A Pre-Departure Guide for International Students

Once you’ve received your Letter of Acceptance from your desired school of international studies and have accepted it, you must think about what you need for your pre-departure. Things start to get real! In just a few short months, you’ll be on your way to North America, perhaps for the very first time.

Surely you’ve put a lot of time into gathering required documents to ensure your acceptance, but unfortunately you’re not done just yet. There are still many steps to complete before you can comfortably enjoy your time abroad. We’ve put together a pre-departure guide for international students to Canada approved by the Canadian government to assist you!


  • First and foremost, be sure to accept your offer letter if you haven’t already done so! If you have any questions about this, contact ApplyBoard or your host school.
  • Ensure you have a valid passport. Check to see if it’s valid for a minimum of six months after your return date. If you don’t have a passport, you must apply for one immediately.
  • It’s important to review the documents needed to enter Canada. You may have to present these upon your arrival.
  • Monitor the cost of flights and book the most suitable one. You might consider a travel agent if you’re unsure of how to book a flight yourself. If you are booking a return flight, we recommend the flexible flight ticket as dates may change and you may want to leave at a later or sooner time. This way you will avoid additional fees.
  • Travel insurance is critical should there be any issues during your travel time. This can be purchased separate from your flight ticket, or at the same time.
  • Along with travel insurance, health insurance is extremely important. Your school may insure you, however it is best to confirm.
  • In case you don’t already know, timing for international flights is different from local flights. It’s suggested you arrive for your flight at least three hours before departure to avoid any potential line ups for luggage drop-off and security, or other issues. You will likely be able to check-in for your flight 24 hours beforehand online.


Be aware of the restrictions upon entering Canada

  • Certain items are restricted or prohibited to come to Canada such as tobacco, firearms, food, alcohol, animal and plant products, and drugs. Any liquids you may have with you must be in a container of 100 ml or less, and packaged in a plastic bag.
  • Oftentimes, border officers ask about your accommodations. Ensure you know this information including the address, contact name and number.
  • We suggest you have some Canadian money on you for when you land in case you must pay for public transit, a taxi or are simply in need of replenishment.
  • Keep all of your most valuable items and documents on hand and not in your checked luggage in case it is misplaced or lost.


We suggest making photocopies of the important documents in the event you misplace them, this way you have a back up

  • Important documents include your passport, flight ticket, travel and health insurance, Canadian letter of acceptance, accommodation details, proof of funds, school transcripts, Canadian immigration letter (for some).
  • Consider researching your destination prior to your arrival. This is the exciting part of your pre-departure! Things to do, what the weather may be like, items to pack, etc.
  • If you have some spare time, practice your English communication skills. The more you practice, the better. In most cases, reality is quite different from what you learn in books. This is the final step in our guide for international students to Canada.

To learn more about your education in Canada, be sure to visit ApplyBoard’s FAQ page here.

Adrianna Dyczkowsky, Public Relations Specialist at ApplyBoard