Traveling to Canada during Covid-19: What you need to know before you go

If you're into winter sports, Canada has plenty of options.

If you're planning to travel to Canada, here's what you'll need to know and expect if you want to visit during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The basics

Canada is dealing with its third Covid-19 wave and is now reporting close to 8,000 Covid-19 cases a day on average. There are strict rules on entry for all, including Canadian citizens and their relatives. All arrivals must quarantine for 14 days.

On April 22, Canada announced it's banning passenger flights from India and Pakistan for 30 days. Travelers who depart from those countries but arrive in Canada via an indirect route will need to obtain a negative COVID-19 pre-departure test from a third country before continuing their journey to Canada.

People older than five flying into Canada are required to provide written or electronic documentation showing they received a negative result from a Covid-19 PCR or RT-LAMP test conducted within 72 hours before their scheduled boarding.

Most incoming air travelers are required to take an additional Covid-19 test when they land and quarantine in a government-supervised hotel for up to three days at their own expense while awaiting the results.

If the test comes back negative, they can spend the remainder of their 14-day quarantine period at home.

At this time, vaccinated travelers are not exempt from any of these rules.

Meanwhile, flights from Canada to Mexico and the sun-soaked Caribbean are suspended until at least June 4.

As for travelers arriving by land, as of February 15, all visitors -- with some exceptions -- are required to provide proof of a negative Covid-19 molecular test result taken in the United States within 72 hours of pre-arrival, or a positive test taken 14 to 90 days before arrival.

On February 4, the Canadian government announced no cruise ships will be permitted to sail in Canadian waters until at least March 1, 2022.

What's on offer

This is the ultimate destination for adventure. Whether it's skiing and snowboarding in the Rockies or bear watching in the wilds of Ontario, Canada has everything to satisfy travelers who want to spend time in the great outdoors.

Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal and Quebec City are all perfect for city breaks, with first rate culture, food and entertainment on offer.

Who can go

Citizens and permanent residents are allowed to enter Canada, but they must quarantine for 14 days. Immediate and extended family members, including those without Canadian citizenship, can enter for any reason as long as they are staying in the country for more than 15 days (they must also quarantine). Those coming for fewer than 15 days can only enter for an essential purpose.

All extended family members (but not immediate family) must also have written permission from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). For more information, click here. Only essential travel and transiting passengers are otherwise allowed.

What are the restrictions?

Earlier this year, Canada implemented further testing and quarantine requirements for international travelers arriving in Canada by air and land. Only four major airports are accepting international flights: Montreal, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver.

All permitted arrivals must use the ArriveCAN app or website to submit travel and contact information, a 14-day quarantine plan and a Covid-19 symptom self-assessment.

The quarantine plan must detail where you will stay, how you will get there and how you will arrange for delivery of essentials such as groceries and medicine. Failure to stick to the plan can lead to six months' jail time and a CAD$750,000 (US$593,000) fine.

Additionally, all arrivals are given a health screening by a border officer to assess any symptoms.

Prince Edward Island, Canada's smallest province, has adopted some of the country's strictest Covid-19 prevention measures, with nonresidents needing to apply for approval to visit in advance.

You can keep up with detailed travel rules among the provinces here.

What's the Covid-19 situation?

Canada is now in the midst of a nationwide Covid-19 vaccine program.

Canada dealt with the initial wave of Covid-19 well. However, a deadly second wave in late 2020 led to new restrictions. Currently, the country is battling a third wave of the virus, which has led to a new round of restrictions.

Multiple provinces have reintroduced lockdown measures in response to increasing case counts. The majority of the country's new cases are in Ontario.

What can visitors expect?

Mask mandates vary between provinces.

Restrictions are being reimposed in multiple provinces due to the third wave, and inter-provincial travel is discouraged. In British Columbia, restaurants and bars are closed for indoor dining. Outdoor patio seating and take-out or delivery is allowed.

The province of Alberta has banned restaurants and bars from offering in-person dining.

In Toronto, bars and restaurants are also limited to take out service only. In Montreal, a curfew is in place from 9:30 p.m. to 5 a.m.

Most Canadian provinces continue to advise people to keep a distance of two meters (6.5 feet) to cut the spread of the virus.

Useful links

Our recent coverage

Ottawa made it into our list of best winter cities. We've looked at Old Quebec's European charm. And if you're into extreme skiing, Canada has options here. The Revitalization Project tattoos women in the remote Inuit communities.

Joe Minihane, Julia Buckley and Karla Cripps contributed to this report

Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Please log in, or sign up for a new, free account to read or post comments.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.

Support Local Journalism

Now, more than ever, the world needs trustworthy reporting—but good journalism isn’t free. Please support us by subscribing or making a contribution today.