Starting your refugee claim when you arrive at an air, sea or land port

You may make a refugee claim at an official port of entry upon your arrival in Canada with the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). A port of entry is:

  • An international airport
  • An official land border entry station
  • A seaport.

Tell the CBSA officer you meet that you wish to make a refugee claim.

If you enter Canada without going through an official air, sea or land port of entry, you may encounter the CBSA or the police shortly after you enter the country. At this time, you may request to make a refugee claim if you fear returning to your country.  You will be taken to the nearest CBSA or IRCC office to begin the refugee claim process.


You may be detained when you arrive at a Canadian port of entry to make a refugee claim. This may be because CBSA:

  • Is not convinced about your identity
  • Does not believe you will return voluntarily for a follow-up appointment to complete your interview
  • Does not believe you are eligible to make a refugee claim and wants to remove you from the country
  • Believes you are a danger to the public
  • Discovered that you have a criminal record.

If you are detained, contact a legal representative to find out if you can be released from detention. You may qualify for legal aid.  Find out more about detention here.