Most foreign nationals need a study permit to study in Canada. You must apply before you travel and make sure you have all the documents before you apply.

What is a study permit?

The study permit is a document the Government of Canada issue that allows foreign nationals to study at designated learning institutions (DLI) in Canada.

While studying in Canada under a study permit you must:

  • always be enrolled at a DLI
  • make progress towards completing your program
  • respect any conditions listed on your study permit
  • stop studying if you no longer meet the requirements and
  • leave Canada when your permit expires

Depending on your case, there may be conditions on your study permit such as:

  • the level of studies you can attend
  • if you are allowed to work in Canada
  • if you can’t travel within Canada
  • the date you must stop studying

Note: Your study permit is not a visa. It alone doesn’t allow you to enter Canada. You may also need a temporary resident visa or an electronic travel authorization (eTA).

How long can you stay in Canada with a study permit?

A study permit is usually valid for the length of your study program, plus an extra 90 days. This extra time lets you prepare to leave Canada or apply to extend your stay.

  • If you can’t finish your courses before the date on your permit, you must apply to extend your stay as a student.
  • If you finish your studies early, your permit will stop being valid 90 days after you complete your studies (no matter what day is printed on the study permit).

You have completed your studies either

  • on the date you get the first notification from your school (such as an email, letter, transcript, etc.) or
  • when you get your degree, diploma or certificate.

You must provide proof of the date you got one of these.

Note: If you can’t prove the date you were first notified by your school, the Government of Canada will use the earliest issue date on the document. The Government of Canada may need to confirm this date with your school.

Can you go back home while studying?

If you plan to leave Canada during a scheduled break (such as the summer, or winter holidays and spring break), you may need to show proof you are enrolled in your school when you return to Canada. If you came here on:

  • a visa, you also need to make sure it is still valid.
  • an electronic travel authorization (eTA), and you leave and return to Canada by air, you will need a new eTA.

Your study permit is not a visa.

People who don’t need a permit to study in Canada

Most foreign nationals need a study permit to study in Canada. The cases below are exceptions.

Short-term studies (six months or less)

You can study at any school in Canada without a study permit if:

  • your course or program is for six months or less
  • your studies aren’t part of a longer program and
  • you will complete all your studies within the time we approved you to stay in Canada (usually six months after you enter).

Note: you will need a study permit if you:

  • are going to study for longer than six months or
  • won’t be able to complete your program without having to extend your stay in Canada.

Family or staff of foreign representatives

You may not need a study permit if you are a family member or staff member of a foreign representative to Canada accredited by Global Affairs Canada (GAC). Your embassy can contact GAC to find out if you need one.

Members of foreign armed forces

If you are a member of a foreign armed force in Canada on official duties, you don’t need a study permit. If your family members (including minor children), want to study in Canada, they may need one.

Registered Indians in Canada

You don’t need a study permit if you are a citizen of another country who has Registered Indian status in Canada.

Keep studying while you renew your permit

  • If you get a study permit before you come to Canada: you can renew your permit and keep studying in Canada while waiting for your new permit because you have implied status.
  • If you don’t have a study permit: you can apply for a study permit from inside Canada, but you can’t start your program until you get the permit.

This rule also applies for prerequisite courses, when you get accepted to a program under the condition that you take and pass certain courses (conditional acceptance).

Work part-time on-campus

You can work part-time on-campus if you are registered as a full-time student at a college or university.

Before you apply

Before you apply for a study permit, you need:

  • an acceptance letter from a Designated Learning Institution (DLI)
  • a valid passport or travel document

Find out which documents you need before you apply for a study permit.
You also must:

  • prove that you have enough money to pay for your:
  1. tuition fees
  2. living expenses for yourself and any family members who come with you to Canada and
  3. return transportation for yourself and any family members who come with you to Canada
  • be a law-abiding citizen with no criminal record and not be a risk to the security of Canada. You may have to provide a police certificate.
  • be in good health. You may need to complete a medical exam.
  • convince an immigration officer that you will leave Canada at the end of your studies.

Note: If your school asked you to take some courses before they will accept you into the main program (conditional acceptance), we will only issue your study permit for the length of these courses. When you get accepted into the main program, you can apply to extend your stay as student from within Canada.

When you arrive in Canada, a Government of Canada officer will meet you and:

  • ask to see your passport or travel documents,
  • ask you a few questions, and
  • make sure you meet the requirements to enter Canada.

You will also have to show the officer that you will leave Canada at the end of your stay.
Before you arrive, read the pre-departure guide for tips and information about student life in Canada.

Primary Inspection Kiosks

Check with your school or training facility to see if you need to prove your entry into Canada. If you need proof of entry, you have to get your passport stamped from a border services officer before leaving the airport. Canada’s international airports with Primary Inspection Kiosks have a new process in place to stamp passports.

Presenting your documents

You will need to show:

  • a valid passport or travel document
  • the letter of introduction the visa office sent you when they approved your study permit (this letter has your permit reference number which we use to issue your study permit)
  • a copy of the acceptance letter your school sent you
  • proof that you have enough money to support yourself during your stay in Canada
  • letters of reference or any other documents the visa office where you applied told you to bring and either a valid:
  1. eTA. If you have an approved eTA, it will be linked to the passport that you used to apply for your study permit or
  2. temporary resident visa.

Children under 18 should have valid identification with them. The documents a minor child needs to present depend on whether the child is travelling alone or with someone.

Carry these items and all other valuable papers, cash and traveller’s cheques with you at all times. Don’t put them in your checked luggage.

You may not be allowed into Canada if any of your documents are missing or if any of the information on your application or letters of reference is incorrect.

The officer will stamp your passport or let you know how long you can stay in Canada. The period is usually six months. In some cases, the officer may limit or extend this period to cover your study period. Ask questions if you aren’t sure about anything.

If there aren’t problems at the point of entry, the officer will let you enter Canada and will issue your study permit. You should check the:

  •  study permit to make sure your personal information is correct and
  •  expiry date on your study permit. You must leave Canada by this date.

Disclosure of funds

If you arrive in Canada with more than CAN$10,000, you must tell this to the government officer. If you don’t, you could be fined, and your funds could be seized. This includes:

  •  cash
  •  securities that belong to you (for example, stocks, bonds, debentures, treasury bills) or
  •  bankers’ drafts, cheques, traveller’s cheques or money orders.

Understanding the terms and conditions of your study permit

As an international student with a study permit you must:

  • always be enrolled at a DLI
  • make progress towards completing your program
  • respect any conditions listed on your study permit
  • stop studying if you no longer meet the requirements, and
  • leave Canada when your permit expires

Based on your application, your study permit may include one or more of the following conditions:

  •  the level of studies you can attend
  •  if you are allowed to work in Canada
  •  if you need to report for medical procedures
  •  if you can’t travel within Canada, and
  •  the date you must stop studying.

It is a crime not to comply with the conditions on your study permit.

If you break any of the conditions, you will lose your temporary resident status and any permit you have.

Read your study permit carefully. It sets out all the conditions for studying in Canada. If you don’t meet those conditions, or those of your eTA or visa, you will be asked  to leave Canada.

Most people asked to leave Canada have the right to a fair hearing to review the decision.

Leaving and coming back to Canada

If you leave Canada and want to return, you must have a valid:

  •  passport or travel document
  •  study permit if you are returning to study in Canada and either a valid
  1.  eTA, if you are from a country where you need an eTA
  2.  visitor visa, if you are from a country where you need a visa (unless you travel solely to the United States or St-Pierre and Miquelon and return to Canada while your study permit is still valid).

Your study permit is not a visa.

Health insurance

The Government of Canada does not pay for the medical costs of foreign students. Health coverage for foreign students is different depending on where you live. Contact the school you applied to for details about health insurance.