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Pre-departure COVID-19 testing and negative results to be required for all air travellers coming to Canada

News release

December 31, 2020 Ottawa Government of Canada

The COVID-19 pandemic has created a global crisis that is having a significant impact on the air industry and all travellers. The Government of Canada has multiple measures in place to protect the health and safety of Canadians, and to help prevent air travel from being a source of further introduction and spread of COVID-19 and new variants of the virus into Canada.

Since March 13, 2020, the Government of Canada has strongly advised against non-essential travel, and that travel restrictions and measures can be amended at any time as necessary for public health reasons.

The Minister of Transport, the Honourable Marc Garneau, is requiring that, effective January 7, 2021, at 12:01 a.m. EST, all air passengers five years of age or older will be required to test negative for COVID-19 before travelling from another country to Canada. This implementation date provides all airlines, both foreign and domestic, adequate time to comply with the new requirements.

Documentation of a negative laboratory test result must be presented to the airline prior to boarding a flight to Canada. The test must be performed using a COVID-19 molecular polymerase chain reaction (or PCR) test and must be taken within 72 hours prior to the traveller’s scheduled departure to Canada.

Anyone who receives a negative test result and is authorized to enter Canada must still complete the full, mandatory 14-day quarantine.
The Government of Canada will be further increasing surveillance efforts to ensure travellers entering Canada complete the applicable mandatory 14-day quarantine period under the Quarantine Act.

As has been the case for months, all travellers will have their quarantine plans reviewed by a government official and, if not suitable, will be required to quarantine in a federal quarantine facility. Travellers to Canada must use the ArriveCAN App or website and provide accurate contact information and their mandatory 14-day quarantine plan on or before entry.

Violating any instructions provided when you enter Canada is an offence under the Quarantine Act and could lead to up to six months in prison and/or $750,000 in fines.

Canadians who are currently travelling and returning to Canada soon should start immediately arranging for a COVID-19 test, to avoid a delay in their return to Canada. Canadians who are planning to travel abroad should consider how they will meet these requirements before departure.


“Our government remains committed to protecting the health and safety of Canadians. These new measures will provide another layer of protection for Canadians as we continue to assess public health risks and work to limit the spread of COVID-19 in Canada.”

Minister of Transport
The Honourable Marc Garneau

“Since the emergence of COVID-19, we have had in place strong measures to prevent the importation of COVID-19 cases. Starting on January 7, we will require travellers coming to Canada to test negative for COVID-19 before boarding their flight. The 14-day quarantine will also remain in place. We can all work together to save lives. Stay in Canada and follow public health guidelines to protect yourself, your loved ones, and your community.”

Minister of Health
The Honourable Patty Hajdu

“As the global situation evolves, we continue to work with our partners to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 into Canada at all international ports of entry. The new testing requirement is an additional layer of protection that helps make Canada’s border measures among the strongest in the world. The testing regime is not a replacement for the legal requirement to quarantine, which remains our strongest defence against the spread of the virus.”

Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
The Honourable Bill Blair

“The COVID-19 situation continues to show its unpredictable and rapidly changing nature. We, therefore, need to implement additional quick and effective actions to protect the health and safety of all Canadians. We still strongly advise against non-essential travel outside Canada as the likelihood of sudden restrictions and additional requirements during the pandemic may result in travellers facing difficult and stressful circumstances while abroad. We all need to do our part so that we can get through this challenging time together.”

Minister of Foreign Affairs
The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne

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