Skip to McMaster Navigation Skip to Site Navigation Skip to main content
McMaster logo

Graduate Studies

International students travelling to McMaster University

McMaster University COVID-19 Readiness plan was approved by the Province of Ontario. We continue to monitor and update arrival procedures in alignment with government and university guidelines and requirements.

If you are an undergraduate student, please visit the Student Success Centre for all information about joining us at McMaster.

Latest travel updates

March 16, 2023 update: The Public Health Agency of Canada announced as of March 17, 2023, COVID-19 emergency air travel requirements have ended for China, Hong Kong and Macao.

Expandable List

January 5, 2023 update: As of January 5, 2023, All air travellers 2 years of age and older, taking a flight originating from the People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong or Macao that lands in Canada must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test result, regardless of citizenship or vaccination status. Visit the COVID-19 pre-boarding test requirements for air travel from China, Hong Kong and Macao page for more information.

September 26, 2022 update: The Government of Canada announced starting October 1, 2022, all COVID-19 border requirements, including vaccination, mandatory use of ArriveCAN, and any testing and quarantine/isolation requirements will end for all travellers entering Canada whether by land, air or sea.

June 29, 2022 update: The Government of Canada announced it is extending current border measures for travellers entering Canada. Requirements for travellers arriving to Canada are expected to remain in effect until at least September 30, 2022. This means, for international students who are over the age of 18, the requirement to qualify as a fully vaccinated traveller to enter Canada will be in place until at least September 30, 2022.

April 22, 2022 update: The Government of Canada announced that, effective April 25, 2022 at 00:01:00 EDT, all fully vaccinated travellers will no longer be required to provide a quarantine plan upon entry. Note that all travellers are still required to use ArriveCAN to provide mandatory travel information within 72 hours of their arrival to Canada.

March 17, 2022 update: The Government of Canada announced that effective April 1, 2022 at 12:01 AM EDT, fully vaccinated travellers will no longer need to provide a pre-entry COVID-19 test result to enter Canada by air, land or water. Fully vaccinated travellers seeking to arrive in Canada before April 1, 2022, must still have a valid pre-entry test.

February 15, 2022 update: the Government of Canada announced a series of adjustments to the current border measures that impact the arrival process. As of February 28, 2022:

  • Travellers arriving in Canada from any country, who qualify as fully vaccinated, will be randomly selected for arrival testing. Travellers selected will no longer be required to quarantine while awaiting their test results.
  • Travellers will now have the option of using a COVID-19 rapid antigen test result (taken the day prior to their scheduled flight or arrival at the land border or marine port of entry) or a molecular test result (taken no more than 72 hours before their scheduled flight or arrival at the land border or marine port of entry) to meet pre-entry requirements. Taking a rapid antigen test at home is not sufficient to meet the pre-entry requirement – it must be authorized by the country in which it was purchased and must be administered by a laboratory, healthcare entity or telehealth service.

December 20, 2021 update: the Government of Canada lifted the extraordinary measures for travellers returning from the ten specific countries initially listed as of December 18 at 11:59pm. All travellers are strongly encouraged to pre-register with the testing provider at their arrival airport prior to coming to Canada.

December 1, 2021 update: the Public Health Agency of Canada announced three notable updates that impacts international student arrival:

  • Effective December 1, 2021 the Government of Canada is expanding the list of countries with entry prohibitions originally announced on November 26, 2021, to include Egypt, Nigeria and Malawi.
  • All fully vaccinated travellers arriving by air from departure points other than the United States will be subject to arrival testing. Fully vaccinated travellers will be required to quarantine while they await the results of their arrival test.
  • Unvaccinated travellers, with right of entry to Canada, will continue to be tested on arrival and day 8 and quarantine for 14 days. However, those arriving by air will now be required to stay in a designated quarantine facility or other suitable location while they await the result of their on arrival test.

November 29, 2021 update: Until January 31, 2022, the Government of Canada is implementing enhanced border measures for all travellers who have been in the Southern Africa region — including South Africa, Eswatini, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Namibia— within the last 14 days before arriving in Canada. Foreign nationals who have travelled in any of these countries within the previous 14 days will not be permitted entry into Canada.

November 19, 2021 update: The Public Health Agency of Canada announced adjustments to Canada’s border and travel measures:

November 2, 2021 update: Effective November 3, 2021, the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) will no longer restrict international student arrivals to four weeks before their studies begin. CBSA will take a more facilitative approach to international students entering Canada, and any reasonable length of time prior to study will be considered. Please note that although arriving earlier than four weeks before starting your studies is possible, it is not guaranteed. If you are planning to arrive early, you are expected to have a reasonable explanation for your early arrival for the CBSA officer at the border.

October 26, 2021 update: Effective October 30, 2021, travellers will need to be fully vaccinated or have a valid COVID-19 test in order to board flights departing from airports in Canada. Between November 30, 2021, and January 14, 2022, international travellers with valid COVID-19 tests may take a connecting flight that is scheduled to depart within 24 hours of the departure time for their flight to Canada. Visit the COVID-19 Boarding flights, trains and cruise ships in Canada page for more information.

September 21, 2021 update:  Starting September 27, 2021, travellers eligible to enter Canada will be able to board direct flights from India to Canada with additional measures. More information about this update and the additional measures can be found in the Government of Canada’s official news release.

Before making arrival plans, all international graduate students must

  • be in possession of a valid study permit or “Letter of Introduction”(may also be known as a “Port of Entry letter”) that shows approval for a study permit; 
  • be enrolled or plan to enrol in McMaster University (be in possession of course enrollment letter or offer letter).

Preparing for your arrival

All travellers arriving in Canada are required to follow the latest travel measures in place, as indicated by the Government of Canada.

Document checklist 

  • A valid passport or travel document
  • A valid study permit or the letter of introduction the visa office sent you when they approved your study permit (this letter should contain your permit reference number).
  • Your offer letter (new students) or confirmation of enrolment letter (current students).
  • Financial proof that you have enough money to support yourself during your stay in Canada.
  • Any other documents the visa office told you to bring, including valid medical exam results (if you needed one).
  • Update: If you are travelling after January 5, 2023, and taking a flight originating from the People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong or Macao, you must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test result.

When to arrive

Students usually arrive between three and four weeks prior to the start of term.

If you choose to arrive earlier than four weeks before your program starts, you may be denied entry by the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) if you do not have a valid reason for your early arrival. Contact CBSA  for more information on how this may impact your arrival in Canada.

If you are travelling early for medical, immigration and/or academic requirements, you must provide documentation to the CBSA when you arrive, that explains the reason(s) for your early arrival.

After you arrive

Follow the instructions at the airport or your port of entry. It is at the discretion of the border agent to issue your study permit and approve your entry to Canada.

After arriving in Canada:

Traveling from Toronto Pearson Airport to Hamilton

McMaster University is about 68km away from Toronto Pearson Airport. Depending on the traffic situation at the time of your travel, travel time may range between 45 minutes to 1.5 hours. Public and private transportation options are available.

The only public transit option is Go Bus route 40 (Hamilton/Richmond Hill Pearson Express). Check the bus schedule or use the Go Transit trip planning tool to plan your trip. The bus station is located on the ground level of Terminal 1. If you land in Terminal 3, you can take the free train at the airport to get to Terminal 1, following the signage at the airport.

Private transportation is available either through pre-booked services (such as Airways Transit) or taxis at the airport. Visit Toronto Pearson Transportation and Parking for more information.