Travel to Canada during COVID-19

NIC Office of Global Engagement remains committed to ensuring the health and safety of our community, while providing ample support and welcoming environment for our students. To continue minimizing the spread of COVID-19, international students who are newly arriving or returning to Canada must comply with Canada’s Quarantine Act upon arrival.

Travel Advisory Updates

The suspension of direct flights from India has been extended to September 21, 2021. See the alert on suspension of flights for more information. Mental health supports are available through NIC Student Life and Support Services and the BC government.

As of September 7, 2021, the Government of Canada will allow fully vaccinated foreign nationals meeting the conditions to enter Canada for discretionary (non-essential) purposes. For more information, please see the Government of Canada Travel Advisory.

As of July 5, 2021, fully vaccinated travellers who have received vaccines approved by Canada at least 14 days prior to the day you enter Canada are exempt from the 3-night government hotel stay, the 14-day quarantine, and day-8 COVID-19 test, if meeting all eligibility requirements.

Starting August 9, 2021 at 12:01am EDT, all travellers coming to Canada by air will no longer require a 3-night stay in a government approved hotel, but those who are not fully vaccinated must still quarantine for 14 days. Furthermore, the government plans to allow fully vaccinated US citizens and permanent residents currently residing in the US to enter Canada for non-essential travel, such as parents from the US travelling to accompany or visit you.

Starting September 7, 2021, provided Canada’s COVID-19 epidemiology remains favorable, the government intends to open Canada’s borders to all fully-vaccinated travellers for non-essential travel.

On June 21, the Government of Canada issued a press release declaring that as of July 5th, 2021 fully-vaccinated travellers to Canada may be able to enter without quarantine. There are specific requirements in order for travellers to enter Canada without quarantine. Some travellers who have been fully-vaccinated in their home country will still be required to quarantine.

All NIC students travelling to Canada are required to review the Government of Canada website and make themselves familiar with the travel requirements including any information regarding travel bans from specific countries; penalties for not adhering to quarantine requirements and regulations; any COVID tests required prior to and during travel; as well as all quarantine requirements.

All students travelling to NIC are required to submit a quarantine plan, even if you have been vaccinated.

Step-by-Step Arrival Planning

All international students newly arriving or returning to Canada must establish and submit their quarantine plans at least 2 weeks prior to the intended date of arrival. Without this, NIC will not be able to support you with your travel.

All new students must have access to their NIC email and myNIC account. The login information was provided to you in Letter of Invitation. If you encounter difficulties logging into NIC email and myNIC, please contact Student Tech Support.

To be able to enter Canada as a student, you must meet 2 requirements:

  1. You must have a valid study permit or a letter of introduction that shows you were approved for a study permit
  2. You must be attending a designated learning institution (DLI) with a COVID-19 readiness plan approved by its province or territory. NIC is a DLI with an approved COVID-19 readiness plan.

As an international student, you must read Government of Canada website very carefully to ensure that you have understood your responsibilities.

It is important that you understand, follow and be updated on guidelines provided by the Government of Canada while you are planning your travel and quarantine in Canada. There are a few helpful resources to understand the steps required in your planning:

All fully-vacinated travellers, whether entering Canada by air or by land, may still be required to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in Canada under the Government of Canada’s Quarantine Act. Any traveller who is not vaccinated will be required to self-isolate for the full 14 days upon arrival in Canada. All travellers, regardless of vaccination status, are required to submit a quarantine plan.

  • Be sure to arrange accommodations at least 2 weeks prior to departure.
  • Ensure that your quarantine plan avoids contact with vulnerable individuals such as those 65 years or older, or with underlying medical conditions
  • Avoid public living areas like hostels and residences with shared living accommodations, if you are arranging your own quarantine accommodation
  • Refer to Public Health Agency of Canada’s guidelines on how to quarantine
  • Unless you are entering Canada with co-habitants from the same household (i.e. spouse, dependent children), you cannot quarantine in the same hotel room.
  • If unsure of your quarantine plan, connect with OGE to ask questions by using Chat function on iCent app

If it is determined at the port of entry that your need to quarantine, you will need to proceed with your quarantine plan.

At this time, international travelers arriving to Canada by air are required to complete a COVID-19 test upon arrival and a 3-day stopover quarantine at a government-approved hotel as part of their 14-day quarantine while waiting for the COVID-19 test result. To make a reservation for your 3-day stopover quarantine, visit the Government of Canada's website.

After the 3-day stopover, you will proceed to the next quarantine location where you will complete the remaining 11 days of quarantine. You are responsible for arranging your travel by air or by land to the quarantine location, and you must follow the guidelines to remain in compliance with the Quarantine Act. If you are travelling from your port of entry to our campus location immediately after the 3-day stopover, you must take in-Canada flight from the port of entry. Currently there are direct flights to Comox Valley from Vancouver and Calgary, and direct flights to Campbell River from Vancouver. Please note that these flights have limited seats and must be booked in advance.

Please be reminded that quarantine (self-isolation) is a requirement, and the failure to comply with Government of Canada’s Quarantine Act, as well as any provincial restrictions may incur up to 6 months in prison and/or $75,000 in fines.

If it is determined at the port-of-entry that you do not need to quarantine, you can proceed to your accommodations. Any costs for cancelled hotel reservations will be the responsibility of the student.

Prior to developing your travel plan, ensure that you have read and understood the Government of Canada Quarantine Act and important information on how to develop a plan. If you have not yet done so, please read the information above this section first.

Travel dates should avoid exam period if you have already been studying with NIC. New NIC students are requested to travel to Canada no earlier than 3 weeks prior to the start of your semester. If you arrive too early to Canada as a new student, Canadian Border Service Agency could consider your travel as optional and non-discretionary travel, and you may be restricted from entering Canada.

Once you determine your intention to travel and the dates of travel, you must register your Quarantine Plan with NIC. Your Quarantine Plan must be registered with NIC at least 14 days prior to your expected travel date to Canada. Any last minute departure planning may not be supported by NIC.

To register your Quarantine Plan, you must first download an iCent app (Apple users / Android users).

Once you download iCent app, provide all mandatory information requested in the app. After the mandatory information is completed, go to “Register your Quarantine Plan” widget on iCent app.

After registering your Quarantine Plan, go to “Pre-Arrival Checklist” widget on iCent app and complete and submit all items listed on Pre-Arrival Checklist no later than 14 days prior to the departure date (except ArriveCAN submission receipt). As a part of this process, you must submit the following documents to NIC through iCent app:

  • Quarantine plan
  • Immigration documents (study permit approval letter, TRV, passport, and any other documents as applicable)
  • Flight itinerary (international and domestic)
  • 3-day stopover hotel confirmation
  • Remaining 11-day hotel confirmation (if applicable)
  • Confirmation of Enrollment request
  • Negative COVID-19 test result
  • ArriveCAN submission receipt

If your travel dates or quarantine location changes, you must immediately notify NIC and re-register your new Quarantine Plan.

Read the rest of this web page to understand how to book flights and accommodation. If any questions, please ask questions using Chat function in iCent app.

North Island College Office of Global Engagement and iCent have developed an app to assist students in preparing for travel and completing quarantine successfully during COVID-19.

Once you have downloaded the iCent app to your phone:

  1. Open the app, type country as “Canada” and institution name as “North Island College”
  2. Tap on the ‘Login’ button
  3. Enter your NIC email address (ends with @northislandcollege.ca) and tap on ‘Continue’.
  4. You will receive an email with a secured PIN to login. Enter it and tap on ‘Continue’.
  5. Welcome to the iCent App! You will be requested to complete mandatory NIC questionnaires before continuing.

Students are responsible for ensuring that they have appropriate medical insurance while they are travelling to Canada and studying in Canada.

All new NIC students will be enrolled in Guard.Me for 90 days starting from the first day in Canada. Upon arrival in BC you must apply for BC Medical Services Plan (MSP).

Please ensure you have adequate medical insurance coverage from the time you leave your home country to the time you arrive at the quarantine location. Your Guard.Me coverage is effective from the day you arrive in Canada, and does not cover you for the duration of your travel from your home country to Canada.

Returning students need to ensure that the MSP coverage is active and valid.

See OGE’s Heath and Safety page for more information.

Before purchasing flight tickets, NIC recommends that you have as many pre-arrival arrangements secured as possible. For example, quarantine hotel rooms may be limited so you may need to consult with the accommodation provider on the space based on your intended date of arrival. In-Canada flights to our campus location may also be limited on your intended travel date. You should also carefully review policies related to cancelling or altering flight/accommodation dates so that they can be flexible in the event that you need to adjust your plans (i.e. testing positive of COVID-19 at the port of entry).

International Flights

The Canadian government requires all who require quarantine (not vaccinated or not meeting Canada’s vaccination criteria) to spend the first 3 nights of quarantine in a government-authorized hotel at the port of entry. Due to the uncertain nature of COVID-19 test result, we recommend that you only book domestic flights after arriving in Canada, or pre-book domestic flights that can be changed should you test positive.

Once your 3-day quarantine at the port entry is complete, you must make sure to book a flight directly to Comox BC (YQQ). Do not take a ferry.

Effective January 7, 2021, anyone flying to Canada from another country is required to provide written or electronic documentation showing they received a negative result from a COVID-19 test conducted within 72 hours prior to their scheduled boarding. For more information, please see the Government of Canada website. Please note the negative test result will not exclude you from mandatory 14-day quarantine. There are no exceptions for vaccinated travellers, at this time.

Any international student with COVID-19 symptoms will not be allowed to board their flight to Canada. If symptoms develop in flight, students may not be permitted to enter Canada. Students will be expected to demonstrate to a Canadian Border Services agent that they have a suitable quarantine plan in place.

Students must undergo health checks at all check points and MUST wear a non-medical mask or face covering during travel. There are currently only 4 international airports in Canada accepting international travelers.

  • Vancouver International Airport (YVR)
  • Calgary International Airport (YCC)
  • Montreal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport Montreal (YUL)
  • Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ)

In-Canada Flights

If you intend to complete your 14-day quarantine (self-isolation) in a hotel or private residence at our campus locations, NIC strongly recommend that you travel by air to minimize the use of public transportation and public facilities, as per the Government of Canada guidelines. Travellers must demonstrate that they have pre-arranged safe transportation from their port of entry to their quarantine location. Public transportation, such as public transit (buses) and BC Ferries, do not meet this requirement.

The Comox Valley Airport (YQQ) and the Campbell River Airport (YBL) are accessible with direct flight from Vancouver International Airport (YVR). Currently, Pacific Coastal Air connect our regional airports to Vancouver International Airport, and WestJet connect Comox Valley Airport to Calgary International Airport.

Once you arrive at Comox Valley Airport or Campbell River Airport, there are taxi services available to travel to your quarantine location.

We currently offer 3 options for quarantine accommodation: Hotel accommodation booked and arranged by OGE, privately-arranged accommodation booked by you, or in-home quarantine with Canada Homestay Network (CHN) booked by you.

Hotel accommodation in NIC campus areas must be booked and arranged by OGE. The information will be provided to you in the Quarantine Plan.

If you plan to stay in a homestay/roomstay through Canada Homestay Network (CHN) as your choice of accommodation beyond quarantine, you may choose CHN’s homestay quarantine option under CHN Safe Arrival Plan. To arrange CHN accommodation, you must contact CHN yourself. For more details or to apply, please visit CHN’s website. Please note securing a CHN quarantine option can take 5 days or more. Please ensure to read CHN Frequently Asked Questions and CHN Special Refund Policy: COVID-19 in full prior to booking this accommodation.

Submit the following documents to OGE prior to departure through iCent App:

  • Quarantine Plan
  • Immigration documents (Study permit approval letter, TRV)
  • A copy of your flight itineraries (international and domestic flights)
  • Hotel and accommodation confirmation for 14 days of quarantine period
  • Confirmation of Enrollment request form
  • A screenshot of your ArriveCAN submission receipt

Bring the following documents while travelling to enter Canada (in print and digital format) and have them ready to present to officials. If you think of any other documentation that you feel necessary for entry into Canada, we recommend that you carry them as well. A CBSA officer will make the final decision on whether you are eligible to enter Canada when you arrive at the port of entry.

  • Letter of Acceptance from NIC (for new students)
  • Confirmation of Enrollment (COE) from NIC
  • Registration Statement from NIC (sent from OGE)
  • Support Letter from NIC (sent from OGE)
  • A proof that you have enough money to support yourself and any family members who come with you to Canada, and if you have to extend your self-isolation period due to COVID-19
  • A valid passport
  • Valid temporary resident visa or eTA
  • Valid study permit or study permit approval (Approval in Principle does not allow students to travel)
  • Accommodation booking confirmation (if no confirmation, carry the contact information of the accommodation provider/owner)
  • A screenshot of your ArriveCAN submission receipt
  • Negative COVID-19 test result

We also recommend that you keep the following information readily available to you:

  • Contact information of OGE staff you can reach out during your travel
  • Quarantine site contact information, including phone number (or cell number).
  • Contact information of friends and/or family members in Canada, if any

NIC provides a Letter of Support for students who are intending to enter (or re-enter) Canada at this time. A Letter of Support will be issued to you once you have submitted a complete quarantine plan on the iCent App. You can download the iCent app here (Apple users / Android users).

In addition to regular packing for your move, we also recommend packing following items:

  • Non-perishable snacks and foods from home. Many students will bring enough snacks to get them through a full 14-day quarantine
  • Additional disposable or reusable face masks (both in your carry-on luggage and checked-in suitcase)
  • A bottle of hand sanitizer (keep a small bottle in your carry-on luggage as well as a bottle in your checked-in suitcase)
  • A thermometer is required for quarantine (keep in your carry-on luggage in case you develop fever during your travel)
  • Disinfectant wipes (both in your carry-on luggage and checked-in suitcase)
  • A few pairs of disposable protective gloves (both in your carry-on luggage and checked-in suitcase)
  • Consider your physical and emotional wellness during quarantine and pack books, games, fitness tools, apps etc. that you wish to have with you.

During Quarantine/Self-Isolation

As per the Government of Canada’s Quarantine Act, you may be required to self-isolate for the total of 14 days immediately upon arrival in Canada.

During Transit and Transportation in Canada

During your transit to the airport, in airports and during flights, be sure to:

  • Wear a face mask
  • Wash hands frequently or use hand sanitizer when necessary
  • Practice physical distancing of at least six feet (=2m) from others in all areas
  • Sanitize your personal space and high-touch area, and minimize touching surfaces
  • Minimize trips to washroom where possible
  • Practice proper hygiene by minimizing touching your face, coughing/sneezing into your sleeves and using tissues and throwing them away right after use.
  • Do not visit restaurants and minimize entering stores
  • Follow all health and safety protocols at your quarantine location

If required to quarantine, all students are required to travel directly to the quarantine location. Upon arrival at the airport, you should plan to take a taxi directly from the airport to the quarantine location. Be sure to obtain the name and phone number of the individual providing the service.

During Quarantine

Here are some guidelines during your quarantine.

  • Stay in your own room unless you have a private outdoor space you are allowed to access. Stay away from others and do not leave your accommodation unless there is a medical emergency.
  • Keep your room well-ventilated and clean and open your window (if possible) to let air circulate. Do not open the door to the common hallway for ventilation.
  • Continue to practice health hygiene, such as hand washing, coughing and sneezing into your sleeves and using tissues.
  • Dispose of garbage frequently and wash your hands immediately after handling waste
  • Monitor and maintain your physical and emotional health. Stay connected with your family, friends and NIC community through virtual activities. Utilize those apps/tools you brought to maintain health.
  • If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please call 911. If you are not feeling well and experience symptoms of COVID-19, use the BC’s self-assessment tool to help determine if you need further assessment or testing, or call 811. Please also inform your quarantine provider send an email to jennifer.barth@nic.bc.ca
  • Students who need additional support during quarantine can reach out to nadine.biggs@nic.bc.ca
  • For those who are in crisis or have immediate concerns outside regular hours of operation, the following resources are :

After Quarantine

Following completion of your 14-day quarantine period and the receipt of negative COVID-19 result from your day 10 COVID test, please continue to be mindful of and respect public health directives by:

For more information about quarantine (self-isolation), please visit the BC Centre for Disease Control and review the Dos and Don'ts of Self-Isolation.

NIC students are reminded that quarantine (self-isolation) is a requirement with the Government of Canada’s Quarantine Act, including the penalties of violation of the Quarantine Act, which include up to 6 months in prison and/or $750,000 in fines.

If you were reported for breaching quarantine/self-isolation guidelines, NIC may report potential violations to the relevant public health authorities.

There are a number of food delivery and grocery delivery services available. You can also arrange for necessities (i.e. medications, basic hygiene supplies) to be delivered to your place of quarantine.

Quarantine (self-isolation) can be very challenging for your emotional and mental well-being. Our counselors are available for confidential support online.

Please book your appointment online or contact Student Services to make an appointment:

  • Campbell River/Mixalakwila: 250-923-9700 or 1-800-715-0914 (toll-free in Canada)
  • Comox Valley: 250-334-5000 or 1-800-715-0914 (toll-free in Canada)
  • Port Alberni: 250-724-8711 or 1-800-715-0914 (toll-free in Canada)

For additional or after-hours support, the following resources are available:

  • Vancouver Island Crisis Line: 1-888-494-3888
  • Vancouver Island Crisis Text: 250-800-3806

For students in Canada and the US call: 1.844.451.9700

  • Here2Talk: Here2Talk connects students with mental health support when they need it. Through this program, all students currently registered in a B.C. post-secondary institution have access to free, confidential counselling and community referral services, conveniently available 24/7 via app, phone and web. This service is available to you anywhere in the world if you are a currently enrolled international student at NIC.

Canada-wide toll free, dial: 1-877-857-3397

Canada-wide direct, dial: 604-642-5212

For those who have general questions, please contact our Student Life department:

If you are looking for International Student Services, please refer to this page for more information.

As a newly arriving NIC student, there are a number of things you must do to get prepared for a Canadian life. Your quarantine (self-isolation) period is a perfect time to cross off some of these items. Use your iCent app and go to Post-Arrival Checklist to find out more. Some of the important things are:

  • Purchase textbooks
  • Attend orientation
  • Apply for SIN (Social Insurance Number)
  • Open a Canadian bank account
  • Apply for Student ID card
  • Purchase a Canadian cell phone/SIM card
  • Find permanent accommodation
  • Apply for BC MSP (Medical Service Plan)

NIC recommends all students to download the BC COVID-19 Support App, to stay informed about COVID-19 in BC.

NIC international students currently on guard.me insurance have access to Guard.me Mobile Doctor program. This program allows students to connect with Canadian doctors on Maple, a telemedicine company. Maple provides access to doctors across Canada, on the phone, tablet or computer anytime.

If you are no longer on Guard.me you can access the following mobile doctor program provided through Greenshield.

You can also call 8-1-1 if you are unsure whether you need to see a doctor or not, or if you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. This is a pre-screening call and a medical practitioner will assess your need on the telephone to determine if you need to see a doctor.

Just remember, if you, or someone in your care, has chest pains, difficulty breathing, or severe bleeding, it could be life threatening. Call 911 or the local emergency number immediately. If you are concerned about a possible poisoning or exposure to toxic substance, call Poison Control at 1-800-567-8911.

Important Information about COVID-19, Immigration and Quarantine

It is important to seek information from reliable sources. We recommend that you read and understand the information below.

Government of Canada National Laws and Regulations

BC Government Provincial Laws and Regulations

Other information source

Ministry of Health BC COVID-19 symptom self-assessment tool