Where to claim asylum?


Claiming asylum upon arrival at a Canadian airport

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there are travel restrictions for foreign nationals boarding international flights who don’t qualify as fully vaccinated. Find out if you can travel to Canada on the Government’s website.

You can claim asylum at the airport with the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), Canada’s law enforcement agency responsible for border control. Officials will do a security screening, verify your identity, and interview you to decide if your claim can be referred to the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB).  Note that asylum-seekers allowed to enter Canada at the airport to pursue their claim might be requested to quarantine or self-isolate if not fully vaccinated.

You must use ArriveCAN to provide mandatory travel information before and after your entry into Canada.


Claiming asylum at an official land border post

If you are coming from the United States, you should know that the Canadian Government has restrictions on who can claim asylum at the border between Canada and the United States.

Under the Canada–U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA), you cannot make an asylum claim at a Canadian border post unless you qualify for an exception to the Agreement.

The STCA is an agreement between Canada and the United States. Under the STCA, you are required to request refugee protection in the first safe country you arrive in (either the United States or Canada) unless you qualify for an exception to the Agreement.

List of exceptions

You can claim asylum at a Canadian land border post if you qualify as one of the following exceptions:

    • You are a U.S. citizen.
    • You are a stateless person and have lived in the U.S. for a significant period of time.
    • You have a valid Canadian visa, a work permit or a study permit.
    • You are under 18 and your parents are not in the United States.
    • You face the death penalty in your country or the United States.
    • You have close family members who are living in Canada.

Note that asylum-seekers allowed to enter Canada to pursue their claim might be requested to quarantine or self-isolate if not fully vaccinated.

Find more information about the Canada–U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA) on the Canada Border Services Agency’s website. 

Proving your links to family members

One exception to the Canada–U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA) is having a close family member in Canada. You must prove your relationship to family members already living in Canada. The STCA recognizes a family member as one of the following: spouse, legal guardian, child, father or mother, sister or brother, grandfather or grandmother, grandchild, uncle or aunt, nephew or niece, common-law partner, or same-sex spouse with legal status in Canada.

Before entering Canada:

    • Let your family members in Canada know that you are coming.
    • Your relatives do not have to be present at the border, but it can be helpful if they can prove that they are your family members.
    • If not present, they will be called and interviewed.

When you enter Canada:

    • Show originals or copies of your identity documents, such as your passport, driver’s license, national identity card, birth certificate, or marriage certificate.

If you are in a common-law relationship and your partner is in Canada:

    • You must bring proof that you have been living together with your partner for at least one year.
    • Proof can include shared ownership of residential property, joint leases, rental agreements, or bills for shared utility accounts (gas, electricity, telephone).

Claiming asylum upon crossing in-between official land border posts

You will be intercepted by the police and questioned about your entry. You can claim asylum and then be transferred to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), Canada’s law enforcement agency responsible for border control. Officials will do a security screening, verify your identity and interview you to decide if your claim can be referred to the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB).

Note that asylum-seekers allowed to enter Canada to pursue their claim might be requested to quarantine or self-isolate if not fully vaccinated.


Claiming asylum from inside Canada

Inland claims are processed by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). You will have to submit your asylum claim through the Canadian Refugee Protection Portal. Officials will do a security screening, verify your identity and interview you to decide if your claim can be referred to the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB), an independent administrative tribunal responsible for making decisions on refugee matters.

Note that a legal representative can help you complete your claim or submit a claim for you.

Find out what to do if you can’t submit your claim online.