Canada travel restrictions 2021

Canada’s New COVID Travel Restrictions and Exemptions for Feb 2021

In March 2020, travel restrictions to Canada were created to help slow the spread of COVID19.

Late in January 2021, the Canadian Government came up with a set of restrictions that aims to stop non-essential travel or discretionary travel to the country. The travel restrictions dubbed as unprecedented action to prevent the spread of COVID-19 have into effect as indicated by several reports. The new set of travel restrictions covers the details related to quarantine protocols in the country, international flights, COVID-19 testing, and who can travel.

Travel restrictions are unprecedented

According to a news release on January 29, 2021, the government and Canada’s airlines have agreed to suspend all flights to and from Mexico and Caribbean countries until April 30, 2021. This will be in effect as of January 31, 2021.

As part of the travel restrictions, the funneled commercial flights will be managed at four Canadian airports-- the Montréal-Trudeau International Airport, Toronto Pearson International Airport, Calgary International Airport, and Vancouver International Airport. The new travel restrictions will also be applicable for the scheduled commercial passenger flights arriving from the United States, Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, and South America, which were exempted from the previous restriction. Private or business and charter flights from all countries will also be asked to land at one of the four airports. However, the flights from Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon and cargo-only flights will remain exempt.

Hotel Quarantine and PCR Tests Upon Arrival

Once you arrive by any mode of transport--- land, air, or sea--- if you are a foreign national you will be checked by officials before the point of exit for symptoms of COVID-19. If you have any symptoms, you will not be allowed inside the country.

The next important aspect is your quarantine plan for the 14-day period. Your plan must cover where you plan to stay, how you will reach your destination, arranging groceries, and how you plan to access essential services and medical care. The plan is mandatory for everyone, irrespective of them having symptoms or not.

A PCR test on arrival will also be mandatory for those returning to Canada, along with the pre-departure test requirements that were implemented earlier.

The plan proposed by the government for travelers includes them being put up at a government-approved hotel at their own expense for up to three days, till their PCR test results are available. The cost of the accommodation is about $2,000 per person. Screening officers have been made responsible to visit travelers’ quarantine locations to contact them, verify and confirm identity, and ensure that the travelers stay put at the place of quarantine they have mentioned in the details furnished during their entry into Canada. The officers will be conducting visits in 35 cities across the country, starting in Montréal and Toronto. The release also says that the ‘Government of Canada will introduce a 72-hour pre-arrival testing requirement (molecular test) for travelers seeking entry in land mode, with limited exceptions such as commercial truckers.’

As per the government release, ‘failure to provide accurate information is an offense under the Quarantine Act. Besides, violating any quarantine or isolation instructions provided to travelers by a Screening Officer or quarantine officer when entering Canada is also an offense under the Quarantine Act and could lead to serious penalties, including six months in prison and/or $750,000 in fines.’

Can US citizens travel to Canada right now?

The government recently revealed that those traveling via the border from the United States soon will be made to show negative tests before they enter. The government has indicated that this would soon be applicable for non-essential travelers. Talks have been on between the countries for taking sufficient steps to ensure that the land ports of entry are also governed by safety measures.

As per the government website, all foreign nationals, including the citizens of the United States can travel to Canada only if they’re eligible.

You are eligible if you meet one of the criteria below:

  • If you have an immediate family member of a Canadian citizen, a person registered under Canada’s Indian Act, or a permanent resident who is staying in Canada for 15 days or more
  • If there is an extended family member of a Canadian citizen, a person registered under Canada’s Indian Act, or a permanent resident who is staying in Canada for 15 days or more application for extended family exemption required

  • If you are authorized by the Public Health Agency of Canada to travel to Canada for compassionate reasons. These reasons include being present during the final moments of the life of a loved one, caregiving for a critically ill person, caregiving for a person who needs medical support and taking part in a funeral or end of life ceremony.

What are the exemptions?

You can travel to and enter Canada if you are one of the following

  • A Canadian citizen
  • A dual Canadian citizen with a valid Canadian passport or with a special authorization
  • A permanent resident of Canada
  • A person registered under Canada’s Indian Act
  • A protected person
  • students
  • a temporary worker who already lives in Canada or has all of the following:
  1. Has a letter of introduction for a work permit (open or employer-specific)
  2. Has a valid job offer
  3. Can work once you enter Canada and complete your 14-day quarantine (unless you’re exempt)