COVID-19 travel and quarantine checklist

Travelling to Canada and preparing to quarantine

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. As a new or returning international student, you should review the following information when preparing to travel and check back often for updates. 

Before leaving your country

  • 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. If you declined coverage during fall 2020 for the University Health Insurance Plan (UHIP), know that you were automatically enrolled again for winter 2021. Your winter 2021 coverage began on December 10. 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.  
  • New! Reserve a 3-night hotel stopover in advance of boarding your flight. The Government of Canada has announced that international air travellers landing in Canada will have to quarantine in a government-authorized hotel at the port of entry while they await their COVID-19 test results (conducted upon arrival). Hotels must be booked in the city that you arrive.
    • If you're arriving by land, you don't need to book a hotel stopover. However, you will be required to take a COVID-19 test before you leave the United States within 72 hours of your entry into Canada. You should go directly from the border to your quarantine location with no planned or unplanned stops. 
  • Attend a pre-departure drop-in session on Tuesdays at 9 p.m. or Thursdays at 9 a.m. EST to get answers to your travel related questions.
  • Create and finalize your quarantine plan (use this example template). Once the details of your plan are confirmed, you'll be required to share your plan with Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) before travelling to Canada through 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 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

  • Based on current Government of Canada policies, when you arrive in Canada government officials will assess your health and your quarantine plan before you can leave the port of entry. It is up to the discretion of the border agent to approve entry into Canada. 
    • New! Take a COVID-19 test upon arrival at the port of entry (air or land) at no cost to the traveller. 
    • New! International air travellers landing in Canada will have to quarantine in a government authorized hotel at the port of entry. This 3-night hotel stopover is where you will wait to learn your COVID-19 arrival test result.  
      • If you receive a negative result on your COVID-19 arrival test, you will then be able to continue on to your originally planned quarantine location to fulfil the remainder of your 14-day quarantine requirements.
      • If you receive a positive result on your COVID-19 arrival test, you'll be relocated to a designated government quarantine facility for the remainder of your 14 days of isolation.
  • 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. Don't move from your quarantine location if you have symptoms of COVID-19.
  • 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

Please email the International Student Experience team if you have questions about quarantining or the International Student Travel Plans and Quarantine Form. For inquiries about immigration documents and travel restrictions, connect with an immigration consultant.

Last updated on March 23, 2021 at 10:00 a.m. EST