In an effort to continue to take action to protect the health and safety of Canadians, the Government of Canada has introduced a new measure to help prevent further transmission of the COVID-19 virus and new variants of the virus into Canada.
Mandatory PCR Testing for Entry into Canada
A COVID-19 test must be taken within 72 hours prior to boarding a flight to Canada.
Documents of a negative test must be provided to your airline before boarding.
The test must be performed using a COVID-19 molecular polymerase chain reaction (PCR).
Canadians who are planning to travel abroad should determine how they will meet these requirements before their departure.
Canadians who are travelling and returning to Canada soon should start planning for a COVID-19 test, to avoid a delay in their return to Canada.
Contact your TierOne travel consultant for any questions you might have.
Please visit the Government of Canada website for the most accurate and up-to-date details.
Questions and Answers
Q. Is a negative COVID-19 test result required for all air passengers travelling to Canada?
A. Starting January 7, 2021, any travelers flying into Canada from another country without a negative COVID-19 test will be denied boarding onto their flight. Travelers will now be required to provide written or electronic documentation showing they received a negative result from a COVID-19 molecular polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test conducted within 72 hours prior to their scheduled flight.
Q. Is the 72 hours starting before boarding the flight or the scheduled time arriving in Canada? Is the time related to the time of the test, or when the results are provided?
A. The COVID-19 PCR test must have been taken within 3 days prior to boarding a flight to Canada, with the probability that the results will come before then. This timing considers the fact that it may take a few days for passengers to receive PCR test results.
Q: Where can travellers obtain a COVID-19 molecular polymerase chain reaction (or PCR) test while abroad?
A: The Government of Canada is in the process of preparing a list of approved facilities, which has not been released yet.
Q. What if travellers COVID-19 PCR tests are not available in the country they are in? Can they still board a flight and get tested once they arrive in Canada?
A. If travelling from a country where PCR testing is unavailable, you will be required to quarantine for 14 days in a Public Health Agency of Canada quarantine location once you arrive in Canada.
Q. Which COVID-19 tests are official/acceptable for entry into Canada?
A. The test results must be from a lab recognized by an external organization; for example, a government, a professional association, or ISO accreditation.
Written or electronic proof of a negative lab PCR test result conducted within 72 hours prior to boarding a flight to Canada will be accepted.
Q. Will passengers still require temperature checks with this new requirement in place?
A. Currently, yes. All existing health requirements, such as health check questions, temperature screening and the wearing of masks on board flights to Canada has not changed.
Q. Can the airline refuse boarding if a traveller doesn’t have / can’t get a test?
A. Yes, unless the traveller is under an exemption. The presentation of a negative PCR test presented to the airline will be a requirement of boarding a flight to Canada and hence, airlines will be required to refuse boarding to travellers that are unable to show proof of a negative COVID test.
Q. Who is exempted from this requirement?
A. Individuals who are exempted from this requirement include children who are not five years of age or older.
Other exemptions include a crew member or a person who seeks to enter Canada only to become such a crew member, emergency services providers, and technical / flight refueling stops.
Q. Would proof of having the vaccine replace the required PCR test?
A. At this time, proof of having a vaccine will not replace a negative test result. While a vaccine protects someone from getting sick, additional proof is still required to know if a vaccinated person can still pass on the virus.
Q. Will the pre-boarding testing reduce quarantine measures?
A. The 14-day quarantine is the most effective measure known for limiting the spread of COVID-19. Pre-boarding testing is another measure adding to the layers of protection, but it can still miss some COVID-19 infections.
Q. What extra measures has the Canada Borders Services Agency (CBSA) put in place?
A. The CBSA has enhanced its presence at airports to observe travellers and any physical sign that they may be ill. Additionally, border services officers (BSOs) perform more diligent inspections and verify that a traveller’s quarantine plan aligns with information provided via ArriveCAN.
The Canada Borders Services Agency continues to observe the global environment and take the steps required to keep Canada and Canadians safe.
Violating any instructions provided when you enter Canada is an offence under the Quarantine Act and could lead to up to six months in prison and/or $750,000 in fines.
Q. Who will pay for the cost of a PCR test abroad?
A. Travellers should contact their travel insurance provider, whether they have a group, an individual or a credit-card type of insurance, to find out if their COVID-19 the required PCR test is covered or not.
Q. What kind of services are available if travellers cannot board a flight back to Canada?
A. There are still consular services available to Canadians abroad. Learn about Canada’s Consular services here on travel.gc.ca: About Consular Services.
Canadians should sign up with the Registration of Canadians Abroad. This service enables Canadians to receive important safety updates from the Government of Canada.
Q. If a traveller must reschedule their return trip for a PCR test, would accommodations, rebooking fees and fees for tests be eligible under the Emergency Loan Program?
A. Canadian citizens affected by COVID-19 outside of Canada must demonstrate they had existing plans to return to Canada prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and that they do not have another source of funds. Most Canadians abroad would no longer be eligible for a COVID-19 loan (as per current eligibility criteria) given that they would have had plenty of time and opportunity to return to Canada since the pandemic reached a critical point in March/April 2020. It is no longer enough for clients to indicate that they are attempting to book travel back to Canada now and are unable to do so because of COVID-19, or because of the new PCR test requirement.
Q. Are Canadians who travelled after the Government of Canada advised against non-essential travel outside of Canada due to the COVID-19 outbreak eligible to the loan?
A. Canadians who travelled abroad after the Government of Canada advised to avoid non-essential travel (March 13, 2020) due the COVID-19 outbreak are likely not eligible for a loan, given that they would have had plenty of time and opportunity to return to Canada since the pandemic reached a critical point in March/April 2020.
Q. Can the loan be used to cover limited costs (transportation, food, etc.) AFTER return to Canada?
A. COVID-19 Emergency Loans may not be used to cover costs related to mandatory quarantine or self-isolation in Canada.
Q. What documents do I need to have on-hand for my test appointment?
A. You must have your passport and airline ticket with you at the time of your PCR test.
Q. What language does the test result need to be in?
A. Ideally the test result should be in English or French, but it can also be in Spanish.
Q. What information should be included on my test result?
A. In order to be allowed to travel to Canada, proof of a negative test result clearly stating the following must be presented at the airline check-in counter: the date of the test, which must be performed 72 hours or less before the flight; the type of test performed, i.e. polymerase chain reaction (PCR) type test; the proof of a negative test result; the passenger’s full name and date of birth; the full name and street address of the laboratory
Q. What should I do if there is an error on my test result documentation?
A. You will not be allowed to board the flight to Canada and will be required to re-test if: the result does not meet all of the above requirements, or if the name on the result does not match the name on your passport.
Q. What happens if I refuse to take the test at my destination and want to return to Canada?
A. You will not be allowed to board a flight to Canada and will have to contact the Canadian consular service of the country where you are.
Q. Do I still have to go through the 14-day quarantine if I have a negative test result?
A. Yes, the 14-day quarantine remains mandatory upon return to Canada.
Vacation Package Suppliers
Air Canada Vacations
Air Canada Vacations is recommending travellers to visit travel.gc.ca for official updates from the Government of Canada.
Learn more here under “Entry into Canada”: https://www.aircanada.com/ca/en/aco/home/book/travel-news-and-updates/2020/new-entry-requirements.html
WestJet Vacations has the help of several providers to provide PCR tests to Canadians in the following locations: Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, Los Cabos, Huatulco, Mazatlán, Punta Cana, Puerto Plata, Jamaica, Barbados, La Romana, and Costa Rica.
WestJet now (starting January 07) requires guests to present proof of a negative PCR test, taken no more than 72 hours from the scheduled departure time, to board the aircraft.
Test results must include the following: name, date of birth, location and name of lab, date sample was taken, and result. Learn more here under “Canada Entry Requirements”: https://www.westjet.com/en-ca/travel-info/advisories
Contact your TierOne travel consultant for any questions you might have.
It is the passenger’s responsibility to ensure they have reviewed and understood all the current travel guidelines, as the information is made available by the government.
Visit the Government of Canada website for the most accurate and up-to-date details.
“Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.” – Anonymous