COVID-19 travel and quarantine checklist

Travelling to Canada and preparing to quarantine

Estimated reading time: 5-8 minutes

Travelling from outside of Canada to Waterloo during COVID-19 requires preparation, including making a quarantine (self-isolation) plan for a minimum of 14 days whether or not you are vaccinated. You should review the following information when preparing to travel and check back often for updates. 

New vaccine requirements announced

As a new or returning University of Waterloo student, it is not required that you are vaccinated to enter Canada. As of September 7, everyone in the University of Waterloo community must provide proof of vaccination before coming to campus and living in residence.

Before leaving your country

  • New! Determine if you qualify for a quarantine exemption as a fully vaccinated traveller. You are still required to submit a quarantine plan in ArriveCAN and Portal, as well as meet the entry requirements under the current travel restriction policies. The final determination of your quarantine exemption is made by a government representative at the border.  
  • Review the current travel restrictions before booking your flight to Canada.
  • Prepare your additional documents to enter Canada during COVID-19 if you're eligible to travel. Instructions on what documents to prepare are available on the COVID-19 Information FAQsConnect with an immigration consultant if you have questions. 
  • Ensure you have the proper health coverage. Fall UHIP coverage is effective from August 10 or the date of your arrival in Canada, whichever comes last. Sunlife will start emailing UHIP cards in early September if you are Fees Arranged by the due date. If you opted out, you'll need to purchase medical coverage similar or comparable to UHIP. 
    • A few examples of private health insurance companies include, but are not limited to: Ingle InternationalCowan Insurance, Guard.Me, and Blue Cross. Research which option works best for you so that you’re sufficiently covered while travelling and living in Canada.
  • Attend the pre-departure drop-in sessions on Tuesdays at 7 p.m. and Thursdays at 9 a.m. EST to get answers to your travel related questions.
  • Create and finalize your quarantine plan. Once the details of your plan are confirmed, you'll be required to share it with Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) before travelling to Canada by inputting the details into ArriveCAN
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How to make a quarantine plan

Resources and points to consider when creating your plan: short-term accommodation suggestions and options for transportation and meal planning.

Read More

Day of your flight

  • Wear a non-medical mask or face covering that covers your mouth and nose.
  • Present your ArriveCAN receipt, proof of vaccination (if applicable), and negative COVID-19 laboratory test result to the airline prior to boarding a flight to Canada. 
  • Be ready to pass two health checks:
    • Conducted by the airline before boarding your flight.
    • Conducted by a Public Health Agency of Canada officer once you arrive in Canada. 
  • Bring a travel-sized bottle of hand sanitizer on the plane.
  • Pay attention to any inclusions (e.g. in-flight meal services) and regulations (e.g. wearing a mask for the entire duration of the flight) provided by your airline.

After you arrive in Canada

  • Follow the current Government of Canada policies when you arrive in Canada by air or land. Government officials will assess your ArriveCAN receipt, proof of vaccine (if applicable), test results, and quarantine plans before you can leave the port of entry. It is up to the discretion of the border agent to approve entry into Canada. 
  • Take a COVID-19 test upon arrival at the port of entry at no cost. 
    • New! As of August 9, 2021 at 12:01 a.m. fully vaccinated travellers may be asked to take a COVID-19 test as part of the newly implemented surveillance randomized testing regime for fully vaccinated travellers who qualify for entry to Canada at select airports and land border crossings across Canada.
  • Confirm with Waterloo that you have arrived in Canada using Portal (iOS, Android or web version) as soon as you arrive at the port of entry. If there are any changes to your flight, we also require that you notify us in Portal.  
  • Use private transportation (e.g. taxi) to go directly to your place of quarantine, without making any planned or unplanned stops, and stay there for the remainder of your quarantine. This is mandatory, even if you have no symptoms. 
    • You must change your non-medical mask or face covering and wear a new one while in transit to your quarantine location.
    • You should quarantine longer if you develop signs and symptoms of COVID-19, or have been exposed to another person who has signs and symptoms of COVID-19.
    • Follow Public Health's instructions on how to quarantine.
  • Confirm with the Government of Canada that you have arrived at your place of quarantine using ArriveCAN (iOS, Android or web version) or by calling toll free 1-833-641-0343. This must be done within 48 hours of arriving in Canada. 

  • Be aware that the penalties for not complying with the quarantine requirements are steep and should be taken very seriously.

During quarantine

After quarantine

  • Move into residence or your off-campus accommodation once your quarantine period is complete. Remember to order essential items (e.g. cutlery and pillowcases etc.) to your residence so you can have them when you move in. 
    • New! You are required to be vaccinated to live in residence this fall. Review UWaterloo's vaccination requirements on campus and in residence
  • Continue following regional and university guidelines, which include wearing a mask or face covering in public indoor spaces and maintaining a two-meter distance from others.

The experience

Are you wondering what travelling to Canada and quarantining is like? Kunall, a third year hydrogeology student, filmed his journey from Dubai to Waterloo in January 2020 and shared his experience following the travel guidelines, passing Canadian customs, and quarantining with Waterloo’s Student Quarantine Package. 

Note: Your travel journey may differ to Kunall’s given Canada's immigration policies continue to evolve and speaking to a border officer is an individual experience.

Other considerations 

Contact us

Looking for support with travel and quarantine plans, or other international student resources? Email the International Student Experience team or chat with us from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 to 4 p.m. EDT on Monday to Fridays. For inquiries about immigration documents and travel restrictions, connect with an immigration consultant.

Last updated on September 13, 2021 at 8:30 a.m. EDT