Canada Updates Travel Restrictions
As of November 30th, the travel rules were changed both in terms of traveling inside the country and internationally. Some newly implemented regulations were caused by the emergence of the new coronavirus variant, Omicron. The World Health Organization classified it as a variant of concern. Canada also accepted three new COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers.
From the end of November, traveling both within and outside of Canada requires vaccinations. A valid COVID-19 negative molecular test result is no longer an acceptable alternative to the vaccine (with some limited exemptions like medical conditions).
Some recently announced regulations will become effective at the beginning of the upcoming year.
Entry Rules Exemptions for Departures and Re-entries to Canada
Fully vaccinated visitors eligible for entry to Canada departing and re-entering the country within 72 hours will be exempt from the obligation to present a pre-entry molecular coronavirus test. This exemption, however, applies only to travelers whose trips originate in Canada. It includes fully vaccinated citizens of Canada, permanent residents, individuals as well as those registered under the Indian Act. These individuals need to depart and re-enter Canada by air or by land and prove that their stay outside Canada did not exceed 72 hours. This exemption also applies to their children aged less than 12, and unvaccinated individuals who cannot take the COVID-19 vaccine due to medical reasons.
The Extended COVID-19 Vaccines List
Starting from Nov. 30th, 2021, the Canadian government also expanded the list of approved COVID-19 vaccines that a traveler needs to receive to be recognized as a fully vaccinated person eligible to enter Canada.
The list was expanded to include Sinovac, COVAXIN, and Sinopharm. Apart from the recently added vaccines, Canada approves the following manufacturers:
- Johnson & Johnson
In order to be classified as fully vaccinated, a traveler must have received 2 doses of one of the recognized vaccines or alternatively a mix of 2 approved vaccines, or 1 dose of Johnson & Johnson. Moreover, a minimum 14-day period is required for receiving the last dose of the vaccine before going to Canada.
Omicron-related Measures Introduced in Canada
Due to the evolution of the new COVID-19 variant, the Canadian government decided to expand the list of countries prohibited from entry to Canada. From December 1st, 2021, foreign travelers who have been in any of the following countries within the last 2 weeks will be denied entry to Canada:
- South Africa
Changes to Be Implemented in 2022
As of January 15th, 2022, certain travelers will be allowed to enter Canada only if they have been administered the full dose of the coronavirus vaccine. The vaccination manufacture must be one of those approved by the Canadian government. The groups that will be affected by the new regulation include:
- international students aged 18 and older
- individuals going to Canada for a family reunion (unvaccinated minors aged under 18 will still be able to visit immediate or extended family members who are Canadian citizens, permanent Canadian residents, or people registered under the Indian Act)
- athletes (both professional and amateur)
- valid work permit holders, including foreign temporary workers
- truck drivers and other service providers
Exempt travelers being unvaccinated will need to be tested, undergo quarantine, and meet other entry requirements. In turn, non-exempt foreign visitors who have not been vaccinated or have been only partially immunized will be denied entry to Canada.
Canada eTA and ArriveCAN
Travelers to Canada should also remember about obtaining the entry permit before their trip, which is eTA. Electronic Travel Authorization makes the life of every traveler much easier since it functions as an alternative to a traditional visa. The application form should be submitted online 72 hours before the planned Canadian trip.
In September 2021, Canada additionally introduced ArriveCAN, which is a health declaration that must be completed by every person entering Canada by air, land, or sea. The online form can be submitted together with the eTA application 3 business days in advance of a trip.