COVID 19 Travel Guidelines and Info
Please find below useful information from the federal government re: travel issues related to COVID-19 as of April 1st, 2020
Travellers returning to Canada
The Government of Canada has put in place an emergency order under the Quarantine Act. It applies to all travellers arriving in Canada. Its purpose is to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Canada. Failure to comply with this order is an offence under the Quarantine Act.
Travellers with symptoms: mandatory isolation
If you are Canadian or a permanent resident, and you have symptoms consistent with COVID-19, you may still enter Canada by land, rail or sea. You may not enter Canada by air, to protect the health of all travellers.
If you have symptoms, you must isolate. This is mandatory. If required, immediate medical attention will be provided upon arrival in Canada.
Mandatory isolation means you must:
- go directly to the place where you will isolate, without delay, and stay there for 14 days
- use private transportation only, such as your personal vehicle, to get to your place of isolation
- do not use public transportation such as buses and taxis
- stay inside and do not leave your place of isolation unless it is to seek medical attention
- do not go to school, work or any other public areas
- stay in a separate room and use a separate bathroom from others in your home, if possible
- do not allow visitors to your home
- limit contact with others in the place of isolation, including children
- do not isolate in a place where you will have contact with vulnerable people, such as older adults and individuals with underlying medical conditions
- immediately contact your health care provider or public health authority if your symptoms get worse, and follow their instructions
If you have symptoms but do not have a place to isolate, you will be required to isolate for 14 days in a facility designated by the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada.
Travellers without symptoms: mandatory quarantine
If you have recently returned to Canada and you have no symptoms, you must quarantine (self-isolate). This is mandatory. You are at risk of developing symptoms and infecting others.
Mandatory quarantine (self-isolate) means you must:
- go directly to your place of quarantine, without delay, and stay there for 14 days
- you can take public transportation to get to your place of self-isolation after you arrive in Canada, but you must not stop on the way home, and practise physical (social) distancing at all times
- do not go to school, work or other public areas and community settings
- monitor your health for symptoms of COVID-19
- arrange to have someone pick up essentials like groceries or medication for you
- do not have visitors to your home
- stay in a private place like your yard or balcony if you go outside for fresh air
- keep a distance of at least 2 arms lengths (approximately 2 metres) from others
If you develop symptoms within 14 days:
- isolate yourself from others
- immediately call a health care professional or public health authority and:
- describe your symptoms and travel history
- follow their instructions carefully
Check if you have been exposed
Have you been on a recent flight, cruise, train, or at a public gathering? Check the listed exposure locations to see if you may have been exposed to COVID-19.
Compliance and enforcement of the Quarantine Act
The Government of Canada is working with federal and provincial partners to promote and verify compliance of the emergency order with active communication and spot checks.
If you are permitted to enter Canada, you will be:
- asked if you have a cough, fever or difficulty breathing
- required to acknowledge that you must self-isolate
- given instructions about your obligations under the emergency order
Violating any instructions provided to you when you entered Canada is an offence under the Quarantine Act and could lead to up to:
- 6 months in prison and/or
- $750,000 in fines
Further, a person who causes a risk of imminent death or serious bodily harm to another person while wilfully or recklessly contravening this act or the regulations could be liable for:
- a fine of up to $1,000,000 or
- imprisonment of up to 3 years or
Exemptions to travel restrictions
The continued global movement of goods and people and the ongoing delivery of essential services will be important for Canada's response to COVID-19.
Several categories of people are exempted from this order because they provide critical services, if they have no symptoms. These include people who:
- are making necessary medical deliveries required for patient care, such as:
- blood and blood products
- other similar lifesaving human body parts
- work in the trade and transportation sector who are important for the movement of goods and people, including:
- truck drivers
- crew on any plane, train or marine vessel
- cross the border regularly to go to work, including in the health care sector or critical infrastructure workers
- have to cross the border to provide or receive essential services, including emergency responders and personnel providing essential services to Canadians related to the COVID-19 outbreak
Workers in these sectors should:
- practise physical (social) distancing (maintain a distance of 2 metres from others)
- closely self-monitor
Should they exhibit any symptoms, they must isolate and contact their local public health authority.
Employers in these sectors should:
- conduct active daily monitoring of their staff for COVID-19 symptoms (checking for cough, fever or shortness of breath)
- use the risk-informed decision-making guidelines for workplaces/businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic
Travellers within Canada
As of March 30, 2020, all passengers flying in Canada will be subject to a health check prior to boarding.
You will not be permitted to board if you:
- show any symptoms of COVID-19 or
- have been refused boarding in the past 14 days due to a medical reason related to COVID-19 or
- are subject to a provincial or local public health order
This also applies to travellers arriving from outside Canada.
If you are arriving from outside Canada and are deemed safe to fly, you may board a connecting flight to your destination. However, upon arrival at your final destination, you must go directly to the place where you will isolate, and remain there for 14 days. This is because you are still at risk of developing symptoms and infecting others.
You may be subject to additional provincial or territorial public health measures at your final destination.
If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you will not be allowed to board any flight until:
- 14 days have passed or
- you present a medical certificate confirming that your symptoms are not related to COVID-19
If you have signs or symptoms consistent with COVID-19, you will not be allowed to use public transportation to travel to the place where you will isolate.
Travellers departing Canada
Avoid all non-essential travel
To limit the spread of COVID-19, the Government of Canada advises that you avoid all non-essential travel outside of Canada until further notice.
Many countries have put in place travel or border restrictions, such as movement restrictions and quarantines.
Many airlines are suspending flights. Many airports are closing, preventing flights from leaving. Exit bans are becoming more frequent.
New restrictions may be imposed with little warning. Your travel plans may be severely disrupted and you may be forced to remain outside of Canada longer than expected. Canadian travellers should return to Canada as soon as possible.
Making the choice to stay at home and not travel outside of Canada is the best way to protect yourself, your family and the most vulnerable groups in our communities from COVID-19. Contact your airline or tour operator to determine options for cancelling or postponing your trip.
If you are still considering travel outside of Canada, you should do the following:
- check the pandemic COVID-19 travel health notice before travelling and know the health risks for your destination
- understand the risks of your safety and security abroad
- ensure that you have sufficient finances and necessities, including medication, in case your travels are disrupted
It is important to remember that if you travel abroad, you could be subject to the measures of other countries. Your 1-week trip may become much longer. You may also have reduced access to quality health care.
If you must travel during the pandemic
Take precautions against respiratory illnesses, and seek medical attention if you become sick.
During your trip:
- avoid large crowds or crowded areas
- avoid contact with sick people, especially if they have a cough, fever or difficulty breathing
- be aware of the local situation and follow local public health advice
wash your hands often with soap under warm running water for at least 20 seconds
- use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available and always keep some with you when you travel
- practise proper cough and sneeze etiquette
Monitor your health
If you become sick, avoid contact with others except to see a health care professional.
If you feel sick during your flight to Canada or upon arrival, inform the flight attendant or a Canadian border services officer.
If you do not have symptoms but believe you were exposed to someone who was sick with COVID-19, report this information to a Canada border services agent on arrival in Canada. This is required under the Quarantine Act. The Canada border services agent will provide instructions for you to follow.
You will see messaging on arrivals screens at international airports to help guide you if you are experiencing flu-like symptoms.
Arriving travellers will also be provided with information on what symptoms to identify and how to contact local health authorities.
Avoid all travel on cruise ships
The Government of Canada is advising that you avoid all travel on cruise ships due to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, until further notice.
Cruise passengers include travellers from around the world who may be arriving from areas with known or unknown spread of COVID-19. The virus can spread quickly on board cruises due to the close contact between passengers. Older people and people with a weakened immune system or underlying medical condition are at a higher risk of developing severe disease.
Recent cruise ship outbreaks of COVID-19 indicate that a large number of individuals onboard can become infected. While the majority of affected passengers may experience mild symptoms, there have been a significant number of cases requiring hospitalization and critical care, and some deaths have been reported.
As the COVID-19 situation evolves, many countries outside of Canada are implementing policies and restrictions in order to contain the global outbreak. These restrictions may impact a cruise traveller's:
- ability to disembark
- access to health care
While abroad, if an outbreak of COVID-19 occurs on your cruise ship:
- you could be subject to quarantine procedures, onboard ship or in a foreign country
- the range of consular services available to those on cruise ships, in particular in situations of quarantine, may be significantly restricted by local authorities
- upon return to Canada, you will be required to remain in mandatory isolation for 14 days at a location determined by the Chief Public Health Officer as per the terms of any applicable emergency orders
Although it is not advised, Canadians who choose to voyage on a cruise ship should also be aware that they:
- may not be offered the opportunity to return to Canada on a government-organized repatriation flight or
- could be responsible for the costs of repatriation travel
Safety and support for Canadians abroad
While the Government of Canada advises that you avoid all non-essential travel outside of Canada, there may be times when travel is essential.
You should expect increased health screening measures at points of entry for international destinations, including airports and land borders. Local authorities may impose control measures suddenly, including movement restrictions such as quarantines.
Some governments have implemented special entry and exit restrictions for their territory. Before travelling, verify with the foreign diplomatic mission of your destination to see if its authorities have implemented any specific restrictions related to this situation. These include entry requirements, border closures and flight suspensions.
To ensure you are aware of the latest developments on this evolving situation, we recommend:
- monitoring the news
- reading all travel advice and advisories for your destination
If you are in an affected destination, we recommend:
- following the instructions of local authorities
- signing up to our Registration of Canadians Abroad service to receive important updates to stay connected with the Government of Canada in case of an emergency abroad or an emergency at home
If you are trying to return home and need financial assistance, the Government of Canada has created the COVID-19 Emergency Loan Program for Canadians Abroad.
The program provides the option of an emergency loan to Canadians in need of immediate financial assistance to return home or to temporarily cover their life-sustaining needs while working toward their return.
Global Affairs Canada is providing 24/7 consular support to Canadians abroad affected by COVID-19 through:
- the Emergency Watch and Response Centre
- consular staff at its network of missions
Canada-U.S. border restrictions
As of March 21, 2020, there is a 30-day restriction on all non-essential travel at the Canada-U.S. border. Examples of non-essential travel include:
If you are healthy and must cross the border for work or other essential purposes, you may continue to do so. Some examples of essential travel purposes are:
- work and study
- critical infrastructure support
- economic services and supply chains
- shopping for essential goods, such as:
- items necessary for the health and safety of an individual or family
- health, immediate medical care, safety and security
These travellers will only be allowed into the country if they have not been outside Canada or the U.S. in the 14 days before requesting entry into Canada.
If you are a foreign national arriving from the U.S. with symptoms of COVID-19, you will not be allowed to enter Canada.
Foreign nationals arriving from the U.S. without symptoms of COVID-19, will be allowed to enter Canada only for essential travel.
Foreign nationals, excluding those arriving from the U.S., will not be allowed into Canada. However, there are exemptions to these restrictions for foreign nationals arriving from other countries.
Exemptions include, but are not limited to:
- immediate family members of a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident, which refers to a:
- spouse or common-law partner
- dependent child of the person or of the person’s spouse or common-law partner
- dependent child of a dependent child
- parent or step-parent of the person or of the person’s spouse or common-law partner
- guardian or tutor
- a French citizen who resides in Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon and has been only in Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon, the U.S. or Canada during the period of 14 days before the day on which they arrived in Canada
- a person who arrives by ship if it departed before 12:01 am EDT on March 21, 2020, and had a scheduled destination of Canada upon its departure
- the holder of a valid work permit or a study permit
- a person who has received written notice of approval for a work permit, but who has not yet been issued the permit
- a person who has received written notice of approval for a study permit before 12 pm EDT on March 18, 2020, but who has not yet been issued the permit
- a person permitted to work in Canada as a student in a health field
- a person who seeks to enter Canada for the purpose of delivering, maintaining or repairing medically necessary equipment or devices
- a person whose application for permanent residence was approved and who received written notice of the approval before 12 pm EDT on March 18, 2020, but who has not yet become a permanent resident
Additional exemptions include those providing critical services.
If you are not Canadian or a permanent resident and you have symptoms consistent with COVID-19, you will not be allowed to enter Canada.
If you show signs of an infectious disease, officials will contact a quarantine officer.
The quarantine officer will perform a more detailed assessment. If necessary, the quarantine officer may:
- order you to be transported to hospital to undergo a medical examination
- inform the local public health authority