How to Enter Canada as an International Student During the Pandemic

air plane

Are you an international student who plans to enter Canada during the pandemic? Are you an international student who takes online courses in your own country and suffers from jet lag? We know many of you are planning to travel to Canada. COVID-19 has made international travel complicated; we want to make sure that you have up-to-date information about cross-border travel so that you can plan with the risks and restrictions in mind.


To be able to enter Canada as a student, you must

  • have a valid study permit or a letter of introduction that shows you were approved for a study permit
  • by attending a designated learning institution (DLI) with a COVID-19 readiness plan approved by its province or territory
  • have a medical exam result within 12 months. Students who have left Canada for more than 6 months also need to provide a medical exam result.
  • bring proof that you have enough money to support yourself study in Canada
  • new international students who have obtained a study permit for the first time, please do not arrive in Canada too early, as they may be refused entry by the customs. It is recommended to arrive within 4 weeks before the start of the semester.

Attention: all travelers, regardless of vaccination status, must follow entry restrictions, testing or quarantine. 

Here are the steps of entering Canada by air:

STEP 1: Preparing Your Quarantine Plan Before You Travel

You will need to confirm you have a suitable place to quarantine where you:

  • stay for 14 days or possibly longer
  • have access to the necessities of life, including water, food, medication, and heat without leaving quarantine
  • can avoid contact with others who did not travel with you
  • have no visits from family or guests

STEP 2: Get Your Pre-entry COVID-19 Test

You must take the test within 72 hours of the scheduled departure time of the flight to Canada. You must present an accepted test result (paper or electronic proof) which must include:

  • traveler’s name and date of birth
  • The name and civic address of the laboratory/clinic/facility that administered the test
  • the date on which the test was conducted
  • the type of test conducted: recommended PCR
  • the test result

STEP 3: Reserve Your 3-Night Hotel Stopover

You must ensure that you have a confirmed booking at a government-authorized hotel before boarding a flight coming to Canada. You can search for “COVID-19 mandatory hotel stopovers” on the CIC website to book your hotel in the same city as the airport of your initial arrival into Canada. Print your confirmation or have the email or a screenshot ready to show to a government official at the border.

The mandatory 3-night reservation is:

1)  fully prepaid

2)  non-refundable

3)  charged to the credit card provided at the time of booking

Attention: You could face a fine of up to $3,000 if you don’t provide evidence of a pre-booked and pre-paid accommodation at a government-authorized hotel prior to entering Canada.

STEP 4: Register in Advance for Your Arrival Test

It is still possible to register at the airport. To speed you up through testing at the airport, we encourage you to register in advance with the testing provider:

  • Vancouver


STEP 5: Arrive CAN

As of May 21, travelers must enter their information into ArriveCAN within 72 hours before their arrival to Canada, and report symptoms daily. ArriveCAN is available to download as a mobile app or you can create an account and sign in online.

Once you’ve submitted your information, you’ll get an ArriveCAN confirmation receipt. It will be sent to you by email, or you can take a screenshot or print it if you sign in online. You’ll need to show your confirmation receipt to the Canada border services officers.

STEP 6: Arrival Testing at the Airport

Have your ArriveCAN receipt, pre-test results, hotel confirmation, and quarantine plans ready for assessment by a Border Services Officer.

You must take a test before leaving the airport. Then, you will get a COVID-19 At Home Specimen Collection Kit to use for your test on Day-8 of your mandatory quarantine.

Following the arrival test, you will need to go directly to your reserved hotel to await test results. If you receive a negative result on your arrival test, you can check out of the hotel and go directly to your quarantine location to complete the remainder of your quarantine.

STEP 7: Switch Health

Switch Health is to manage all Day-8 COVID-19 test kits for air travelers. You must create an account with them to perform your test and access your results. Use the same email address you used for ArriveCAN.

STEP 8: Complete Your Day-8 Test Kit

Please do not open any of the kit components until you are instructed to do so by a telehealth healthcare provider.

You can only leave your place of quarantine if you receive a negative result from your Day-8 test AND once you have completed your mandatory quarantine. The 14-day quarantine period includes the days you spent at your government-authorized hotel.


For more information, please visit the Government of Canada website.