Making travel arrangements
When booking your flight, keep in mind:
- You should check with your faculty to confirm if your required courses will be offered online or on campus. See information for undergraduate students and graduate students.
- Due to COVID-19, there are current travel restrictions you should be aware of before booking your flight to Canada. Stay informed of the current travel restrictions, review our FAQ page for new international students and connect with an immigration consultant if you have questions.
- Based on current Government of Canada policies, when you arrive in Canada by air or land, your health will be assessed before you leave the port of entry. You must have a plan to quarantine for 14 days when you arrive in Canada. This is mandatory, even if you have no symptoms.
- If you arrive before you can move into residence or off-campus housing, there are many options for booking short-term accommodations.
- If you're travelling with a lot of luggage, you should notify your transport company beforehand so that they can make provisions for you.
- September 7 is a holiday in Canada (Labour Day) when all University offices, government offices, banks and most business are closed. However, you'll be able to move into on-campus residence if you fill out the Waterloo Residences' Early Arrival Form (available later in the summer).
Arriving at the airport
Most international students arrive at Lester B. Pearson International Airport in Toronto, Ontario; the closest major airport to Waterloo. Visit the Government of Canada's website for a detailed explanation of the steps to follow once off the plane and how the CBSA Declaration Card works.
When you arrive at the airport, you'll speak to a Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officer at Primary Inspection. They must be satisfied that you're a bona fide student for you to enter Canada. They'll review your passport, Letter of Acceptance and Letter of Introduction in order to issue a study permit. They may also want to see any of the documents we recommend that you pack in your carry-on luggage. If you've sent anything ahead of time to Canada, inform the CBSA officer and present your shipping records. If you're entering Canada with more than $10,000 in your possession in cash, bank drafts, traveler’s cheques, etc., you must report this on the CBSA Declaration Card.
Navigating Pearson International Airport
A step-by-step guide with pictures.
Arranging transportation to Waterloo
Toronto Pearson International Airport (code YYZ) is the closest major airport to Waterloo and is located about 1.5 hours away from campus. Before your departure, you should arrange travel from the airport to the University. There are lots of transportation options. For example, you can book a seat with Airways Transit, or another shuttle service. There are also several taxi and limousine companies, but these tend to be more expensive options.
While at the airport, beware of drivers who solicit passengers inside the terminals. These are unlicensed taxis and limos that charge more than the regulated rates. Look for sinage throughout the airport to identify verified transportation services.
On certain dates in late August and early January we provide a free airport pick-up service from Pearson International. This service is open to all incoming international students, as well as their spouses and dependents.
Update: To protect the health and safety of students, we'll not be offering an airport pick-up service for fall 2020. We’re currently putting together a list of preferred transportation vendors and we'll announce those options later this summer. Please stay tuned.
Travel from another Canadian city
If you are staying in another part of Canada before starting your studies here, you may be travelling to Waterloo over land. There are lots of ground travel options for you to book, including:
Coach Canada and Greyhound are two popular options. Book your ticket at least two months before you plan to travel. Most companies limit the amount of luggage you can carry, so check with them ahead of time to ensure that your luggage falls within the limits.
Canadians drive on the right-hand side of the road. To rent a car, most rental companies in Canada require you to be at least 21-years-old. If you are under 25, you may have to pay for additional insurance.
If you’re located more than four hours away, consider taking the train to Waterloo. VIA Rail is Canada’s passenger train network. Go Transit has limited train service to Waterloo from the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).