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Federal Government Implements New Restrictions on Land and Air Travel to Canada

By February 20, 2021 No Comments

New travel measures

The Government of Canada has introduced further measures to help limit the spread of COVID-19 and its variants in Canada.

We strongly advise Canadians to cancel or postpone non-essential travel plans outside of Canada. Now is not the time to travel.

People who travel by air for non-essential reasons, such as vacation, will face new measures and expenses when they return to Canada.

Air traveller requirements

Travellers must still provide proof of a negative COVID-19 molecular test taken up to 72 hours before their scheduled departure time.

As of February 21, 2021, at 11:59 pm ET, travellers, unless exempted, will also be required to:

  • reserve a government-authorized hotel for 3 nights prior to departure to Canada
  • take a COVID-19 molecular test on arrival in Canada
  • stay in the government-authorized hotel while awaiting the results of the COVID-19 molecular test taken on arrival
  • pay for the cost of the hotel stay, as well as all associated costs for:
    • food
    • security
    • transportation
    • infection prevention and control measures

Travellers must present proof of having reserved and pre-paid for their accommodation through ArriveCAN.

Travellers will still be required to complete the remainder of the mandatory 14-day quarantine after their mandatory hotel stopover.

The list of government-authorized hotels is now available.

At-home testing

Travellers will also be required to take another COVID-19 molecular test later during their 14-day quarantine. Travellers will be provided with a COVID-19 test kit and instructions before leaving the airport.

More information on COVID-19 testing:

Pre-entry test requirements

As of 11:59 pm ET February 14, 2021, whether driving or flying, all travellers 5 years of age or older, regardless of citizenship, must provide proof of a valid COVID-19 molecular test result. You don’t require a test to fly within Canada.

At this time, proof of having a vaccine does not replace a valid test result.

You must:

  • take the test within 72 hours of your entry into Canada or your scheduled flight departure time
    • for those arriving by land, the test must be taken in the United States
  • provide one of the accepted types of tests, not an antigen test
  • keep proof of your test results for the 14-day period that begins on the day you enter Canada

Persons who have recovered from COVID-19 can continue to test positive long after they have recovered and are no longer infectious.

Travellers who have previously tested positive for COVID-19 must provide proof of a positive COVID-19 molecular test conducted between 14 and 90 days prior to your entry into Canada or your scheduled flight.

Travellers flying to Canada

As of 11:59 pm ET on February 21, 2021, on arrival to Canada, you will be required to take a test before leaving the airport. You will also be provided with instructions on how to take another test toward the end of your quarantine period.

  • Airlines will refuse boarding to travellers who are unable to provide a valid molecular test result.

Following the arrival test, you will need to go to your reserved hotel for 3 nights to await test results.

If you receive a negative result on your arrival test, you may be able to move to your place of quarantine. You must have a suitable plan for your quarantine.

If you need to take a domestic flight to your final destination and place of quarantine, you may be able to do so, after you’ve received your negative COVID-19 test. You must also:

  • receive a negative result from your arrival test and
  • have a suitable quarantine plan

If you do not have a suitable plan for quarantine, you will be re-located to a designated quarantine facility to carry out the remainder of your 14-day quarantine.

If you receive a positive result on your arrival test, you will be relocated to a designated quarantine facility for the remainder of your 14 days of isolation.

Travellers driving to Canada

As of 11:59 pm ET February 21, 2021, 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 ports of entry across Canada. Five ports of entry will initially be available with 11 additional as of March 4, 2021. The Government of Canada is also working to supply all other ports of entry with test kits for travellers to take to meet these requirements.

  • Foreign nationals without a valid molecular test or with symptoms of COVID-19 will not be allowed into Canada.
  • If a Canadian citizen, person registered under the Indian Act, or permanent resident does not provide proof of a valid molecular test result, they will be directed to a federal designated quarantine facility for their full 14 day quarantine period.

Land ports of entry with onsite testing as of February 22, 2021:

  • Douglas, British Columbia
  • Coutts, Alberta
  • Queenston-Lewiston Bridge, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario
  • St. Bernard de Lacolle (Highway 15), Quebec
  • St. Stephen 3rd Bridge, New Brunswick

Land ports of entry with onsite testing as of February 22, 2021:

  • Ambassador Bridge, Windsor, Ontario
  • Blue Water Bridge, Point Edward, Ontario
  • Emerson West Lynne, Manitoba
  • Fort Erie (Peace Bridge), Ontario
  • Huntingdon, British Columbia
  • Lansdowne (Thousand Islands Bridge), Ontario
  • Pacific Highway, British Columbia
  • Rainbow Bridge, Niagara Falls, Ontario
  • St-Armand, Quebec
  • Stanstead (Route 55), Quebec
  • Windsor-Detroit Tunnel, Ontario

Testing to end your quarantine

Toward the end of your quarantine, you will be required to take another COVID-19 test. Instructions will be provided in the near future. You will be required to stay in your place of quarantine until you receive a negative test result.

If you receive a positive test result, you will be required to isolate for an additional 14-day period that begins on the day the test was taken. Upon receiving a positive test result, contact your local public health authority and follow their directions.

Exemptions:

Exemptions from pre-arrival testing for travellers arriving by air:

There are only a limited number of exceptions where an individual is not required to show proof of a negative test:

  • Resolved COVID-19 infection – persons who have molecular test proof to show they had a positive COVID-19 test taken between 14-90 days before travel
  • Children – children who are four years of age or younger (children who are five on the day of their travel must have proof of a negative COVID-19 test)
  • Transit through Canada – transiting passengers who are only flying through Canada to reach another country

Medical and health care

  • Medical treatments – persons who must leave and return to Canada regularly to receive essential medical services in another country with:
    • Written evidence from a licensed health care practitioner in Canada indicating services or treatments outside Canada are essential; and
  • Written evidence from a licensed health care practitioner in the foreign country indicating services or treatments were provided in that country
  • Medical Evacuation – Persons who boarded a medical evacuation flight for medical purpose if the urgency of the medical situation does not permit a COVID-19 molecular test to be administered to the person before boarding the aircraft for the flight to Canada.

Essential work considered exempt under the Emergency Orders

  • Essential service provider as determined by the Chief Public Health Officer
  • Emergency services – persons who are:
    • firefighters, peace officers, and paramedics, who return from providing such services in another country and are required to provide their services within 14 days of their return to Canada
    • permitted to work in Canada under paragraph 186(t) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations who enter for the purpose of providing those services
  • Government Officials – employees of the Government of Canada or a foreign government, including border services officers, immigration enforcement officers, law enforcement and correctional officers, who are escorting individuals travelling to Canada or from Canada pursuant to a legal process such as deportation, extradition or international transfer of offenders.
  • Law enforcement officer, border enforcement officer, or immigration enforcement officer – Officials of the Government of Canada, a provincial or a foreign government, including law enforcement, border enforcement, and immigration enforcement officers, who enter Canada for the purposes of law, border or immigration enforcement, or national security activities that support active investigations, ensure continuity of enforcement operations or activities, or transfer information or evidence pursuant to, or in support, of a legal process, and who are required to provide their services within 14 days of entry and have reasonable rationales for the immediacy of the work and the inability to plan for a 14 day quarantine;
  • Crew members – a person who:
    • is a crew member as defined in subsection 101.01(1) of the Canadian Aviation Regulations or a person who enters Canada only to become such a crew member
    • is a member of a crew as defined in subsection 3(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations who is re-entering Canada
    • is re-entering Canada after having left to undertake mandatory training relating to the operation of a vehicle
  • Canadian Armed Forces – A member of the Canadian Armed Forces who enters Canada for the purpose of performing their duties.
  • Visiting forces – Visiting force air crew entering Canada for the purpose of performing mission-essential duties as a member of that force

Other special circumstances

  • National interest – A person or member of a group whose presence in Canada, as determined by the Minister of Health, is in the national interest.
  • Persons identified under the Aeronautics Act, subparagraph (1)10(a)(i)
  • Person denied entry to another country – Canadian citizens, permanent residents of Canada and persons registered as an Indian under the Indian Act, who were denied entry to a country or territory and who must subsequently board a flight destined to Canada (direct back).
  • Extraordinary and unforeseen circumstances
    • Exigent hardship consular cases for Canadian citizens, permanent residents, or persons with status under the Indian Act, as determined by the Minister of Foreign Affairs
    • Disaster response support as determined by the Minister of Transport or Minister of Public Safety
    • Refugee Protection – Persons who enters Canada from the United States for the purpose of making a claim for refugee protection

Exemptions from pre-arrival testing for travellers arriving by land:

There are only a limited number of exceptions where an individual is not required to show proof of a negative test:

General:

  • persons who have molecular test proof to show they had a positive COVID-19 test taken between 14-90 days before travel
  • children who are four years of age or younger (children who are five on the day of their travel must have proof of a negative COVID-19 test)

Medical and health care

  • Medical treatments – persons who must leave and return to Canada regularly to receive essential medical services in another country with:
    • Written evidence from a licensed health care practitioner in Canada indicating services or treatments outside Canada are essential; and
      • Written evidence from a licensed health care practitioner in the foreign country indicating services or treatments were provided in that country

Essential work considered exempt under the Emergency Orders

  • Essential service provider as determined by the Chief Public Health Officer
  • Trade and Transportation –
    • persons in the trade or transportation sector who are important for the movement of goods or people, including truck drivers and crew members on any aircraft, shipping vessel or train, and that cross the border while performing their duties or for the purpose of performing their duties
    • crew member who is re-entering Canada after having left to undertake mandatory training relating to the operation of a conveyance
  • Frequent cross border workers – persons who must cross the border regularly to go to their normal place of employment, including critical infrastructure workers (Energy and Utilities, Information and Communication Technologies, Finance, Health, Food, Water, Transportation, Safety, Government and Manufacturing), provided they do not directly care for persons 65 years of age or older within the first 14 days after their entry to Canada.
  • Emergency services
    • including firefighters, peace officers, and paramedics, who return from providing such services in another country and are required to provide their services within 14 days of their return to Canada
    • a person permitted to work in Canada under paragraph 186(t) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations who enters for the purpose of providing those services
  • Government Officials – employees of the Government of Canada or a foreign government, including border services officers, immigration enforcement officers, law enforcement and correctional officers, who are escorting individuals travelling to Canada or from Canada pursuant to a legal process such as deportation, extradition or international transfer of offenders.
  • Law enforcement officer, border enforcement officer, or immigration enforcement officer – Officials of the Government of Canada, a provincial or a foreign government, including law enforcement, border enforcement, and immigration enforcement officers, who enter Canada for the purposes of law, border or immigration enforcement, or national security activities that support active investigations, ensure continuity of enforcement operations or activities, or transfer information or evidence pursuant to, or in support, of a legal process, and who are required to provide their services within 14 days of entry and have reasonable rationales for the immediacy of the work and the inability to plan for a 14 day quarantine;
  • Canadian Armed Forces – A member of the Canadian Armed Forces who enters Canada for the purpose of performing their duties
  • Visiting forces – Visiting force air crew entering Canada for the purpose of performing mission-essential duties as a member of that force

Transborder, remote cross-border or geographically-constrained communities

  • A person who enters Canada within the boundaries of an integrated transborder community that exists on both sides of the Canada-United States border and who is a habitual resident of that community, if entering Canada is necessary for carrying out an everyday function within that community; such as buying groceries or gas when the community access is in Canada, such as the Akwesasne community.
  • A person who enters Canada if the entry is necessary to return to their habitual place of residence in Canada after carrying out an everyday function (such as getting groceries, going to work, or seeing a doctor) that, due to geographical constraints, must involve entering the United States.
  • A habitual resident of the remote communities of Northwest Angle, Minnesota or Hyder, Alaska who enters Canada only to access necessities of life from the closest Canadian community where such necessities of life are available and
  • A habitual resident of the remote communities of Campobello Island, New Brunswick or Stewart, British Columbia who enters Canada after having entered the United States only to access necessities of life from the closest American community where such necessities of life are available.
  • Residents of Point Roberts, Washington transiting through Canada to return to their habitual residence or to access the mainland United States.

Cross-border students and people driving them

  • A student who is enrolled at an approved designated learning institution, who attends that institution regularly and who enters Canada to go to that institution, as long as the government of the province and the local health authority of the place where that listed institution is located have indicated to the Public Health Agency of Canada that the listed institution is approved to accommodate students who are excepted from paragraph 3(1)(a) and section 4.
  • A driver of a vehicle who enters Canada to drop off or pick up a student who is attending an approved designated learning institution, as long as the driver only leaves the vehicle while in Canada, if at all, to escort the student to or from the listed institution and they wear a well constructed, well fitted mask while outside the vehicle.
  • A student who is enrolled at an educational institution in the United States, who attends that educational institution regularly and who enters Canada to return to their habitual place of residence after attending that educational institution, if they will not directly care for persons 65 years of age or older within the 14-day period that begins on the day on which the person enters Canada.
  • A driver of a vehicle who enters Canada after dropping off or picking up a student who is enrolled at an educational institution in the United States at that institution, and who enters Canada to return to their habitual place of residence after dropping off or picking up the student from that institution, as long as the driver only leaves the vehicle while outside Canada, if at all, to escort the student to or from the institution and they wore a well constructed, well fitted mask while outside the vehicle.

Cross-border custody arrangements

  • A dependent child who enters Canada under the terms of a written agreement or court order regarding custody, access or parenting.
  • A driver of a vehicle who enters Canada to drop off or pick up a dependent child under the terms of a written agreement or court order regarding custody, access or parenting, as long as the driver only leaves the vehicle while in Canada, if at all, to escort the dependent child to or from the vehicle and they wear a well constructed, well fitted mask while outside the vehicle.
  • A driver of a vehicle who enters Canada after dropping off or picking up a dependent child under the terms of a written agreement or court order regarding custody, access or parenting, as long as the driver only left the vehicle while outside Canada, if at all, to escort the dependent child to or from the vehicle and they wore a well constructed, well fitted mask while outside the vehicle.

Other special circumstances

  • National interest – A person or member of a group whose presence in Canada, as determined by the Minister of Health, is in the national interest.
  • Land border crossing – A person who enters Canada in a vehicle at a land border crossing in the following circumstances:
    • was denied entry to the United States, or
    • entered the territory of the United States but did not seek legal entry to the United States
  • Extraordinary and unforeseen circumstances –
    • Exigent hardship consular cases for Canadian citizens, permanent residents, or persons with status under the Indian Act, as determined by the Minister of Foreign Affairs
    • Disaster response support as determined by the Refugee Protection -Persons who enter Canada from the United States for the purpose of making a claim for refugee protection
    • Exigent cases as determined by a Quarantine Officer

For more information, go to the List of Acts and Regulations and look for information on the Quarantine Act, the Emergency Orders, and the Chief Public Health Officer (CPHO) Group Exemptions that may apply.

Exemptions from post-arrival testing for travellers arriving to Canada:

There are only a limited number of exceptions where an individual is not required to do post-border testing:

  • Resolved COVID-19 infection – persons who have molecular test proof to show they had a positive COVID-19 test taken between 14-90 days before travel
  • Children – children who are four years of age or younger (children who are five on the day of their travel must do the testing post-border)
  • Persons who were exempt from quarantine requirements
  • Diplomats and diplomatic or consular couriers
  • Extraordinary and unforeseen circumstances –
    • Exigent hardship consular cases for Canadian citizens, permanent residents, or persons with status under the Indian Act, as determined by the Minister of Foreign Affairs
    • Disaster response support as determined by the Minister of Transport or Minister of Public Safety
    • Exigent cases as determined by a Quarantine Officer
  • Persons who were exempt from quarantine requirements