news release for more details and for information on additional changes.

Travelling to Canada: step by step

Step 1: Check if you’re eligible

Step 2: Before you travel
Before you travel to Canada, make sure you prepare the right documents supporting essential travel, get a COVID-19 molecular test and have valid health insurance coverage for when you arrive.

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

Step 4: While travelling

Step 5: After you arrive

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Gather documents supporting essential travel

As proof you are a current, enrolled UBC student, you will need a Letter of Enrolment which has been recently issued, ideally within a week of your travel date. You can download this in your Student Services Centre (SSC) under “Grades and Records”. If you are not able to get a Letter of Enrolment from the SSC, contact an Academic Advisor or graduate program staff for a customized letter of enrolment.

Furthermore, you must show that you have sufficient proof of funds for yourself and any accompanying dependents, according to the amount required for your study permit application.

You do not require a letter from UBC confirming you need to come to Canada for in-person studies. If you receive such a request from an airline or other organization, please send a copy of the request to ips.ubco@ubc.ca.

See Step 4: While travelling to Canada, for a list of recommended documents to bring when you travel. 

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Get a COVID-19 molecular test

As of January 15, 2021, all travellers five years of age or older will be required to test negative for COVID-19 before travelling from another country to Canada. If you are flying to Canada, you must take the test within 72 hours before your flight’s scheduled departure time. You must then receive and present your digital or printed negative test result to airline staff before you can board your flight. If you are taking multiple flights, you must take the test within 72 hours before the scheduled departure time of the flight which is destined for Canada.

If you are travelling from India while the current suspension of direct flights is in place and will travel through an indirect route before September 21, 2021, you must get your COVID-19 test in a third country. See the alert on the suspension of flights for more information.

If you are traveling by land from the US, you will need to provide proof of a negative test result taken within 72 hours before arrival.

If you have previously tested positive and recovered from COVID-19, instead of a negative COVID-19 test, you must provide proof of a positive COVID-19 molecular test conducted between 14 and 180 days prior to your flight or entry by land.

There are different types of COVID-19 tests. You must get a molecular test, such as a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test or a Loop-mediated Isothermal Amplification (LAMP) test. Antigen screening or other types of tests such as Diffractive Phase Interferometry are not acceptable. See the list of acceptable tests.

The COVID-19 molecular test must be performed at a reputable laboratory or testing facility, such as one recognized by local government or accredited by a third party, for example a professional organization, or International Standards Organization accreditation. Testing sites for some countries are on the COVID-19 testing page. If there are no testing sites listed, contact your local health authority to get information on testing locations. Confirm if an appointment is needed and schedule an appointment, if required.

Your test results must include:

  • Your name and date of birth
  • The name and civic (street) address of the laboratory/clinic/facility that administered the test
  • The date the test was taken
  • The test method (must be a molecular test)
  • The test result

Costs and coverage for COVID-19 testing for travel purposes will depend on the country you are in and your local health insurance coverage. COVID-19 testing costs for travel will not be covered by the UBCSUO Health and Dental Plan, the BC Medical Services Plan, or iMED.

Even if you have a negative test result, you still need to prepare a quarantine plan and complete the mandatory 14 day quarantine period if you are not fully vaccinated.

Having a COVID-19 vaccine does not exempt you from the pre-arrival COVID-19 molecular test. See vaccinated travellers entering Canada for updates.

Some travellers are exempt from testing.

See COVID-19 Testing for Travellers for the latest updates.

Get a new medical exam, if required

If you applied for a study permit or TRV outside Canada

Medical exam results are only valid for 12 months. If you completed a medical exam for your application and it has been more than 12 months since you completed your medical exam, you will need to take another medical exam before travelling to Canada and bring both e-medicals with you.

If you get a request in your online IRCC account for a medical exam it is important to complete the medical exam or provide an explanation by the deadline. See our medical exam FAQ for details.

If a medical exam was not required for your application, you do not need to complete one, unless your situation has changed since you applied and you now require a medical exam.

If you are a continuing student with a valid study permit who has been outside Canada for more than 6 months

If you’ve been in a designated country for 6 months or longer in the past 12 months, are a medical student, or will work in jobs which require a medical exam, you will need to complete a medical exam with a panel physician before travelling to Canada and bring a copy of your e-medical with you when you travel to Canada, as well as apply to change conditions for your study permit and/or work permit to work in jobs which require a medical exam, if required.

Confirm your Health insurance coverage

If you’re new to UBC

As a new international student, you have temporary health insurance coverage for your first three months through iMED. Once you’ve arrived in Canada, you must apply for the BC Medical Service Plan (MSP), if you will stay in the province for more than 6 months, to cover your remaining time at UBC. Learn more about health insurance.

STUDENTS WHO STARTED THEIR PROGRAM IN WINTER SESSION 2021 TO SUMMER SESSION 2021 (SEPTEMBER 2020 TO AUGUST 2021) – CONFIRM YOUR ARRIVAL DATE

You should have received an email from David Cummings Insurance Services (DCIS) with information related to your temporary iMED health insurance and instructions on how to confirm your arrival date in Canada. You must confirm your arrival date with DCIS. 

We strongly recommend that starting 3 weeks before your travel date, you confirm your arrival date before travelling by providing your scanned flight tickets to DCIS.

You can also confirm your arrival with DCIS up to 3 weeks after you’ve arrived in Canada by providing your scanned flight tickets, boarding pass(es), study permit, passport stamp, or landing documents.

Once you confirm your arrival with DCIS, you will receive your iMED card by email.

STUDENTs starting THEIR PROGRAM IN WINTER SESSION 2021 (September 2021 – April 2022) OR LATER

 You don’t need to confirm your arrival date with DCIS. You will automatically receive your iMED card by email.

If you are beginning studies in 2021 Winter Term 1 (September to December, 2021), your coverage will automatically start on August 1, 2021. You can apply to change your coverage dates if you will arrive in September or later.

One-term exchange students starting in Winter Term 1 will be covered as of August 30, 2021, and coverage dates cannot changed. If you are arriving before August 30 we strongly recommend that you purchase advanced coverage.

GET YOUR VIRTUAL IMED CARD

If you don’t receive your iMED card, please email DCIS at imed@david-cummings.com.

Confirm the iMED coverage period on your iMED card is correct. iMED coverage should start from the month you arrive in BC plus two months to cover the BC MSP waiting period. One-term exchange students and VIRS students are covered for the entire duration of their program studies.

IF YOUR PLANS CHANGE

If your travel plans change, request an adjustment of your iMED coverage period as soon as possible by contacting DCIS to inform them that you will come to Canada at a later date. Once you know your new arrival date, submit an Arrival Date Confirmation / Coverage Dates Change Form by email. If you started your program in Winter Session 2020 to Summer Session 2021, you must do this before July 21, 2022. You will then receive a new iMED card with your new coverage period.

Returning students

Before you travel, check whether you have valid BC Medical Services Plan (MSP) coverage.

IF YOU’VE BEEN OUTSIDE OF CANADA FOR SIX MONTHS OR LESS

If you have been outside of Canada for less than six months and you did not cancel your MSP, ensure your MSP coverage has not expired. You should be able to be covered under MSP, however you must contact BC MSP to confirm. You may be asked to pay MSP fees for the time you were covered.

IF YOU’VE BEEN OUTSIDE OF CANADA FOR MORE THAN SIX MONTHS

If you have been outside of Canada for more than six monthscontact BC MSP to confirm your eligibility for coverage. If you can still be covered under MSP, no further action is required until your MSP expires. You may be asked to pay MSP fees for the time you were covered.

IF YOU DON’T HAVE MSP

Before you travel to Canada, you will need to get private health insurance, such as the Global Campus Health Plan, to cover the three-month MSP waiting period. Make sure the private health plan you choose has adequate coverage as some private health insurance companies are no longer covering COVID-19 testing and treatment. 

As soon as you re-enter BC, apply for MSP online. See the Medical Service Plan Response to COVID-19 for the latest updates.

This information is accurate as of August 18, 2021 , 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.