Canada has very strict Covid-19 regulations for visitors to the country and violating those regulations can result in severe penalties or even jail time. Canadian Officials have handed out hundreds of thousands in fines for failing to follow the rules or submitting false vaccination records. Foreigners will also most likely be banned from ever entering Canada again.
The rules and restrictions on entering Canada can be complex, confusing, and quickly changing. See our Canadian Covid Travel Checklist for a step-by-step list of how to prepare to enter Canada. It is also important that you review the Canadian government websites we list at the end of this post. There you will find the latest information and even more details on Canada’s Covid-19 rules.
We have a separate post which details the U.S. Covid-19 travel restrictions. Note that all of the rules described here apply to boaters as well.
As of January 15, 2022, the essential travel rules will be changed again and most people who are currently exempt from the vaccination requirements will only be allowed to enter the country if they are fully vaccinated. These groups include:
- individuals travelling to reunite with family. Unvaccinated children under 18 years of age will be allowed to enter Canada if they are travelling to reunite with an immediate or extended family member who is a Canadian or a permanent resident;
- international students who are 18 years old and older;
- professional and amateur athletes;
- individuals with a valid work permit, including temporary foreign workers and
- essential service providers, including truck drivers.
After January 15, 2022, unvaccinated or partially vaccinated foreign nationals will only be allowed to enter Canada if they meet the criteria for a very limited number of exceptions. These individuals will continue to be subject to testing, quarantine, and other entry requirements described below. Exemptions include:
- agricultural and food processing workers
- marine crew members
- those entering on compassionate grounds
- new permanent residents
- and some children under the age of 18.
All other unvaccinated or partially vaccinated foreign travelers will be prohibited from entering Canada.
Canadian Vaccination Requirements to Enter the Country
- To be considered fully vaccinated, you must have received the full series of a vaccine – or combination of vaccines accepted by the Government of Canada – at least 14 days prior to entering Canada.
- The following are the currently accepted vaccines: Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD, and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson), Sinopharm, Sinovac and COVAXIN, matching the World Health Organization Emergency Use Listing.
- You can get your vaccine in any country, but you must provide proof of vaccination documentation in English, French or with a certified translation (along with the original). You must bring a digital or paper copy of your proof of vaccination with you.
- Fully vaccinated travelers must still meet all of the other mandatory quarantine requirements we explain below, including undergoing both the pre-arrival molecular test and another test when you arrive.
- Unvaccinated children under 12 years of age, or unvaccinated dependent children (due to a mental or physical condition), who are accompanying a fully vaccinated parent, step-parent, guardian or tutor will be allowed to enter so long as the parent / guardian is legally allowed to enter the country.
Proof of Vaccination – Canada
Proving that you received a vaccination can be tricky so make sure you are prepared. GO OLD-SCHOOL AND BRING PAPER DOCUMENTATION WITH YOU. Do not rely on your cellphone as your only source of documentation. A dead battery or other problem could mean rejection of your vaccination status. Health Canada recommends you upload the following information and then also bring it with you to the border
When you arrive at the border, you must present an accepted negative molecular test result (paper or electronic proof) or proof of a previous positive molecular test result taken between 15 and 180 days (starting January 15, 2022, between 11 and 180 days ago) that includes:
- traveller name and date of birth
- name and civic address of the laboratory/clinic/facility that administered the test
- the date on which the test was taken
- the type of test taken
- the test result
Keep proof of your test results with you for the 14-day period that begins on the day you enter Canada.
What if you’ve already had COVID-19 and recovered?
If you are now symptom-free, you can provide proof of a positive COVID-19 molecular test when crossing the border, instead of a negative one.
- The test must have been taken at least 15 and no more than 180 days before (starting January 15, 2022, between 11 and 180 days):
- the initial scheduled departure time of your aircraft
- your scheduled entry into Canada by water or land
- The proof of the positive result must be from an accepted type of molecular test
- If your positive proof is accepted you won’t have to take arrival or Day-8 tests
Canadians: To avoid being fined $5,000 per traveller (plus surcharges), wait to enter Canada until the 15th day (starting January 15, 2022, 11th day) after your positive test result. If you had symptoms without a positive result, wait until the symptoms have ended and you have a valid negative pre-entry test result.
Covid Rules for Travel Within Canada
Vaccination is required for travel within Canada. A valid COVID-19 molecular test will no longer be accepted as an alternative to vaccination unless travellers are eligible for one of the limited exemptions, such as a medical inability to be vaccinated.
Anyone who is 12 years of age or older who is travelling by plane on domestic or international flights, cruise ships, and rail passengers on VIA Rail and Rocky Mountaineer trains must provide proof that they have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. All travellers will have had to have received their second dose at least 14 days before their departure date.
Covid-19 Arrival Testing at a Canadian Port of Entry
In addition to presenting a Pre-Arrival test you may also be asked to take an on-the-spot COVID-19 test before being allowed in. Who is exempt from arrival testing
- Already recovered: Travellers who provide a positive COVID-19 molecular pre-entry test result, conducted at least 15 and no more than 180 days (starting January 15, 2022, between 11 and 180 days ago) before their scheduled flight or arrival at the land border crossing, are exempt from arrival testing
- Travellers arriving by boat
- Children under the age of 5
Canadian COVID-19 Quarantine Rules
The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) quarantine rules aren’t a hint or suggestion; they are a public health order and has teeth with huge fines and jail time penalties for violations.
The definition of quarantine is strict. You must have a place where you can obtain the “necessities of life” without leaving your confinement. You cannot shop at grocery stores. You cannot run out to pick up a take-out meal. You cannot use any shared common spaces like the gym, lobby or courtyard of a condominium. About the only reason you can leave your confinement would be due to a medical emergency.
You should not be staying with high-risk individuals or in communal settings like student dorms, a shared small apartment, or a household with many family members living together. If you are sharing a house with family or friends who were not part of your quarantine, you must have a separate bedroom and bathroom. No guests are allowed to visit you – even if it is to be outside and two metres apart.
While in quarantine, visitors must submit a daily COVID-19 symptom self-assessment. You may cut your stay short and leave the country before the full 14 day quarantine period is over. However, that means you are in full quarantine for the entire time you are in Canada. If you are denied permission to fly out of the country because you show Covid symptoms, you will need to stay in quarantine.
You may ask for approval for a limited release from mandatory quarantine. These are granted for specific situations where respecting the 14‑day mandatory quarantine period is not feasible, such as visiting a loved one who is critically ill.
ALL travellers entering Canada must wear a non-medical mask or face covering when crossing the border.
Penalties for Violating Canadian Covid-19 Regulations
You should think long and hard before trying to deceive a Canadian border official about your vaccination status, what you intend to do, or what your quarantine plans are. If you are caught violating Canadian Covid-19 rules you can be hit with up to a $750,000 fine and/or six months jail time. If your actions are considered to have endangered a Canadian’s life, penalties can increase to a $1 million fine and three years in prison. In addition, your deception is likely to go into your border crossing record and it is likely you will have a hard time ever entering Canada again.
These penalties are not idle threats. The Canadian Government has set up a large call center which makes live and automated calls daily to confirm you are complying with the quarantine order. If you cannot be reached, or if you are suspected of not complying with quarantine requirements, you will receive a visit from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police or provincial police officers. These officers have full authority to issue fines of up to $1,000 and may ticket an individual again in the presence of repeated instances of non-compliance, resulting in multiple fines. If you still fail to comply with the regulations you can then face fines of up to $750,000 and up to 6 months in prison. Willfully or recklessly contravening the Quarantine Act can also result in fines of up to $1 million and 3 years’ imprisonment.
Canadians who suspect a visitor is violating the coronavirus restrictions have been encouraged to call the CBSA Border Watch Line at 1-888-502-9060 to report violators.
Canadian Province Travel Restrictions
You should also be aware that all Canadian provinces have enacted their own Covid rules and border restrictions. You may find province staffed checkpoints at province borders, and provinces may block travel from other provinces. Canadian provinces can assess their own fines and penalties for violating their rules so don’t ignore this step. The rules are changing constantly so make sure you have current information. We have links to Canadian Province Coronavirus websites at the end of this post.
Canadian Coronavirus Websites
Below are some of the Canadian government websites which should display the latest guidance on COVID-19 and any rules and restrictions in place for travelers.
- Government of Canada COVID-19 coronavirus rules and restrictions
- Government of Canada COVID-19 coronavirus information line: 1-833-784-4397
- British Columbia Covid website
- Alberta Covid-19 Website
- Saskatchewan Covid-19 Website
- Manitoba Covid-19 website
- Ontario Covid-19 Website
- Quebec Covid-19 Website
- New Brunswick Covid-19 Website
- Nova Scotia Covid-19 Website
- Newfoundland and Labrador Covid-19 Website
- Prince Edward Island Covid-19 Website
- Northwest Territories Covid-19 Website
- Nunavut Covid-19 Website
- Yukon Covid-19 Website
- Student Information from the Canadian Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Agency.