Last Updated on February 23, 2023
- On July 19, 2021, the Public Health Agency of Canada announced several key changes to COVID-19 border restriction policies. These changes will lift many existing restrictions for fully vaccinated U.S. travelers.
- On August 9, 2021, at 12:01 a.m. EDT, fully vaccinated citizens and permanent residents of the United States (currently living in the U.S.) will be permitted to enter Canada for non-essential, discretionary travel.
- For U.S. travelers without full-vaccination status, and all other foreign nationals, Canadian borders remain closed. Exemptions remain in place for individuals meeting requirements laid out in the Quarantine Act.
Eligible travelers must:
- Be a fully vaccinated American citizen or permanent resident; and
- Have received the complete series of a vaccine (or combination of vaccines) accepted by the Government of Canada at least 14 days prior to entering Canada:
- Acceptable vaccines are manufactured by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD, and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson);
- Travelers may receive their vaccine in any country;
- Travelers must present evidence supporting their vaccination in English, French or with a certified translation and the original.
Additionally, fully vaccinated travelers must:
- Submit all COVID-19-related information electronically through ArriveCAN, including proof of vaccination prior to departure for Canada (unless subject to exemption);
- Meet all pre-entry COVID-19 testing requirements;
- Be asymptomatic upon arrival to Canada; and,
- Possess a digital or paper version of vaccination documentation in French or English (or certified translation(s), along with the original). Government officials may ask to review them.
Important Note about Children:
Unvaccinated children under 12 years of age, and unvaccinated dependent children (with certain mental or physical conditions) carrying U.S. citizenship or permanent residence and living in the U.S. may enter Canada with fully vaccinated parent(s), step-parent(s), tutor(s), grandparent(s), and/or guardian(s) meeting the same criteria. Children’s information must be submitted electronically through ArriveCAN, and they must meet all testing requirements.
Finally, all travelers must still present a quarantine plan and prepare to fulfill it if border officers determine quarantine necessary. They will also be required to follow public health measures in place (i.e., masking in public places), for 14 days after entry in Canada. Air travelers must continue to mask in Canadian airports and on all flights to, from, and within Canada (regardless of vaccination status).
What are the Changes?
Beginning on August 9, 2021, the following changes will take effect:
New Testing Requirements
- Canadian citizens and permanent residents travelling to the U.S. for less than 72 hours may complete their pre-entry test in Canada.
- Any individuals who have recovered from COVID-19, but continue to test positive, may present a positive COVID-19 molecular test result on a specimen taken 14 to 180 days before arrival in Canada. This will satisfy part of the pre-arrival test criteria.
- Post-arrival testing for fully vaccinated travelers has changed. Fully vaccinated travelers will not need a post-arrival test unless they are randomly selected to participate in the new border testing surveillance program. If randomly selected, travelers will complete a Day 1 COVID-19 molecular test. This program seeks to track new COVID-19 variants and vaccine effectiveness.
- Mandatory testing requirements remain in place for unvaccinated travelers.
Lifting Temperature Screening Requirements
Effective August 9, 2021, Transport Canada will lift the requirement for the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) to collect pre-board temperature screenings. This change applies to passengers on all domestic flights and international departures (including Transborder). This also impacts airport workers.
Lifting Quarantine Requirements for Fully Vaccinated Travelers
Effective August 9, 2021, the Canadian government will eliminate the three-night government-authorized hotel stay requirement for air travelers. Mandatory quarantine requirements remain in place for unvaccinated travelers and unvaccinated children. Unvaccinated children may move around with their families, but they must avoid group settings for their first 14 days within Canada. Additional provincial rules may apply to unvaccinated children.
Eased Testing and Quarantine Requirements for Alternative Vaccination/Travel Situations
If travelers cannot be fully vaccinated due to a health condition, they may qualify for eased quarantine and testing requirements. These travelers will be required to follow a modified quarantine. More details will be released soon.
Travelers arriving in Canada by sea are now eligible for eased quarantine and testing requirements if they have received the complete series of a vaccine – or combination of vaccines – accepted by the Government of Canada at least 14 days prior to entering Canada (Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD, and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson)). Sea travelers must meet all other criteria, including pre-entry test requirements and electronic information submission via ArriveCAN before or when entering Canada. All sea travelers must provide a quarantine plan and be prepared to fulfill it, in case border officials determine they do not qualify for exemption.
As vaccination rates continue to rise and COVID-19 case numbers decrease, it is possible that the Canadian Government will relax more restrictions in time. Employers with U.S.-based (citizens or permanent residence), Canada-bound talent should explore options to send individuals across the border later this summer.
Content in this publication is not intended as legal advice, nor should it be relied on as such. For additional information on the issues discussed, consult an Envoy-affiliated attorney or another qualified professional.