You are currently viewing Canada’s entry rules: ultimate guide

We’ve often talked about how to travel during a pandemic and the 2 simple sets of rules to check for any trip (no matter the destination). Without repeating all of that, we wanted to do a more detailed article on the “Entering Canada” part, since more and more people are traveling out of the country and there are still a lot of myths about it.

In May, Justin Trudeau had extended Canada’s entry rules until June 30th at least.

Believe it or not, he extended them all once again until September 30th (!!!) at least. Almost the entire world is over this or getting close to it, but not Canada of course!

This extension is obviously in spite of what most experts have advised (the WHO has recommended removing ALL travel restrictions since January) and in spite of the chaos these rules cause at Canadian airports — which I saw for myself in Toronto (YYZ) twice in June.

(Chaos I was able to avoid as a savvy traveler who has a NEXUS card and who always travels with a carry-on only, which you should most definitely do too — especially now!)

In July, the government reinstated random testing upon arrival for vaccinated travelers. Before that, the government had (at least) lifted the irrational ban on flying for unvaccinated Canadians.

Nothing else has changed though.

So here’s a complete guide to Canada’s current entry rules.

 

Basics of Canada’s entry rules

Here’s a summary of the rules for entering Canada, if you’re considered “vaccinated” by Canada.

(Definition of “vaccinated” in Canada: 2 doses of any WHO-approved vaccine or 1 dose of Johnson & Johnson)

Entry rules for vaccinated Canadian travelers:

  • Declaration to fill in the ArriveCAN app or on the ArriveCAN website
    • Simple, it takes 5 minutes
    • Pro tip: a NEXUS card will speed up the arrival process
  • Random arrival tests
    • Tests are free taxpayer-funded (over $1 billion)
    • No requirement to isolate while waiting for results
    • Few travelers are selected
    • Travelers with valid proof of positive test are exempt

Entry rules for unvaccinated Canadian travelers:

  • No mandatory vaccination
    • Same as it’s always been since the start of the pandemic (for Canadians)
    • Contrary to popular belief (people mix rules together)
  • Declaration to fill in the ArriveCAN app or on the ArriveCAN website
  • Pre-entry test to do
    • 3 options: negative antigen test, negative molecular test, positive molecular test
      • negative antigen test: done the day of your flight or the full day before (NOT “24 hours”)
      • Negative molecular test: done within the last 72 hours 
      • Molecular positive: done within the last 10 to 180 days
    • Virtual supervised self-tests are accepted
    • Entry by land without a valid test is “allowed,” but you risk getting fined
    • Travelers only transiting through Canada are exempt
    • Some children are exempt (see below)
  • 14-day quarantine to do
    • At home
    • Some children are exempt (see below)
  • Mandatory tests to do upon arrival
    • On day 1 and on day 8
    • Tests are free taxpayer-funded (over $1 billion)
    • Some children are exempt (see below)

Entry rules for foreign travelers:

  • Mandatory vaccination (unlike for Canadian travelers)
    • Children under 12 are exempt
    • Only if they’re traveling with vaccinated parents
  • Same rules as for vaccinated Canadians

Now here are the details on each item.

 

Definition of “vaccinated” in Canada

Each country obviously has its own definition of “vaccinated” and here’s Canada’s definition:

  • 2 doses of a vaccine approved by the World Health Organization (WHO)
    • Or 1 dose of Johnson & Johnson vaccine
  • Minimum 14 days before entering Canada
  • Proof in English or French (or with certified translation)
  • Digital or paper proof

That’s it. As simple as that. 

No booster dose required and no vaccine expiration date, unlike in many countries.

As we’ve been telling you for all the rules since the beginning, it could obviously change at any time, but it could also be eliminated. Nobody knows.

 

Vaccination requirement to enter Canada

If you’re unvaccinated but are Canadian, of course you can still enter Canada, either by land or by air. The same as it’s been since the beginning. 

People often mix up all the rules and confuse entry rules with the vaccination requirement to board a plane at a Canadian airport that was in place from October 30, 2021 to June 20, 2022, which didn’t affect the entry rules anyway since all the rules are always separate.

 

ArriveCAN app for all travelers

The only requirement to enter Canada if you’re vaccinated is to fill out the ArriveCAN app. You just have to answer the questions, and that’s it.

To find out if you need to fill out the ArriveCAN app, basically, if you Arrive in CANada, you need to fill out the ArriveCAN app. It’s really that simple.

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So no, you don’t need it for a domestic flight since you are not going to Arrive into CANada (it’s physically impossible to arrive in Canada if you’re already in Canada). And yes, you need it even if you drive to the US for 5 minute since you will Arrive into CANada (Trudeau really doesn’t care how long you were gone).

You have 2 options to access ArriveCAN:

I’m not exaggerating when I say it just takes 3 minutes, it’s really that fast. 

We would like for this to be lifted of course, but let’s just say it’s really not the worst of the restrictions on our freedoms we’ve seen in the past 2+ years!

We’ve prepared an ultimate guide to the ArriveCAN app in which I show you exactly everything you need to do in a video (and screenshots), with all the other details you need to know.

 

Random tests upon arrival for vaccinated travelers

Random tests upon arrival had been suspended in June, but they were reinstated in July, as mentioned in the introduction.

However, probably only a tiny minority of travelers will be selected. It’s free, and you don’t have to isolate yourself while waiting for the results.

 

Canada’s entry rules for children

Here’s an overview of Canada’s entry rules for children according to their age and whether or not they’re considered “vaccinated” by Canada. 

To get all the details, you can read our ultimate guide to travel rules for children.

Children under the age of 5 traveling with someone who is vaccinated:

  • No testing requirement
  • No quarantine or special rules for school/daycare
  • ArriveCAN app must be filled out

Children under the age of 5 NOT traveling with someone who is vaccinated:

  • No testing requirement
  • 14-day quarantine
  • ArriveCAN app must be filled out

Children 5 to 12 years old who are vaccinated:

  • No quarantine and no special rules for school
  • ArriveCAN app must be filled out
  • Random arrival test possible (but very few)
    • No isolation until results are received

Children 5 to 12 years old who are not vaccinated and are traveling with someone who is vaccinated:

  • No quarantine and no special rules for school
  • ArriveCAN app must be filled out
  • Random arrival test possible (but very few)
    • No isolation until results are received

Children 5 to 12 years old who are not vaccinated and NOT traveling with someone who is vaccinated:

Children over 12 years old who are vaccinated:

  • ArriveCAN app must be filled out
  • Random arrival test possible (but very few)
    • No isolation until results are received

Children over 12 years old who are NOT vaccinated:

 

Pre-entry test for unvaccinated travelers

You can read our ultimate guide to Canada’s pre-entry test requirement for all the details.

 

Tests upon arrival for unvaccinated travelers

Unvaccinated travelers must do 2 more tests (on day 1 and on day 8). They’re pretty useless because you have to quarantine for 14 days even if both are negative.

(In fact, in a way, you’d be better off testing positive on the day 1 test: you’d only have 10 days of quarantine required instead of 14! That’s “The Science™”!)

Most travelers are going to get a self-test kit to do at home in telehealth mode, but some are going to be tested on the spot too.

You can watch a video of me doing the day 8 self-test in May 2021, back when “The Science™” said even someone who is vaccinated had to do 2 unnecessary tests during the strict 14-day quarantine. 

 

 

14-day quarantine for unvaccinated travelers

It’s not hard to understand: you can’t leave your home for 14 days, or even use a shared hallway if you’re in an apartment building. Even if you test negative on 3 tests in ≈ 10 days.

The federal government even sends the police to do home checks and fines are quite steep, at least on paper.

 

Rules for foreign travelers

Unlike Canadian travelers, foreign travelers must be vaccinated to enter Canada.

You can see the detailed exemptions on the official government website.

 

Possible end date for remaining requirements

While WHO experts have been recommending since January that ALL restrictions be lifted for EVERYONE, about 50 countries worldwide have followed the experts’ advice and lifted 100% of their requirements.

Others have removed tests and quarantines for their own citizens regardless of vaccination status (such as the US), while others persist in requiring unnecessary forms even for vaccinated people (like Canada).

Canada is one of the few countries that still require quarantine for unvaccinated people, which is extremist by definition. It will be lifted as soon as it becomes more politically rewarding for the government to eliminate it than to keep it, not a second before. It’s as simple as that.

As mentioned, the current rules technically expire on September 30, but that doesn’t mean anything. There’s no guarantee that anything will change. To be continued.

 

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Summary

Entering Canada is quite simple for vaccinated travelers: just fill out a few questions in the ArriveCAN app. However, certain additional rules apply to unvaccinated travelers.

What would you like to know about pandemic travel? Tell us in the comments below.

 

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Featured image: Canadian Flag (photo credit: Praveen Kumar Nandagiri)

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Andrew D'Amours

Andrew is the co-founder of Flytrippers. He is passionate about traveling the world but also, as a former management consultant, about the travel industry itself. He shares his experiences to help you save money on travel. As a very cost-conscious traveler, he loves finding deals and getting free travel thanks to travel rewards points... to help him visit every country in the world (current count: 64/193 Countries, 47/50 US States & 9/10 Canadian Provinces).

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Mona

    Hello I was just wondering if unvaccinated travellers can fly into US airports either as their final destination or as a transit point?

    1. Andrew D'Amours

      No, unvaccinated foreigners cannot enter the USA and cannot transit in the USA either (the USA does not have sterile international transits, so transits require entering).

  2. J

    If you’re a Canadian who is not fully vaccinated, and coming home on an international flight, what are the rules about connecting flights?
    Do you have to get the COVID test at your arrival airport? Will anyone actually stop you from getting on the connecting flight and doing the test at your final destination?

    1. Andrew D'Amours

      Hi, since the vaccination requirement to board a plane in Canada has been eliminated, there are no more special rules at all. You can take a connection. You’ll be tested during your layover or given a self-test kit for when you get home.

  3. Mona

    Do the same rules apply to Permanent Residents as Canadian Citizens in regards if you are vaccinated or unvaccinated?
    Like can unvaccinated permanent citizens also come back into Canada and follow the same rules as unvaccinated Canadian citizen?

    1. Andrew D'Amours

      Yes, in terms of entry rules, Canada considers citizens and permanent residents equally. No difference at all 🙂

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