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Ask Tito Mike by Michael Scott  

Canada takes steps to curb non-essential travel

by Michael Scott

Canada has some of the strictest travel and border measures in the world, including a mandatory 14-day quarantine for everyone returning to the country. In response to reports of the spread of COVID-19 variants increasing in the country, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) announced new measures to control travelers in a press release dated February 12, 2021. The new measures include further testing and quarantine requirements for international travelers arriving at Canada’s air and land ports of entry. The PHAC restrictions have been done in concert with IRCC who have restricted non-essential travel, with some exemptions, from the U.S. until March 21, 2021 and from other world areas for two months until April 21, 2021.

All travelers arriving at land ports of entry as of February 15, 2021, with some exceptions, will be required to present proof of a negative COVID-19 molecular test result taken in the United States within 72 hours of pre-arrival or a positive test taken 14 to 90 days prior to arrival. Effective February 22, 2021, travelers entering by land will be required to take a COVID-19 molecular test on arrival and again at the end of their mandatory 14-day quarantine.

Travelers arriving at airports as of February 22, 2021, with some exemptions, will be required to take a COVID-19 molecular test when they arrive in Canada before exiting the airport and again at the end of their 14-day quarantine period. The airport POEs are now limited to four in number: Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Calgary. Travelers should also have made reservations for a three-night stay at a government-authorized hotel prior to departure to Canada. These measures are in addition to existing mandatory pre-boarding and health requirements for air travelers.

For all travelers effective February 22, 2021, all travelers, by land or air, will be required to submit their travel and contact information, including a suitable quarantine plan, electronically via ArriveCAN before crossing the border or boarding a flight.

Quick facts

  • Canadian citizens, persons registered under the Indian Act, and permanent residents arriving by landed must present a valid COVID-19 molecular test. The failure to provide the test results may be subject to a fine of up to $3,000 per day or face criminal prosecution. Travelers may be required to go to a designated quarantine facility if they are symptomatic on arrival at the border or do not have a suitable quarantine plan;
  • Foreign nationals, who have obtained an exemption to enter Canada, will be refused admission if they do not have a valid COVID-19 molecular test result;
  • Failure to provide accurate information is an offence under the Quarantine Act and violations to any quarantine or isolation instructions could lead to penalties including six months in prison and/or fines up to $750,000;
  • Some exemptions continue to ensure that economic supply chains between Canada and the U.S, continue, including flexibility on long distance trucking etc.

It is important to consider if your travel plans are essential or not. The restrictions for non-essential travel are harsh and indicative of Canada’s opposition to non-essential travel by Canadians abroad or foreign travel to Canada during the pandemic and the scare related to the spread of variants. Now is not the best time to travel for pleasure. If you are unsure about the requirements, take time to find out specific information about the requirement for a COVID-19 molecular test and reservations at government-authorized hotels and/or quarantine plans prior to traveling to Canada.

Michael Scott is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC, R525678) who has 30 years of experience with Immigration Canada and the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program. He currently works as a licensed consultant with Immigration Connexion International Ltd. Contact him at 204-691-1166 or 204-227-0292. E-mail:

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