New mandatory pre-departure COVID-19 testing requirement
According to the government of Canada: “Starting January 7, 2021, air travellers 5 years of age or older will be required to present a negative COVID-19 test result to the airline prior to boarding international flights bound for Canada. See the news release for air travellers.”
For more details see COVID-19 pre-departure testing and Transport Canada’s Interim Order.
Updated: January 6th, 2021
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Canada has implemented travel restrictions that limit the ability of foreign nationals to enter Canada and has mandated that travelers entering the country quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. Whether you are new or returning to BCIT, make sure to follow all of the steps below if you are an international student planning to travel to Canada.
In addition to this guide provided by BCIT International, please see the COVID-19: A Guide for International Students in Canada Arriving from Abroad that was developed by Immigration, Refugees & Citizenship Canada (IRCC).
Do NOT travel to Canada if you have any symptoms of COVID-19.
The 6 steps of the Travel to Canada Guide:
- Check your travel eligibility
- Plan for quarantine
- Submit a BCIT Travel & Self-Isolation Plan
- Prepare for your trip
- Use ArriveCAN
- Complete your quarantine
Step 1: Check your travel eligibility
To assess whether you may be permitted to enter Canada or not, carefully review Travel exemptions and restrictions for international students on the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website.
BCIT is on the list of Designated Learning Institutes (DLIs) with an approved COVID-19 readiness plan. In order to be eligible to enter Canada, you must:
- Have a valid study permit or study permit approval (Port of Entry Letter of Introduction)
- Have a valid BCIT Letter of Acceptance or a valid International Confirmation of Enrolment letter (if you need to request an ICOE letter, allow at least 5 business days for processing)
- Submit a BCIT Travel & Self-Isolation Plan at least one week prior to traveling in order to comply with BCIT’s COVID-19 readiness plan
You may contact the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) directly for more information. A border services officer will make a final decision on your eligibility to enter Canada when you arrive.
In addition to other requirements for entering Canada, most foreign nationals will need to have a Visitor visa or ETA.
Step 2: Plan for quarantine
Once you have verified that you are eligible to enter Canada and have booked a flight, you need to plan for your mandatory 14 day quarantine upon arrival to Canada as required by the federal Quarantine Act. Review the following information for guidance as you create your quarantine plan.
To better understand what kind of accommodation may be acceptable for your required 14-day quarantine read through IRCC – For travellers without symptoms of COVID-19 returning to Canada.
You may be able to complete your quarantine at a private residence or a hotel as long as the accommodation has space for you to be completely separated at all times and allows you to meet all government quarantine requirements.
GEC Living is a company that specializes in student accommodations at several locations in Vancouver and Burnaby and can accommodate students needing to quarantine. View their exclusive deals for BCIT students.
Nearby hotels that are able to accommodate students during quarantine include:
- Holiday Inn Express Metrotown (contact: firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Accent Inn Burnaby (contact: email@example.com)
- Executive Suites Hotel Metro Vancouver (contact: firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Hilton Vancouver Metrotown (contact: YVRVM-RS@hilton.com)
- Travelodge Vancouver Airport (contact: Whg7522ac@whg.com)
Tip: to inquire about any special deals or discounts, contact the hotels via the email addresses listed above and mention that you are a BCIT student needing to quarantine upon arrival to Canada.
Note that BCIT Student Housing is a shared living environment and therefore cannot accommodate students during quarantine.
Transportation from the airport or land border crossing
You must travel directly to your quarantine accommodation from the airport or land border crossing. A mask should be worn during this entire trip.
Taxis are available at the taxi stand located outside the International Arrivals area at Vancouver International Airport. Ridesharing services or premium limousine services are also available. If you plan to stay at a hotel that operates a complimentary airport courtesy shuttle, you may be able to use that service (check with the hotel in advance).
Do NOT use public transportation from the airport to your quarantine accommodation.
Food and other necessities
Since you are not allowed to go out to shop during quarantine, you must have a plan for making sure you can access food and any other items that you may need.
If you have family or friends in the area that are willing to support you, then you may be able to depend on them to deliver these items to you. If you are planning to quarantine at a hotel, check if they offer meals by room service.
If you will depend on delivery services it is important to have access to a credit card that you can use in Canada should you need to order any items. This is especially true since many businesses are not accepting cash at all due to the COVID-19 risk.
Companies that deliver groceries or prepared meals include:
BC Self-Isolation Plan
Make sure that your quarantine plan is complete by submitting an optional BC Self-Isolation Plan. Please do not confuse this with the separate mandatory BCIT Travel & Self Isolation Plan described in Step 3.
Step 3: Submit a BCIT Travel & Self-Isolation Plan
As part of BCIT’s COVID-19 readiness plan, all international students who plan to travel to Canada must submit a mandatory BCIT Travel & Self-Isolation Plan at least one week prior to traveling. This includes new students as well as continuing students who left Canada temporarily.
Once you submit your BCIT Travel & Self-Isolation Plan, staff from the BCIT International Student Centre will be in touch to provide one-on-one support and to make sure that you will have valid medical insurance when you plan to arrive in Canada.
If your travel plans change, you should re-submit a new BCIT Travel & Self-Isolation Plan or contact email@example.com.
Step 4: Prepare for your trip
Before traveling to Canada, you will need to submit your information through ArriveCAN and double check that you have all of your required documents and other important items.
Required documents for entering Canada
- Documentation of a negative lab test result taken within 72 hours prior to your scheduled departure to Canada, performed using a COVID-19 molecular polymerase chain reaction (or PCR) test. ***New requirement for boarding a flight to Canada starting on January 7th, 2021 – for more details see COVID-19 pre-departure testing and Transport Canada’s Interim Order ***
- A valid passport or travel document
- A valid Visitor Visa or eTA (not required for US citizens)
- A valid study permit or the Port of Entry (POE) Letter of Introduction the visa office sent you when they approved your study permit application;
- A valid BCIT Letter of Acceptance or a valid International Confirmation of Enrolment letter (if you need to request an ICOE letter, allow at least 5 business days for processing)
- Proof of financial support for yourself and any other family members who may come with you to Canada
- Letters of reference or any other documents the visa office told you to bring
- Your medical insurance information
Carry these documents with you at all times and do not put them in your checked luggage. You may not be allowed into Canada if any of your documents are missing or if any of the information on your application or letters of reference is incorrect.
Other important items to pack
A mask is essential to wear while traveling including when meeting a border services officer and until you reach your quarantine accommodation.
If you do not have someone to deliver things to you during quarantine, then consider bringing certain items with you when you travel, such as:
- any medication you may require (review Traveling with medication for more information)
- a digital thermometer (to check your own temperature during quarantine)
- credit card that will work in Canada
- laptop computer, smartphone, and/or tablet to access the internet
- chargers for all of your electronic devices
- a few good books or magazines (gives your eyes a break from looking at electronic screens)
- packaged snacks
- extra toiletries
Step 5: Use ArriveCAN
The government of Canada requires international travelers to provide certain information through ArriveCAN.
As of November 21st, travelers planning to enter Canada are required to use ArriveCAN:
- BEFORE boarding your flight to provide information about your travel and quarantine plans (this is also encouraged for travelers enter Canada via land border crossing),
- As you enter Canada, by showing your ArriveCAN receipt to a border services officer,
- Within 48 hours of entering Canada to confirm that you have arrived at your quarantine accommodation, and
- Throughout your 14-day mandatory quarantine to complete daily COVID-19 symptom self-assessments.
For more details, see:
- IRCC – Use ArriveCAN if you are travelling to Canada by plane, or
- IRCC – Use ArriveCAN if you are entering Canada by land or marine vessel.
When you arrive at a Canadian port of entry, you will meet a Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) officer who will verify your documents and ask you questions about the purpose of your visit to Canada. See When you travel to Canada for more details.
If you are issued a study permit by the CBSA officer, quickly double check that your personal information and validity is correct, and that there are remarks about working eligibility if that is important to you. It is much simpler to correct any errors on your study permit while you are still with the CBSA officer. Otherwise, you may have to submit a request to amend your study permit later, which may take several months to process.
Step 6: Complete your quarantine
You will receive an email from your International Student Centre (ISC) point of contact a few days before your planned arrival in Canada. Once you arrive at your quarantine accommodation, please confirm your arrival as instructed in that email.
Your ISC point of contact will check-in with you regularly throughout your quarantine, and you should be in touch with your ISC point of contact immediately if during your quarantine you have any possible symptoms of COVID-19 or have difficulty accessing food or other necessary items.
Quarantine can feel very isolating but please know that you are not alone! If you need to talk to someone, your ISC point of contact is available to provide one-on-one support. We also encourage you to visit Mental Health at Home for important resources from BCIT Counselling & Student Development or to schedule a free and confidential appointment with a professional BCIT Counselor. Or you may access Here2Talk for free 24-hour mental health supports.
During your quarantine, you will need to
- Comply with all government requirements stated at IRCC – How to quarantine (self-isolate) at home when you may have been exposed to COVID-19 and have no symptoms,
- Assess yourself daily for any possible symptoms of COVID-19, and
- Submit certain information through ArriveCAN.
It is important to understand that failure to comply with the federal Quarantine Act could result in serious punishments including a maximum fine of $1,000,000 and up to 3 years in prison.
After you successfully complete your 14-day quarantine, we encourage you to continue to take all precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 when around other people.
If you need to visit BCIT campus for any reason, you must first complete the Student Awareness on COVID-19 and Pandemic Exposure Control Plan (see BCIT – COVID-19 Information for Students for details).