Preparing for Departure

Updated August 25, 2020

4-step guide for preparing for departure

Below is a guide to Preparing for departure that you will need to complete prior to departing for Canada. Please ensure that you are checking with ALL government websites to ensure that you have the most up-to-date information before you depart.

Step 1: Check Travel Regulations and Restrictions

It's important that you ensure that you are permitted to travel to Canada, and you keep informed of federal (national) and provincial (local) government travel regulations, restrictions and exemptions.

  • Note that a Border Service Officer will make the final determination on your eligibility to enter Canada at the port of entry. Contact the Border Information Service for more information. 
  • The onus is on you to demonstrate and satisfy the Border Service Officer that you meet the travel exemptions and are travelling to Canada for essential purposes. 

SFU’s International Services for Students has a variety of information in their SFU: Get Ready series on topics such as medical insurance and immigration. 

Step 2: Ensure Proper Documentation

Planning your trip

As you plan your travel, read the general information regarding proper documentation found on the IRCC website. Always carry your SFU Letter of Acceptance and/or Confirmation of Enrollment letter for entry to Canada.

  • Have a valid study permit or study permit approval (letter of introduction), approved on or before March 18, 2020, or have a study permit approval (letter of introduction) if you are coming from the United States
  • Depending on your country of citizenship you may require a valid temporary resident visa (TRV) or electronic travel authorization (eTA) in addition to your study or work permit in order to travel to Canada. For more information visit the IRCC website.
  • All travellers, including those coming from the United States, must carry supporting documentation to help demonstrate that their purpose of travel is essential (non-discretionary)*, for example:
    • proof you are established, residing and studying in Canada
    • evidence that your SFU courses are being offered in person (if applicable)
    • evidence that pursuing your studies online from outside Canada is not possible due to bandwidth limitations or internet restrictions in your home country, if your courses are offered entirely online
    • valid job offer or proof of employment requiring your physical presence in Canada
  • If you are an international undergraduate student enrolled in a course with in-person components in the Fall 2020 term (September – December) and intend to travel to Canada, you may request an official letter from the Office of the Registrar.

Requesting a letter

To request a letter, please email from your @sfu email address and include the following information:

  1. Your full legal name
  2. SFU student number
  3. Attach a copy of your valid study permit, or your letter of approval from IRCC issued on or before March 18, 2020. If you are legally residing in the United States, please include a copy of your valid study permit or letter of approval. 
  • If you are an international graduate student enrolled in a course that is taught face to face in Fall 2020 (September - December) Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies will have emailed you an official letter. If you have not received yours please email with your SFU student number and the name of the face to face course you are enrolled in.

Do not travel to Canada if you do not meet the travel exemptions

You may be refused entry at the border. Receipt of a confirmation of enrollment letter from SFU does not guarantee your ability to travel. It is your responsibility to satisfy all entry requirements:  

  • Valid passport or other travel document,
  • Admission letter from SFU or confirmation of enrolment from SFU, and
  • Documents to show proof of sufficient funds to study in Canada.
  • Documents to prove that you have a credible self-isolation plan in place upon your arrival in Canada

Carry these documents with you at all times and do not put them in your checked luggage. You may not be allowed into Canada if any of your documents are missing or if any of the information on your application or letters of reference is incorrect.

For more information, please visit Travelling to Canada


Step 3: Ensure Proper Medical Insurance Coverage

Medical Insurance

As an international student, you must have medical insurance for the entire duration of your studies. If family members are accompanying you, they should also have adequate medical insurance during their stay in Canada. 

  • International students new to SFU are covered automatically by the GuardMe emergency medical insurance plan for the first term in which they are registered.
  • If you are eligible, you may be able to cancel (opt out of) the pllan.
  • Contact an International Student Advisor for any questions regarding medical insurance.

Early Arrivals

  • If you are a new incoming international student, purchase early arrival medical insurance coverage through if you will arrive in Canada before the first day of the term (September 1, January 1, and May 1). 

Interim Coverage

  • If you are a returning student without medical insurance, you can purchase an Interim coverage which you can purchase online while you apply and receive your BC MSP. 

Adding Dependents

  • If you are an international student and have been enrolled in the plan, you can apply for additional coverage for your dependents (e.g. spouse, common-law partner, and/or children), once you have received your policy information.

Useful Websites

Step 4: Arrange the Most Direct Route to Canada/Vancouver

Students are encouraged to book a direct flight to Vancouver, if possible. Doing so will help you to comply with self-isolation requirements. Please note that if you have a connecting flight that stops in another country or city in Canada, there is a possibility that border agents may require you to self-isolate at the place of arrival, instead of allowing you onward travel to Vancouver (particularly if you have any visible symptoms)