Arranging travel to Waterloo

Travel preparation

When booking your flight, keep in mind:

  • Starting on or after October 1, 2022, the COVID-19 emergency border measures have ended. This means that the following are no longer required when entering Canada. Please check out the Government of Canada webpage on COVID-19: Travel, testing and borders. 
    • Proof of COVID-19 vaccination
    • COVID-19 entry and arrival test
    • Quarantine
    • ArriveCAN
  • Review packing for documents that you need and if you can not find the information on the website, connect with an immigration consultant.
  • 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 4, 2023 is a holiday in Canada (Labour Day) when all University offices, government offices, banks and most businesses are closed. However, you'll be able to move into on-campus residence if you fill out the Waterloo Residences' Early Arrival Form.

Arriving at the airport

Most international students arrive at Lester B. Pearson International Airport (code YYZ) 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. Be prepare that they will review the following in order to issue a study permit: 

  • Passport
  • Letter of Acceptance
  • Letter of Introduction
  • Other documents in the packing webpage

It is recommended that you have all these documents printed out and pack them in your carry-on luggage so that it can be easily accessible at Primary Inspection

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, traveller’s cheques, etc., you must report this on the CBSA Declaration Card. You can expect that the process will take approximately three hours, but it also depends on the time of year and on a case-by-case basis.   

 
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Navigating Pearson International Airport

A step-by-step guide with pictures. Please note that these are pre-COVID-19 visuals.

Read More
 

Arranging transportation to Waterloo

To arrange travel from the airport to the University, there are some 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 signage throughout the airport to identify verified transportation services. 

Free airport pick-up service

During fall International Orientation, which is typically held from Thursday to Saturday of Labour Day weekend in September, we provide a free airport pick-up service from Pearson International Airport throughout the days. This service is for all first-year incoming undergraduate and graduate international and exchange students including up to two additional immediate family members. Registration will be sent out starting in July through UWaterloo email for those who are eligible for the service. Approximately a week before fall International Orientation, those who register for the free airport pick-up service will receive an email for more details.  

For immediate family and supporters who are looking for transportation from Waterloo to Pearson International Airport, they can look into options such as Airways Transit, Taxi, and Go Transit. 

Airways Transit 

Airways Transit is the premier provider of airport ground transportation. It provides door to door service. They can be found in both Terminal 1 and Terminal 3 at the Lester B. Pearson International Airport (code YYZ). You can check out their private airport rate by service area webpage for an estimated price. As of November 2022, the price from Pearson International Airport to Waterloo is $165 CAD one way. 

Go Transit 

Go bus is a popular option to get around in different cities. More information can be found in the Going to the Airport with GO Transit website. E tickets are available to purchase ahead of time. 

If you are landing at Pearson International Airport, you can take GO Bus Route 40 from Pearson Airport Terminal 1 to Square One Terminal. From there, you can take Route 25 or 25C to the University of Waterloo. Please note that Route 25C is the express bus route. You can check out the cost on this website 

Typically, Go Transit is the most budget friendly option. As of November 2022, the price from Pearson International Airport to Waterloo is around 17.55 CAD (tax included) one way, however this is subject to change. From time to time, Go Transit offers special promotions for a more affordable rate. You can check the Go Transit Website for the most up-to-date information on cost. 

Taxi  

Another option would be taking taxi to Waterloo. One option would be with the Waterloo Taxi. You can look into rates on their website. 

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 signage throughout the airport to identify verified transportation services.  

Travel from another Canadian city

There are ground travel options available for you if you are planning to arrive to Waterloo from another Canadian city: 

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Bus

FlixBus and GO Transit 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.​ If you are a current undergraduate or graduate student, you can look into Fed Bus which is offered by the Waterloo Undergraduate Student Association. It provides an affordable route to get to and from Toronto, Hamilton, and London on the weekends. Fed Bus schedule can be found here. Unfortunately, the service is not available to exchange students. 

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Rental Car

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.

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Train

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).