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Graduate Studies

International students travelling to McMaster University

McMaster University has updated its COVID-19 Readiness plan with both local and provincial governments. The COVID-19 readiness plan is mandatory for all new or returning students.

July 19, 2021 Update: The Government of Canada announced updates to its border measures that are relevant to international student travellers entering Canada. Effective August 9, 2021:

  • The three-night government-authorized hotel stay requirement will be eliminated for all travellers.
  • All travellers, regardless of vaccination status, will still require a pre-entry COVID-19 molecular test result.
  • Fully vaccinated travellers will not need a post-arrival test unless they have been randomly selected to complete a Day 1 COVID-19 molecular test at the time of arrival.

All travellers, including travellers seeking the vaccinated traveller exemption, must provide a quarantine plan and be prepared to quarantine. Fully vaccinated travellers are required to be prepared to quarantine for 14 days in case it is determined at the border that they are symptomatic and/or don’t meet the requirements for the fully vaccinated traveller exemption.

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

Before making arrival plans, all international graduate students must

  • be in possession of a valid study permit or “Letter of Introduction” 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);
  • inform the university of their travel plans by downloading the iCent app (see below) and completing the mandatory forms.

Please note: If you do not have a quarantine space, you will find hotel package listings in the iCent app.

About iCent: An app just for international students

All new and returning international graduate students who are planning to travel to Canada must sign up for the iCent app. This is mandatory.

This app provides a streamlined process for safe arrival and quarantine in Canada, as outlined in our government-approved readiness plan.

All students joining us in Canada must:

  • declare your arrival plans
  • confirm your arrival status
  • complete mandatory daily wellness check-ins (if you are required to quarantine)
  • declare the completion of your quarantine (if you are required to quarantine)

Additional benefits of using iCent

  • Provides options to book hotel packages if you need a place to complete your quarantine (select “hotel packages” in the “Quarantine Planning” section of the app).
  • Additional information about arriving at Pearson Airport in Toronto – where to go, what happens when you arrive, etc.
  • Push notification for updates and automatic reminders to complete daily check-ins.

Get the iCent app

  1. Download the iCent app (available at the Apple Store and Google Play Store).
  2. Select “Canada” as your institution country.
  3. Select “McMaster University” as your institution name.
  4. Select “McMaster Grad Programs.”
  5. Enter your email address and click “Continue.”
  6. You will receive an email with a secured PIN to log in.
  7. Enter the secured PIN and go to “continue.”

Download iCent – Apple           Download iCent – Android           Go to iCent Web App

Private quarantine plans

First, download and register in the iCent app. You must declare your arrival and plan to quarantine at your private residence.

International graduate students and postdoctoral fellows with homes or pre-arranged rental accommodation may plan to quarantine in those accommodations. These students and postdoctoral fellows will be expected to follow quarantine regulations in their accommodations.

Use the Canadian Government’s quarantine assessment tool to determine if your plan is suitable.

The details of private quarantine plans will be assessed by a Canadian Border Service Agent at the point of entry to Canada. An unacceptable quarantine plan may result in you being denied entry into Canada. It is the responsibility of the student/postdoc to ensure their quarantine plan meets government requirements.


Incidents of failure to comply with quarantine rules will be reported and investigated under McMaster University’s Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities. The university is required to report incidents to Hamilton Police Services and Public Health. Hamilton Police Services will determine whether to lay charges under the Federal Quarantine Act.


When to arrive

Students usually arrive between 3 and 4 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.

Please note that settling in Canada, finding a place to live and visiting a family member are not considered essential reasons to enter the country earlier than what is permitted.

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