International graduate students arriving in Canada
This information is for students arriving in Canada from international locations. See our 'Frequently Asked Question' page for more information, including for international students studying remotely.
If you are an international graduate student arriving in Canada, your experience starting out at UCalgary will be impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. It's important to prepare accordingly; this page will provide important information for you to consider while preparing to start your graduate program.
Here's a list of steps you need to take starting out in Canada that are discussed on this page:
- Immigration and travel documents
- Accommodation and housing
- Making a quarantine plan
- Travelling to Calgary
- Arriving in Calgary
- Getting to your quarantine location
- Starting your 14 day quarantine
- Arranging for food and necessities
- Assessing your health and quarantine status
- Connecting with the university community
- Getting started on important tasks
- Starting the term and and campus access
- Accessing library and other resources
- Paying for graduate school
- Other information
Immigration and travel documents
Make sure you have your travel documents and are approved to arrive in Canada
Study permit dates and ability to enter Canada
The Government of Canada recently announced an update to travel restriction exemptions. As of Oct. 20, 2020 UCalgary international students with a valid study permit or a study permit approval are allowed to enter Canada. UCalgary's COVID-19 readiness plan has been approved by the provincial government.
This update applies to all international students, regardless of where they are travelling from or when their study permit was approved.
Students should not make any travel plans until they have met all requirements and received all necessary authorizations. Details about what is required are available on the Government of Canada travel exemptions website.
IMPORTANT: Mandatory COVID-19 test
Effective January 7, 2021, you will need to present documentation of a negative COVID-19 test result to the airline prior to boarding a flight to Canada. This must be a PCR (COVID-19 molecular polymerase chain reaction) test taken within 72 hours prior to your departure. Note that, even with this negative test result, you will still need to quarantine for 14 days once you arrive in Canada.
You should familiarize yourself with the details of this new requirement by visiting the Government of Canada website.
Please contact your airline if you have questions about this or other requirements for boarding.
The Government of Canada requires all students, and any family members accompanying them, arriving from an international location to quarantine for 14 days and monitor themselves for symptoms. The University of Calgary has processes in place to support students while in quarantine. Incoming students must:
- Inform and/or update the university of your quarantine plans
- Notify the university confirming their arrival in Canada
- Complete a daily quarantine check-in for each day of the fourteen day quarantine period (the link will be emailed to you once you confirm your arrival in Canada).
International Border Testing Pilot Program
The Government of Alberta has initiated a pilot program that allows for some travelers entering the province to complete a reduced quarantine period. Student who are interested in participating in the pilot program must still:
- Inform and/or update the university of your quarantine plans
- Notify the university confirming their arrival in Canada
- Complete a daily quarantine check-in for each day of the pilot program quarantine period (the link will be emailed to you once you confirm your arrival in Canada).
Support for immigration and travel documents
- If you haven’t applied for a study permit yet, information on current Government of Canada approval processes and timelines can be found here.
- International Student Services (ISS) has Immigration Advisors available to help you with your study permit, work permit, visa and other immigration questions. Learn more about applying for a study permit here.
- If you have dependents who want to accompany you here, this webpage provides you with some basic information on how your family can stay with you or visit you during your studies.
If you are approved to come to Canada, make sure to check the public health measures for travelers to Canada here.
Accommodation and housing
Begin arranging for your ongoing accommodations in Calgary
There are lots of accommodation options for international students, both on-campus and around Calgary. Here are some resources to help you find the right home during your time at UCalgary.
Develop your 14-day quarantine plan
The Government of Canada has put in place emergency measures to slow the introduction and spread of COVID-19 in Canada. As a student arriving from an international location, you (and any family members travelling with you) MUST quarantine for 14 days, provide contact information and monitor yourself for symptoms. To prepare for this quarantine, you will need to develop a self-isolation plan that includes:
- details of your quarantine location
- getting to your destination
- getting your groceries
- accessing essential services and medical care
More information on these tasks can be found here.
Travelling to Calgary
Prior to your flight:
- Download the ArriveCAN app (iOS or Android) or use the web version to reduce your wait time at the Canadian port of entry and submit information about your quarantine plan up to 48 hours ahead of time.
- Prepare your non-medical masks and face coverings and pack your essential items and documents.
- Monitor yourself and do not travel if you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. Remember, you MUST have a negative COVID-19 test prior to your departure.
On the day of your flight:
- Wear a non-medical mask or face covering that covers your mouth and nose.
- 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 instructions (e.g. wearing a mask for the entire duration of the flight) provided by your airline.
Arriving in Calgary
Process for entry
Based on current Government of Canada policies, when you arrive in Canada government officials will assess your health and your 14-day quarantine plan before you can leave the port of entry (e.g. airport). It is up to the discretion of the border agent to approve entry into Canada.
When you arrive in Alberta by land or air from international destination, you must:
- Stop at the provincial checkpoint for screening (after going through customs)
- Submit a questionnaire detailing your mandatory 14-day isolation plan
- Undergo a touch-free temperature check
- Disclose any COVID-19 symptoms
- Provide the Government of Canada basic information using the traveller contact information form, available through the ArriveCAN mobile app
- Travel directly to your isolation location using private transportation (e.g. taxi) and stay there for 14 days. This is mandatory, even if you have no symptoms.
If you do not comply with mandatory isolation requirements there are a number of enforcement measures in place, including issuing fines.
Getting to your quarantine location
Plan for transportation from the airport to your 14-day quarantine location
Students are advised to use an airport cab to take them directly to their accommodation as these cabs have safety protocols in place.
According to Government of Canada regulations you must:
- Go directly to your place of quarantine without delay and stay there for 14 days from the date you arrived in Canada.
- You must wear a suitable mask or face covering while in transit.
- Practise physical distancing at all times.
- Avoid contact with others while in transit (if you need food, use a drive through).
Preparing to start your 14-day quarantine
Make sure you know the regulations for quarantine/self-isolation
- Regulations for Canada
- Regulations for Alberta
- Stay in your quarantine location and avoid close contact with others, especially seniors and people with chronic conditions or compromised immune systems.
- You are prohibited from taking public transportation like buses, taxis or ride-sharing.
- You can get fresh air in your backyard, if you have one, but you must remain on private property not accessible by others. Do not go outside for a walk through your neighbourhood or park.
- If you live in an apartment building, you must stay inside and cannot use the elevators or stairwells to go outside. If your balcony is private and at least 2 metres away from your closest neighbour's, you may go outside on the balcony.
You can expect officials from both Canada (federal) and Alberta (provincial) to contact you during the quarantine period.
Canadian officials will call you from 1-888-336-7735 to verify your compliance during your 14-day quarantine.
Provincial officials may contact you within 3 days to:
- Confirm you are following mandatory isolation requirements
- Answer questions related to mandatory isolation
- Give you information on relevant supports
Food and necessities
Arrange for meals or groceries and basic necessities
Once you have arrived at your quarantine location, you will need to arrange for food and basic necessities. If you are staying in University of Calgary on-campus housing, or a hotel, you will be provided with information about the food and services you can access.
If you are staying in a private location, you can order food delivery through online food and grocery services (delivery fees will apply):
In addition, there are many shops and grocery stores in Calgary that will deliver food, medicines and other supplies.
If you need assistance picking up groceries or medicines, we have volunteers ready to help you! Contact us for support here.
Assessing your health and quarantine status
Record your health and quarantine status daily
Starting on Day 1, you will receive an email from the Faculty of Graduate Studies each day of your 14 day quarantine period. Please follow the link in this email to enter a daily record of your (and your family members') health status and activities during quarantine. It is mandatory to complete this daily assessment, and will help the Faculty of Graduate Studies ensure that you are being supported and connected with health services as needed throughout your quarantine period.
You will be asked to monitor symptoms for you (and any accompanying family members) on a daily basis using information found on the Alberta Health Services website.
If you become sick or symptomatic you will be asked to take the online assessment and follow advice from Alberta Health Services regarding testing and extension of isolation period if needed. If in residence, you will need to inform Residence Services at email@example.com immediately of any symptoms. If off campus, you will need to inform Student Wellness at (firstname.lastname@example.org).
If you receive a positive COVID-19 test result, you should immediately email email@example.com and follow University of Calgary protocols.
Connect with others in the university community
- As a new incoming student you will be assigned to a volunteer peer buddy through our program "Students Supporting Students in Quarantine". This volunteer buddy is a fellow graduate student who will check in with you to make sure you are doing well and have the resources and support you need during quarantine. Contact us to learn more.
- The International Student Mentorship Program connects new international students with current UCalgary student volunteers. Learn more.
- The Faith & Spirituality Centre seeks to cultivate a pluralistic community by encouraging cultural and religious literacy, community building, and social change as an integral part of the student experience. Learn more.
- The Welcome Centre offers online programming and events to help international students connect with the UCalgary community. Learn more.
Get started on important tasks
There are a number of important tasks you need to complete as you begin your program. You can start many of these online during self-isolation:
Social Insurance Number (SIN)
Apply for Social Insurance Number (SIN) here
Health and dental insurance
Make sure to register for both health insurance services, the Alberta health insurance and the University health and dental insurance. Learn more.
Cell phone and internet
Get a Canadian cell phone number and internet services. Learn more from the International Student Centre.
Apply for your Unicard. The Unicard is the official campus identification for students, faculty and staff. Your Unicard acts as an access card, and a pass to the libraries and Active Living facilities. Learn more.
Open a Canadian bank account. Learn more from International Student Services.
The Graduate Students' Association has information about discounts on Calgary transit ticket booklets here.
Information about the University and City car/bicycle/motorcycle parking lots is available here.
FGS office hours and virtual reception
FGS is operating with limited in-person office hours to help ensure the safety of our students, faculty and staff.
Please use our virtual reception to speak with someone in person (either remotely or onsite).
Starting the term and campus access
Program registration and class delivery
- If you haven’t done so already, please complete your program registration. It is necessary that all students register by the deadline (Thursday, January 21 for Winter 2021). More information.
- Instruction in the fall term will be provided through a combination of face-to-face and online learning. You can see the format of your courses (on-campus vs. online) in your Student Centre. For more info contact your program.
- If you need to take public transit to campus, discounted transit ticket booklets are available for purchase. Up to 5 books of 10 tickets may be purchased per month and can be purchased from select locations.
- Buildings on main campus are unlocked between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday to Friday, and are locked overnight and on weekends. Outside of these hours, buildings can be accessed by electronic or key access only. If you need electronic or key access to a specific building or room, contact your supervisor.
Accessing additional resources
Find out how you can access library and other resources
- Visit our Who to Ask page to find out where you need to go for everything from campus services to professional development resources, health and wellness services, child care and much more.
- The Student Success Centre helps students realize their full potential through programs and services designed to enhance learning and personal development from inquiry to degree completion.
- Access to library resources is currently limited due to COVID-19. However, Libraries and Cultural Resources announced several enhancements to library services in anticipation for the Fall term.
Learn about International SOS!
International SOS is a service available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, and is available to all international students. It includes an emotional support program that you can access by phone or through an app. Learn more.
Paying for graduate school
Payment plans, financial support and working in Canada
- The Graduate Student Tuition Payment Plan is available to students enrolled in a Graduate Studies program with approved funding.
- Get more information on financial supports during COVID19.
- As an international student studying full-time with a valid Study Permit, there are a couple of work options that are available to you. Learn more.
Learn about taxes, immigration and other important information
The University of Calgary has services to support international students who have questions about study permits, taxes, immigration and more:
Study permit renewals
You can apply to extend your study permit either online or by paper within Canada starting 90 days prior to it expiring. Learn more.
You must file a Canadian tax return during your studies if you earn income in Canada. The deadline to file a tax return is April 30 for the previous year. Learn more.
A Permanent Resident is an individual who has legally immigrated to Canada but is not a Canadian citizen. Permanent Residents are citizens of other countries. Get basic information on Permanent Residence in Canada.