Updated: Aug 01, 2022
As travel to Canada becomes easier, more and more travellers are preparing for trips to the country. However, even people who regularly visited Canada before the Covid-19 pandemic will find that travel regulations have changed. One of the most important changes is the introduction of ArriveCAN, the government's travel information app. If you're planning a trip to Canada, understanding what ArriveCAN does and how to use it is vital to a smooth and safe journey.
ArriveCAN is mandatory for almost all travellers entering Canada. There are some exceptions, however, mainly based on accessibility. If you're unable to use ArriveCAN because of a disability, or if your country restricts your access to the app or site, you may be exempt. Similarly, if access to the site has been disrupted for a large area by a natural disaster or other outage, you may be exempt. Finally, some categories of travellers, such as asylum seekers or resettled refugees, don't have to use ArriveCAN.
You also may not need to use ArriveCAN if you're passing through Canada enroute to another country. Air travellers who aren't leaving the secure section of the airport but catching a connecting flight to somewhere other than Canada do not need to submit their details using ArriveCAN. For most people, however, ArriveCAN is required.
The ArriveCAN app is available for both Android and iOS devices; you can download it either from Google Play or from the Apple App Store. The app is free, so beware of sites that claim you need to pay for it. ArriveCAN is available in English, French and Spanish.
If you don't have access to an Android or iOS device, you can use ArriveCAN via its web interface. The web interface can also be useful if you use assistive technology such as a magnifier or screen reader. If you're an Internet Explorer user, you'll need to switch to another web browser, since the web version of ArriveCAN isn't compatible with IE.
When you sign into ArriveCAN, you'll be asked to provide details about yourself and about your journey. You'll need access to your travel documents, such as passports and visas. Once you've finished your first submission, you'll be able to save personal information for each traveller, meaning that you won't have to resubmit that information the next time you want to visit Canada.
For each person travelling on the journey, you'll have to submit full contact information. In addition, you'll need to provide the reason for your travel, as well as the details of your journey. This information includes your flight details if you're arriving by air, port of origin and boarding time if you're arriving by sea, and date, time, and port of arrival in all cases.
If you've been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, you'll be asked to provide proof of your vaccination. In order to be considered fully vaccinated, you'll need to have received a full set of doses of one of the vaccines accepted by the Canadian government. Your final dose must have been received at least 14 days before you plan to enter Canada. Additionally, the document proving that you are vaccinated must be in either English or French; if it isn't, you'll need to provide a certified translation.
If you haven't been vaccinated, or if you've started your vaccination but not finished it, you'll have more to do on ArriveCAN before travelling. Assuming you're allowed to enter the country -- restrictions are much tighter for non-Canadians who have not been fully vaccinated -- you'll need to get an approved Covid-19 test and upload the result to ArriveCAN. This can either be a molecular test, such as a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, or an antigen test. In the case of an antigen test, you must take the test within one day of your flight or arrival. If you're taking a molecular test, you must take the test within 72 hours of your flight or arrival. The only exception to this is if you have previously received a positive result on a molecular test. If this occurred between 10 and 180 days of your flight or arrival, you can also upload the result to ArriveCAN and use it as proof of a previous infection.
Both vaccinated and unvaccinated travellers must upload a quarantine plan to ArriveCAN. This plan will usually not apply to you if you're fully vaccinated, but you still need to upload it in case you are required to quarantine. If you are not vaccinated, you will have to quarantine unless you are exempt (for instance, if you are travelling to Canada to provide essential services). Your quarantine plan must show that you have access to a place where you can stay for 14 days with access to food, water and other necessities. You will need to be able to avoid contact with other people, including family and friends. If you are required to quarantine, you will also use ArriveCAN to report when you arrive at your quarantine location.
Once you've finished providing your information, you'll see an ArriveCAN receipt appear in the app. If you completed your submission using the web version of ArriveCAN, a copy of the receipt will be emailed to the address you provided. This receipt doesn't validate the information you've provided or confirm your eligibility to enter Canada. However, it's still important as proof that you have submitted your information as required. You'll need to show your receipt to your airline or other carrier before boarding. When you arrive in Canada, you'll need to show your receipt along with your proof of vaccination or Covid-19 test results to a border services officer. You can do this by taking a screenshot of the receipt, printing out a copy, or showing the digital receipt in your email or the ArriveCAN app.
Your ArriveCAN receipt can also help you confirm that you've qualified for vaccinated traveller status. Look for a letter next to your name on the receipt. If you see an (A), (V) or (I) by your name, ArriveCan has confirmed that you've uploaded your proof of vaccination. If you don't see this letter but have been fully vaccinated, check the app again to confirm that you have uploaded all the required documentation.
Once you've received your ArriveCAN receipt, you can't edit your submission. If you need to alter your details (for instance, if your travel plans change), you will need to create a new submission.
In total, creating your ArriveCAN account and filling out your first submission should take you around 10 to 20 minutes.
If you're vaccinated, you won't use ArriveCAN much after you arrive in Canada. Even if you are selected for random Covid-19 screening, you won't use the app to report your test results. Instead, follow the instructions you receive when chosen for screening. If you are a member of a group submission that includes unvaccinated travellers, you will receive notifications intended for the group. Additionally, if you are selected for random screening, you will get emails from the app reminding you about the test.
If you're unvaccinated, you will use ArriveCAN during your testing and quarantine period. You'll use it to complete daily self-assessments that monitor your health during quarantine, as well as to report that you have completed the test you will be required to take on the eighth day of quarantine. You will receive notifications from the app asking you to complete all of these steps. Daily self-assessments should take no more than a few minutes to complete.
If you're flying into either Vancouver International Airport or Toronto Pearson International Airport, you can also use ArriveCAN to fill out your Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) declaration in advance, saving time on arrival. This feature is currently only available for users of the web version of ArriveCAN, not the app. Using the advance CBSA declaration is optional; you can still fill it out on arrival if you prefer.
Once you've completed your journey, or even while you're waiting to complete your quarantine period, you can delete the ArriveCAN app. If you have to complete daily check-ins, you will need to use the web version of ArriveCAN to do so. Deleting the app will not delete your account, which you can do separately in the app or on the web. However, if you delete your account before entering Canada, your receipt will also be deleted. You'll have to register again and resubmit your information if you want to enter the country.
The ArriveCAN app and web service are a key part of Canada's strategy to manage the spread of Covid-19 while still keeping travellers moving through the nation's airports and across its borders. Submitting your travel information on ArriveCAN ahead of departure takes a few extra minutes, but it helps to ensure that your experience at border control will go smoothly and that you and others can travel to Canada safely.