While travelling to Canada

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

Latest updates

As of February 15, 2021, all travellers to Canada must take a COVID-19 molecular test within 72 hours before your flight’s scheduled departure timeor arrival at the land border.

As of February 22, 2021, air travellers will need to have reserved a 3-night stay at a government approved hotel in advance of travelling and all travellers will need to take a COVID-19 molecular test on arrival as well as complete a COVID-19 test kit during quarantine.

Furthermore, the government announced further measures to support international students. Studies completed outside Canada may be eligible to count towards the post-graduation work permit (PGWP) up to December 31, 2021. See the International Student FAQ for details.

Travelling to Canada: step by step

Step 1: Check if you’re eligible

Step 2: Before you travel

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

Step 4: While travelling

Make sure you bring the right documents and know what to expect at the airport or border

Step 5: After you arrive

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Documents to bring

There are important documents you should be sure to have in your carry-on luggage as you travel.

All students

  • UBC Proof of Enrolment Letter
    As proof you are a current, enrolled student, it is very important to bring a current Letter of Enrolment. This letter should ideally be issued the week you travel. Download this from your Student Services Centre (SSC) by selecting “Proof of Enrolment Letters” 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.
  • Negative COVID-19 molecular test result
    Bring a paper or electronic copy of your negative test result. Your test must have been taken within 72 hours of your flight’s scheduled departure time
  • Quarantine plan documentation
    Bring the documents relating to your quarantine preparation.
  • ArriveCAN receipt
    You can show the ArriveCAN receipt on your phone or bring a printout
  • Passport
    Always keep your passport with you when travelling.
  • Visa or eTA
    Depending on your country of citizenship, you will need a valid Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) or Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) — US citizens are exempt.
  • Proof of health insurance
    Bring your MSP card, virtual iMED card, Global Campus Health Plan confirmation, or other basic insurance. See step 2 for details.

Current students with study permits

In addition to the above list, all students continuing to study at UBC who already have a study permit must bring with them:

  • Study permit
    You need to have your original, valid study permit with you.
  • Co-op work permit or work permit approval letter (if applicable)
    You should also bring a letter from your co-op office or program. If you have one, you should also bring a current, valid job offer.
  • Proof of funds 
    IRCC now requires that you show proof of funds at the border or airport for yourself and any accompanying dependents. We recommend your documents be issued within 30 days of traveling. There is no specific minimum amount required, however, ideally you would show you have access to at least $10,000 for one year of living expenses, with additional funds for dependents. See proof of means of financial support for sample documents. If you have paid for tuition, get proof of payment from your Student Services Centre (SSC) by selecting “Tuition History” under “Finances”

New students and current students who need a study permit

In addition to the above list, if you are a new student, or a current student who applied for a new study permit from outside of Canada, you’ll also need to bring:

  • A Letter of Introduction
    Your study permit approval, or Letter of Introduction
  • Your UBC Letter of Acceptance (new students only)
    This is also known as your offer letter. If you are an undergraduate student, you can download this in your Student Service Centre (SSC) under “Admissions”. If you are a graduate student, you can download it from eVision
  • UBC Letter of Acceptance Confirmation (new students only)
    Print a copy of the UBC Letter of Acceptance Confirmation (pdf).
  • Proof of funds
    IRCC now requires that you show proof of funds at the border or airport. We recommend your documents be issued within 30 days of traveling. In addition, we recommend you bring copies of the financial documents you provided in your study permit application. Your current documents could include proof of your tuition payment plus a minimum of $10,000 for living expenses, with additional funds for dependents. See proof of means of financial support for sample documents. If you have paid for tuition, get proof of payment from your Student Services Centre (SSC) by selecting “Tuition History” under “Finances”
  • Valid medical exam, if required
    Bring a copy of your medical exam (e-medical) if you are from a designated country or are a medical student, a student in health sciences who will have placements in health-care, or will work in elementary or high schools. Your medical exam should be completed within 12 months of travelling. If it has been more than 12 months, you might be asked to take another one in Canada.
  • Announcement for Winter Term 2
    Bring a copy of the email sent on December 3 from UBC announcing the delayed start of Winter Term 2. If you cannot find this in your inbox, log in to your SSC and find it under the Message Centre.

Other helpful documents to carry on the plane

  • Driver’s license
  • Medical or immunization records
  • Copy of your birth certificate
  • Marriage certificate and notarized copies
  • Documents for dependents accompanying you: passports, birth certificates, children’s immunization and school records
  • National identity document from your country

What to pack

There are some things you cannot bring to Canada or will need to declare when you arrive, such as cash over CAD $10,000 and food or animal products. 

See the Canada Border Services Agency’s guidelines for travelling to Canada.

Also, we recommend you bring snacks in case of a long wait upon arrival.

Medication and records

Keep your medication in your carry-on bag in its original packaging, along with a prescription from the doctor. If you use traditional medicines or special herbal remedies, confirm they are not restricted.

It’s a good idea to bring a copy of your medical records for you and the family members who travel with you. If you have a chronic medical condition, have your doctor write a short medical history, preferably in English, for your new doctor in Vancouver. Bring records including the dates of any immunizations and medical tests you have done.

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Before boarding the plane

You will also 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 or the current travel restrictions. 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.

You might need to show airline staff the ArriveCan receipt before being allowed to check-in. You must provide a negative Covid-19 molecular test result to airline staff before being allowed to board your flight — please contact your airline to confirm what documentation they will accept.

Make sure you also know how to get to your place of self-isolation upon arrival. Tips and information are provided in the previous step.

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What to expect at the Canadian Airport or Border

If you need a study permit

When you first enter Canada, you’ll need to get your study permit. 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 students are eligible to work on- and off-campus. 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. Even if you have a valid study permit, you will need to address an officer’s concerns that you have made adequate self-isolation plans.

COVID-19 molecular test on arrival

As of February 22, 2021, you will need to take a COVID-19 molecular test on arrival, whether at the airport or land border crossing. Travellers will be responsible for covering this cost.

The airports accepting international flights at this time, Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal, will have onsite COVID-19 testing at the airport.

The Douglas (Peace Arch) crossing will have on-site COVID-19 testing starting February 22. See the backgrounder for details on testing at additional border crossings.

At the airport or border, you will be asked for your quarantine contact information. If you have no access to phone or internet, you can give the phone number of your federally-approved hotel.

Collect your COVID-19 test kit

As of February 22, 2021, at the airport or land border, you will need to pick up a COVID-19 test kit  which you must later complete during your quarantine as per the instructions you will be given.

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This information is accurate as of February 19, 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.