Arriving in Canada

It can be challenging to think about leaving friends and family to move thousands of miles away to an obscure and new destination. Efficient planning will help students commute and settle into their new home away from home with ease and little hassle. Students should follow a few tips and maintain a checklist before they board their flight to Canada.

Student Checklist:

  • Arrange your lodging or accommodation before you start.
  • Register for your courses.
  • Select & pack baggage.
  • Buy your flight ticket as per your intake.
  • Arrange conveyance from the airport to your room or accommodation.
  • Make an emergency contact list.
  • If you are traveling with medicine, understand what documentation student needs to bring.
  • Arrange your banking. Consider buying a traveler’s cheque for large amounts or denominations, as well as carry a smaller amount of cash.
  • Keep an electronic copy/ scanned copy of all your important documents like study permit, passport, visa, rental agreements, insurance copies for future reference.
  • Keep all originals secure & safe.
  • Verify luggage limitations with one’s airline.
  • Last but not the least, know your study permit expiry date.

What to bring:

  • Purchase and pack clothes based on the weather conditions of the province student needs to travel.
  • In the greater part of Canada, people wear a t-shirt and shorts for summer, and dress winter coats, hats, boots during winter, fall, and spring months.
  • Check which items the Canadian Border Services Agency prohibit through customs (eg. plants, fresh fruits, and vegetables, meat products, pets, etc.)
  • There is a list of items the Government of Canada wants international students to pack in their carry-on luggage, as they may be asked to show when they arrive during customs clearance.

You may need to show the Border Services Officer the following documents:

  • A valid travel document or passport.
  • The letter of introduction sent to you by the visa office when your study permit was approved.
  • A copy of your school acceptance letter (LOA)
  • Proof that you have sufficient money to support yourself during a stay in Canada
  • Letters of reference or other documents which the visa office has instructed you to bring and
  • Either a valid eTA (Electronic Travel Authorization) or a visitor’s visa (Temporary Resident Visa) [If you have a new eTA, it will be connected to the passport you used to get a visa]

On Arrival at a Canadian Airport Students are expected to:

  • Complete a Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) Declaration Card prior to landing in Canada. Before landing, these cards are distributed into the aircraft.
  • Follow the signs on arrival which say “Arrivals and Customs” (known as the immigration area).
  • Join the line of Non-Canadian people.

When the Immigration Officer calls you, provide them with travel documents which include:

  • A valid travel document or passport
  • Valid provisional resident visa
  • An original or copy of an academic institution’s Letter of Acceptance (LOA)
  • Proof of sufficient funding for stays in Canada (GIC documents)
  • Letter of introduction (LOI) issued by CIC in the country of residence of the applicant
  • All other documentation submitted in favour of a visa application
  • Letters of reference or any other document the student was told by the visa office to bring
  • Official mark sheet/ certificates obtained from the home country.
  • The address of the location where the student will live in Canada
  • Approximate Canadian Dollar (CAD) value for every object that the student brings

Commonly asked questions at arrivals:

  • What’s your name?
  • Where do you come from? What is your place of residence?
  • What are the names of your parents?
  • What is your date of birth and where?
  • What school will you attend in Canada?
  • What program will you be studying, and how long will the program last?
  • What are your plans after the program’s completion?
  • Who has got your bag(s) packed? Know what’s inside your bags?
  • How much cash do you bring along with you?
  • Do you have family/friends / in Canada? If they do, where do they live? If no, then where are you going to stay?
  • Do you need a Social Insurance Number?

Respond to all of the immigration officer’s questions with quick and straightforward responses. If the student does not clearly understand the question, then he or she can ask for an interpreter (available in nearly all languages).

Navigating the Airport:

Most of the Airports have arrival guides available on their websites. We strongly recommend that students explore the airport they must land to get acquainted with it. The 10 airports Canada has the most commonly accessed are:

  1. Toronto Pearson International Airport (Toronto, ON)
  2. Vancouver International Airport (Vancouver, BC)
  3. Montréal–Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (Montreal, QC)
  4. Calgary International Airport (Calgary, AB)
  5. Edmonton International Airport (Edmonton, AB)
  6. Ottawa Macdonald–Cartier International Airport (Ottawa, ON)
  7. Winnipeg International Airport (Winnipeg, MB)
  8. Halifax Stanfield International Airport (Halifax, NS)
  9. Kelowna International Airport (Kelowna, BC)
  10. Victoria International Airport (Victoria, BC)

Airport Pick-Up and Transportation:

In most cases, students would have to arrange their own transport from the airport to their accommodation. However, few universities do provide initial pick-up. Please check you’re your institution of they have any such option. Students also have the responsibility of coordinating their own regular transportation to and from the school.

Transportation options availability:

  • Taxi: Students can arrange to pick up a local taxi. Just check Google for the nearest businesses. There is also a designated area for most airports where visitors can get a taxi; no prior booking is needed.
  • Uber and Lyft: There is widespread use of both mobile transport applications in Canada. There are some limitations to where one can be picked up at the airport, though. Check inside the apps to see the availability of ride.
  • Private / Rental Car: Students at the airport can rent a car, provided they have a valid driver’s license. Many car rental companies have offices at the airport, including Avis, Business, and Budget. Students will make a reservation before arrival to ensure that a car is available that suits their needs and budget.

Paying for the trip:

At the end of the trip, students can pay for their transport using a debit or credit card that works in Canada, or in cash with Canadian currency. When transportation has been pre-booked, students can also pay via the website of the transportation company or via their mobile app.