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January 22, 2021

International air travellers now required to present negative COVID-19 test result to gain entry into Canada

The Government of Canada has implemented measures aimed to better protect Canadians from the spread of COVID-19 and its new variants. International travellers arriving in Canada by air must have evidence that they have tested negative for COVID-19 before travelling or returning to Canada. While research continues to gain a better understanding of whether a vaccinated person can still transmit COVID-19, those who have already been vaccinated will still require proof of a negative test result at this time.

The test must be performed using a COVID-19 molecular polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test or a Loop-mediated Isothermal Amplification (LAMP) test and must be taken within 72 hours prior to the traveller’s scheduled departure to Canada. Antigen test results will not be accepted. The negative test may be presented to the airline or private operator electronically or by a paper copy.

The negative test result must indicate the following information:

  • traveller name and date of birth;
  • name and address of the laboratory that administered the test;
  • the date the test was conducted;
  • the method of the test conducted; and
  • the test result.

The requirement applies to all air passengers five years of age or older and the negative lab test result must be presented at the airline prior to boarding the flight to Canada. Upon arrival in Canada, travellers are still required to quarantine for 14 days even though they have proof of a negative test result in hand. Only travellers fitting a clear exception under the Quarantine Act are exempted from the mandatory 14-day quarantine period. Some of these exceptions include:

  • children who are four years old or younger;
  • transiting passengers (not entering Canada through a border port);
  • specific individuals or groups identified by Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer or Minister of health; and
  • individuals that have been granted an extraordinary exemption from Transport Canada.

Travellers arriving or returning to Canada by air, must also use the ArriveCAN App or go to before checking in at the airport to submit travel and contact information, a quarantine plan (or exemption if applicable), and a COVID-19 symptom self-assessment. The Government of Canada will review all quarantine plans for suitability.

Given the limitations of this testing window and the fact that border closure laws change frequently, travel is not recommended at this time, if possible. Those that travel should prepare themselves well ahead of time for questions that may be posed by the  Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) at the port of entry to Canada, in the CBSA’s effort to do their part in controlling the spread of Covid-19.  ..

Your quarantine plan must include where you will stay, how you will get there, and how you will access essential services and medical care, if required. It is also important to note that any COVID-19 test taken abroad is most likely not covered through a travellers health plan or travel insurance.  Failure to quarantine upon arrival in Canada, if required to, is an offence with consequences and penalties.

We are available to answer your questions.

We recognize the significant economic and personal consequences facing our clients at this difficult time. Our team of lawyers practising in various practice areas is available to assist and provide you with the legal information you required to make informed decisions.

Our key contact for immigration and cross border related matters is:

Sofia Mirza  (204) 957-8335

With reports from Daniel Giles.