Since March 2020, Canada has been requiring a 14-day quarantine for arriving international travelers. Well, the country is now adding a further requirement, coinciding with fears of a new faster-spreading COVID-19 strain.
International travelers need a negative test result
As of January 7, 2021, Canada will require international travelers arriving into Canada by air to have tested negative for COVID-19 before traveling from another country:
- The test must be performed using a COVID-19 molecular polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, and must be taken within 72 hours prior to the traveler’s scheduled departure to Canada
- This applies to all travelers five years of age or older
- The negative test result must be presented at the airline check-in counter prior to boarding the flight to Canada
This requirement is reasonable enough, though it’s also worth posting a reminder that in many parts of the world it can still be tough to both get tested and get the results reliably within a 72 hour period.
While we’re seeing an increasing number of test kits designed specifically for travel for these purposes in the US, for example, there are many countries where they’re not readily available.
Getting tested within 72 hours of travel is still tricky in some places
Canada also has a mandatory 14-day quarantine
Since March 13, 2020, Canada has been advising against non-essential travel, though hasn’t outright banned it. Canada’s new negative PCR test requirement is in addition to Canada’s mandatory 14-day self-quarantine for arriving international travelers, meaning that you’ll need both a negative test and a quarantine to enter Canada.
The government notes that those violating the self-quarantine can face up to six months in prison and/or up to $750,000 in fines, though based on everything I’ve heard, enforcement hasn’t been particularly strict.
Airlines have been trying to persuade the government to drop the 14-day quarantine in favor of a more rigorous testing program, though as of now that hasn’t happened. Instead we’re now seeing both testing and quarantine requirements.
Canada also has a mandatory for 14-day quarantine for international travel
Canada’s borders are still closed to most
While Canada now has both a testing and quarantine requirement, the country is still closed to most foreigners. Only Canadians, as well as those who qualify under certain other exceptions (like having family in Canada, traveling for essential business, etc.), are allowed to enter Canada.
For example, the border between the US and Canada has been closed since March, and the closure has been extended by a month at a time on fairly short notice since then. At this point it seems highly likely that borders won’t reopen until case numbers decrease significantly, and/or there’s widespread vaccination.
Canada’s borders are still closed to most foreigners
As of January 7, 2021, Canada will require arriving international travelers to present a negative PCR test, in addition to quarantining for 14 days. On top of that, most non-Canadians are banned from entering the country, so this applies mostly to Canadians who choose to travel abroad.
I can’t think of many countries that are aiming for zero cases (like Australia and New Zealand) that have both a testing and quarantine requirement, so Canada is unique in that sense.
What do you make of Canada’s new coronavirus testing requirement for international travelers?