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Since over 170 countries are open to Canadians and many of the cheapest flights are via the United States, many people are asking us how to transit in the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s really very very simple.

Here’s how it works, in case you’re tempted by one of the options on Flytrippers’ cheap flight deals page to one of the 175+ countries open to Canadians (like Mexico at $300), which are sometimes via the US.


Basics of travel during the pandemic

It’s worth repeating because it’s really important and so many people still don’t understand the very basics that we explain often, including in our ultimate guide on pandemic travel.

But traveling during the pandemic is just 3 simple steps (it was actually just 2 steps until October 30th; step 1 was added on that date):

  • Check the rules to board a plane here and follow them
  • Check the entry rules for the places you are going to and follow them
  • Check the entry rules for your return to Canada and follow them

And when we say “the places you are going to”, it obviously includes the places you’re transiting. You’re going there, so you need to check.

Some countries exempt transit passengers from their entry restrictions and entry requirements, others don’t. Each country makes its own rules as we’ve been repeating since it’s the most important thing to understand.

So in short, that doesn’t mean that all countries have rules for transits, but it does mean that like all travel rules, you really have to check.

There’s no way around it (otherwise you can always visit that place in your own province for 4 years in a row :P)!

If you’re here, it means you can read, so you’re fine. That’s all it takes. It’s not fun, but you just have to take the time to read the entry rules of the countries carefully. It’s more fun than staying in Canada for sure, in my opinion.

And finally, what you really shouldn’t do is believe or rely on anything you’ve heard or anyone else has said: No one knows what they’re talking about when it comes to travel rules and the vast majority of people are spreading misinformation and misleading you. Read for yourself or rely on travel experts, not your aunt on Facebook or any strangers on the internet who clearly don’t understand the travel rules. About 90% of what we read about travel rules is just plain wrong, it’s sad.


Rules for transiting the United States

Now for transiting the United States.

The answer is extremely simple: Transits do not exist in the US (pandemic or not), which is a bit unusual (and certainly not very well-known).

The United States is one of the few countries in the world where sterile international transits do not exist. Basically, this means that even for a connection, it’s exactly the same as if you were entering the country… even if you leave right after.

So the rules for transiting in the U.S. are exactly the same as for traveling in the U.S.


You can check out our newly-updated very detailed guide on how Canadians can travel to the United States.

In short:

  • Vaccination required to enter
  • Rapid antigen test required to enter by air (as low as $20 in some provinces)
  • Done in the 3 full calendar days before the day of the flight (NOT only 72 hours)
  • No test required to enter by land
  • That means no test to catch a flight from a US airport near the border

Obviously, this is in addition to the rules (restrictions and requirements) of the country you are going to.

There are 64 countries open with no requirements whatsoever, so those are ideal for avoiding the pre-entry test altogether if there are direct flights. Otherwise, another 24 countries are open with just the rapid antigen test that you need to transit through the US anyway.

That gives you a lot of options.

And finally, starting November 30th, you will need to be vaccinated to board a plane from a Canadian airport. Unvaccinated travelers can present a 72-hour molecular test as an alternative until then, obviously this same test would be accepted to enter the United States.


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Transiting in the United States involves exactly the same rules as traveling to the United States.

What do you want to know about transits in the USA? Tell us in the comments below.


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Cover photo: Chicago O’Hare Airport (photo credit: Miguel Ángel Sanz)

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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. Jan

    Like any updates on air travel to and from Canada & US

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