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.

Government of Canada Most Recent Updates

On March 25, 2020, the federal government implemented a self-isolation (quarantine) plan for international travelers under the Quarantine Act.

The federal government will continue to use its authority under the Quarantine Act to ensure compliance with the order to self-isolate, enforceable by RCMP or local police. Failure to comply with the self-isolation orders could result in fines up to $750,000 CAD and/or imprisonment for six months.

The ultimate authority to allow students into Canada rests with the Canadian Border Service Agency. When travelling to Canada, it is your responsibility to provide proof that you are eligible to enter Canada.

Beginning Monday, February 22, the Canadian government requires all international students travelling by air to spend the first 3 nights of quarantine in a government-authorized hotel at the port of entry. Please see more information under Flights and Accommodation.

 

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.

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.

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.

  1. Confirm you have a study permit approval (or Letter of Introduction) or valid study permit. Please note you are not permitted to travel on Approval in Principle (first-stage approval).
  2. Email OGE to tell us you are planning to travel to Canada. Travel dates should avoid exam period if you have already been studying with NIC. New NIC students are requested travel to Canada no earlier than 3 weeks prior to the intake start date. 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. Please see below and contents in iCent app for more information.
  3. Download iCent App. Once downloaded, complete and submit all items listed on Pre-Arrival Checklist no later than 2 weeks prior to the departure date. Please note that any last-minute departure planning may not be supported by OGE.
  4. The OGE will review your Quarantine Plan and confirm your travel itinerary.
  5. Submission of documents must be completed within the “Pre-arrival Checklist” gadget on iCent app.
  6. See Tips for Planning your Travel for any additional questions, or you may ask questions using Chat function in iCent app.
  7. Once your travel has been approved by OGE, please book your flights. See Tips for Planning your Travel.
  8. Download the federal ArriveCAN app. Provide all mandatory info requested in the app. This is available two weeks prior to your departure date. (Apple users / Android users)
  9. Book and complete COVID-19 test within 72 hours prior to travel.

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.

The iCent App has many useful links and information, such as:

  • Pre-departure and Post-Arrival Checklist
  • Daily quarantine check-ins
  • Student Services and Support
  • Transportation in your campus location
  • Medical Coverage
  • Push Notifications and Important Reminders

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 or connect via your preferred social media
  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!
    • 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
    • Confirmation of Enrollment Request
    • A screenshot of your ArriveCAN submission

    • Bring the following documents while travelling to enter Canada (in print and digital format) and have them ready to present to officials:
    • Letter of Acceptance from NIC (for new students)
    • Confirmation of Enrollment (COE) from NIC (request form here)
    • Registration Statement from NIC (sent from OGE)
    • Support Letter from NIC (sent from OGE)
    • 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
    • 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

Tips for Planning Your Travel

We request all students (new and continuing) to develop a travel and quarantine plan AND communicate it to OGE at least two weeks prior to the departure date. Any last-minute travel plan may not be supported by OGE and we may not be able to issue all required documents for your travel.

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.

Beginning Monday, February 22, the Canadian government requires all international students travelling by air 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.

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)

It is important that you understand and follow guidelines provided by the Government of Canada.

  • All travelers must self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival in Canada. 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
  • If unsure of your quarantine plan, connect with OGE to ask questions by using Chat function on iCent app

Consider your physical and emotional wellness during quarantine and consider packing books, games, fitness tools, apps etc. that you wish to have with you.

Beginning Monday, February 22, the Canadian government requires all international students travelling by air to spend the first 3 nights of quarantine in a government-authorized hotel at the port of entry.


This means:

  • You must identify your port of entry and reserve your room at a government-authorized hotel prior to your flight. The information on hotel booking can be found here.
  • When you arrive in Canada, you will take a COVID-19 PCR test at the airport before taking the transportation to the hotel.
  • You will isolate for 3 days at the hotel while awaiting the results of your COVID-19 test taken at the airport; you will also be provided with instructions on how to obtain another test near the end of your 14-day quarantine period.

If you receive a negative result on your test taken at the airport, you may then be able to move to the location you have chosen to complete the remaining days of your 14-day quarantine.

If you receive a positive COVID-19 result on your airport test, you will be relocated to a designated government quarantine facility to complete 14 days of quarantine after the first 3 days at the government-authorized hotel.

We currently offer 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.

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

  • 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 (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)

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.

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

From your port of entry (first arrival location in Canada), we recommend that you fly to Comox or Campbell River airport. Taking a ferry from Vancouver should be avoided at all times.

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 address of self-isolation Be sure to obtain the name and phone number of the individual providing the service.

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

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 and OGE at biggs@nic.bc.ca between Monday-Friday, 8:00am-4:30pm, or Junko.Leclair@nic.bc.ca during early morning, night and weekends.
  • Students who need additional support during quarantine can reach out to
  • For those who are in crisis or have immediate concerns outside regular hours of operation, the following resources are :

We also request you to complete steps under Post-Arrival Checklist gadget on iCent to ensure that you are prepared for your new life in Canada.

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:

  • Practicing proper health hygiene, such as hand washing, coughing and sneezing into your sleeves and using tissues.
  • Maintaining physical distancing of a minimum of six feet (= 2m) from others

Staying informed of the BC’s provincial responses and restrictions on COVID-19

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. Please arrange your own private travel insurance well in advance.