COVID-19 has wrought havoc globally, and on many fronts – including travel.
Canada and the United States mutually agreed to close its shared land border to non-essential travel in March 2020, as a means of halting the pandemic’s spread. The border crossing status has been regularly re-evaluated by both sides and has now been extended until February 21, 2021. However, if you need to travel between both countries during the pandemic, there are things you should know before you go.
Canada has mandatory 14-day isolation and quarantine rules for anyone coming into Canada by land, air, or sea; failure to comply can result in fines, penalties, and possible imprisonment. A few people are exempt from quarantine rules, such as essential service providers, people who regularly cross the border for work, and people who live in communities that straddle the border. Some restrictions were loosened last summer to allow family members of Canadian citizens and residents to cross into Canada (although these travellers must still abide by mandatory quarantine rules).
A new rule was implemented this year. As of January 7, air travellers age 5 and older (regardless of citizenship) are required to provide their airline with proof of a negative COVID-19 test prior to boarding a Canada-bound flight. The test must be either a molecular polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, or Loop-mediated Isothermal Amplification (LAMP) test, and must have been conducted within 72 hours of the traveller’s scheduled departure to Canada. Travellers who do not submit these test results will be denied boarding.
Travellers entering Canada must submit their contact information, quarantine plan, and a COVID self-assessment to transportation officers upon arriving in Canada. Thankfully, there’s an app for that. ArriveCAN allows travellers to submit their information up to 365 days before their flight, thereby saving time and ensuring their forms are complete. ArriveCAN is available on iOS, Android, and online, and is also used for those entering the country by land or sea. (Note that proof of a negative COVID test cannot be submitted via ArriveCAN.)
We recommend studying the Government of Canada’s travel page in full before entering the country, to avoid confusion and ensure your trip is safe and stress-free.