Canada Travel Restrictions and Travel Advisories

Canada Travel Restrictions

Like the rest of the world, Canada has seen cases of coronavirus on its territory and has been taking steps to ensure the safety of Canadian citizens, foreign visitors, and everyone within its borders. In the interests of public safety, the Federal Government has started to impose travel restrictions to halt further spread of COVID-19.

This article examines Canada’s restrictions on those arriving from international destinations. It also considers how visitors should prepare to safely travel to Canada amid the new prevention measures. Read on to learn:

  • Who Canada is restricting from entering the country
  • Whether you can still visit the country with a Canadian eTA or visa
  • What public safety measures will need to be followed in Canada

Canada’s Entry Restrictions During the Covid-19 Pandemic

The outbreak of COVID-19 coronavirus has led to Canada imposing additional restrictions on entry to the country. These have been temporarily put into place.

Because of the pandemic, Canada has closed its border to almost all travelers arriving from abroad, although certain exceptions are now permitted to enter.

The implementation of the travel ban started on March 18, 2020 and is expected to remain in place until at least November 30 (December 21 for those arriving from the US).

Until further notice, most foreign nationals cannot enter Canada even if they have a valid electronic travel authorization.

Arrival in Canada During Coronavirus

Those who are eligible to travel to Canada and are traveling 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

Upon arrival in Canada by air or land, each passenger has to:

  • Provide basic information by completing it through the ArrivaCAN mobile app, an online web-based form, or a paper form.
  • Each individual will be screened by a border service officer to assess symptoms (if any)

Any person with COVID-19 symptoms will not be granted entry into Canada.

Canada’s Regular Entry Restrictions

Canada normally imposes some border entry restrictions on foreign visitors.

In normal circumstances, applicants for an eTA visa waiver or visa, or foreign travelers entering Canada could be considered inadmissible for a number of reasons including:

  • Espionage
  • Terrorism
  • War crimes
  • Organized crime
  • Inability to financially support themselves in Canada
  • Presenting a risk to public health
  • Providing false information during a visa application

Who Can Currently Enter Canada?

The majority of foreign nationals are not allowed to enter Canada until November 30.

The restriction applies to everyone trying to enter Canada from then onwards except for:

  • Canadian citizens
  • Permanent residents of Canada
  • Persons registered under Canada’s Indian Act
  • Protected persons
  • Diplomats
  • Students
  • Merchant seamen

Foreign passengers who meet one of the following criteria may enter Canada, providing they are free of COVID-19 symptoms:

  • Individuals under section 3 (1) of the Order in Council OIC 2020-0796 traveling for a non-optional or non-discretionary reason
  • Travelers with a National Interest Exemption Letter issued by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, or the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
  • Immediate family members of Canadian nationals or permanent residents who plan to stay with their relative(s) for 15 days or more.
  • Extended family members of Canadian nationals or residents who plan to stay with their relative(s) for 15 days or more and have a statutory declaration signed by the Canadian national or permanent resident and a letter from the IRCC.
  • Passengers traveling on compassionate grounds with a letter issued by PHAC

Travelers from the US may not enter Canada until December 21, unless they fall into certain exceptional categories. The following individuals may travel from the United States to Canada if they are free of coronavirus symptoms:

  • Passengers traveling for a non-optional or non-discretionary reason
  • Immediate family members of Canadian nationals or permanent residents who plan to stay with their relative(s) for 15 days or more.
  • Extended family members of Canadian nationals or residents who plan to stay with their relative(s) for 15 days or more and have a statutory declaration signed by the Canadian national or permanent resident and a letter from the IRCC.
  • Passengers traveling on compassionate grounds with a letter issued by PHAC

Passengers must arrive at the following airports:

  • Calgary (YYC)
  • Montreal (YUL)
  • Toronto (YYZ)
  • Vancouver (YVR)

This does not apply to passengers arriving in direct flights from: Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, St. Pierre and Miquelon, Suriname, Uruguay, USA or Venezuela.

Passengers are subject to quarantine for 14 days.

Canada has managed to substantially reduce the number of cases in the country and certainly travel restrictions have played a significant part in this success.

Anti-COVID Measures at the Canadian Airport

Many national and international airports have introduced new safety regulations to combat coronavirus. This includes screening passengers for COVID-19 symptoms. Arriving passengers should be aware that these checks are in place at the following locations:

  • Vancouver International Airport
  • Ottawa International Airport
  • Halifax Stanfield International Airport
  • Toronto-Pearson International Airport
  • Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport
  • Edmonton International Airport
  • Winnipeg Richardson International Airport
  • Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport
  • Calgary International Airport
  • Québec City Jean Lesage International Airport

Who Can And Cannot Enter Canada Under these Restrictions?

At the moment, no foreign national is admitted into Canada apart from certain exceptions outlined above, including diplomats, relatives of Canadian nationals, and more.

Canada-US border closure

As of Friday the 18th of March 2020, the border between the US and Canada is temporarily closed.

Crossing is only allowed for those cases deemed ‘essential’, the two governments have announced. Trains and trucks transporting food will be let through and so will be citizens returning to their home country.

Those who move daily between the two North American nations to carry out necessary work or attend school will also be able to pass. Recreational and tourism crossing is, for the time being, banned.

The Canadian government has advised its citizens to avoid non-essential travel and as mentioned above, will not let foreigners in.

What Are Canada’s COVID-19 Prevention Measures

To maintain public health, those visiting Canada are advised to follow common precautions to avoid the spread of Coronavirus. In addition to the methods above to prevent the spread of COVID-19 amongst foreign travelers, individuals in the country are also advised to:

  • Frequently sanitize their hands with soap and water or alcohol-based gel
  • Avoid close contact with sufferers of the coronavirus
  • Cough and sneeze into the crook of their elbow
  • Contact the provincial medical authorities if they suspect their symptoms are COVID-19

The situation surrounding the coronavirus is developing all the time and tourists should keep up to date with the latest news surrounding the outbreak. Travelers are therefore advised to check with tour providers, accommodation and relevant air-carriers before departure to ensure that they may still arrive in the country without disruption.

Despite the Pandemic, Can I Still Apply for a Canadian eTA?

At this time, eligible travelers for the Canadian eTA can still apply for their electronic travel authorization. However, Canada has not lifted travel restrictions on most foreign nationals. This means that even if foreign nationals have a valid eTA, they won’t be able to use it to travel to Canada at this time.

Applying for an eTA to travel to Canada is a simple and straightforward process. It takes most applicants a few minutes to complete the online form. The majority of eTA applications are processed within minutes. However, travelers are recommended to apply a few days before their trip.

After approval, a Canadian eTA is valid for 5 consecutive years, or until the passport expires. It allows for multiple entries and grants short stays in Canada.

Apply for Canada eTA