However, while you may be focusing on the excitement of class schedules and orientation activities, there are several important steps to go through before launching into the semester at a new school.
Your application for a study permit has been accepted. You know your destination, you’re excited about your future studies — but you have to get there first. Here’s what to expect upon arriving in Canada to begin your new life as an international student.
Entering Canada by Air
Like all passengers arriving in Canada at an airport, international students arriving in Canada for the first time are required to pass through a Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) checkpoint.
- All passengers on airplanes arriving in Canada are given a Declaration Card to declare their address, purpose of stay, and any goods they are bringing with them. Fill this card in on the plane, and present it to the CBSA agent.
- The card will ask for your address in Canada, so make sure you know the address of your future residence or hotel if applicable.
- If you are bringing more than $10,000 into Canada in the form of cash, traveller’s cheques, or bank drafts, it must also be declared on this point.
- When you inform the CBSA agent that you are arriving in Canada to study, you may be required to present the following documents:
- Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) or Temporary Resident Visa (TRV), as applicable — to find out if you need a TRV or an eTA, click here;
- The Port of Entry (POE) Letter of Introduction confirming that your study permit application was approved;
- The Letter of Acceptance from the Designated Learning Institution (DLI) which you plan to attend;
- The Certificat d’acceptation du Québec (Certificate of Acceptance for Quebec, or CAQ) if you are studying in Quebec; and
- Proof of funds to support yourself in Canada.
- While Canada does not require foreign nationals to have a return plane ticket when entering the country, if you do not have a return ticket booked you may have to show proof of funds for a return ticket.
- The CBSA officer will issue your study permit, and inform you how long you may remain in Canada.
- It is very important at this stage to carefully check your study permit as soon as it is issued. It is much easier to change any mistakes while you are still at the airport. Check that the personal information is correct, and that the expiry date matches your expected graduation date. If you are eligible to work in Canada while studying, this should also be stated on your study permit.
- At any time during the process, you may questions about anything you don’t understand. If you prefer to speak in your first language, you may ask for an interpreter.
If you are bringing belongings with you
You may be required to pass through an additional customs procedure if you are bringing many items into Canada with you, or if you are shipping your belongings separately. The procedure varies depending on the amount and value of goods accompanying you. It is essential to declare your belongings truthfully on the customs form, and to answer all questions truthfully — the CBSA agent will inform you of any further steps required. It is a good idea to prepare two duplicate lists of all the belongings coming with you, and any belongings arriving separately.
Note: Canada has strict customs regulations regarding bringing food and plants into the country. While it may be tempting to bring your favourite food items from home, these are likely to be confiscated upon entering Canada. You may even be subject to a fine if the items are not properly declared. Many cities have supermarkets carrying food from all over the world, and you will probably be able to find what you`re looking for when you get here — so avoid the customs delay and go shopping when you arrive.
Leaving the Airport
When you have received your study permit and have verified that it is correct, you may continue through to the baggage area. At this point, you may pay any taxes or duties, if required. Once you have your baggage, you will be asked to present your Declaration Card again. At this point, a baggage inspection may be required.
Entering Canada by Land
If you enter Canada from the United States, for example by car, bus, or rail, the process for obtaining your study permit is similar. Individuals entering by land should still verify whether they need a TRV in order to enter Canada from the US. Individuals from visa-exempt countries do not need an eTA to enter Canada by land.
Once you have cleared all the inspection points, you may continue on to your new home. Welcome to Canada!
To learn more about your options for studying in Canada, click here. There are also a range of tools and resources available for prospective students in Canada, including Canada School Search and School Match Canada.
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