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Traveling to Canada Post Covid-19

Canada is slowly re-opening its borders for international travelers after the pandemic-induced travel ban. However, some restrictions are still in place and travelers need to comply with certain rules and regulations if they want to enter the country for working, studying, visiting or to join a family member.  

Who can Enter Canada? 

At present, only a few categories of travelers can cross the Canadian borders.  

Canadian citizens and permanent residents. This includes travelers with dual citizenship and those with Indian status and are protected under the Indian Act.  

Refugees who are protected by the Canadian government. The Canadian government, in support of Ukraine citizens affected by war, has introduced a new emergency travel authorization.  

Under the new scheme families from the country can relocate to Canada for a short period. There are some provisions for them to study and work in the country during their stay or till it is safe to return to their home country. They are at times excluded from complying with the mandatory vaccination.   

Foreign citizens who are completely vaccinated, their children and family members. To be considered fully vaccinated, foreign nationals have to get the complete dose of COVID-19 vaccines approved by the Canadian government.  

They can also receive a combination of approved vaccines. If they have received some other vaccines approved by their home country, they cannot visit Canada as they are not regarded as fully-vaccinated.  

Travelers should get their last vaccine dose at least 14 days prior to the date of travel. The seven COVID-19 vaccines that are currently approved by Canada are as follows:  Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca/Covishield, Johnson & Johnson, Sinopharm, Sinovac, and Covaxin. 

Travelers who need to transit through Canada. To be able to transit through Canadian airports, travelers need to meet certain requirements and adhere to some guidelines that are put in place by the immigration authorities.  

All visitors above 12 years of age have to be completely vaccinated to be able to board a flight that will land in any Canadian airport. While waiting for the outbound connection flights, travelers should not leave the secure transit area, even for collecting their baggage.  

There are designated departure gates that lead them to their connection flights. They are exempt from testing and quarantine if they do not step out of the secured area and their outbound flights are scheduled to take off within 24 hours. In cases of delays and cancellations, they will have to apply for a visa and go through testing and quarantine.   

Travelers who are entering for emergency medical care, their dependents and special passport holders like diplomats are also allowed to cross borders to Canada.   

Who is exempt from mandatory vaccination? 

  • Children under 12 years of age are not required to be vaccinated if they are coming with fully-vaccinated parents and legal guardians. However, if they are traveling solo, they have to go through mandatory vaccination.
  • Children under five years of age are also exempt from vaccination regulations.
  • Minors who are attending post-secondary courses and who wish to join their parents or family members.
  • Approved permanent residents who are yet to complete the mandatory first visit to Canada.
  • Travelers admitted on compassionate grounds.
  • Short-term workers in certain industries like agriculture and food processing.

Arriving in Canada  

Before boarding the flight, all international travelers should present a proof vaccination. They may be asked to show the vaccination proof at any time during the flight. Once they arrive in Canada, they will have to show this even while boarding a domestic flight and train, to access essential medical and other services or to enter restaurants or cinemas.  

Travelers may face hefty fines and other penal action, if they produce misleading or wrong proof of vaccination. Though Canadian authorities allow soft copies, they encourage people to carry a printed copy of their vaccination proof.  

Travelers should also follow COVID-19 appropriate behavior. They have to always wear a mask and maintain physical distance.  

They can remove the mask only while eating, drinking water or taking oral medication.  

Children under six years of age and passengers who cannot wear masks due to medical reasons or without external help are exempt. They, however, will have to submit medical proof.  

Travelers should have received the last vaccine dose 14 days before the date of travel and should not have any COVID-19 symptoms. Passengers with COVID-19 symptoms will be allowed to board their flight only if they provide a medical certificate to prove that their symptoms are not linked to COVID-19. 

All passengers must also register in ArriveCAN application 72 hours before entering Canada. 

Pre-entry Tests   

International travelers who are not fully vaccinated due to medical reasons have to submit a mandatory COVID-19 negative test result. 

They should undergo an antigen test in professional laboratories or approved hospitals over 24 hours before the scheduled flight. The test should have legal validity in Canada and must be conducted outside the country.   

If they are opting for a molecular test, they should take it 72 hours before the scheduled trip.   

Canada immigration will also admit people with a positive molecular test result, provided the test was carried out at least 10 days prior to the trip and they do not have any COVID-19 symptom. Such passengers do not need to take tests or arrival or after 8 days of the compulsory quarantine.   

Unvaccinated children in the age group of 12 and 17 have to undergo tests and mandatory quarantine even if they are accompanied by completely vaccinated adults. 

Who is Exempt?  

Children under the age of five are exempt from COVID-19 tests, quarantine or vaccination. If they turn five on the day of travel, they have to undergo the test. The Canadian government has recently withdrawn the test exemption granted to trips lasting 72 hours or less.   

Tests on Arrival 

Adult travelers who are not fully vaccinated have to take tests on arrival. They will also have to go on quarantine and take the test again on the eighth day.   

When they land at a Canadian airport, they will receive two self-swab kits – one to be used at the airport and the other on the eighth day of the mandatory quarantine. Travelers coming from or going to Alaska are exempt from this.   

To save time they can pre-book the test with approved airport test providers via email.  

Some airports may not conduct on-site tests. In such cases, travelers may be given kits and they should take the test on their own. They will also be given detailed instructions on how to do it. The procedure must be completed within 24 hours of entering Canada.   

Note that the Canadian Government has temporarily suspended random tests on arrival for fully-vaccinated travelers.   

Register in ArriveCAN  

All travelers irrespective of their vaccination status have to register in ArriveCAN, a platform introduced by the Canadian government after the pandemic, 72 hours before the planned trip.  

They will have to submit all their travel-related information including the vaccination details in ArriveCAN. If they fail to do so, they could be fined by the immigration authorities at the port of entry.   



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