You are currently viewing Random testing upon arrival returns in Canada very soon (in 4 airports)

Canada is bringing back random testing for fully vaccinated travelers, at least for a small portion of people. It had been suspended for entry by air, but unfortunately, it’s coming back soon (it has always been in effect by land).

Virtually no country in the world is adding travel requirements; 62 countries have lifted all rules, as World Health Organization experts recommended over 6 months ago.

But here in Canada, to no one’s surprise, it continues.

Here are the details.


Return of random testing

Here’s what we know:

  • Random testing returns for vaccinated travelers
    • For entry by air
    • It has always been in effect for entry by land
    • All mandatory testing for unvaccinated travelers continues
    • Entry rules are just for entry into the country, not if you’ve already entered
  • Random testing is only for entries via 4 airports
    • Toronto (YYZ)
    • Montréal (YUL)
    • Vancouver (YVR)
    • Calgary (YYC)
  • Tests won’t be done in airports directly
    • In person (stores or pharmacies)
    • At home in telehealth mode
  • Unvaccinated travelers to be released from quarantine
    • To take the test in person
  • Selected travelers will be notified by email
    • After “completing their customs declaration”
    • They’ll receive the email within “15 minutes” apparently
    • Good luck to senior citizens
  • 10-day isolation is required if the test is positive
  • It takes effect on July 19
  • Here’s the link to the press release if you’re interested

Here’s what we don’t know:

  • How many travelers will be randomly selected
  • How many people will be able to get tested in telehealth mode
    • Instead of having to go somewhere
  • If there are many screening locations
    • In areas far from the 4 airports, for example
  • How you get the at-home test kit if you only know after 15 minutes
    • Those who apply the #1 travel tip are long gone after 15 minutes
  • What data justifies this
    • When just about no other Western country has arrival tests
  • What type of test it is
    • A molecular test like before?
    • A rapid antigen test (unlikely)?
  • Why unvaccinated travelers will be allowed to go to the pharmacy
    • Their strict quarantine is supposedly so vital to protect us
  • What happens with those that don’t have an email address
    • I suppose that must be common in older age groups
  • Why only in 4 airports if tests aren’t done in the airport anyway
    • Those arriving in Ottawa or Edmonton aren’t less of a risk
  • Why the isolation period lasts for 10 days
    • When some provinces have eliminated isolation altogether
    • When most have at least lowered it to 5 days
  • If taxpayers will keep paying for the initial contracts
    • It was over 1 billion dollars for airport testing

Flytrippers contacted Health Canada media relations to ask them for clarifications, so we’ll keep you posted (our free newsletter will give you all the relevant updates and lots of tips and deals to travel more for less).

However, if the last 2 years tell us anything, it happened so many times before that they didn’t even know the details of their own policies even a few days (or hours) before they took effect, so I wouldn’t get my hopes up. They’ve had over a month to prepare this — in other words, it’s not enough for politicians, who’ve been very slow all along when it comes to travel, so they’ll probably finalize this late on the 18th.

We suspect the percentage of travelers selected will probably be very small, but it’s still a shame that Canada continues to hound travelers after pretty much all other measures in the country have been lifted. 

The time to get over this was a long time ago, but now, it’s really more than time.


Reminder of Canada’s entry rules

You can read our ultimate guide to Canada’s entry rules, but I want to remind you of the basics at least.

As of today, if you’re vaccinated, you just need to fill out the ArriveCAN app. That’s it (with random testing in place at the land border, though).

To be clear, Canada’s definition of “vaccinated” has never changed:

  • 2 doses of an approved vaccine (or 1 dose of Johnson & Johnson)
  • Received at least 14 full days before entry
  • With proof in English or French (or with certified translation)
  • No booster dose required
  • No expiration date for vaccines

If you’re not vaccinated, nothing changes with today’s announcement (unfortunately):


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Not very encouraging news: random testing upon arrival is back in Canada’s 4 major airports, effective July 19.

What would you like to know on random testing? Tell us in the comments below.


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Featured image: Test (photo credit: Norbert Braun)

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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 2 Comments

  1. Valeria

    this random testing is beyond me, we should all complain to the government for this absurdity. I found this email where we can complain:
    I was tested randomly after coming back to the USA. Got the email that i was selected 4 DAYS after i entered Canada. Nobody told me at the airport. It took me few days to understand what i had to do when finally the Lab testing in Montreal told me they would send me the kit. Believe it or not, i finally did the test 10 days after i entered Canada!
    Even if i was positive, it wouldnt have been because i travelled but most likely got it while in Canada. And i bet that if i was positive i would have been in the statistic of travelers returning to Canada and bringing the evil virus to good citizens that are not travelling and staying safe!!!

    1. Andrew D'Amours

      Like everything else they put in place, it all seems very well managed once again 🤡

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