International graduate students - Fall 2020

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 in the Fall of 2020 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.

Immigration and travel documents

Immigration documents

Make sure you have your travel documents and are approved to arrive in Canada

Study permit dates and ability to enter Canada

Travel restrictions are still in effect until at least August 31, 2020.

If you received study permit approval after March 18, 2020, the Government of Canada will let you know when you can travel to Canada. The Government of Canada currently has travel restrictions in place for non-essential travel. International students approved for a study permit after March 18, 2020 are currently considered to be among the non-essential travel group.

If you have a valid study permit or had a study permit application approved before March 18, 2020, you may be able to enter Canada; however, it is up to the airline and the officers at the Canadian port of entry to decide whether you can enter Canada or not. If travelling, please ensure you have supporting documentation to demonstrate that you meet the factors that will be considered, as listed here.

Letter stating in-person requirements for your program

When you travel to Canada, you’ll need proof that you’re exempt from the travel restrictions and that you need to be in Canada for your program. Your program can provide you with a letter stating that you need to be in Canada for in-person research and/or course requirements. Please request this letter from your program administrator. 

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.

Quarantine plan

14 day plan

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.

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

Calgary skyline

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

14-day isolation

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

Medical records

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 immediately of any symptoms. If off campus, you will need to inform Student Wellness at ( 

If you receive a positive COVID-19 test result, you should immediately email and follow University of Calgary protocols.

Making connections

Online connections

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:

Application form

Social Insurance Number (SIN)

Apply for Social Insurance Number (SIN) here 

Medical insurance

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.


Public transportation

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 reception

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).

FGS virtual reception

Starting the term and campus access

Registration online

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 (Sept 21 for Fall 2020). 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.

Accessing campus

  • If you need to take public transit to campus, discounted transit ticket booklets are available for purchase. Starting August 4, up to 5 books of 10 tickets may be purchased per month and can be purchased from select locations.
  • As of Aug. 17, 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. 

COVID-19 protocols

Accessing additional resources

Library books

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.

Paying for graduate school

Piggy bank

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.

Tax information

Tax information

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


Immigration advising

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.