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

If you arrive in Canada at an official port of entry, you may start a refugee claim with the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA)

A port of entry is:

  • An international airport
  • An official land border crossing
  • A seaport

Tell the CBSA officer you meet that you want to make a refugee claim. They will start the process with you.


CBSA may detain you (hold you in custody) when you arrive at a Canadian port of entry to make a refugee claim. This may be because CBSA:

  • is not sure who you are
  • does not believe you will return later for more questions
  • does not believe you can make a refugee claim and wants to remove you from the country
  • believes you are dangerous
  • knows you have a criminal record

If you are detained, contact a legal representative to find out if you can be released. You may qualify for a free or low-cost lawyer through legal aid. Find out more about detention here.