Getting to Canada

Almost ready to pack your bags for Canada? You’ll probably take a plane to get here, unless you’re coming from the United States. A travel agent in your home country or travel website can help you find the best options for travel to Canada.

Read on to find out what you need to know to plan your trip to Canada.

Your passport

You need to have a valid passport to be admitted into Canada. Make sure it is valid for at least six months after the return date on your ticket. Don’t forget that you will need a study permit as well, and visas for your spouse or children who may be joining you.

Study permits and visas

Return ticket

Canadian officials don’t require you to have a return ticket when you enter Canada, but you may be asked to prove that you can buy one. This means showing your credit card or travellers’ cheques.

Some airlines may require that you buy a return ticket.

Consider buying a flexible ticket that allows you to change your return flight. You’ll pay more when you buy the ticket, but it may be cheaper than buying a new ticket when you plan your trip home.

Travel and health insurance

To cover your travel time and the period before or after you start your study program, we recommend buying travel insurance for any unexpected health issues or trip interruptions.

The health insurance you purchase to study in Canada may only cover the period while you are a student in Canada. Be sure to check your insurance policy to find out what it covers.

Learn more about health care and health insurance in Canada.

Plan your arrival in Canada

The more you plan in advance, the better you will feel during your travels. Keep a record of where you’ll stay when you first arrive in Canada, such as a hotel or your new accommodation. Plan how you will get there once you arrive at the Canadian airport - taxi, ride-share service, public transit or another mode of transport.

Carry some Canadian currency (cash or travellers’ cheques) with you when you travel. It’s a good idea to have some local money to buy a snack or magazine along the way. Credit cards are widely accepted in Canada.

Plan your luggage

  • Know how much baggage your airline allows and be aware of weight limits. Airport staff will weigh your baggage. There are additional fees if your bags exceed the limits.
  • Some items are not allowed into Canada in your luggage. There are restrictions on alcohol, tobacco, guns, food as well as animal and plant products. Travellers cannot bring in prescription drugs that aren’t approved in Canada.
  • Do not carry another person’s bags or their things in your luggage.
  • During your flight, you’ll receive a card to declare what you are bringing into Canada. Remember that Canadian customs agents can choose to search luggage.
  • When you are planning your baggage, only include liquids in containers less than 100ml.
  • Attach an address tag to each piece of luggage with your name and the address of your destination in Canada.
  • At airport check-in, ask whether your baggage will go directly to your destination in Canada, or whether you must claim and transfer baggage at stops along the way.
  • Keep all important documents, medications and expensive items such as cameras, jewellery, laptops, phones, credit cards and cash with you in your carry-on bag, rather than pack them in your checked luggage.

Keep important documents safe

Scan, take photos or make photocopies of important documents, including:

  • Main page of your passport
  • Airline tickets
  • Travel insurance certificate
  • Letter of acceptance from your Canadian college or university
  • Important addresses and phone numbers
  • Bank statement showing proof of funds
  • Prescriptions or a letter from your doctor for any medication you are carrying
  • Medical and vaccination records
  • Travellers’ cheques
  • Academic history and university transcripts, which may be useful for credit transfers, proof of studies or to obtain work

Be sure to keep these with you when you travel. Leave another copy of these documents at home with someone you trust.