Travel Preparation

Before you travel please make sure to review the sections below to make sure you have all the travel documents, personal items and know what to do when you arrive. 

VIU Self-Isolation Information

Before You Travel

You will need to carry these documents with you and produce them to enter Canada and obtain your study permit from the border office:

  • Valid Passport
  • Temporary Resident Visa (if you require one)
  • VIU Letter of Acceptance (LOA)
  • CIC Letter of Introduction
  • Financial documents (such as a bank or credit card statements as you may be asked to show proof that you have enough money to support yourself in Canada)
  • Address of your destination in Canada

Review the Border Reminder Checklist from the Canada Border Services Agency. 

As you prepare to make your way to VIU and your new home, check through the following list of some suggested items to pack with you, and tips on how to pack them! Make sure you check Environment Canada to know what the weather will be like during your stay in Nanaimo.

In your carry-on luggage

  • Travel Documents - please see above
  • Address with postal code of where you will be staying upon arrival
  • List of emergency contacts in Canada and your home county
  • Booking confirmation for flights or other travel arrangements
  • Money (Canadian dollars, debit card, credit card)
  • Electronics (cell phone, camera, laptop, chargers)
  • Contact information for friends and family at home
  • Toiletries in appropriate sizes & packages
  • Power adaptor if applicable
  • Prescription medications in original containers (see Medication and Medical Items)

Make sure you check your baggage weight before travelling as some airlines have weight restrictions.

  • Warm clothing (jacket, gloves, toque)
  • Waterproof clothing for rain (rain jacket, umbrella, rubber boots)
  • Gym shoes & walking shoes
  • Traditional clothing from your culture (to showcase at WorldVIU days)
  • Small backpack for your textbooks and school supplies
  • Pens, pencils, and notebook
  • Non-prescription medications, such as cold and stomach medications
  • Any household items you prefer to bring with you

What not to bring

There are several items prohibited from entering Canada. Please know the regulations well before arrival to ensure a smooth and stress-free journey. The following are suggested websites that outline items that are safe to bring, as well as prohibited items:


Getting Here and Your Arrival

Nanaimo Airport (YCD) is a quick 15-minute flight from Vancouver (YVR), or a 1.5-hour flight from Calgary (YYC).

When planning your flight arrangements, make YCD your final destination if possible, and review information about transportation from the airport to Nanaimo City Centre.

The cost for a shuttle or taxi will vary but expect the following range as an estimate: $50 (to downtown or VIU) - $75 (to North Nanaimo)

Nanaimo Airporter

Nanaimo Airporter is a van service from Departure Bay, Gabriola, and Duke Point Ferry terminals as well as the Nanaimo airport. You can access their Booking on-line or call 1-888-758-2133. When booking online add "VIU international student" under the "Special Instructions" window.

From the airport: For the first 2 passengers (whether there is 1 or 2) the cost is $26.00, and each additional passenger after the first 2 is $5.00 more. For example 3 passengers $31.00 (or $10.35 per person) 4 passengers is $36.00 (or $9.00 per person) all passengers must be going to VIU to get this deal.

Nanaimo Regional Transit

BC Transit offers public transportation from Nanaimo Airport to downtown Nanaimo on Route 78. The bus will take 25 minutes from Nanaimo Airport to downtown Nanaimo. The cost to travel on the bus is $2.50 exact cash is needed for the bus as the change will not be provided.

For updated information, check the BC Transit Nanaimo Schedule.

BC Ferries

Travel by Nanaimo by ferry to Nanaimo from either Horseshoe Bay (North Vancouver) or Tsawwassen (40 minutes south of Vancouver). BC Ferries is one of the largest ferry systems in the world. These ferries have amenities such as a cafeteria, café, gift shop, comfortable seating, arcades and on some ferries complimentary WiFi.

Horseshoe Bay to Departure Bay (1.5 Hours)

This route is recommended, as you arrive in downtown Nanaimo with better access to public transportation.

Tsawwassen to Duke Point (2 Hours)

The Duke Point Ferry Terminal is 20 minutes south of Nanaimo. 

BC Ferries Information:

Plan your transfer from the ferry to your destination:

Nanaimo Airporter is a van service from Departure Bay, Gabriola and Duke Point Ferry terminals as well as the Nanaimo airport. You can access their Booking on-line or call 1-888-758-2133. When booking online add "VIU international student" under the "Special Instructions" window. The Nanaimo Airporter must be booked in advance. The cost from the Ferry to the University is $15 for the first passenger and $5 per person after that.

Two seaplane companies fly from Vancouver to Nanaimo:

Note these companies may have restrictions on the amount of luggage & weight of luggage you can carry and also have limitations to their ability to travel in fog (common in winter months). Watch for sales and student prices.

Both seaplane companies have terminals located downtown Vancouver and at the YVR's South Terminal, a short taxi or shuttle from the main terminal. The approximate travel time by seaplane is 20 minutes.