Travelling to Canada and clearing Canadian customs
Preparing to enter Canada, gathering the documents to have on hand, and clearing Canadian customs
Prepare for your arrival in Canada
Once you have gotten your Certificat d’acceptation du Québec (CAQ – Québec acceptance certificate) and your study permit approval (if necessary), you can prepare for your trip to Canada by planning your arrival date and getting your plane ticket.
If you are coming for a study or exchange program lasting more than 6 months, you must have the attestation of issuance of your CAQ (unless exempted) and your IRCC study permit approval (or a valid study permit) with you when you arrive. If you don’t, you may not be allowed into Canada when you arrive and you may be sent back to your home country, or you may only be admitted as a temporary visitor, which won’t allow you to study in Canada. Make sure you have all the other documents you need to enter Canada as well as health and hospitalization insurance coverage for when you travel and when you arrive in Canada.
To enter Canada, whether it is your first time entering Canada or you are a returning student, you must have these documents with you in your carry-on baggage (not in your checked baggage). In addition of the electronic versions of these documents on your phone or computer, we recommend that you carry with you printed copies of all of them.
Valid study permit or a letter of introduction from IRCC showing that you have been approved for a study permit, unless you are exempt (for example, you are on an exchange for only one semester).
For U.S. citizens and permanent residents of the U.S., although you can apply for a study permit at a Canadian port of entry, it is recommended that you apply for a study permit online and that, when you arrive in Canada, you have on hand a letter of introduction from IRCC showing that you have been approved for a study permit.
|CAQ||Valid Québec Certificate of Acceptance (CAQ) (attestation of issuance), unless you have an exemption.|
|Visa or eTA||Depending on your nationality, you have a valid temporary resident visa (TRV) or an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) (except citizens of the United States and other minor exceptions).|
|Offer of admission||Offer of admission from Université Laval (printed copy of the email or PDF version).|
|Financial proofs and other documents||If you have a letter of introduction from IRCC confirming the approval of your study permit, bring recent financial proofs and the other documents used to obtain your study permit.|
|Proof of enrolment|
Proof of enrolment for the current semester and/or for the upcoming semester, if available (to order through monPortail, in the section "Documents officiels").
If you are planning on arriving in Canada for the first time after the semester has begun, you must contact your faculty’s Academic Advising team for approval. If they accept, you must request a letter confirming that you can arrive during the semester.
If you have a letter of introduction from IRCC showing that you have been approved for a study permit and if you had to get an immigration medical exam, you must ensure that your exam results are still valid:
Bring e-medical form, if possible.
These requirements will be checked before boarding a flight to Canada, and they will be checked again when you arrive at the port of entry in Canada.
However, please note that meeting all of those requirements does not guarantee you entry into Canada. When you arrive in Canada, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) will determine whether you meet the various requirements for entering Canada.
Before you arrive, it’s also important that you review information pertaining to health and hospitalization insurance for your stay in Canada on the page Enrolling in the health and hospitalization insurance plan for international students.
Please note that the group health and hospitalization insurance plan through Desjardins Insurance (the one for international students and foreign interns) and coverage with the Régie d’assurance maladie du Québec (RAMQ) [Québec’s public health insurance plan] (the one for students covered under reciprocal social security agreements with certain countries) begin only when you arrive in Québec. Also, when deciding on when to arrive, be aware of the policy start date for the group health and hospitalization insurance plan with Desjardins or the coverage with the Régie d'assurance maladie du Québec (RAMQ), so that you can arrange for personal insurance coverage if necessary.
When you arrive at Canadian customs
When you arrive in Canada, you will have to undergo two identity checks at the first Canadian airport you arrive at.
Clearance through the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) and issuance of the study permit (unless you are exempt) is done at the first Canadian airport that you visit, regardless of whether it is a stopover or your final destination.
The first step is normally carried out using automated kiosks or eGate. At these kiosks, you will have to answer a series of questions. Once you are done, you will receive a receipt that you will have to give to a border services officer. Generally, the latter will then direct you to the secondary inspection for the study permit’s issuance.
Optionally, you can use ArriveCAN to submit your Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) declaration up to 72 hours in advance of flying into Canada. This option is available only in some international airports.
If you had to provide your fingerprints to obtain your Canadian immigration document, you will have to have them verified at the inspection kiosk.
During the secondary inspection, you will need to show your letter of introduction that confirms approval of your study permit and other pertinent documents (see the section “Documents required to enter Canada”) so that the Border Services officer can analyse and issue your study permit (unless you are exempt from this).
You must ensure to have obtained your study permit before leaving the Canada Border Services Agency area. Please verify that your personal information appearing on the study permit is accurate and that the mention/comment regarding your right to work is clearly indicated, in case you plan on working here during your stay. It should say something like, “May accept employment on or off campus if meeting eligibility criteria, per paragraph R186(f), (v) or (w). Must cease working if no longer meeting these criteria.”. If there is an error, go back to an officer before leaving the secure area and try to have the information changed.
If, when you applied for your study permit, you also applied for a co-op work permit to do a mandatory internship in your study program, make sure that you also receive this work permit and check that the information on it is correct.
If you are travelling with family members, make sure they also get their permit (depending on the situation, that might be a work permit, study permit, or visitor record).
The time it takes to clear customs and immigration to have your study permit issued can vary from 1 to 3 hours or more. It depends on the time of day and the airport.
We encourage you to familiarize yourself with the following information:
- Welcome services organized by the Bureau de la vie étudiantes (BVE - Student Life Office)
- International Student's Handbook
- Informations on housing, Québec City, the values of Québec society, the weather, and more: See the Living in Québec City section of the Student Life Office site
- Government pandemic directives
Last updated on: 2023-09-25