New Canadian travel and border measures take effect tomorrow

Alexandra Miekus
Updated: Aug, 21, 2023
  • Published: November 29, 2021

Full vaccination against COVID-19 will be required in Canada for all travellers aged 12 years and older starting tomorrow, November 30.

The new rules apply to the federally regulated transportation sector. This includes VIA Rail and Rocky Mountaineer trains, all Canadian airports, and passenger vessels engaged in voyages of 24 hours or more, such as cruise ships. Road transportation, such as buses, for instance, is not subject to this policy.

Canada announced this measure last month and introduced it on October 30. At that time, a grace period was provided allowing travellers to present proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test instead of proof of vaccination, but this has now ended.

Only a small number of travellers now qualify for one of the limited exemptions, for example, those who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons.

A temporary measure has also been put in place to allow foreign nationals to leave Canada by air until February 28 without having to be vaccinated. Travellers wishing to make use of this exemption will be required to present a negative molecular test for COVID-19 before boarding a plane. Only travellers who entered Canada before October 30 are eligible under this special policy.

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Also effective November 30, fully vaccinated travellers authorized to enter Canada who will be leaving the country and returning within 72 hours of departure are no longer required to provide a molecular test result for COVID-19 in order to return.

This exemption only applies to travel by Canadian citizens, permanent residents or persons registered under the Indian Act who are fully vaccinated and who leave and return to Canada by air or land. It will be necessary for these individuals to be able to provide proof of vaccination. Children under 12 years of age and persons who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons are also covered by this new provision.

Any traveller going abroad for more than 72 hours will still be required to undergo the mandatory molecular test for COVID-19 before coming to Canada. Canada does not recognize antigen tests, often called “rapid tests,” for this purpose.

Since February of this year, Canada requires all incoming international travellers over age five to take a COVID-19 test regardless of whether they are vaccinated or not.

November 30 is also the date that Canada adds three new vaccines to the list of the ones travellers can receive to be considered fully immunized against COVID-19. Starting tomorrow, the following vaccines will be approved in Canada:

  • Sinopharm;
  • Sinovac;
  • Pfizer-BioNTech;
  • Moderna;
  • AstraZeneca; and
  • Janssen/Johnson & Johnson.

To be considered a fully vaccinated traveller to Canada, one must generally have received the full recommended dose of an approved vaccine at least 14 full days before the day of departure. Individuals whose proof of vaccination is not in English or French must submit a certified translation of their document. Travellers are also required to submit all the required information through a free online application called ArriveCAN, including their proof of immunization and a quarantine plan, prior to arrival in Canada.

Discover if You’re Eligible for Canadian Immigration

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