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Green and Spiegel - An Immigration Law Firm
Jan 4, 2021

NEW: COVID-19 testing requirements for air travel

Genevieve Giesbrecht



As of January 7, 2021, at 12:01 EST, all travellers entering Canada via air will be required to present negative COVID-19 test results prior to boarding their flight. Airlines will be required to refuse boarding to anyone who does not present the required test.

The requirements for the test are as follows:

  • Must be written or electronic proof of a negative test result
  • Must be a COVID-19 molecular polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test
  • The results must be from a lab accredited by an external organization (such as a government, professional association or ISO accreditation)
  • The test must have been performed within 72 hours of boarding the flight

    Travellers coming from countries where the required PCR testing is unavailable will be required to quarantine in a designated Public Health Agency of Canada quarantine facility for 14 days. No further information is available on the quarantine facilities.

    There are limited exemptions from the requirement to present test results. These include:

  • Children less than 5 years old
  • Crew member or person entering Canada only to become a crew member
  • Emergency services provider
  • Technical stops – flights refueling

Further details on these exemptions are not yet available. Proof of vaccination, however, does not exempt travellers from this requirement.

This new requirement does not impact the mandatory 14-day quarantine upon arrival in Canada. Travellers are still required to present quarantine plans and sign into the ArriveCAN app. Please review our blog and contact us for information on quarantine exemptions.

Finally, travellers are encouraged to contact their insurance providers regarding coverage for COVID-19 expenses, as travellers are responsible for all costs associated with obtaining a test and test results prior to boarding. Travellers are also responsible for any expenses related to rescheduling their travel, if required, in order to comply with the new requirements.

A number of issues remain unclear, such as the consequences of a delay in receiving test results; flight delays causing a gap in greater than 72 hours post COVID-19 test; and travellers who are in a country that has PCR testing that is not widely available, or not available in the region of the traveller. Our team is working hard to contact the Public Health Agency of Canada and Transport Canada to find answers to these issues and others. We will provide updates as this information becomes available; you can sign up for our e-lerts here

Please contact us if you have questions or want to discuss your travel options to Canada.    

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