Canada first implemented a pre-departure COVID-19 test requirement applicable to travel by air (the Air Testing Requirement) on January 6, 2021, by means of the following orders:
- The Minimizing the Risk of Exposure to COVID-19 in Canada Order (Quarantine, Isolation and Other Obligations) (the QIOO Order), an Order in Council implemented pursuant to Section 58 of the Quarantine Act; and
- The Interim Order Respecting Certain Requirements for Civil Aviation Due to COVID-19, No. 18 (Interim Order No. 18), issued by Transport Canada pursuant to Subsection 6.41(1) of the Aeronautics Act.
Canada also implemented a similar pre-arrival COVID-19 test requirement applicable to travel by land or water (the Land/Water Testing Requirement) on February 15, 2021. Since that time, the Land/Water Testing Requirement has been incorporated into subsequent versions of the QIOO Order.
- A negative result for a COVID-19 molecular test that was performed outside Canada on a specimen collected no more than 72 hours before they enter Canada (if traveling by land or water) or before the aircraft's initial scheduled departure time (if traveling by air); or
- A negative result for a COVID-19 antigen test that was performed outside Canada on a specimen collected no more than one day before they enter Canada (if traveling by land or water) or before the aircraft's initial scheduled departure time (if traveling by air); or
- A positive result for a COVID-19 molecular test that was performed on a specimen collected at least 10 days and no more than 180 days before they enter Canada (if traveling by land or water) or before the aircraft's initial scheduled departure time (if traveling by air).
The option for a traveler to rely on a COVID-19 antigen test was added on February 28, 2022. At the time, this represented a significant relaxation of the pre-departure/pre-arrival COVID-19 test requirement, since only a COVID-19 molecular test (such as a PCR test) was acceptable prior to that date.
On March 17, 2022, the Government of Canada announced in a news release that it would be ending the pre-departure/pre-arrival COVID-19 test requirement for fully vaccinated travelers as of April 1, 2022 at 12:01 AM EDT. However, for partially or unvaccinated travelers who are currently allowed to travel to Canada, the pre-departure/pre-arrival COVID-19 testing requirements will not change. Unless otherwise exempt, all travelers who are five years of age or older who do not qualify as fully vaccinated must continue to provide proof of an acceptable pre-departure/pre-arrival COVID-19 test result.
In addition, all travelers (including fully-vaccinated travelers) continue to be subject to the following requirements:
- They may be randomly selected to take a post-arrival COVID-19 test at the time of entry, although they no longer need to self-quarantine while awaiting their test results; and
- They must continue to complete the ArriveCAN questionnaire within 72 hours of their travel to Canada. Those who do not comply with this requirement may be required to take a COVID-19 test upon arrival and quarantine for 14 days, regardless of their vaccination status.
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