Canada’s first COVID-19-related Order-in-Council, issued under Section 58 of the Quarantine Act (S.C. 2005, c. 20), came into effect on February 3, 2020. Since then, Canada has implemented various iterations of its travel restrictions and requirements to minimize the risk of Canada’s exposure to COVID-19. However, on September 26, 2022, the Government of Canada issued a news release confirming that it will lift all COVID-19 travel restrictions and requirements as of October 1, 2022.
For the first half of the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada’s travel restrictions prohibited foreign nationals from travelling to Canada for an “optional or discretionary” (i.e., non-essential) purpose. Until relatively recently, there were two sets of travel restrictions implemented by parallel Orders-in-Council; one restricting the entry of foreign nationals travelling to Canada from the United States, and another restricting the entry of foreign nationals travelling to Canada from any country other than the United States.
Following the introduction of COVID-19 vaccines, Canada began the process of relaxing its travel restrictions for foreign nationals deemed to be “fully-vaccinated against COVID-19” near the end of 2021:
Canada’s current travel restrictions appear in the Minimizing the Risk of Exposure to COVID-19 in Canada Order (the Current Order-in-Council). The Current Order-in-Council consolidates the prior parallel Orders-in-Council and now applies to all foreign nationals, regardless of their country of departure or citizenship.
Foreign nationals who do not qualify as fully-vaccinated persons under the Current Order-in-Council are prohibited from travelling to Canada, although some limited exemptions are available.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada has also implemented several travel requirements, which apply to all travellers (including Canadian citizens and permanent residents of Canada):
Once COVID-19 vaccines became available, Canada relaxed its COVID-19 travel requirements for fully-vaccinated travellers. These fully-vaccinated travellers are exempt from almost all COVID-19 travel requirements imposed by the Current Order-in-Council. At this time, they are only subject to the following travel requirements:
Foreign nationals who do not qualify as fully-vaccinated persons remain subject to all travel requirements imposed by the current Order-in-Council, although some limited exemptions are available.
Transport Canada has also issued numerous COVID-19-related Interim Orders since the pandemic began, which impose health checks, vaccination requirements, and/or mask requirements on persons travelling by air, rail, or water:
As mentioned above, Canada will lift its COVID-19 travel restrictions and requirements on October 1, 2022. In its news release, the Government of Canada has confirmed that this development was facilitated by several factors, including the following:
As of October 1, 2022, all travellers (including Canadian citizens, permanent residents of Canada, and foreign nationals) will no longer be required to do the following:
Although ArriveCAN will become optional on October 1, 2022, travellers may continue to use the Advance Declaration feature to submit their customs and immigration declarations before arrival. This feature, which will be expanded to most major Canadian airports over the next few months, will not be mandatory but is intended to save travellers time upon their arrival in Canada.
The news release claims that using the Advance Declaration in ArriveCAN cuts the amount of time a traveller spends at a kiosk by roughly one-third. Despite this claim, it is unknown how many travellers will continue to use ArriveCAN after October 1, 2022. Of course, if the Canada Border Services Agency also establishes a separate inspection line for individuals who have completed an advance declaration prior to arrival (which should speed up the inspection process further), this may encourage travellers to continue using ArriveCAN once it has become optional.
The news release also confirmed that Transport Canada’s COVID-19 measures will end on October 1, 2022. As of that date, it will no longer require travellers to:
The Government of Canada’s news release confirms that the above developments relate to Canada’s federal COVID-19 travel restrictions and requirements only. For example:
Finally, the Government of Canada’s news release reminds travellers that they should not travel if they have symptoms of COVID-19. Those who do have symptoms upon arrival in Canada should inform a flight attendant, cruise staff member, or border services officer. Such travellers may be referred to a quarantine officer who will decide whether a further medical assessment is required.
For more information, please reach out to the authors Henry J. Chang and Jonathan Mor.
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