Since over 190 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 190+ 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 sets of rules:
- Check the rules to board a plane in a Canadian airport
- Check the entry rules for the places you are going to
- Check the entry rules for your return to Canada
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 US are exactly the same as for traveling in the US.
You can check out our newly-updated very detailed guide on how Canadians can travel to the United States.
- Vaccination required to enter
- Rapid antigen test required to enter by air (as low as $17 in some provinces or $25 anywhere)
- Done on the day of your flight or the full calendar day before the day of the flight (NO “24-hour” limit)
- There is an exemption to the test requirement for those with a recent infection (not very practical)
- 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 120+ countries open with no requirements whatsoever, so those are ideal for avoiding the pre-entry test altogether if there are direct flights. Otherwise, another 30+ 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.
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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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