Transportation loan

Most people who are sponsored through a refugee resettlement program arrive in Canada with a transportation loan covering the cost of their medical exam and plane ticket. This loan is in the name of the principal applicant and the repayment schedule will depend on the amount of the loan.

Topics covered

About the transportation loan

Repaying the loan


About the transportation loan

After a refugee has passed their interview at the visa office, the officer will normally propose the option of the transportation loan. This loan covers the cost of the medical exam, as well as travel to Canada.

This loan is offered because most refugees overseas are not in a position to pay for these expenses upfront as it can be several thousand dollars. All categories of resettled refugees can be given a transportation loan. This includes Government Assisted Refugees (GARs), Visa Office Referred (VORs), Blended Visa Office Referred (BVORs), and Privately Sponsored Refugees (PSRs).

Once the sponsored person arrives in Canada, they are expected to repay this amount. This debt is the responsibility of the sponsored person. The sponsor may choose to help pay back the amount, but it is not required.    


A sponsored person cannot lose their status, or be removed from Canada for failing to pay back their transportation loan on time. 


Repaying the loan

There is always a period during which no interest is charged on the loan. The length of this period depends on the size of the loan, but it varies between 12 and 36 months.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) does not share information on loan payments with credit bureaus. As a result, the loan does not have an impact, either positive (i.e., building a credit history) or negative (i.e., lowering a credit rating or score) on the newcomer’s credit standing.

IRCC can only inform sponsored persons of their travel loan once they have their address in Canada. If a newcomer does not update their address, they will not receive their bill and might miss an important payment deadline.

Normally, the government proposes a monthly payment schedule. Depending on a person’s situation, they may or may not be able to manage this. At any time, loan recipients facing hardships can request a review of their repayment schedule to determine if there are compelling reasons why someone is not able to make their payments. It is possible to ask for loan payments to be reduced or postponed, however the government may not grant the request.

With only a few exceptions, Syrians who arrived between November 4th 2015 and February 29th 2016 do not have a transportation loan as the government has covered their travel costs. 

Useful Information

Repayment schedules for loans, as well as interest free periods please consult this factsheet developed by the Refugee Sponsorship Training Program.

To contact IRCC with questions or requests about the transportation loan by either telephone or email.

See advocacy work the CCR is doing about transportation loans! 

CCR Transportation Loan infographic