Canada COVID-19 Passenger Travel Requirements

ArriveCan and entry requirements during covid

To prevent the spread of coronavirus in Canada, special measures have been taken affecting most foreign travellers. Travel restrictions in Canada are temporary and the government is expected to lift them as soon as safely possible.

Some exemptions apply to certain groups of asymptomatic passengers. Such travellers must ensure they meet all the requirements for entering Canada during the coronavirus pandemic.

These measures are currently in place to reduce the risk posed by overseas travellers. Find out more below about Canada’s special coronavirus entry requirements including:

  • Special document requirements
  • Canada COVID-19 app: ArriveCAN
  • PCR test to travel to Canada
  • Canada quarantine requirements

Who can travel to Canada in 2021?

Only residents and Canadian citizens can currently enter the country unless one of the following exemptions applies:

  • Passengers travelling for a non-optional or non-discretionary purpose from an official list
  • Passengers who hold a National Interest Exemption letter issued by Canadian authorities
  • Immediate family members of Canadian citizens or permanent residents who will stay at least 15 days
  • Extended family members of Canadian citizens or permanent residents under certain conditions
  • Passengers entering on compassionate grounds
  • Passengers entering to take part in an International Single Sport Event

In all cases, passengers must not be experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms. Travellers who believe one of these exemptions apply should contact their nearest Canadian Embassy or Consulate to find out the documents they require to travel.

Canada covid travel measures

Those who are eligible to enter Canada during COVID-19, and are travelling by air, must:

  • Pass a health check which will be carried out by airlines before passengers board the flight
  • Wear a face covering or non-medical mask
  • Use the ArrivaCAN portal or mobile application to provide personal information
  • Hold a negative PCR test for COVID-19
  • Quarantine on arrival

Screening also takes place on arrival at the Canadian border, any person with COVID-19 symptoms will not be granted entry into Canada.

Is Canada requiring PCR test & quarantine?

Yes, COVID testing and quarantine are requirements for travelling to Canada in 2021.
PCR testing has become mandatory starting from January 6th, 2021. Passengers must hold negative PCR test results upon arrival. Children under the age of 5, aircrew members, and emergency service providers are exempt.

The PCR test for Canada must have been taken within 72 hours of the scheduled departure time. Acceptable testing facilities include:

  • Laboratories that have been approved by governments
  • Laboratories that have membership in a professional association
  • Laboratories recognised by the International Organization for Standardization

The cost of the test must be covered by the traveller or their health insurance.

Do I need to quarantine on arrival in Canada?

Yes, all passengers must quarantine on arrival for 14 days. Negative PCR testing does not represent an exemption from mandatory quarantine.
Arriving in Canada with a quarantine plan is a requirement for entry. Those who are able to enter Canada will have to provide contact information and monitor themselves for signs and symptoms during their quarantine.

Quarantine begins on the day of arrival. People are expected to go directly to their quarantine location and avoid stops and contact with others.

What is the ArriveCAN app?

ArriveCAN is the Canada health declaration app that must be used before boarding a flight with final destination Canada.

Foreign visitors that are able to travel to Canada must complete an ArriveCAN form in which they are required to provide:

  • Contact and travel information
  • Their quarantine plan
  • Information related to their arrival at the location where they’ll quarantine/isolate
  • Answer whether they’re experiencing COVID-19 symptoms

This information is requested under the Quarantine Act and the Emergency Orders that apply to all people entering Canada. The personal information provided is governed by the Privacy Act and will be used for specific purposes only.

After submitting their information, the traveller is issued with a receipt. The ArriveCAN receipt must be shown to border officers at the Canadian airport, both printouts and screenshots are accepted.

Even travellers who are exempt from quarantine requirements must provide their information using ArriveCAN.

Do I need to complete ArriveCAN if entering by land or sea?

Providing information through ArriveCAN before travelling is mandatory for air passengers.

People travelling by land or sea are also encouraged to use Canada’s COVID-19 app to speed up border control.

Using ArriveCAN after entering Canada

After crossing the Canadian border, all visitors must continue to use the ArriveCAN application to:

  • Confirm their arrival at their quarantine location within 48 hours
  • Provide daily COVID-19 symptom assessment throughout the quarantine period

This requirement applies to all visitors arriving at any of the Canadian international ports of entry (except those exempt from quarantine) whether by air, land or sea.

Anyone who does not provide this data may receive phone calls and public-health follow-ups.

Do I need to quarantine on arrival in Canada?

Yes, all eligible travellers must quarantine on arrival for 14 days. Those who are able to enter Canada will have to provide contact information and monitor themselves for signs and symptoms during their quarantine.

Quarantine begins on the day of arrival. People are expected to go directly to their quarantine location and avoid stops and contact with others.

Documents required to travel to Canada during COVID-19

Foreigners who are eligible to travel to Canada now need to take the following steps:

  1. Complete the Canada eTA application online
  2. Fill out the IRCC webform, explaining why eligible to travel
  3. Upload documentary evidence of eligibility

The proof of eligibility mentioned in step 3 depends on which of the exemption criteria an individual meets.

Family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents

The types of documents which may act as acceptable proof for family ties include:

  • Marriage certificate
  • Proof of common-law status
  • Birth certificate
  • Documents showing a shared home address
  • Correspondence showing spousal sponsorship application in progress

Travellers allowed to travel to Canada on compassionate grounds

Individuals who have already received authorization to visit Canada based on compassionate grounds should submit the letter they have been sent by PHAC.

The PHAC letter does not guarantee entry, travellers must meet the Canada eTA requirements to be eligible.

The documents provided will be assessed together with the Canada eTA application. If approved, details of the eTA are sent to the applicant by email.

Documents to take when flying to Canada

Approved visitors need to take the following documents with them when they travel to Canada:

  • The passport used to apply for the Canada eTA
  • The document used as proof of eligibility for travel
  • Negative PCR test results

Travellers visiting Canada on compassionate grounds need to show a letter from PHAC. Certain foreigners may also need written authorization from IRCC.

Passengers who are unable to produce all the required documents will not be allowed to board a flight to Canada.

Will I have to get a COVID vaccine before I travel to Canada in 2021?

The approval of COVID-19 vaccines in late 2020 raised the hope for a return to normal travel and daily life soon. However, reaching herd immunity will still take some time.
The creation of a ‘vaccination passport’ for international travel has been discussed and explored since the beginning of the pandemic. Some governments and airlines have already expressed their approval and started planning new vaccination entry requirements.

However, few official announcements have been made yet. So far, the Canadian government has not confirmed whether getting a COVID vaccine will become mandatory for Canadian travel.

Is it safe to travel to Canada in 2021?

Like nearly all countries around the world, Canada has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic and has recorded deaths in the thousands.

However, the government has taken swift and effective measures to prevent the pandemic from spreading further, including new international travel requirements, quarantine, social distancing, and more.

Moreover, Canada has secured over 400 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and has started its largest mass vaccination program in history.