Vaccinated travellers will no longer need a molecular COVID-19 test to enter Canada starting Feb. 28, and can instead opt for a potentially cheaper and easier to access rapid test.
Travellers will now have the option of using a COVID-19 rapid antigen test result (taken the day prior to their scheduled flight or arrival at the land border or marine port of entry) or a molecular test result (taken no more than 72 hours before their scheduled flight or arrival at the land border or marine port of entry) to meet pre-entry requirements. Taking a rapid antigen test at home is not sufficient to meet the pre-entry requirement – it must be authorized by the country in which it was purchased and must be administered by a laboratory, healthcare entity, or telehealth service. Some fully vaccinated travellers might still be randomly selected for a molecular test at the airport, but they will not need to quarantine while they wait for the result.
The new rules are more closely aligned with those of the United States which allows people to perform a rapid antigen test on themselves, as long as the test is affiliated with a telehealth service that will verify the user’s identity, supervise the test, and provide written documentation.
Additional updates and reminders released on February 15 include:
- All travellers, regardless of how long they were away from Canada, continue to be required to submit their mandatory information via ArriveCAN (free mobile app or website), including proof of vaccination in English or French and a quarantine plan prior to arriving in Canada.
- To make travel easier for families, unvaccinated children under the age of 12, travelling with vaccinated adults, will no longer have to isolate from school, daycare or other public places for 14 days after they arrive in Canada either.
- The Government of Canada will adjust its Travel Health Notice from a Level 3 to a Level 2. This means that the Government will no longer recommend that Canadians avoid travel for non-essential purposes.
- Travellers should understand the risks that are still associated with international travel given the high incidence of Omicron, and take necessary precautions.
- On February 28, 2022 at 16:00 EST, Transport Canada’s Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) that restricts where international passenger flights can arrive in Canada will expire. This means that international flights carrying passengers will be permitted to land at all remaining Canadian airports that are designated by the Canada Border Services Agency to receive international passenger flights.
Canadian Chamber of Commerce president Perrin Beatty said the changes gradually move Canada toward what is happening in other major jurisdictions. But in his role as co-chair of the Canadian Travel and Tourism Roundtable, Beatty also called on the federal government to offer a clear timeline for removing travel restrictions for fully vaccinated travellers and their children — including test and isolation requirements and blanket travel advisories.