The New COVID-19 travel rules for Canada

COVID-19 travel rules

A large number of health measures have been lifted over the last few weeks but some still remain for travellers returning to Canada from abroad.

Here is what travellers need to know:

Starting today Monday February 28, 2022 travellers can now take rapid antigen test, which is cheaper than the PCR test and much more convenient as your results are available in minutes. Before travellers need to take the PCR test within 72 hours or reentering the border by land or airport.

The antigen test must be taken no more than 24 hours before travelling.

The antigen test must be taken in the country where the traveller is departing from.

Take-home test will be be accepted at the border.

Canada border will only accept pre-entry tests authorized by the country where it was purchased and it must be administered by a lab.

COVID-19 travel rules

Getting tested to enter Canada

If you qualify as a fully vaccinated traveller, follow the specific pre-entry test requirements for fully vaccinated travellers.

Who can come to Canada

  • Canadian citizens (including dual citizens), people registered under the Indian Act, permanent residents of Canada, or protected persons (refugee status) are allowed to enter Canada.
  • Fully vaccinated foreign nationals may be allowed to enter Canada for discretionary (tourism) travel.

Foreign nationals who don’t qualify as fully vaccinated will only be allowed to enter in specific circumstances:

Find out if you can enter Canada

Options for providing proof of a valid pre-entry test

All travellers 5 years of age or older must provide proof of one of the following accepted types of test results:

  1. Proof of a valid negative molecular test taken within 72 hours of your scheduled flight’s departure time to Canada or your entry to Canada by land or water
    • for example, if your flight is scheduled to leave at 11:00 am on Friday, your test must have been taken any time after 10:59 am on Tuesday
  2. Previous positive molecular test result: you no longer have symptoms and provide proof of a positive molecular test taken at least 10 calendar days and no more than 180 calendar days before entering Canada. Counting starts the day after your test.
    • for example, if your positive COVID-19 molecular test was taken on January 1, then January 11 would be the earliest scheduled departure date of your flight to Canada, or the first day you could use it to enter Canada by land or water
    • if your positive proof is accepted you won’t have to take arrival or Day-8 tests
    • a positive antigen test result is never a valid test result for boarding a flight or entry to Canada and can’t be used as proof of a previous infection
  3. Starting February 28: proof of a professionally administered or observed antigen testtaken outside of Canada no more than 1 day before to your scheduled flight or entry to Canada by land or water
    • the one day window does not depend on the time of day the test was taken or the time of your flight or entry
    • for example, if your flight is scheduled to leave or you enter by land any time on Friday, you could provide proof of a negative result from an antigen test taken any time on Thursday, or on Friday
    • it must be administered or observed by a pharmacy, laboratory, healthcare entity or telehealth service
    • the test must be authorized for sale or distribution in Canada or in the jurisdiction in which it was obtained
    • the test must be performed outside of Canada 

End of short trip exemption: the pre-entry testing exemption for trips 72 hours or less ended on December 21, 2021.Who doesn’t need a pre-entry test:

 Flying to Canada – when to take your testArriving by car, bus, boat, ferry or trainPositive results on your pre-entry test

Accepted types of tests

Molecular tests

  • PCR – Polymerase chain reaction
  • Nucleic acid test (NAT) or Nucleic acid amplification test (NAATs)
  • Reverse transcription loop-mediated isothermal amplification (RT-LAMP)

These tests use methods such as a nasopharyngeal (NP) swab, nose swab, or saliva sample.Other acceptable types of molecular tests:

Antigen tests

Your antigen test must be administered or observed by a laboratory or testing provider.

Phrases indicating a test is an antigen test could include, but is not limited to:

  • rapid antigen test
  • viral antigen test
  • diagnostic immunoassay
  • lateral flow test (LFT)
  • also could be noted as an Antigen Chromatographic Digital Immunoassay, Antigen Chemiluminescence Immunoassay, or Antigen Lateral Flow Fluorescence

Providing proof of your resultArriving without an accepted COVID-19 testTesting facilities and expenses

Arrival testing for vaccinated travellers 

Arrival testing and quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated travellers are different than those for unvaccinated or partially vaccinated travellers. 

Arrival testing for fully vaccinated travellers

Air travellers: register in advance for arrival testing

You may be required to get tested before exiting the airport. To speed you through the process, register in advance with the testing provider for the airport you will arrive at.

When you register, use the same email address you used for your ArriveCAN account.Register with airport test providersLand border test providers

Taking your arrival test

When you enter Canada, you’ll be instructed to either take an arrival test at the border, or receive a self-swab kit. 

You will also get a kit to use on Day-8 of your mandatory quarantine (except for travellers who are only passing through on their way to or from Alaska).

There is no fee for the arrival test.

Complete your self-swab kit

Who doesn’t need an arrival test

Fully vaccinated travellers only need to do an arrival test if they are selected for randomized arrival testing.

Randomized arrival testing for fully vaccinated travellers

Travellers who provide a positive COVID-19 molecular test result taken at least 10 calendar days and no more than 180 calendar days before entering Canada may be exempt from arrival testing.

  • For example, if your positive COVID-19 molecular test was taken on January 1, the first day you could use it for entry into Canada by land or water would be January 11. If you’re flying, the earliest scheduled departure date of your flight to Canada would be January 11.

Find out if your travel is exempt from the arrival test requirementFines and consequences of failing to complete the testing requirements

Complete your test kit

Your kit contains all of the instructions.

Do not open your swab or tube until you are instructed to do so. This can cause contamination, or result in a delay in receiving your test result.

Your test kit service provider is based on where you entered the country. For additional instructions, or contact information for your service provider, select the province you entered Canada or select if you are driving between Alaska and the continental United States:Travellers driving between Alaska and the continental United StatesBritish Columbia, Saskatchewan, YukonAlberta, Ontario, New Brunswick, Nova ScotiaManitobaQuebec

Who doesn’t need a Day-8 test

Fully vaccinated travellers arriving to Canada, who meet all the criteria, no longer need to take a Day-8 test.

Check if you qualify as fully vaccinated

Alaska: If you are driving between Alaska and continental United States, you won’t receive a Day-8 test kit, as you don’t need to submit one.

Find out if your travel is exempt from Day-8 test requirements Fines and consequences of failing to complete your Day-8 test

Test results

Arrival test results

Travellers who qualify for the fully vaccinated traveller exemptionGetting your arrival test results at your place of quarantine

Day-8 test results

You can only leave your place of quarantine once your mandatory 14-day quarantine is completed. You may leave quarantine at the end of your mandatory 14-day quarantine, even if you have not received your Day-8 test result.Negative results for your testPositive results on your test

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