Before making plans to travel to Canada, always check the government of Canada website for current information as policies related to travel restrictions, exemptions, etc. can change at any time and without prior notice.
Canadians love to travel – before covid-19, the travel business was of the most successful industries in Canada. The pandemic has unfortunately locked us either in or outside the country. This includes almost all Canadians, foreign workers, students, and visitors who have been in Canada since the borders closed, or have been forced to stay outside Canada and are unable to return.
Since the the last few months, Canadians – citizens and permanent residents, and visitors to the country have had to quarantine at a hotel and at their homes (if advised to do so), after entering Canada. The good news is that starting September 7, the government of Canada will be lifting restrictions on international travel, and for foreign nationals to enter Canada, as long as they meet the travel exemptions. However, they will no longer be required to quarantine or take a day 8 COVID-19 PCR test at home.
Entry requirements currently in place
To enter Canada currently, travellers must:
- have no signs or symptoms of COVID-19 – a pre-travel negative test result is required
- have received the full series of an accepted COVID-19 vaccine or a combination of accepted vaccines (see below)
- have received the last dose of the vaccine at least 14 days prior to entering Canada
- download and register on ArriveCAN and upload proof of vaccination
- meet the travel requirements to enter Canada, such as having the required visa / permits, residency status.
Canadian citizens (including dual citizens), people registered under the Indian Act, permanent residents of Canada, or protected persons (refugee status) are allowed to enter Canada.
Fully vaccinated foreign nationals will be allowed to enter Canada for discretionary travel on specific dates:
- August 9, 2021: American citizens and green card holders, currently residing in and arriving from the United States, and who qualify for the fully vaccinated traveller exemption
- August 9, 2021: French citizens who currently reside in Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon and who qualify for the fully vaccinated traveller exemption
- September 7, 2021 (tentative): All other foreign nationals who qualify for the fully vaccinated traveller exemption
Accepted vaccines in Canada
The Canadian government currently accepts the following vaccines:
- Pfizer-BioNTech (Comirnaty, tozinameran, BNT162b2)
- Moderna (mRNA-1273)
- AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD (ChAdOx1-S, Vaxzevria, AZD1222)
- Janssen/Johnson & Johnson (Ad26.COV2.S)
All other vaccines are currently not accepted under the guidelines of the Public Health Agency of Canada. Partially vaccinated travellers will not be exempted under this new travel guideline. Any travellers who have contracted COVID-19 after receiving one dose of the vaccine will be required to complete two full doses of one of the above vaccines.
For travellers who have vaccine certificates in a language other than English or French, they will be required to have their certificates translated in either English or French.
Travelling with children or dependents who are not fully vaccinated
Unvaccinated children under 12 years of age, who are accompanying a parent, step-parent, guardian or tutor who qualified as a fully vaccinated traveller when they entered Canada:
- must follow all testing requirements for pre-entry, arrival and Day-8 tests (unless under the age of 5)
- are exempt from quarantine as long as they follow the public health requirements outlined in the handout provided at the border
Unvaccinated children aged 12 through 17 must follow all testing and quarantine requirements, whether or not they are accompanied by travellers who qualify for the fully vaccinated traveller exemption.
Unvaccinated dependents age 18 or over, by reason of mental or physical limitation, must follow all testing and quarantine requirements, even when they are accompanied by parents or guardians who qualify for the fully vaccinated traveller exemption.
Travelling to Canada soon
Here are the steps to follow when travelling to Canada any time after September 7:
- All travellers 5 years of age or older, regardless of citizenship, must provide proof of a COVID-19 test result to enter Canada;
- A quarantine plan, in case the traveller is not eligible for exemption;
- Proof of vaccination uploaded in the ArriveCAN app;
- Have the following items available when entering Canada as proof of vaccination:
- Randomized tests on arrival at the port of entry.
Getting a COVID test on arrival
The CBSA officers may randomly select travellers for an on-arrival COVID-19 test. If selected, the traveller:
- must take the arrival test as directed on the day they enter Canada,
- may receive a home test kit to complete within 24 hours of entering Canada,
- may not have to wait for the results, and can proceed to their final destination, including taking connecting flights, and
- are not required to pay a fee for the arrival test.
If the traveller has been given a home test kit, they will be required to follow the instructions included with the kit within 24 hours of arriving in Canada, and request a pickup of the sample.
Exemption from testing on arrival
Some travellers may be exempted from testing. These may be travellers who have recovered from a COVID-19 and provide a pre-entry molecular test result, which may have been conducted 14 to 180 days before they arrived in Canada through land borders; those arriving on a boat; and children under the age of 5 years.
Unfortunately though, fully vaccinnated travellers are not exempted from on-arrival random testing.
Staying alert is staying safe
In all cases, travellers will be required to continuously monitor themselves for any systems for at least 14 days from the day they enter Canada, and are required to report any COVID-19 symptoms immediately to the Public Health Agency of Canada at 1-833-641-0343 and follow their guidelines. If required, proof of test results must be presented to any federal, provincial, territorial or municipal government official on request.
As mentioned above, always check the government of Canada website before you make plans to travel to Canada as policies related to travel restrictions, exemptions, etc. can change at any time and without prior notice.