Effective today, April 1, fully immunized travelers entering Canada will no longer be required to provide a COVID-19 test prior to entry.
The federal government announced the change in March, citing vaccination and the stable number of COVID-19 cases at the time.
Here’s a look at what’s changing today.
What are the changes for vaccinated travellers?
Starting Friday, fully vaccinated travelers will no longer need a COVID-19 molecular test (such as a PCR test) or antigen test to enter Canada by land, air or sea.
Previously, travelers had to pass an overseas test to enter the country.
Border mayors, tourism officials and individuals have been calling on the government to drop the requirement for months, saying it was a major obstacle for businesses and families to cross the border.
Who is considered fully vaccinated?
A fully vaccinated traveler means you must have received at least two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine accepted or at least one dose of the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
You are also considered fully vaccinated if you received a mixture of two accepted COVID-19 vaccines.
You must have received the second dose at least 14 days before entering Canada.
Although you no longer need a COVID-19 test, anyone showing symptoms will still not be allowed to enter Canada.
The vaccines accepted by Canada for travel are:
- AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD (ChAdOx1-S, Vaxzevria, AZD1222).
- Bharat Biotech (Covaxin, BBV152 A, B, C).
- Janssen/Johnson & Johnson.
- Moderna (Spikevax, mRNA-1273) including for children 6-11 years old.
- Novavax (NVX-COV2373, Nuvaxovid, Covovax).
- Pfizer-BioNTech (Comirnaty, tozinameran, BNT162b2) including for children from 5 to 11 years old.
- Sinopharm BIBP (BBIBP-CorV).
- Sinovac (CoronaVac, PiCoVacc).
Should I always use the ArriveCAN app?
Yes, this requirement has not changed.
Everyone entering Canada, including fully immunized travellers, must complete a questionnaire on the ArriveCAN App or on the government website within 72 hours of entering Canada. Travelers will answer a series of questions and be required to upload digital proof of vaccination in English or French.
The government warns against third-party or fake apps. You can find the ArriveCAN page here.
Will you completely escape the tests?
Although there is no longer a pre-arrival testing requirement, some travelers may be randomly selected for a COVID-19 test.
A border services officer will tell you if you have been selected, and this includes those who are fully vaccinated.
If you are selected, you could receive an at-home test – often the only option at the land border – or you could be sent to a nurse if you arrive at an airport. Travelers collect tests or opt for swabs, then continue to their final destinations.
Travelers from overseas no longer need to self-quarantine while awaiting test results. The government said these tests will help track the arrival of variants in Canada.
If you are fully vaccinated and traveling to the United States by land or ferry, a test is not required. The United States dropped its testing requirements for land travelers last October.
However, if you are going to another country, you may need to take a test depending on the guidelines in that country.
What about unvaccinated travelers (including children)?
Unvaccinated or partially vaccinated Canadian travelers should still get tested.
They will undergo molecular testing upon arrival and on the eighth day after arrival. These travelers must quarantine for 14 days – regardless of their test results during this time.
The Canadian government announced three types of tests accepted and that the specific conditions that apply to each.
Children under five do not need a pre-entry test.
Generally, unvaccinated foreign nationals are not permitted to travel to Canada. There are some very limited exceptions.
People 12 and over four months or older who are not considered fully vaccinated still cannot board a train, plane or ferry in Canada.
Medevac flights and private flights that do not require access to an airport with a vaccination obligation are excluded.
Is this change permanent?
It is possible that Canada will bring back COVID-19 testing before arrival, and it has happened before.
Last fall, those traveling to the United States for 72 hours or less were exempt from providing a pre-entry test. But when the Omicron variant exploded, the government reversed that decision.
COVID-19 indicators in some parts of Canada, such as Ontario, have been trending higher in recent weeks following relaxed restrictions and a possible increase in travel due to the March break period.