Non-Discretionary Travel Updates

Your travel to Canada as a student is considered non-discretionary if:

  • You are attending a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) that is on the list of DLIs with approved COVID-19 readiness plans.
  • You hold a valid study permit or a POE Letter of Introduction that shows you were approved for a study permit (final approval). 

Additional Mandatory Requirements for Travellers to Canada

As part of Canada’s efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19, all international student travellers must also provide specific information before and after entry into Canada using ArriveCAN.

Since the border officer makes the final decision on whether you can enter Canada during questioning at the Port of Entry, you may wish to point out the following to support your entry into Canada, where applicable:

  • your approved quarantine plan and your ability to complete your quarantine as soon as you arrive
  • your ability to study online during your quarantine OR evidence that you will have time to complete your quarantine before you physically have to attend classes where applicable
  • if you’ve already lived in Canada since the start of your program (for returning students) 
  • if you need to be in Canada for your program (for laboratory work, workshops, or similar)
  • if you can’t study online from your home country because of internet restrictions or bandwidth limitations
  • if you can’t participate in live online classes from your home country because of the difference in time zones

Request an ‘Essential to Travel’ Letter (Optional)

When you enter Canada with a valid study permit or POE Letter of Introduction that approves you for a study permit, your entry is now considered “non-discretionary” or “essential.” Therefore, an “Essential to Travel” letter is no longer required. 

If you want additional documentation confirming that your studies in Canada are non-discretionary to a third party (airlines, border services), refer to the following processes:

Undergraduate students 

To request a letter, email Please include the following in your email: 

  • your email subject line is "Request Essential Travel Letter."
  • your first and last name 
  • information about why you need this letter
  • who requested this letter (i.e. which third party)
  • your scheduled travel date
  • confirmation of your quarantine plan with the Isolation Accommodation Program or the Off-Campus Travel Registry

Graduate students 

Follow these steps to request a travel letter:

  • First, speak with your department's graduate program office and confirm that your travel is necessary to progress your program. This permission will likely come from your Graduate Coordinator/Associate Chair. If you are unsure who should provide the approval, the program office will direct you to the appropriate individual. 
  • Once you have confirmed, in writing, with your department that your travel is necessary, complete the Graduate Students: Travel Letter form