Last updated: February 19, 2021
As the government implements various preventive measures to control the rising number of COVID-19 cases in Canada, there’s still a sense of looming uncertainty for many newcomers. Living in the midst of a pandemic is tough, and planning international travel can be challenging.
Here’s a consolidated overview of all the must-know information to help you better plan your travel and understand what to expect once you arrive in Canada.
Latest travel restrictions for Canada
Announced on: January 29 and February 12, 2021
In addition to the multi-layered approach on COVID-19 already in place, the following new rules/restrictions have been introduced:
- Suspension of some international flights: As of January 31, 2021, all flights to and from Mexico and Caribbean countries have been suspended until April 30, 2021.
- Entry into Canada by air:
- All international commercial passenger flights (including those from United States, Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean and South America – which were previously exempted), private/business flights, and charter flights will be required to land at four Canadian airports: Montréal-Trudeau International Airport, Toronto Pearson International Airport, Calgary International Airport, and Vancouver International Airport.
- As of February 22, all travellers arriving in Canada by air with some exceptions, will be required to take a COVID-19 molecular test when they arrive in Canada before exiting the airport, and another toward the end of their 14-day quarantine period. This test is in addition to the mandatory negative COVID-19 test result required prior to boarding a flight to Canada. If test results come back negative, travellers will be able to leave the hotel to complete their mandatory 14-day quarantine period at home. If test results come back positive, they will be moved to a government facility.
- Travellers will also be required to take another COVID-19 molecular test later during their 14-day quarantine. They will be provided with a COVID-19 test kit and instructions before leaving the airport.
- With limited exceptions, air travellers, will be required to reserve, prior to departure to Canada, a three-night stay in a government-authorized hotel at their own cost. Travellers will need to book a hotel in the city in which they first arrive in Canada. All hotels are located near one of the four Canadian airports currently accepting international flights. Travellers will be responsible for all associated costs, such as hotel room, food, security, infection control, and transportation. Travellers will be able to book their government-authorized stay starting February 18, 2021, by phone only (call 1-800-294-8253 for bookings).
- These new measures are in addition to existing mandatory pre-boarding and health requirements for air travellers.
- Entry into Canada by land:
- As of February 15, all travellers will be required to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 molecular test result taken in the U.S. within 72 hours of pre-arrival, or a positive test taken 14 to 90 days prior to arrival. Essential workers such as truckers and emergency service providers, as well as cross border communities, will be exempt from this requirement. Further information on exemptions will be available in the coming days.
- In addition, as of February 22, travellers entering Canada at the land border will be required to take a COVID-19 molecular test on arrival as well as toward the end of their 14-day quarantine.
- The Government of Canada will run 16 testing sites at point of entry across Canada. Five ports of entry will initially be available with 11 additional as of March 4.
- Canadians citizens, persons registered under the Indian Act and permanent residents arriving by land to Canada, who do not present a valid COVID-19 molecular test, will be allowed entry, but may be subject to a fine of up to $3,000 CAD per day or face criminal prosecution. Travellers may also be required to go to a designated quarantine facility if they are symptomatic on arrival at the border, or do not have a suitable quarantine plan.
- COVID-19 testing pilots at airports: Voluntary testing is being offered at the Montréal-Trudeau International Airport, Toronto’s Pearson International Airport and the Calgary International Airport for arriving international travellers who wish to take a test before leaving the airport.
- Quarantine plan:
- Travellers entering Canada are responsible for making suitable arrangements for mandatory quarantine, which begins on the day they enter Canada.
- For a quarantine location to be deemed suitable, travellers cannot stay with at-risk subpopulations including people who work in hospitals or long-term care facilities, adults over the age of 65, or those who are immunocompromised or at risk for more severe disease outcomes. In addition, travellers must avoid all contact with other in their household with whom they did not travel.
- As of February 22, all travellers, whether arriving by land or air will be required to submit their travel and contact information, including a suitable quarantine plan, electronically via the ArriveCAN app (which is unrelated to the Arrive app) before crossing the border or boarding a flight.
- All travellers arriving to Canada must also continue to submit COVID-related information electronically daily throughout the quarantine period.
- Compliance with quarantine measures: Authorized Screening Officers will visit travellers’ quarantine locations to establish contact, confirm the identity and confirm that travellers are at the place of quarantine they identified upon entry into Canada. These new officers will conduct visits in 35 cities across the country, starting in Montréal and Toronto.
- Penalties and fines: Violation of any quarantine or isolation instructions provided to travellers by a Screening Officer or quarantine officer when entering Canada is an offence under the Quarantine Act and could lead to serious penalties, including six months in prison and/or $750,000 CAD in fines.
Travel guidelines announced on December 31, 2020
Effective January 7, 2021, all air passengers five years of age or older are required to test negative for COVID-19 before travelling to Canada. Documentation of a negative COVID-19 molecular polymerase chain reaction (or PCR) test result must be presented to the airline prior to boarding a flight to Canada. The test must be taken within 72 hours prior to the traveller’s scheduled departure to Canada. Please note that everyone with a negative test result authorized to enter Canada is required to have a quarantine plan and must still complete the full, mandatory 14-day quarantine. More details are available in the news release by Transport Canada.
|Are you a permanent resident (PR) or an international student planning your travel to Canada?
Read the following articles for measures specific to your situation and to get tips to plan your quarantine upon arrival in Canada:
Who can travel to Canada during COVID-19?
As per the guidelines outlined by the government of Canada, you may be able to enter Canada if you are:
- A Canadian citizen, dual Canadian citizen, a permanent resident, a person registered under Canada’s Indian Act, or a protected person.
- A permanent resident (PR) whose application was approved before March 18, 2020.
- A PR whose Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR) was issued after March 18, 2020, and is an immediate family member sponsored by a Canadian citizen or PR.
- A PR’s spouse, common-law partner and/or child and were included in the PR application that was approved before March 18, 2020.
- An immediate family member (spouse, common-law partner, dependent child, grandchild, parent, step-parent, guardian, or tutor) of a PR or Canadian citizen who is living in Canada.
- An extended family member of a Canadian citizen, a person, registered under Canada’s Indian Act or permanent resident, intending to stay in Canada for 15 days or more and having written authorization from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).
- An international student attending an approved Designated Learning Institution (DLI) and holding either a valid study permit or a letter of introduction showing that they’ve been approved for a study permit.
- A temporary foreign worker with a valid work permit and a job offer.
- A foreign national with a valid visa travelling to Canada for a compassionate reason and holding an authorization from the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) to travel to and enter Canada.
- A foreign national travelling directly from the U.S. for a non-discretionary purpose.
- A foreign national who has been exempt from the travel restrictions.
- A transiting passenger.
- A temporary foreign worker coming from outside the U.S.
- An International Experience Canada (IEC) applicant taking part in the Working Holiday, Young Professional or International Co-op categories.
- Other individuals exempted from travel restrictions are listed on the government of Canada website.
- If your PR application is approved, but you can’t travel to Canada before your documents expire, IRCC will contact you (if they haven’t already) to inquire if you’re able to travel to Canada. Once they approve you to come to Canada, they will issue you the documents you need to travel.
Tip: Use the free tool from the Government to find out if you can travel to Canada at this time. Just answer a few questions and get your result. Additionally, before you plan your travel be sure to check provincial and territorial travel restrictions as they are updated regularly.
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What are the admission criteria for travellers entering Canada?
- You must be eligible (see the list of who can travel to Canada above).
- All air passengers five years of age or older are required to present a negative COVID-19 PCR test result test to the airline prior to boarding a flight to Canada. The test must be taken within 72 hours prior to your scheduled departure to Canada.
- You may have to provide evidence that you would be staying in Canada for at least 15 days.
- Even if you have no symptoms, it is mandatory to have a quarantine plan that shows how you’ll quarantine for 14 days when you arrive in Canada. A quarantine plan should include:
- A place where you will be staying,
- How you will get to your destination from the airport,
- How you will get your groceries, and
- How you will access essential services and medical care
- Individuals reuniting with an immediate family member who lives in Canada:
- Have to provide evidence that their travel is essential and non-discretionary (in addition to staying in Canada for at least 15 days).
- Present proof that you’re an immediate family member of a Canadian citizen or Canadian permanent resident. Note: Paper and electronic copies of the documents are accepted.
- You do not need a written authorization from IRCC confirming that you are exempt from the travel restrictions.
- Individuals reuniting with an immediate family member who is living in Canada temporarily (such as international students or temporary foreign workers):
- Have to provide evidence that their travel is essential and non-discretionary (in addition to staying in Canada for at least 15 days).
- Need to show proof that you’re an immediate family member of a Canadian citizen or Canadian permanent resident.
- Must have written authorization from IRCC to fly to Canada. To obtain authorization, email IRCC at IRCC.COVID-TravelExemptions-Exemptionsdevoyage-COVID.IRCC@cic.gc.ca (for those travelling from outside the U.S.).
- IEC candidates:
- You will need a valid job offer, including a written note from the employer in Canada outlining that their business is continuing to operate and confirming your start date after the mandatory 14-day quarantine;
- A Port of Entry (POE) Letter of Introduction; and
- Proof of adequate health coverage.
- You are required to submit your travel and contact information, quarantine plan, and COVID-19 symptom self-assessment electronically through the ArriveCAN mobile app (unrelated to the Arrive app) before you board your flight. You must be ready to show your ArriveCAN receipt when seeking entry into Canada; a border services officer will verify that you have submitted the information digitally. If you do not submit the required information digitally before boarding the flight, you could be subject to enforcement action, which can range from verbal warnings to a $1,000 CAD fine.
Helpful links from the government of Canada
- New requirements for travel to Canada (January 29, 2021)
- Additional restrictions on international travel by land and air (February 12, 2021)
- Mandatory hotel stay for all air travellers arriving in Canada
- Infographic for travellers arriving by air
- Infographic for travellers arriving by land
- Planning your entry into Canada
- Free tool to determine if you can enter Canada at this time – answer a few questions to get your result
- Latest travel restrictions, exemptions, and advice
- Priority processing and special measures to come to Canada for residents of Hong Kong (November 12, 2020)
- Who can travel to Canada
- Provincial and territorial travel restrictions
- Quarantine guidelines and rules
- The ArriveCAN mobile app
- Check application processing times
- How COVID-19 is affecting IRCC services
- Latest COVID-19 announcements in Canada
- Canada’s COVID-19 outbreak update
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This article offers general information only and is not intended as legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. While information presented is believed to be factual and current, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the author(s) as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or its affiliates.