If you want to travel to Canada, your first step should be to check whether you meet all the criteria for a fully vaccinated traveller. In what follows, we will explain what these requirements are and also go into more depth regarding the procedures involved.
Criteria to be accepted as a fully vaccinated traveller in Canada
In order to be regarded as a fully vaccinated traveller for the purposes of entering Canada, you have to meet the following criteria:
- You should have received 2 or more doses of a COVID-19 vaccine that has been approved for travel purposes by the Canadian authorities. In the case of the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine, a single dose is sufficient.
- The second vaccine dose must have been received at least 2 weeks (14 calendar days) before you arrive in Canada. If you, e.g., received your first dose on the 1st of May, 2022, you will only meet the 14-day condition on May 15.
- You must not have any obvious symptoms or signs of COVID-19
- You have to upload proof that you have been vaccinated to the ArriveCAN system and be in possession of an ArriveCAN receipt with the letter A, V, or I next to your name.
Checklist of what you should have ready when you arrive at the Canadian border
Regardless of whether you are flying or driving, you must have the items below ready to be assessed by a government official when you arrive at a Canadian border. Note there is no WiFi for the use of travellers at land border crossings).
- ArriveCAN receipt that shows the letter V, I, or A next to your name
- The original of the document that you uploaded to the ArriveCAN system as proof of vaccination, or a paper copy of it.
- Proof of an earlier positive molecular test result (only if recovered already).
- The travel document that you used in your ArriveCan application (for example your passport)
What are the pre-entry COVID-19 tests requirements?
As of April 1, 2022, pre-entry tests have been scrapped for travellers that are fully vaccinated, regardless of whether they enter Canada by air, land, or water. They must, however, still use ArriveCAN within 72 hours of their arrival in the country.
As of April 25, 2022, partially vaccinated or unvaccinated minor children who are less than 12 years old are not required to produce an official pre-entry COVID-19 test result any longer, provided they are in the company of an adult that has been fully vaccinated against the disease.
Children under the age of 5 do not need a pre-entry COVID-19 test, irrespective of whether they have been vaccinated or not.
Obligatory use of the ArriveCAN system
Using the ArriveCan system remains compulsory for individuals who want to travel to Canada. Those who fail to adhere to this requirement expose themselves to a fine of up to $5,000. To upload your proof of quarantine, vaccination, and related travel information, you should download the ArriveCAN mobile app or use a computer to access the web version. Travellers who plan to visit Canada after April 25 and who prefer the mobile app should make sure they use the new version of the app. They should also familiarize themselves with the latest rules.
The system will ask you to create an ArriveCAN account. There is no cost involved with this. You will be able to save your travel documents and proof of vaccination in your traveller profile, ready for your trip to Canada. To make 100% sure you have an ArriveCAN receipt before your departure, you should submit your information within 72 hours of your planned arrival in Canada.
Travellers who are planning a short trip outside Canada or who don’t have a smartphone available can use a computer to sign in to the ArriveCAN system within 72 hours of their arrival in the country to get the necessary ArriveCAN receipt. They should print this document and keep it on them during their trip. It is also possible to get someone else to submit the above information on your behalf.
In the case of individuals who are trying to enter Canada by land and who were not aware of the fact that they have to use the ArriveCAN system, a Border Services Officer will explain to them that using the ArriveCAN system for submitting their information is mandatory. They will then be allowed to do one of the following:
- Complete an ArriveCAN application right there at the border crossing, provided this is logistically possible or
- Go back to the United States and once there submit their information via ArriveCAN before re-entering Canada
Individuals who arrive in Canada by ferry or another type of boat are allowed to submit their proof of COVID-19 vaccination with ArriveCAN within 72 hours of their arrival in the country or when they enter Canada
Mandatory arrival tests
Upon your arrival in Canada by land or air, you might be informed by the border services officer that you have been randomly chosen for a COVID-19 test. If this happens, you can not refuse the test – it is mandatory. If you are selected for a COVID-19 test in this manner and you have been fully vaccinated, you will be able to proceed to your destination (including via a connecting flight) without having to wait for the test results.
Save time by registering for an arrival test in advance
As mentioned above, travellers might sometimes be selected for a mandatory random COVID-19 test. If this happens, you will have to undergo an on-site test before leaving the airport. If you would like to speed up the whole process, it is possible to book a test with the testing provider at the airport where you will arrive in advance. If you decide to do this, please make sure that you don’t use a different email address than the one you used when creating your ArriveCAN account.
If there are no on-site testing facilities at your arrival airport, there is no need for you to register because you will not be selected for a random COVID-19 test.
COVID-19 testing upon arrival at a land border
If you are selected for a random COVID-19 test upon arrival at a Canadian land border crossing, you will be handed a self-swab kit to do the test yourself. Once you arrive at your destination, you should carefully follow the instructions that you will find in this kit when doing the test .
You should also make sure that you use the same kit that was handed to you at the Canadian border, not another one. The reason is that you will find all the necessary website links, instructions, and phone numbers in the official kit. You should complete the test within 24 hours after you have arrived in Canada.
You might also be directed to a testing service at your arrival airport. In this case you have to register with this provider and arrange with them to collect your test sample. The majority of visitors will be notified of their COVID-19 test results within 3 days (72 hours).
If you still have not received the test results after this period has expired, you will have to contact the COVID-19 test center to find out what happened. There are several reasons why you might not get your test results in time, including the following:
- You did not provide the right contact information
- You failed to provide other important information
- The center is still busy processing your test
- The results of the test were inconclusive
Connecting flights or trains are permitted without having to wait for your COVID-19 test results
It is important to be aware that, regardless of their country of origin, fully vaccinated travellers who have been randomly chosen for a compulsory COVID-19 test upon arrival do not have to quarantine while they are waiting for the test results. They are free to take a connecting flight or train.
What happens if an unvaccinated child or a fully vaccinated traveller tests positive after arrival in Canada?
In case this happens the individual has to isolate for a period of 10 days. The COVID-19 test results and/or symptoms should also be reported to PHAC at this number: 1-833-641-0343.
What happens if a fully vaccinated parent/step parent, tutor, or guardian has been traveling with a child and they test positive or experience COVID-19 symptoms?
- Children under the age of 12 years who have not been fully vaccinated have to quarantine for a period of 14 days while their symptoms are being monitored.
- You should also report the unvaccinated child’s COVID-19 test results to PHAC at the following number: 1-833-641-0343.
- The adult who is accompanying the child in question should make sure which public health requirements they should follow. These can differ from one location to the next.
If you are randomly chosen to undergo a COVID-19 test and are asked for this by a municipal, territorial, provincial, or federal government peace officer or official, you have to provide proof of the results.
What happens after a fully vaccinated individual arrives in Canada?
As of April 25, 2022, the number of federal requirements a fully vaccinated adult or fully vaccinated children who travel with him or her have to follow for the first 14 days after their arrival has been reduced.
One example is that federal legislation no longer requires that you have to wear a mask while in a public space. You also no longer have to report any COVID-19 symptoms and/or signs. You do still have to report it though if you test positive for a COVID-19 test when you are selected by a government official to undergo such a test.
You also have to continue wearing a mask during the rest of your journey on board a plane or a ship.
There may be differences between territorial, provincial, and federal rules. An example is that you might have to wear a mask while traveling on public transportation in certain provinces. In this case, you should always follow the stricter rules.
Although it is no longer compulsory to wear a mask for the first 14 days after you have arrived in Canada, you have the right to keep on wearing one if you so wish. This remains an effective and easy way in which you can protect your own health and that of other people.
Unvaccinated children between the ages of 5 and 11 also still have to wear a mask when they are in a public place, including day camps and schools, for the first two weeks (14 days) after they have arrived in Canada.
Children or Dependents
Unvaccinated children have to wear a well-made mask that also fits properly when they are in a public space for the first two weeks (14 days) after their arrival in Canada. In this regard, ‘public space’ includes daycares and schools.
If a traveller’s ArriveCAN submission includes individuals who are subject to the requirements to quarantine (e.g. unvaccinated dependent adults or unvaccinated children between the ages of 12 and 17), he or she will get notifications from ArriveCAN and will be requested to submit daily reports for these unvaccinated individuals.
Requirements for exempt travellers
Under certain circumstances, specific types of travellers might be exempt from some of the above requirements. Even if that is the case, they still have to:
- Wear a mask while in a public space
- Regularly monitor themselves for any symptoms or signs of COVID-19
- Maintain a list of their close contacts during the first 14 days after their arrival in Canada
Even if your reason for traveling to Canada might place you in one of the exempted categories, depending on your destination, you might still be subject to specific territorial and/or provincial restrictions, including quarantine.
The final decision regarding exemptions always rests with the officials at your port of entry. It will be based on the information available to them at the time.