What international students need to know before leaving Canada

Many international students return home to visit friends and family or explore other parts of the world once the school year is complete. When planning their trip or returning for the next school term, there are a few important things to remember for a better experience.

Travel documents
If you’re studying in Canada, you’re allowed to travel outside the country, but you need to make sure you have a valid study permit or approval for one or a permit extension. You also need to have a few things in order, like a valid passport or travel document, your attending a designated learning institution (DLI), and a valid visitor visa or electronic travel authorization (eTA).

Just having a visa or eTA doesn’t guarantee you entry back into Canada. You need to show the border services officer that you meet all the requirements for entering Canada before they’ll let you in. If your visitor visa has expired, is about to expire during your planned travel, or was only valid for a single entry, you’ll need to apply for a new one.

However, if you’re coming back directly from a trip to the United States, you don’t need a visitor visa as long as your study or work permit is still valid. So, make sure you have all your documents in order before traveling outside Canada.

Other entry requirements
Depending on where you travel, you may still need to show a negative COVID-19 test result to enter Canada – in some cases this could even apply to a layover of more than 24 hours. If it’s required, plan ahead to ensure you have the test results within the right time frame to be considered valid – it’s often one to two days ahead.

Health precautions
While proof of vaccinations and face masks may not be required depending on your destination, the government does recommend them as protection while you travel. If you’re sick you may have to postpone your travel dates, so make your plans as flexible as possible. If you’ve visited a farm or wild animals on your trip, you should avoid visiting a farm back in Canada for 14 days after you return to avoid spreading foreign animal diseases.

Packing plans
It’s normal to bring items back to Canada, but double check that they can enter the country. Some goods are banned here to protect people, animals and even plants. This step is important for any food you’re bringing here. For example, don’t pack any pork products in your luggage. If the pork were infected by a pig disease called African swine fever it could bring the disease to Canada, which could put many pigs and Canadian pork farms at risk.

Be sure to declare any plant or animal products that do come back with you.

Find more information about avoiding African swine fever at inspection.canada.ca/protect-pigs.

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