The only remaining restrictive requirement for vaccinated travelers entering Canada is a molecular pre-departure test. However, there is also an administrative requirement that is very simple, which is to fill out a declaration in Canada’s ArriveCAN app.
I shared the ultimate guide to Canada’s entry test requirement on Sunday.
Now here’s how the ArriveCAN app works (it’s really very very very simple).
Basics of the ArriveCAN application
You download the app, or go to the government website if you don’t have a smartphone.
And you fill out the form by answering the questions, that’s all.
Warning: If you don’t complete your declaration in the ArriveCAN app, even if you are fully vaccinated, you will be forced to do a 14-day quarantine, in addition to a potential fine!
(I don’t know what the science behind forcing those who haven’t filled out a form to quarantine is, but it’s not like the government follows the science for travel rules anyway).
Anyway, just fill out your declaration!
When you complete it, it gives you an ArriveCAN “receipt” (basically just a screen with a QR code).
You must have this receipt to board the plane and/or enter the country. So you absolutely have to do it in advance (and you can do it from 72 hours before your arrival in Canada; so not quite the same 72 hours time frame as for the pre-departure test if you arrive by plane).
You obviously don’t need to print anything, the digital version is enough (same as for the pre-departure test and the proof of vaccination to enter Canada).
You can complete only one declaration for members of the same family (maximum of 8 travelers).
In fact, if you have loved ones who are traveling and are not good with technology, you can easily fill it out for them and simply send them the screenshot with the receipt!
Basics of health/administrative forms
By the way, many countries require some sort of form to be filled out to enter for travel during the pandemic.
So just to be clear, in our guide to each country’s entry rules, we focus on the requirements that are restrictive (testing and quarantine) but as it says in the important notes, there are often administrative requirements as well now.
It is obviously free everywhere and not very complicated, but it is still mandatory to enter many countries (including Canada). The link to the forms for each country is in our guide.
By the way, I really understand people who complain about the pre-departure test (even if it’s not as complicated or expensive as many people seem to think), but I honestly don’t understand why some people are so outraged about having to fill out a form!
How to fill out the ArriveCAN application
Here is how to fill out the ArriveCAN application step by step based on my most recent experience entering Canada from the USA in November.
It takes 2 minutes and it’s easy.
I’m not sure anyone really needs help with just answering simple questions, but maybe some people are curious to see what is asked.
So first, you download the app and create an account.
We recommend LastPass to save all your info and protect your accounts.
I’m going to assume that you know how to create an account.
Once that’s done, you click on the only button that exists in the middle of the screen to get started.
It starts by asking you for the information for your flight that ENTERS Canada.
It’s the same as how the 72-hour pre-departure test is calculated: These are ENTRY rules so it’s the flight that ENTERS the country that counts.
I was flying from Louisiana on United (paid with my Aeroplan points of course, with the current record offers) but the government doesn’t care at all, they just want to know on which flight I am arriving in Canada (exactly like on almost all customs declaration forms for all countries pre-pandemic).
Then it asks you for your personal info.
Unless you have a NEXUS card (which you really should have), you will select your passport instead of NEXUS… the steps are the same.
It then asks you for your contact information (they already have your email with your account) and your desired language.
If you are vaccinated like I am (and therefore exempt from quarantine), the phone number will not be used. But after my many other trips when I had to quarantine, they made calls to “verify” compliance.
Then they ask you to include your vaccination information.
By the way, vaccination is not mandatory contrary to what many people seem to think; unvaccinated Canadians are still allowed to enter Canada and that is not changing even with the new vaccine requirement to fly out of a Canadian airport starting in a few days. Completely separate.
You also have to take a picture or attach your proof of vaccination (any type of proof works as we said before, as long as it’s in English or French or with certified translation).
This was new for me because even though I was fully vaccinated the last time I traveled internationally in May, being vaccinated meant nothing according to Canada at that time and there wasn’t even a question about it in the ArriveCAN app.
Then it simply asks you in which country you took your test that is required to enter Canada.
I thought I had read that you also had to take a picture or attach proof of test (but honestly, 90% of what everyone says about travel rules is just wrong, unfortunately) but it wasn’t asked in the app for me at least, so I don’t know.
Maybe it’s random in the app like the verification of the supposedly-vital vaccination requirement for flights departing Canada is random at the airport.
Then it’s the standard quarantine questions.
Yes, they ask this even if you are exempt from quarantine by being fully vaccinated. It’s just because if you were to develop symptoms, they want to make sure you can self-isolate somewhere.
In short, you need a quarantine plan to enter Canada even if you don’t need to quarantine when entering Canada.
Lastly, they ask you if you currently have any symptoms.
And that’s it!
It gives you a summary to double-check before submitting it to the government.
If everything is accurate, you submit it.
It takes a short while to send.
And once submitted, that’s when you get the important code.
Take a picture of it and email it to yourself too!
Who verifies your declaration in the ArriveCAN app
If you enter by land, customs officials will ask to see this QR code. Or sometimes just by showing the same passport or NEXUS card that you entered in the ArriveCAN app, they will automatically find your declaration without you having to show the actual receipt.
If you enter by air, the airline agents will ask to see this QR code before your departure and possibly again before the last direct flight to Canada if you have a layover. Then at customs, it’s the same as by land.
In my most recent experience, I had a United flight (paid with my Aeroplan points of course, especially with the record amounts easily available currently) and the agent in Louisiana checked my QR code from ArriveCAN and my test before my first flight.
During my layover in Chicago, the Air Canada agent only rechecked my test, not ArriveCAN. I’m sure this can vary though.
Upon arrival in Montreal, I showed my ArriveCAN app QR code to the customs officer. From the plane to outside of the airport, it took just 7 minutes total, so it’s very fast for travel pros despite the pandemic requirements.
One of the customs officers explained to me that when I scanned my NEXUS card (it’s the same with a passport) it automatically pulled up my ArriveCAN declaration on his screen, since it was the ID I had used when filling out the declaration.
It’s really surprising that something technological is so effective with the government, but credit where credit is due!
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The requirement to fill out a declaration in the ArriveCAN app is very quick and easy. And it’s mandatory for everyone entering Canada.
What would you like to know about the ArriveCAN app? Tell us in the comments below.
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Featured image: ArriveCAN application (photo credit: Andrew D’Amours/Flytrippers)
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