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International Students at BCIT

Travel to Canada Guide

International Student Guide - Travel to Canada

Updated: October 21st, 2020

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.

Explore the 6 steps of the Travel to Canada Guide below:

  1. Check your travel eligibility
  2. Plan for quarantine
  3. Submit a BCIT Travel & Self-Isolation Plan
  4. Prepare your documents
  5. ArriveCAN App
  6. 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:

  1. Have a valid study permit or study permit approval (Port of Entry Letter of Introduction)
  2. Have a valid BCIT letter of acceptance (returning students should have an International Confirmation of Enrolment letter instead)
  3. 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.

Quarantine accommodation

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.

Nearby hotels that are able to accommodate students during quarantine include:

Tip: to inquire about special discounted rates, 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 or other face covering 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 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)
  • a mask or face covering
  • a digital thermometer (to check your own temperature during quarantine)
  • chargers for all of your electronic devices
  • a few good books or magazines
  • packaged snacks
  • extra toiletries

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 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.


Step 4: Prepare your documents

Before traveling to Canada, prepare and double check that you have all of your important documents including:

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.

Also make sure to bring a mask or face covering as it is required to wear when meeting a border services officer and until you reach your quarantine accommodation.


Step 5: ArriveCAN App

The government of Canada requires international travelers to provide certain information. We suggest that students download and complete the ArriveCAN App before departing home for their trip.

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

Carefully review IRCC – How to quarantine (self-isolate) at home when you may have been exposed to COVID-19 and have no symptoms to understand how to successfully complete your quarantine.

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.

A staff member from the BCIT International Student Centre will be your point of contact and will check in on you and provide support throughout your 14-day quarantine. You can expect to receive an email from them by the time you arrive in Canada. Please make sure to read this important message and to reply as soon as possible to let them know that you have arrived safely.

You should be in touch with your point of contact immediately if during your quarantine you have any:

  • Difficulty accessing food or other necessary items
  • Possible symptoms of COVID-19
  • Questions about BCIT, resources for students, or the local area.

Visit Mental Health at Home during your quarantine for important resources or to schedule a free and confidential appointment with a professional BCIT Counselor.

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).