Arriving to Canada’s Airports as a Newcomer
Learn about all the major airports in Canada, what you need to do once you deboard your flight and all the required steps to take before leaving the airport as a newcomer to Canada.
Table of Contents
- What documents should I bring with me when landing in Canada as a newcomer?
- What are Canada's largest airports?
- What to do when you arrive in Canada as a newcomer
- How do I collect my luggage at the airport?
- Where do I present my CBSA declaration?
- What are my options when leaving the airport?
- Contact CanadaVisa and Cohen Immigration Law for Assistance
Most newcomers to Canada arrive to the country by air.
This guide will take you through the important keys to remember when arriving at a Canadian airport for the first time.
First, this page will provide readers with a key reminder related to the documentation necessary to make arriving in Canada as smooth as possible. This will be followed up by a list of all major international airports in Canada and a simple breakdown of what to expect when arriving in this country at an airport – including the steps taken from deboarding the plane to going through immigration processing and baggage collection.
Finally, this page will conclude with a discussion about handling your Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) Declaration properly as well as finally leaving the airport to make your way to your new home in Canada.
What documents should I bring with me when landing in Canada as a newcomer?
Flying to Canada requires that newcomers bring several key documents with them on their journey. It is vital that all required documents are complete, available and ready for assessment by the CBSA.
Most crucially, newcomers must remember to always carry the following four items on their person during travel.
Note: “on their person” simply means carrying items in a way that they remain easily accessible for when they are required by an airport employee or CBSA official
What are Canada’s largest airports?
All major international airports across Canada where you can complete your initial arrival processes as a newcomer are listed below in alphabetical order.
Calgary International Airport (YYC)
Edmonton International Airport (YEG)
British Columbia (BC)
Vancouver International Airport (YVR)
Winnipeg International Airport (YWG)
New Brunswick (NB)
Fredericton International Airport (YFC)
Greater Moncton Romeo LeBlanc International Airport (YQM)
Newfoundland and Labrador (NL)
Gander International Airport (YQX)
St. John’s International Airport (YYT)
Northwest Territories (NWT)
Yellowknife Airport (YZF)
Nova Scotia (NS)
Halifax Stanfield International Airport (YHZ)
Iqaluit Airport (YFB)
Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ)
Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport (YOW)
Prince Edward Island (PEI)
Charlottetown Airport (YYG)
Montreal-Trudeau International Airport (YUL)
Quebec/Jean Lesage International Airport (YQB)
Saskatoon John G Diefenbaker International Airport (YXE)
Regina International Airport (YQR)
Whitehorse International Airport (YXY)
What to do when you arrive in Canada as a newcomer
Upon departing your flight and walking into any Canadian airport, you are now ready to proceed with the important first steps towards your new life in this country.
When departing the plane, signage and airport staff will be present to guide you to the appropriate processing area for your needs. As a newcomer, there are designated areas for processing that you need to work through. This includes a separate line/counter within the immigration processing area of an airport designated for first-time travellers arriving as permanent residents (PRs) and students.
For incoming newcomers with a work permit, the first step in the arrival process will involve confirming your identity using your fingerprints. This step is either completed using a Primary Inspection Kiosk (PIK) at bigger airports in Canada or a fingerprint verification device at Canada’s smaller airports.
At this time, as a Canadian newcomer, you will be met by an immigration officer who will ask you intake questions and confirm your details, including your Canadian address of residence.
For incoming PRs, this confirmation will establish where Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will mail your PR card (if applicable) when it is processed. The immigration officer will then proceed to sign your CoPR (if applicable) and stamp it with an official date of arrival, after which you can proceed with the rest of your journey through the airport.
Work and study permit holders will be asked different questions than PRs during the intake process, though the purpose will be the same in either case. These questions will help immigration officers confirm that incoming work and study permit holders meet Canada’s entry requirements and that they will leave Canada when their permit expires. Officers will then verify the traveller’s medical exam results and make a final decision on whether an individual should be issued a work/study permit and allowed into the country.
Following this intake process, admissible work permit holders will have their permits printed for them so they can proceed with the remainder of the arrival process.
How do I collect my luggage at the airport?
Once your intake procedures with an immigration officer are complete, you may proceed to the baggage collection carousel, where the bags from different flights will be released onto a rotating platform for you to collect.
Most of the time, digital screens and/or airport personnel will be present in the area to help you find which carousel will be carrying your luggage.
Once collected, proceed over to the CBSA Declaration area (if necessary) to complete that process or prepare to leave the airport.
Where do I present my CBSA declaration?
If necessary, prior to departing the airport, proceed to CBSA Declaration to present them with either or both of the following: your CBSA declaration form or your “Goods to Follow”.
This is where you will receive a receipt for the goods that you are either bringing into Canada with you now or intend to bring with you at a later date. Once complete, you can now depart the airport.
Saving time with the ArriveCAN app
The ArriveCAN app is a mobile phone application created by the Government of Canada. Air travellers arriving in Canada can use this app to complete an Advance CBSA declaration, enabling them to complete and process their declaration/immigration forms before stepping foot in this country.
Available to complete up to 72 hours before arriving in Canada, this ArriveCAN app feature can help incoming travellers save time using PIKs upon arrival, resulting in shorter wait times at the border and a faster arrival process altogether.
For more information about the ArriveCAN app, visit the Government of Canada’s page here.
What are my options when leaving the airport?
Whether or not a CBSA Declaration was necessary, the final step in your initial arrival to Canada is leaving the airport. Most airports across Canada provide free wireless internet that can help you connect with a loved one that will be picking you up from the airport or allow you to use a ridesharing service like Uber to get to your place of residence.
Likewise, these internet services can also help you find the nearest public transportation method if that is the method you must use to get from the airport to your new home. Many airports also have taxis that wait outside the airport’s arrival zones to pick up customers and bring them to their destinations.
Do you require Canadian immigration assistance?
Cohen Immigration Law is a leading Canadian immigration law firm with over 45 years of experience. Cohen Immigration Law is comprised of over 60 Canadian immigration lawyers, paralegals, and other professionals. We are dedicated to helping people achieve their Canadian immigration goals. We assist in areas including skilled worker and business immigration, family sponsorship, work permits, study permits, citizenship, and inadmissibility. CanadaVisa.com was founded in 1994 as the online presence of Cohen Immigration Law. CanadaVisa has since blossomed into the one of the world's most trusted resources on Canadian immigration. Please reach out for assistance. We're happy to help:
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