As vaccination rates increase in Canada, and COVID-19 infection rates decline, the Canadian government is gradually relaxing its strict travel restrictions and quarantine requirements. Prior to this past July 6th, Canada's borders were closed to all discretionary non-essential travel, with limited exceptions, and those who were permitted to enter were subject to a 14-day quarantine requirement, regardless of vaccination status, also with limited exceptions.  Those entering Canada by air were also subject to a 3-day stay in a government-authorized hotel.

Effective July 6th, all individuals permitted to enter Canada for an essential non-discretionary purpose, or due to an exemption, who have evidence of being fully vaccinated, together with a negative PCR test obtained within 72 hours prior to coming to Canada and are asymptomatic, are exempt from the quarantine requirement, including the hotel stay. To be considered fully vaccinated, the traveler must have received the full series of a vaccine or a combination of vaccines that are accepted by the Canadian government, and the last vaccine must have been administered at least 14 days prior to entering Canada. Individuals who cannot be fully vaccinated due to a health condition may also qualify for the eased quarantine and testing requirements currently available to fully vaccinated travelers but must follow a modified quarantine.

Commencing August 9th, United States permanent residents and citizens who are residing in the U.S. are allowed to enter Canada for non-essential discretionary travel. Thus, as of the date of this blog, U.S. citizens and permanent residents who are fully vaccinated may enter Canada for any purpose on a quarantine-exempt basis. Also, effective August 9th, all travelers to Canada by air, who remain subject to the quarantine requirement, will no longer be required to stay in a government-approved hotel, which requirement has been eliminated.

All travelers, whether or not fully vaccinated, must provide COVID-19 related information electronically, prior to traveling, through the ArriveCAN app or web version, meet all pre-entry testing requirements, be asymptomatic upon arrival, and have a paper or digital copy of their vaccination documentation in English or French to present to government officials on request.

Provided that Canada's COVID-19 situation remains favourable, the Canadian government has announced its intention to open Canada's borders for non-essential discretionary travel to all international travelers effective September 7th. At that time travelers to Canada from anywhere who are fully vaccinated and who meet specific entry requirements will be able to enter Canada freely.

As a final note, the current rules governing entry into the U.S. are very different and non-reciprocal from Canada.  To summarize: anyone who has been in Canada for 14 days prior to travel by air to the U.S., has been able to do so throughout the pandemic without needing to demonstrate an essential non-discretionary purpose.  However, at the land border, the U.S. still requires an essential non-discretionary purpose for entry with limited exceptions, notwithstanding Canada's new policy to admit U.S. citizens and permanent residents for any purpose, as described above. With respect to quarantine, the U.S. did not have any such requirement on the federal level throughout the pandemic, however, certain states imposed a quarantine requirement at different times.

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