Requirements for COVID-19 vaccinated travellers

Updated: May 28, 2022 | Tags: Canada eTA, Canada Visa, COVID-19

 With new travel rules for passengers who have been vaccinated against Covid-19, visiting Canada is easier than it's been at any point since the start of the pandemic. There are still rules to follow, though, so if you're planning on travelling to Canada, make sure that you've done everything you need to. You'll need to be able to show Canadian authorities that you have been vaccinated and tested, as well as demonstrating that you can quarantine safely if you need to. Failure to provide this information can lead to delays or even prevent you from boarding your flight or entering Canada. To ensure a smooth and safe journey, make sure you know the rules that apply to vaccinated international travellers to Canada.

Who is a vaccinated traveller?

Canada's new travel rules apply to people who have been vaccinated. But one dose doesn't mean that you automatically qualify for these exemptions. In order to meet the requirements, you must have completed a full course of doses for one of eight vaccines recognised by the Canadian government. These vaccines are:

  • AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD
  • Bharat Biotech
  • Janssen/Johnson & Johnson
  • Moderna
  • Novavax
  • Pfizer-BioNTech
  • Sinopharm BIBP
  • Sinovac

You may have received two doses of the same vaccine, or one dose each of two different vaccines; either is acceptable. If you received the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine, you may only have received one dose. This is the only vaccine where a single dose can qualify you as a vaccinated traveller.

The date of your vaccination also plays a role in determining your vaccinated traveller status. You must have received your final dose at least 14 days before your flight departs (or before the date of your arrival in Canada, if you're travelling by land or sea).

Proving your vaccination status

In order to demonstrate that you have received the required doses, you'll need proof of vaccination. If the original document isn't in English or French, you will need a certified translation into one of these languages. The translation must be stamped by or bear the membership number of a professional translators' association. When you travel, you will need to bring both the original document and the translation; keep them together.

Using ArriveCAN

Like all travellers to Canada, vaccinated travellers need to register their personal and journey information using ArriveCAN. This mobile app is available for Android and iOS devices from Google Play or the App Store. If you don't have access to an Android or iOS device, or if you need assistive technology such as a screen reader, you can use the web version of ArriveCAN. ArriveCAN is available in English, French, or Spanish.

There are a small number of exemptions for travellers who are not able to use ArriveCAN. For instance, if a disability prevents you from using the app, or if you are travelling from an area where the app is not available as a result of government censorship or lack of internet access, you could be exempt. Similarly, asylum seekers and refugees may be exempt from the ArriveCAN requirement. Most travellers, however, will have to submit their travel details using ArriveCAN.

Once you create an ArriveCAN account, you will be asked to submit your personal and travel details. This must be within 72 hours before your arrival in Canada. You will also need to provide evidence of your quarantine plan, although fully vaccinated travellers typically don't need to go into quarantine on arrival. This plan is still required both because it could be needed in the event of a positive test during screening and because your eligibility for the fully vaccinated exemption will only be determined when you arrive.

Once you have completed your ArriveCAN submission, you will receive a receipt, either within the app or via email if you use the web version. Be sure to check the receipt for a letter next to your name. If you see an (I), (V), or (A), ArriveCAN has registered your vaccination status.

Travelling with unvaccinated children

Even if you have been vaccinated, you may be travelling with children who are too young to have received their vaccine doses. Any unvaccinated children travelling with you need to provide proof of a Covid-19 test before boarding a plane or before arriving in Canada if travelling by land or sea. The acceptable tests for travel are:

  • a negative antigen test within 24 hours of travel
  • a negative molecular test within 72 hours of travel
  • a positive molecular test more than 10 but fewer than 180 days before travel.

At the border

When you arrive in Canada, you'll need to be able to present border services officers with evidence that you are permitted to enter the country. You should be prepared to show your ArriveCAN receipt, as well as your proof of vaccination. This can be an original document or a paper copy; digital copies are not accepted. You'll also need the test results for any unvaccinated children travelling with you. You'll need to be able to document your quarantine plan. And the travel documents you present, such as passports or visas, will need to match the ones you submitted via ArriveCAN.

Post-arrival screening

Covid-19 testing following arrival in the country was once mandatory for most travellers. Following changes in travel restrictions, most vaccinated travellers no longer have to go through this process. However, some vaccinated travellers are still required to take tests as part of a random screening process.

When you arrive at the Canadian border, a border services officer may tell you that you've been selected for random testing. If you have an unvaccinated child over the age of 5 travelling with you, they will also need to be tested. This test could be done by a testing service at the airport; alternatively, you may receive a home testing kit to take with you. If you're entering the country via the land border with the United States, you will always be given a swab kit.

If you take your test at an airport testing facility, you should receive your results within approximately 72 hours. If you receive a home testing kit, take the test within 24 hours, following the instructions included. You should receive your results within four to seven days.

If you're arriving in Canada by air, you can register in advance with the test providers at 16 Canadian airports. The test providers at Montreal and Quebec airports do not require pre-registration, but if you're travelling through another airport, you can save time by pre-registering with the test provider there. When registering, be sure to use the same email address you used when creating your ArriveCAN account.

If you're flying into Abbotsford, Kelowna, Regina, Saskatoon, Vancouver or Victoria airports, your test provider is LifeLabs. If your destination is Calgary, Edmonton, Halifax, Hamilton, Ottawa, St John's, Waterloo, Billy Bishop Toronto City, or Toronto Pearson airports, your test provider is Switch Health. Finally, Dynacare is the test provider for Winnipeg airport.

Although it may take a few days for you to receive the results from your post-arrival test, you don't need to self-isolate while waiting for them as long as you have no symptoms. You only need to isolate if the test comes back positive. If you receive a positive test result, you will have to isolate for 10 days; additionally, unvaccinated children travelling with you will need to isolate for 14 days even if they do not test positive themselves. This extended isolation period reflects the higher risk of infection for unvaccinated travellers.

Public health measures

Even if you test negative for Covid-19 and show no symptoms, you must follow some simple public health guidelines while in Canada. For the first 14 days of your stay, you need to wear a mask in public spaces. During the same period, you should also maintain a record of the places you visit and the people with whom you come into close contact. You'll also need to retain paper copies of your proof of vaccination and the test you took before coming to Canada for that 14-day period.

Regardless of how long you stay in Canada, you must always follow local public health instructions and stay alert for symptoms of Covid-19 infection. Local regulations may sometimes be different from federal ones, so be on the lookout for information about guidelines from city or provincial authorities. When there are two rules that might apply to a situation, always put safety first by choosing the stricter option.

Changing rules

As the coronavirus situation changes, the regulations that govern travel will change to reflect it. To make sure that you've done everything you need to do in order to travel, and to make sure that you're not doing anything you don't need to do, stay up to date with the rules governing entry to Canada and be on the lookout for updates.

Get started on your eTA application

If you hold a passport from a country that is eligible for the Canada eTA such as the UK, Ireland, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, or many other eTA eligible countries, you will need to obtain an approved eTA before your tourism, business or medical visit to Canada. Get started on your application, otherwise, visit the eTA requirements to learn more about the Canada eTA

Apply for Canada eTA