entry requirements into Canada
Quarantine, vaccine, on-arrival testing — here’s everything you need to know before heading or returning to Canada for the fall semester. Source: Daniel Slim/AFP

If you’re returning to a Canadian university soon, you will need to know about the Fall 2021 update entry requirements into Canada. You will not have to quarantine if it has been 14 days since your vaccine’s final dose. You’ll still, however, need a quarantine plan ready, even if you don’t use it.

The Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has provided a guide of entry requirements into Canada for students on its website of border measures ahead of the fall semester. Here’s what students should know ahead of flying into the country:

Who can enter Canada?

To be able to enter Canada as a student, you need to be attending a designated learning institution (DLI) with a COVID-19 readiness plan approved by its province or territory. You must also have a valid study permit or letter of introduction that shows you have been approved for a study permit. Despite Canada easing its border measures, it’s worth noting that travel rules could change with little notice, so check IRCC’s website for the latest developments. 

Canada, for instance, has recently suspended flights from India until August 21, in line with the country’s observation of India’s COVID-19 situation. This will keep Indian students out of the country for another month — the current ban was initially set to end on July 27 — even if they have received a study permit for the new semester in late August.

entry requirements into Canada

Both vaccinated and unvaccinated students can return to Canada for the fall semester, subject to meeting certain criteria. Source: Cole Burston/Getty Images North America/Getty Images via AFP

Are vaccines part of the entry requirements into Canada?

Accepted vaccines include:

  • Pfizer-BioNTech (Comirnaty, tozinameran, BNT162b2)
  • Moderna (mRNA-1273)
  • AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD (ChAdOx1-S, Vaxzevria, AZD1222)
  • Janssen/Johnson & Johnson 

Canada does not consider those who have received a different vaccine as fully vaccinated. Students must use ArriveCAN to enter their proof of vaccination, quarantine and travel information. Without this, travellers won’t be considered for the exemption, even if they meet all the other requirements. Proof of vaccination must be in English, French, or a certified translation into English or French. 

Do I need to quarantine in Canada ahead of the fall semester?

Unvaccinated students — or those who have received vaccines that are not recognised by the Canadian government — must quarantine in Canada and test thrice (pre-departure, on arrival, and day eight) to get through. Students will need to cover the cost of this 14-day stay at a hotel or university accommodation. 

Fully-vaccinated international students who have received a vaccine accepted by Canada do not have to quarantine in Canada as long as they got their second dose at least two weeks before. Despite this, IRCC notes that an international student must have a 14-day quarantine plan in case it is determined at the border that they do not meet all of the conditions required to be exempt from quarantine. 

“This is still the case even if they believe they meet the criteria for being considered a fully vaccinated traveller. Students should be in contact with their designated learning institution for assistance in developing quarantine plans in advance of their arrival to Canada,” it said. Information about the quarantine plan must be submitted in ArriveCAN before traveling to Canada.

CIC News notes that while international travel restrictions fall under the federal government’s purview, provincial governments are responsible for their own healthcare systems. Students can visit their respective provincial government’s website, which includes measures for travellers. It’s worth noting that DLI’s will also have their own COVID-19 rules and regulations and may require students to be vaccinated ahead of the fall semester.

On-arrival testing

Starting August 9, fully vaccinated travellers — including international students — will no longer need an on-arrival test unless randomly selected at select airports and land border crossings across Canada. Until then, non-vaccinated travellers flying to Canada must complete their three-night hotel stay while waiting for their on-arrival test results. Unvaccinated travellers will continue to be subject to mandatory on-arrival and day eight testing.