Travel Considerations and Self-isolation

November 23, 2020

To manage the COVID-19 outbreak, the Government of Canada has implemented travel restrictions with only a few exemptions. Please ensure you meet the exemptions before you plan to travel.

Please note that information can change as the pandemic evolves, it is strongly recommended that you closely monitor the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s website in preparation for your travel to Canada.

UPDATE: As of November 21, 2020, you must use ArriveCAN  before checking in at the airport or crossing the border to submit your:

  • travel and contact information
  • quarantine plan
  • COVID-19 symptom self-assessment

Please bring your ArriveCAN receipt (electronic or paper) with you to show the border services officer upon arrival.

Can I travel to Canada to study?

To be able to enter Canada as a student, you must meet 2 requirements:

  1. You must have a valid study permit or a valid letter of introduction that shows you are approved for a study permit. An approval-in-principle is not sufficient for travel. 
  2. You must be attending a designated learning institution (DLI) with a COVID-19 readiness plan approved by its province or territory. UVic is a DLI with an approved COVID-19 readiness plan.

Your travel to Canada will be considered essential (non-discretionary) if you have all of the required documents and your DLI is on the approved list. You will note that UVic is on the list.

As a student, your travel to Canada won’t be considered essential (non-discretionary) if:

  • your study program has been cancelled or suspended
  • you’re entering Canada for any reason other than to study

The onus is on you to prove your travel to Canada is non-discretionary. A Canadian Border Services officer will make the final decision on your eligibility to enter Canada when you arrive.

Before you travel, you can contact the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) for more information.

What documents should I carry when I travel to Canada?

When the border services officer greets you, they look at several factors, including

  • your reason for travelling to Canada
  • your ability to complete a 14-day quarantine period as soon as you arrive at your final destination
  • if you either
    • have time to complete your quarantine before you physically attend classes, or
    • can study online during your quarantine

At the airport and the Canadian Port of Entry, be prepared to present:

  • a valid study permit or a valid letter of introduction that shows you are approved for a study permit An approval-in-principle is not sufficient for travel. 
  • a valid letter of acceptance (study permit information letter) and verification of enrolment (You can order these letters through UVic My Page.)
  • proof that you have enough money to support yourself and any family members who come with you to Canada
  • a plan for your self-isolation (quarantine) and your ArriveCAN receipt (electronic or paper)
  • valid entry document (temporary resident visa or electronic travel authorization, if required)
  • valid passport or other travel document 

Do I have to self-isolate (quarantine)?

Given the current COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Canada has put in place an emergency order under the Quarantine Act. Self-isolation is mandatory, even for people with no symptoms.

International students arriving from abroad are required to self-isolate for 14 days on arrival, and must have a self-isolation plan in place, prior to their arrival. A plan must be submitted to the Government of Canada through the ArriveCAN app, to the BC Government, and to the University of Victoria.

If you are travelling to Canada, you will need to provide your plan to the University of Victoria, and confirm compliance with your plan through a series of check-ins. ISS team members are here to support you throughout your time in self-isolation. Please see more details below.

The information and resources on our Travelling to Canada webpage are to support you, as a UVic student, make the necessary arrangements for arriving in Canada, self-isolating on arrival, and ensuring a successful start to your studies.

To support students who are self-isolating, the University of Victoria’s Self-isolation Program includes:

  • Daily online check-in forms designed to give students the opportunity to ask questions and have a record of their compliance with the self-isolation requirements
  • A website that includes travel guidance, immigration and settlement information
  • A list of hotel suggestions for the 14-day self isolation
  • Guidelines for obtaining groceries, necessities and essential services
  • Online information sessions and virtual activities
  • Virtual social events and activities designed to help students connect with their peers and build community
  • Information about identifying COVID-19 symptoms and accessing medical services
  • Mental health and wellness support information

If you have questions, please contact International Student Services at