New COVID-19 Testing Requirements for Air Travellers Flying into Canada

On January 6, 2021, Canada’s federal government issued a News Release announcing the issuance of an Interim Order by its Minister of Transport, the Honourable Marc Garneau.  Among other things, the Interim Order formalizes COVID-19 testing requirements first announced on December 31, 2021, for all air travellers coming to Canada. 

Proof of Negative COVID-19 Test Result Prior to Boarding

Effective January 7, 2021, all travellers over five years old, regardless of citizenship, must provide proof of a negative laboratory COVID-19 test result to the airline prior to boarding a flight to Canada.  The test must be conducted within 72 hours of the traveller’s scheduled departure, and it must be performed using: (i) a molecular polymerase chain reaction (PCR), or (ii) Loop-mediated Isothermal Amplification (LAMP).  Failure to present this information at the time of boarding will result in an automatic denial of boarding by the airline.

Time-limited Flexibility for Some Travellers

In recognition of the need for testing systems in some countries to adjust, travellers departing from the following countries will be temporarily exempt from the requirement to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test; however, they are strongly encouraged to get a COVID-19 test upon arrival in Canada:

  • Saint Pierre and Miquelon, until January 14, 2021; and
  • Haiti, until January 21, 2021.

Until January 14, 2021, travellers departing from the Caribbean or South America can use tests conducted within 96 hours of departure rather than within 72 hours of departure.   

Travellers Who May be Ill on Arrival

Upon travellers’ arrival in Canada, Canada Border Services officers will question and observe them for indications of illness.  Travellers who have such indications will be referred to Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) officials for further assessment, screening, and questioning, and their quarantine plans will be scrutinized. PHAC will work with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and provincial law enforcement to verify compliance.  

Mandatory 14-day Quarantine

Travellers who receive a negative test result and are authorized to enter Canada must still complete the full, mandatory 14-day quarantine, unless exempted under the Quarantine Act.  They must also monitor for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and submit information electronically through ArriveCAN.  Once in Canada, travellers are advised to contact local public health authorities if: (i) symptoms develop, even if mild; or (ii) they receive a positive COVID-19 test. 

Bottom Line

Anyone planning to travel to Canada must comply with the requirement to provide a negative COVID-19 test result prior to boarding their flight.  Persons who fail to provide such a test result will automatically be denied the right to board their flight.   

Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.