Frequent questions

Isolating in a new and different country will require planning and may bring special considerations, depending on your circumstances. Answers to many common questions are presented below; if you still need assistance, the UVic Self-isolation Program is available to help by email at

Self isolation (quarantine)

What is self-isolation (quarantine)?

Self-isolation is another word for quarantine. Self-isolation means staying in the place you are isolating and avoiding situations where you could come in contact with others. You may have been exposed to the virus and are at risk for developing COVID-19 and passing it on to others. You should not self-isolate in a place where you will be in contact with vulnerable people, such as seniors and individuals with underlying health conditions. Adapted from the BC Centre for Disease Control website (BCCDC).

Why do I need to self-isolate (quarantine)?

As of March 25, 2020, it is mandatory under the Quarantine Act that anyone arriving in Canada must self-isolate (quarantine) for 14 days upon their arrival whether or not they have symptoms. At this time those who have been vaccinated must also self-isolate on arrival.

I am fully vaccinated.  Do I have to self-isolate (quarantine)?

Yes, at this time all travelers, regardless of vaccination status, must follow all self-isolation (quarantine) requirements.  There are no exceptions for vaccinated travelers.

What if I do not want to self-isolate (quarantine) for 14 days upon arrival to Canada?

You must self-isolate (quarantine) for 14 days. It is mandatory. Violating any instructions provided to you when you enter Canada is an offence under the Quarantine Act and carries fines and a possible prison term.

When can I submit my BC self-isolation plan?

Your plan can either be:

  • Completed and submitted online before or when you arrive in British Columbia.
  • Completed and submitted using a paper form when you arrive in British Columbia.

It is highly recommended you complete and submit the form online before you begin your travel to British Columbia. Please note, this electronic form is not compatible with the Internet Explorer browser.

What information must I include in my self-isolation plan for arriving to BC?

Your self-isolation plan must include:

  • A Government of Canada authorized hotel reservation for the first 3 days of your self-isolation (quarantine)
  • The location of the remainder of your 14-day self-isolation (quarantine)
  • How you will travel to your self-isolation (quarantine) location
  • Arranging the necessary supports, including: food, medications, cleaning supplies, and social or family supports.

How do I download the ArriveCan application?

To complete the federal ArriveCAN application for approval prior to your travel to Canada, or upon arrival, download the ArriveCAN application (iPhone/App StoreAndroid Devices) and follow the instructions.

Travelling to your self-isolation (quarantine) location

When can I travel to my self-isolation (quarantine) destination after I receive a negative COVID-19 test result from my arrival test?

Once you've received a negative test result, even if it's before the end of your 3-night stay, you can call the hotel reception and arrange your check-out.

If you have an approved quarantine plan, you'll be allowed to complete the remainder of your 14-day self-isolation (quarantine) at your planned location.

If you have a positive test result or don't have a suitable self-isolation (quarantine) plan, you'll have to go to a designated federal quarantine facility to complete the remainder of your 14-day self-isolation (quarantine).

Getting settled

How can I get my groceries, cleaning supplies and personal hygiene products?

Please see the Self-isolation arrangements section for information on how to order and arrange for necessities.

How can I arrange a cell phone when I am in self-isolation (quarantine)?

ICE Currency at the airports sell both prepaid credit cards and SIM cards, and are accessible to arriving passengers before taking their COVID-19 test and heading to the government- authorized quarantine hotel.  Watch for signage. 

 Alternatively you can make arrangements for a phone and/or SIM card before arriving in Canada using PhoneBox

Phone calling can also be set up through your laptop using Call2Friends.

I will not be able to visit a bank while in self-isolation? What should I do?

We recommend you have enough money to pay for rent for the first month and a credit card that is accepted in Canada to make any payments for necessities.

Do I have health insurance while I am taking UVic online courses in Victoria?

Most new international students are automatically enrolled in the plan upon course registration at UVic.

The plan provides emergency medical insurance coverage for international students who are new to UVic. This plan covers required medical services to address new and unexpected illness or injury. For more information about the plan visit the health insurance website.

For students who are beginning their program of study during the first term of winter session, the policy start date will be January 1. However, it is important to note that all students who are automatically enrolled in the plan receive a 14-day grace period, which provides emergency medical insurance coverage while travelling to Canada, settling in, and attending orientation events. Therefore the student’s coverage will be effective December 18 through April 30.

Refer to the Policy Summary and the Policy Wording for information about benefits.

The British Columbia (BC) Medical Services Plan (MSP) covers required medical services provided by physicians, specialists, diagnostic facilities, laboratory facilities, and hospitals.

If you intend to stay in BC for fewer than six months, you are not eligible for the BC MSP. All other international students must submit an application for enrolment when they arrive in BC.

Visit the BC MSP website for information about benefits.

The University of Victoria Students’ Society (UVSS) health and dental plan provides extended coverage for undergraduate students. Please visit the UVSS website for more information about these benefits.

The Graduate Students’ Society (GSS) health and dental plan provides extended coverage for graduate students. Kindly visit the GSS website for more information about these benefits.

How can I find housing during this time?

Off-Campus: UVic partners with Places4Students to provide information about rental opportunities including suites, apartments, houses, and shared living situations in the Greater Victoria Region.

The Living Off Campus in Victoria handout offers further suggestions to help you find off-campus housing.

On-Campus: Residence Services at UVic offers on-campus housing options. If you have questions, you can contact Residence Services.

While in self-isolation (quarantine)

What must I do if I develop COVID-19 symptoms within 14 days?

If you develop COVID-19 symptoms, please

  • Isolate yourself from others
  • Immediately call 8-1-1 to talk to a nurse at HealthLinkBC and get advice about how you are feeling and what to do next or contact the public health authority and describe your symptoms and travel history. Follow their instructions carefully.

What should I keep in mind while in self-isolation (quarantine)?

  • Stay at home. Do not go to work, school, or public areas, do not use public transport (e.g. buses).
  • Wash your hands or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer often.
  • Order groceries, medication and other necessities by phone or online. For third party providers, please see the self-isolation arrangements section.
  • Do not have visitors in your home or place of self-isolation except if they are providing care or delivering goods and supplies, and in that case, maintain a distance of 2 metres.
  • Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces.
  • Be sure to have a phone available so if called, you can communicate with a health officer who may phoning you to check whether you are self-isolating (quarantining) during that 14 day period