Travelling to Canada

Preparing for Your Journey to Lakehead

Preparing for your journey to Lakehead University and Canada is an exciting and important process. Information on this page will help ensure a smooth transition from your home country to your new home away from home at Lakehead University.

International Centre with Students

 Before You Travel  Arrival In Canada

Before You Travel

Planning your travels to Canada is a big part of your student journey and requires a bit of preparation. We want to ensure you are feeling organized, confident and prepared prior to your departure. Please thoroughly read through this next section which details things you will need and things to consider during your planning phase.  

Documents You Need

Immigration Documents

Here is a list of documents that will be required during your travels and at the port of entry in Canada:

  1. Port of Entry Letter of Introduction from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). Note: This letter is not your study permit.
  2. Valid travel document (Passport)
  3. Valid Temporary Residence Visa (TRV) or Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA)

We recommend you review IRCC’s Prepare for Arrival webpage before planning your entry to Canada. 


Lakehead University Documents

Here are the documents that you need to have as a Lakehead University student.

  1. Letter of Acceptance (LoA)
  2. Confirmation of Enrollment (CoE)
  3. Receipt of Tuition Payment

Please note that for all the Lakehead University Documents, you can download them on your Lakehead MyPortal Account.


Important notes: 

  1. For students who are studying a short-term program for less than 6 months, you can study without a study permit. 
  2. Citizens, Nationals or Permanent Residents of the US as well as residents of Greenland and St. Pierre & Miquelon, are eligible to apply for a Study Permit at a Port of Entry to Canada.
  3. US citizen or lawful US permanent resident who holds valid status in the US, you do not require a TRV or an eTA to enter Canada.
  4. All students must have a Temporary Residence Visa (TRV) or Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA)  to enter Canada for studies. If you have not yet received your visa and/or letter of introduction, do not travel to Canada until you have received these documents
  5. Please check the Canada entry requirements by country or territory.
Picking the Best Arrival Date

Lakehead University advises all students to arrive in Thunder Bay or Orillia before orientation starts. We advise that you arrive in Canada no more than one month prior to the start of your classes. This will help avoid any concerns at the port of entry about arriving too far in advance. You are not allowed to work on or off campus until you begin full-time studies in Canada and meet all the requirements.

You will meet a Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officer at the airport or border crossing and the officer will make the final decision on whether or not to admit you to Canada.


Travelling By Air

Most students travelling internationally will be arriving in Thunder Bay or Orillia via air transportation. There are three international airports that you can arrive through if you are coming by plane: Montreal, Vancouver, and Toronto, which is the most common one. Your port of entry is important as this is where you will go through customs and receive your physical study permit. For those students coming to the Thunder Bay campus, it’s important that you have a connecting flight to Thunder Bay booked ahead of time. Please allow for plenty of time (at least 4 hours) between your connecting flight to Thunder Bay as customs can take several hours.  

Lakehead University advises all students to check the local rules if they are transiting other countries en route to Canada. Please refer to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) page for guidance on international visa and passport requirements.

It is strongly recommended that students purchase refundable tickets when travelling by air.


Traveling by Land

If you are travelling from the United States by land transportation, you will need to refer to the list of border crossings and hours. Please also refer to the temporary importing of a vehicle if you are travelling with a rental car. 

Book Your Airport Transportation Service

As a new incoming Lakehead international student, arriving at our Thunder Bay, Orillia, or Barrie (1st year LUGC students only) campuses, you may be eligible for our airport transportation service. The airport service is a single-trip use from the airport to your accommodation (on or off campus) and the process varies slightly for both campuses.


  1. Our airport transportation service is only for new incoming Lakehead University international students who are arriving in Canada for the first time. Returning students are not eligible for this service.
  2. International students must have received their visa documents before submitting an airport transportation request. You will need to upload these documents as proof of attending Lakehead. You will not be issued a taxi voucher until these documents are received. 
  3. You must have your place of accommodation secured before we will issue a taxi voucher. Please do not submit a request until you have worked out where you will be staying upon your arrival in Thunder Bay, Orillia, or Barrie.
  4. You must submit your airport transportation request at least four (4) business days (Monday to Friday) before your departure to Canada so that your taxi voucher can be processed.

Thunder Bay Campus

Our transportation providers (Roach's Taxi or Diamond Taxi) will transport new students directly from the airport to their accommodations. You must have your taxi voucher printed, as they will not accept electronic copies. If you do not have your printed voucher with you, you will be responsible for paying for the taxi out of pocket. Having the voucher provides you with a complimentary taxi ride directly to your on or off-campus housing. Please provide the address to the taxi driver. 

When you arrive at the Thunder Bay airport you will collect your luggage and head outside. There is a taxi wait line just outside the exit doors. You will wait there for the next available Roach's or Diamond Taxi. Provide the driver with your voucher and the address of your accommodation. This transportation service does not allow stops along the way. It is a direct route from the airport to your accommodation.


Orillia/Barrie Campus

The airport pick-up shuttle service to Orillia  (or Barrie, for Lakehead-Georgian students) is only for students arriving from Toronto Pearson International Airport.

Lakehead University uses Simcoe County Airport Service, they are a member of the Ground Transportation Association of Ontario and are licensed by the Greater Toronto Airport Authority. You will meet your driver at the airport terminal.

The drive from Pearson International Airport will take approximately 90 minutes to Orillia and 75 minutes to Barrie, depending on traffic. Your transportation will be pre-booked and prepaid. You will check in with the transportation company at the airport. You will receive a copy of your booking confirmation and detailed information on where to meet your driver from the Lakehead International Orillia office. Please be sure to check your Lakehead email account for this.


Apply for your Airport Transportation Service

Once you have submitted your transportation request, we will verify your details and reach out to you if we need more information. For those arriving in Thunder Bay, please ensure you provide the flight and arrival information for Thunder Bay. You will receive an email from the Lakehead International Team with your printable voucher and detailed instructions. 


Click Here to Submit Your Transportation Request Online


    Pre-Arrival Checklist

    Here is a helpful checklist of things to consider when planning your departure and packing up your suitcases:

    • Make sure you have your study visa approval (letter of introduction) printed and put all of your important documents into one folder for quick and easy reference.  

    • Be sure to pack your immigration documents and anything you will need at the port of entry in your carry-on luggage.

    • Ensure you have registered for your classes and paid your tuition fees before you arrive. 

    • Confirm your housing accommodations before you arrive. This includes any temporary accommodations. 

    • Apply for Lakehead International's Airport Taxi Service at least 4 business days before your departure to Canada and print the taxi voucher (Thunder Bay only).

    • Apply for your Lakehead Student ID card online.


    Packing your Luggage:

    We advise you to check with your airlines’ restrictions on checked baggage and weight restrictions. Please ensure that anything you need to access during your travels is packed in your carry-on luggage such as documents, laptops, chargers, adapters, and other important items.  


    Do Pack:

    • Clothing, shoes and toiletries (if you are arriving in January be sure to bring a warm jacket for when you arrive and you can purchase good winter clothing in Canada after arrival)

    • Laptop, other electronics and chargers

    • Universal adapter (consider a power bank as well)

    • Canadian cash on hand for incidental expenses 

    • Any specific medications (be sure to ask your doctor what is or isn't available in Canada) and be sure they are in labeled containers

    • Consider packing in your carry-on luggage, one pair of clothes and a few things you might need in case your luggage is lost or delayed.


    Don't Pack:

    Arrival in Canada

    So you have arrived, now what?! Here are some things to expect when you are entering Canada as an international student.

    Arriving at the Port of Entry (POE)

    All students who are studying in Canada for more than six months will need to go through customs to get their study permit at the Port of Entry (POE).

    1. Once you arrive at one of the Canadian International Airports (Toronto, Vancouver or Montreal), you will need to answer questions on the electronic Primary Inspection Kiosk. If you have brought equal or greater than CAD $10,000 or equivalent with your home country's currency and/or food, plants or animal products, you must declare all of them to the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA).
    2. You will need to line up and present your kiosk receipt to the CBSA officer, then they will verify your status and they will most likely ask to see all your supporting documents. Please follow all the CBSA officer instructions.
    3. You may be directed to pick up your checked luggage or line up to get your study permit depending on the CBSA officer’s instruction.
    4. Once you get your study permit, you must confirm all your personal information is correct with the CBSA officer. Please ask for corrections, if something is wrong with the study permit. If you leave the airport with incorrect information on your documents, it can take months to make any amendments.
    5. You can proceed to the next destination (Thunder Bay or Orillia) once you get your baggage and study permit. If you missed your flight to Thunder Bay due to the long queue for getting a study permit, please let the airline staff know and they will book you for the next flight. Your taxi voucher should be good for one additional day so if you are delayed longer please email us to request a new voucher. 

    If you travel by land transportation, there are no Primary Inspection Kiosks. You will be directed to a secondary examination for your study permit. Follow the CBSA officer's instructions.

    Arriving at Lakehead University

    Once you arrive at the Thunder Bay or Orillia campus, here are a few things you should plan to get done within your first few weeks.

    • Attend Lakehead University International New Student Welcome Day and Orientation

    • Book a campus tour

    • Attend main campus orientation events throughout the first few weeks of September to help you connect with your new community! 

    • Apply for a Social Insurance Number (SIN) at the nearest Service Canada by bringing your passport and proof of residence (if you are eligible). Please note that we often will have Service Canada at orientation issuing SIN’s on the spot.

    • Register for a Canadian phone number at a local cell phone provider

    • Open up a Canadian Bank account (RBC has an outlet right on campus in Thunder Bay)

    • Pick up your student ID at the front desk of Chancellor Patterson Library (Thunder Bay) or Bookstore (Orillia)

    • Get your UPass bus pass at the LUSU office (Thunder Bay campus - in the tunnels; Orillia campus - OA1027)

    • Visit the Lakehead International Team and say hello! Find us on the Thunder Bay campus at the International Student Centre located on the ground floor of the Chancellor Paterson Library, and on the Orillia campus in OA1031, located on the first floor of Simcoe Hall.