This story has been updated.
It’s the summer of “revenge travel,” and Americans are looking to the Great White North for their first post-lockdown international travel plans.
The Canadian border began welcoming American tourists in August 2021, making them the first nonessential travelers to set foot in the country since the pandemic began.
“Over the last year, we have seen positive signals of travel between our two countries reawakening,” Marsha Walden, president and CEO of Destination Canada, said in an email.
Walden says Americans are channeling their “enormous pent-up demand for travel” through booking trips to Canada.
According to Statistics Canada, more than 2½ times more U.S. residents traveled to Canada in January 2022 than in the same month in 2021 — a time when, notably, the Canadian border was closed to nonessential foreign travelers. This summer, the number of visitors is anticipated to increase even more.
But a lot has changed since the world’s longest international border reopened — including rules around masking, coronavirus testing requirements and indoor spaces.
For those planning a trip to Canada this summer, here’s what you’ll need to know before you leave.
Travelers who are fully vaccinated no longer need to test for covid or complete a pre-entry coronavirus test before traveling to Canada by land, air or sea.
Those who are not fully vaccinated, however, are still required to test for the coronavirus within 72 hours of their trip, and may be denied entry into Canada. A past positive test that is at least 10 days old can also be used as proof of recovery in lieu of a test. They may also be required to complete further testing and a two-week quarantine to enter the country.
As of June 20, travelers over 12 years plus four months no longer have to show proof of vaccination to board domestic flights and trains in Canada or international flights leaving the country. Vaccination requirements remain on cruise ships.
Everyone traveling to Canada is required to download the ArriveCan app and upload their proof of vaccination or recovery, along with other pre-arrival information, within 72 hours before their arrival to Canada.
If you’re unsure if you’re eligible to enter the country, you can take this quick online quiz on the Canadian government’s website.
Although the U.S. federal transportation mask mandate has dropped, it still remains in place throughout Canada. People over the age of six must mask on planes and trains traveling to or within the country.
People who plan to travel by plane should be prepared to face larger crowds and more delays in airports than last summer.
Many of Canada’s major airports are experiencing delays, along with backlogs at security screening and customs. Although there are about half as many people flying through Toronto Pearson airport in the first quarter of 2022 compared to the same period in 2019, handling these travelers with less staffing and current pandemic screening measures has proved challenging.
“As Canada’s hub airport, more passengers are passing through Pearson than at any other time during the pandemic,” said Rachel Bertone, a spokesperson for the Greater Toronto Airports Authority.
Bertone says the airport is calling on the Canadian government to help reduce wait times for passengers. The situation is “already untenable,” she said, and the summer travel season is forecast to increase international passengers through the airport by nearly 50 percent.
To help offset these delays, she recommends international travelers arrive three hours before their flights. Travelers should also make sure their luggage has no liquid, gels or aerosols larger than 3.4 ounces; avoid wearing clothing with metal pieces; and be prepared to remove electronic devices from their bags at security.
You can check current wait times on the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority website.
Julia Peterson traveled to New York from Toronto in March and said a 24-hour flight delay due to weather caused them to spend more on food, accommodations and retesting than they had planned for. Peterson was surprised how quickly the costs added up.
“The advice I wish I’d known before traveling was ‘budget more than you think you’ll need for this trip. No, more than that,’” Peterson said.
Nearly all provinces across the country have lifted restrictions, including those on indoor dining, large gatherings and masking.
Masks are required for people over six on flights and trains within Canada and on other public transportation in Ontario, Alberta and Quebec.
In many provinces, although masks are not required, they are still recommended.
“When Americans come and visit Canada, I don’t think they’ll find it too different from home — especially not now,” Peterson said.
At several points during the pandemic, Canada had stronger coronavirus restrictions than the United States. That is no longer the case — but Peterson recommends that Americans take as many safety precautions as they can, even when it is no longer required.
Canada’s vast natural landscapes — from the Rocky Mountains to the Maritimes — make for beautiful sites for camping or a day trip. In its cities, take advantage of the patios along the streets for drinks and dining.
Restaurants no longer require diners to show their vaccine passports. Some restaurants have changed their hours because of staffing shortages, so be sure to check their updated hours.
Like the United States, Canada is still facing a car-rental shortage, since many companies sold off their fleets during the pandemic. Book your rental car several weeks in advance to snag one before they sell out.
Ditching the car and taking advantage of the public transportation networks in many cities is also an affordable alternative, said Christine Cassisi, a Florida resident who spent 10 days this month visiting Vancouver and Victoria in British Columbia with her husband.
She and her husband used public transportation instead of renting a car for most of their trip, and explored many trailheads, restaurants, museums, and other attractions. Most people on transit wore masks, she noted.
Jeff Doane, Accor hotel group’s chief commercial officer for North and Central America, said many Canadian hotels are ready and waiting for American tourists.
“The great thing about Canada is that it has a population of California and it’s bigger than the United States, so there’s a lot of great outdoors out there,” Doane said. “It’s a great place to go out and explore.”
You asked: Where can I find a coronavirus test in a foreign country?
While the testing requirement to return to the United States has dropped, you may still want to test before your flight home.
Most major airports in Canada have resources on where to get tested in or near the airport, so do your research to find the best price and location for you. The tests can run anywhere from $40 to $159, depending on the test, testing site and how far in advance you book.
Walden said a trip to Canada can help people scratch their travel itch without going too far from home.
“For American travelers looking to refresh their view this spring or summer, a trip to Canada offers the best of both worlds — exciting adventures and international experiences they crave, with the ease and comfort of proximity,” she said.
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