How can I travel safely and avoid unpleasant surprises related to COVID-19?
December 9th, 2021
The holiday season is fast approaching, and with it comes a flood of international travellers eager to be reunited with their families or head to sunny destinations. However, since the COVID-19 virus is still found worldwide, and we keep discovering new variants, it is crucial to be well informed about the measures in effect so you can leave and return in the best conditions. Here is an overview of the precautions to take to ensure a pleasant trip from start to finish.
Current Canadian regulations
Travelling abroad for more than 72 hours
As of November 30, 2021, passengers over 12 years and four months of age must be fully vaccinated for at least 14 days before boarding a train or aircraft in Canada for both domestic and international destinations.
Therefore, molecular screening tests are no longer accepted upon departure unless you qualify for an exemption. Screening test requirements still apply but depend on the requirements of the destination countries.
Upon return, you must present a negative molecular test to cross the border by air or land. For travel by sea, some restrictions described on the Government of Canada website also apply.
Points to note
Public network tests do not provide the required certification to travel
Antigen screening tests are not accepted at Canadian borders
A negative molecular test (PCR, RT-PCR, NAAT, RT-LAMP) performed less than 72 hours before the date of arrival is mandatory to enter Canada (even if fully vaccinated), except for a round trip lasting less than three days.
As of November 30, 2021, travellers leaving Canada and returning within 72 hours are no longer required to provide a screening test. However, the government specifies that "the exemption is only for trips originating in Canada taken by fully vaccinated Canadian citizens, permanent residents or individuals registered under the* Indian Act*."
Travellers returning to Canada are still required to prove at the border that their stay did not exceed 72 hours and that they are adequately vaccinated.
Current regulations abroad
Situation in some popular destinations
Travelling abroad can cause headaches due to the fluctuating health situation. For up-to-date information on the country you are planning to visit, you can refer to IATA's world map of regulations. Then, you have to select the appropriate test to respect the recommendations in effect for the destination of your choice, but also for the countries where you may have stopovers.
Here is an overview of the border measures in some countries Canadians enjoy visiting.
The United States
Passengers travelling to or through the United States are required to provide a negative test within 24 hours, regardless of whether they are fully vaccinated or not. They must also complete a certification form prior to departure.
Passengers must complete a form prior to departure that generates a QR code to be presented upon arrival. They must also provide proof of full vaccination or a negative PCR test within the last three days (72 hours). They may still be subject to a medical test or examination at their destination.
A simple identification questionnaire must be presented to the immigration office upon arrival in this country. It is one of the most flexible countries in the world in terms of border transit, but that does not mean that it is one of the safest countries in terms of the spread of the virus.
A negative test is currently required at the French border, regardless of vaccination status. It must have been performed less than 48 hours before arrival for vaccinated individuals and less than 24 hours before for those not vaccinated.
Destinations with special requirements
Some destinations have special requirements. For example, government authorities in Hawaii, China, Japan and Hong Kong require specific certifications. Some of these countries require PCR testing by nasopharyngeal swab, while others require serological testing for IgM/IgG.
Canada is asking its citizens to be fully vaccinated before travelling abroad and recommends keeping informed of the local pandemic situation. As a result, cruises outside of Canada are strongly discouraged. The Government of Canada website's travel advice page provides all the information you need to know about your destination.
In general, it is best to do the following:
Book your accommodation and activities before leaving
Check the protocols in effect on site
Prepare your protective equipment (masks, disinfectant, and cleaning products) for the journey and your stay
Check that all necessary travel documents are up to date
Make sure you are adequately insured
Have a backup plan in case one of your group members gets sick
At the time of writing, the Omicron variant has been detected in several countries around the world. Its spread could quickly change the access requirements for certain regions. Be extra vigilant when preparing your trip and check the latest regulations in effect at your destination just before leaving.
In addition, until further notice, the Government of Canada recommends avoiding non-essential travel.
Government of Canada website. (Dec. 2, 2021). COVID-19 Boarding flights and trains in Canada. COVID-19 Boarding flights and trains in Canada
Radio Canada. (Nov. 19, 2021). Canadians exempt from PCR testing for trips lasting less than 72 hours. Les Canadiens exemptés de test PCR pour les voyages de moins de 72 heures | Coronavirus | Radio-Canada.ca
Le Monde. (Dec. 1, 2021). “COVID-19: France imposes a mandatory negative test on all travellers, vaccinated or not, arriving from countries outside the EU”. Covid-19 : la France impose un test négatif obligatoire à tous les voyageurs, vaccinés ou non, arrivant de pays situés en dehors de l’UE (lemonde.fr)