Vaccination Requirements to Travel to Canada
Canada has announced that it is removing all remaining Covid border restrictions, including the requirement for travelers to receive a vaccine.
On February 3, 2020, Canada's first COVID-19-related Order-in-Council went into effect. It was issued under Section 58 of the Quarantine Act (S.C. 2005, c. 20). To lessen the possibility of coming into contact with COVID-19, Canada has since adopted several revisions to its travel restrictions and criteria. However, a news release from the Canadian government on September 26, 2022, announced that all COVID-19 requirements and travel limitations would be lifted as of October 1, 2022.
Overview of the COVID-19 travel restrictions in Canada
Foreign citizens were not permitted to visit Canada for "optional or discretionary" (i.e., non-essential) purposes during the first half of the COVID-19 epidemic due to Canadian travel restrictions. The admission of foreign nationals traveling to Canada from the United States and foreign nationals traveling to Canada from any other country were both subject to separate sets of travel restrictions that were put in place by concurrent Orders-in-Council until very recently.
Near the end of 2021, with the release of COVID-19 vaccines, Canada started the process of easing its travel restrictions for foreign nationals deemed to be "completely vaccinated against COVID-19":
- The travel restrictions have been lifted as of August 9, 2021, for vaccinated US citizens and legal US permanent residents.
- Since September 7, 2021, any other foreign nationals who have received the required vaccinations are exempt from the travel restrictions.
With some exceptions, foreign people who do not fulfill the definition of a vaccinated person as set down by the Order-in-definition Council are prohibited from entering Canada.
Overview of the COVID-19 travel regulations for Canada
Since the start of the COVID-19 epidemic, Canada has also enacted several travel regulations that apply to all visitors (including citizens and residents of Canada with permanent residence):
- a self-isolation/self-quarantine provision that went into effect on March 25, 2020;
- a COVID-19 testing prerequisite for air travel, which went into effect on January 6, 2021;
- a need for pre-arrival COVID-19 testing for land and marine travel that went into effect on February 15, 2021;
- a requirement for post-arrival COVID-19 testing, which went into effect on February 21, 2021;
- a requirement that all air travelers stay in hotels for a mandated quarantine period starting on February 21, 2021 (this requirement ended on August 9, 2021, for all travelers regardless of vaccination status); and
- as of November 21, 2020, there is a mandatory ArriveCAN requirement.
Canada lowered its COVID-19 travel requirements for travelers who had received all necessary vaccinations once the COVID-19 vaccines were available. The majority of the COVID-19 travel rules set by the Current Order-in-Council do not apply to these fully immunized travelers.
Abolition of COVID-19 requirements and travel limitations
As previously stated, Canada will remove its COVID-19 requirements and travel limitations on October 1, 2022. The Canadian government confirmed in a news release that several circumstances, including the ones listed below, contributed to this development:
- Modeling indicates that the Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 wave's peak has mostly passed;
- High vaccination rates, low hospitalization and mortality rates in Canada; and
- The availability and application of booster shots.
All travelers (including Canadian citizens, Canadian permanent residents, and foreign nationalities) will no longer be necessary to perform the following as of October 1, 2022:
- Providing ArriveCAN with their vaccination and quarantine records;
- Demonstrating your COVID-19 vaccination status;
- Undergoing COVID-19 testing before or after arrival;
- Abide by the COVID-19-related guidelines for self-quarantine and self-isolation; and
- Observe/report any COVID-19 symptoms or signs that appear after they arrive in Canada.
Travelers may still use the Advance Declaration tool to submit their customs and immigration declarations before arrival even though ArriveCAN will no longer be required as of October 1, 2022. It won't be required to use this service, but it will be made available at most significant Canadian airports over the coming months to reduce traveler wait times.
According to the news release, using ArriveCAN's Advance Declaration reduces a traveler's time spent at a kiosk by around one-third. Even while this statement is true, it is unclear how many travelers will still utilize ArriveCAN as of October 1, 2022.
However, if the Canada Border Services Agency also creates a separate inspection line for people who have completed an advance declaration before arriving (which should speed up the inspection procedure even further), this may encourage travelers to continue using ArriveCAN after it is made optional.
The COVID-19 restrictions implemented by Transport Canada will expire on October 1, 2022, according to the news release. After that date, travelers will no longer need to:
- Certify their complete immunization status for air and sea travel;
- Undergoing health examinations before boarding trains and flights;
- Wear masks on trains and airplanes (although mask use is still advised); and
- Completing the ArriveCAN questionnaire within 72 hours of arriving in Canada
The following developments solely pertain to Canada's federal COVID-19 travel rules, according to the news release from the Canadian government. For instance:
- Each traveler shall continue to abide by any applicable COVID-19 provincial or territorial requirements; and
- The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act's admission standards must continue to be met by all foreign nationals (S.C. 2001, c. 27).
Finally, the news statement from the Canadian government warns travelers not to travel if they exhibit COVID-19 symptoms. When arriving in Canada, visitors who do experience symptoms should alert a flight attendant, cruise staff member, or border services officer. A quarantine officer may be tasked with determining if additional medical evaluations are necessary for such travelers before making a decision.
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