Travel Information for International Students

Important Note: Students are advised not to make any travel plans before their Study Permit application is approved, and they receive their visas (where applicable).

What to Expect Once Your Study Permit Application is Approved

Students from Non-Visa Exempt Countries:
You will get a request to submit your passport to the Visa Office. Once the visa has been issued to you, you will receive your Letter of Introduction. 

The time it takes to get your passport back with the visa counterfoil on it can vary from one Visa Office to another, so it is strongly advisable that you don’t book your flight until you have your passport/visa in hand.

Students from Visa-Exempt Countries: 
You will not get a passport request; instead, you will get your Letter of Introduction directly after the Study Permit application is approved. The letter will confirm your Study Permit approval and details, as well as your eTA number.


Entering Canada as a Student

To enter Canada as a student, you must hold a valid study permit OR a Port of Entry (POE) Letter of Introduction that shows your study permit approval (if you are a newly admitted student and your study program is longer than six months in length). Exchange students who intend to study in Canada for less than six months may enter using a valid visa or an eTA.

New students will need to present the Letter of Introduction to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officer at the Port of Entry where you first enter. Your study permit will be issued to you then.

We recommend you carefully review the information on your issued study permit. Make sure there are no errors in your personal information. Let the CBSA officer know if you find any errors.

Suppose you have been admitted to a degree-seeking program. In that case, you should also verify that your study permit has been issued with the work authorization remarks: “may work” or “may accept employment.” If it doesn’t, you should let the officer know that you will need these remarks printed on the study permit to be eligible to apply for a SIN and work part-time during your full-time studies. This is especially important if you are a graduate student and will be getting paid by your department. Without a SIN, your stipend may be delayed.


What Documents Do I Need to Enter Canada?

Students who will be studying in a program longer than 6 months must carry with them the following documents upon entry to Canada:

New students' documents include:
  • Port of Entry (POE) Letter of Introduction if you are attending a study program that is longer than six months. The POE Letter of Introduction is not your study or work permit. Exchange students intending to study in Canada for less than six months may enter using a valid visa or an eTA.
  • Valid travel document (such as your passport)
  • Valid Visa/eTA as applicable.
  • Admission letter (Note: If your Admission Letter is expired at the time you plan to enter, please request the Verification of enrolment Letter from Beartracks)
  • Financial documents used in your application and/or have enough money as proof that you will be able to support yourself (and your family in the event you will be entering together)
  • Students from designated countries need to have a valid IRCC medical exam. If your original exam will be expired at the time of entry, you are advised to complete a new medical exam at least 4 weeks prior to your travel date.

We recommend you carefully review IRCC’s Prepare for arrival page before planning your entry to Canada.

Notes: 

  • If you are a new student entering Canada after starting your program, request your Verification of enrolment document from Beartracks. You need this in addition to the admission letter listed above to verify your enrolment at UAlberta upon entry.
  • While submitting your travel information using ArriveCAN is no longer mandatory, you are still encouraged to do so to facilitate your entry at the Port of Entry.
Returning students' documents include:
  • Valid Study Permit.
  • Valid Visa/eTA as applicable.
  • Verification of enrolment (request through Bear Tracks).
  • Unofficial transcript (print out from Bear Tracks).
  • Valid IRCC medical exam if you have been living in a designated country for over six months in the past 12 months prior to your entry back to Canada.

We recommend you carefully review IRCC’s Prepare for arrival page before planning your entry to Canada.


How Early Can I Arrive in Canada before my Program Starts?

There is no set time frame for you to arrive in Canada before you begin your studies. You should just arrive to give yourself a reasonable amount of time to prepare before you start studying.

You are not allowed to work on or off campus until you begin your studies in Canada.

Important Note: The border services officer will ultimately make the final decision on whether you are eligible to enter Canada when you arrive.

For more information, click on our “Entering Canada” website.


What Should I Do Now That I Am in Edmonton?

  • Check out information about available Welcome Services (note: if you will be arriving after the term starts, these services may not be available. However, you are welcome to register for these services when they become available at the start of the following semester)
  • If you have not applied for campus residence, it is advisable to stay in a temporary accommodation while you search for more long-term accommodation. Find out more about this on our websites “Finding Housing” and “Renter’s Rights and Responsibilities”
  • If you have registered in courses for the term in which you arrive, you can apply for your University’s student ID card, the One Card and the Arc Card, which allows you to freely use public transit through your U-Pass eligibility.
  • If you have been issued a study permit that is valid for 12 months or longer, you should apply for the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan (AHCIP). The SU/GSA Health and Dental plan alone doesn’t provide you with the coverage you need. To find out more about health insurance in Canada, including how to apply for AHCIP coverage, visit our “Health Insurance for International Students” page.
  • Apply for a Social Insurance Number (SIN) with your SP that contains the work authorization remarks
  • Once you have finalized your housing arrangements, you can open a Canadian bank account. To learn more, check out our “Banking” page
  • Set up a phone plan that works for you (you can find websites online or visit your local mall to compare plans
  • Once you have a Canadian cell phone number, be cautious of scam phone calls/texts. Do not share your personal information with people you cannot verify over the phone or email. To learn more, check out our “Be Advised” page
  • Start preparing for our Edmonton winter weather! To learn more on how you can do that check out our “Weather in Edmonton” and “Clothing” pages
  • Learn how you can start “Getting Around” in Edmonton
  • Find out more about how to buy food and groceries here