COVID-19 Travel Rules Guide for Canadian Snowbirds

Canadian Snowbird's Guide to COVID-19 Travel Rules

LAST UPDATED: June 15, 2022

NOTE: Recent and Upcoming Rule Changes are Highlighted in Yellow

Looking for up-to-date COVID-19 travel rules for snowbirds? We’ve created this one-stop, COVID travel rules guide to help snowbirds find the latest rules and information for travelling to the U.S. and Mexico, as well as to and from Canada.

The guide will be updated on a regular basis and will be current as of the LAST UPDATED date above.

As COVID travel rules continue to change and evolve, this new approach of centralizing and updating this information in one place will make it faster and easier for snowbirds to find all of the information they need, rather than our previous approach of publishing a new article every time a new rule or change was introduced.

As always, we will endeavour to update this guide as quickly and accurately as possible. However, we also encourage snowbirds to visit official government websites for the latest official COVID travel rules and guidelines, which can be found at the end of each country’s section below.

Canada

Definition of “Fully Vaccinated”

According to the Government of Canada, to qualify as a ”fully vaccinated traveller you must have received, at least 14 full days prior to the day you travel:

  • at least 2 doses of a vaccine accepted by the Government of Canada for the purpose of travel, or
  • a mix of 2 accepted vaccines, or
  • at least 1 dose of the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine

Travelling From Canada

Vaccination Requirements

As of June 20, 2022 at 12:01 am EDT, travellers are no longer required to be vaccinated to board a plane or train in Canada for domestic or outbound travel. If you are travelling outside Canada, be aware that some countries still require arriving travellers to be vaccinated.

Travellers will still be required to be fully vaccinated to board cruise ships in Canada.

You can find more information about vaccination requirements to board flights and trains within Canada here.

Travel Advisories

  • On February 28, 2022, the Government of Canada lifted its Global Level 3 COVID-19 Travel Advisory to avoid non-essential travel for fully vaccinated travellers. COVID-19 related travel advisories are now issued on a country by country basis and advisory levels for most countries have been reduced to Level 1 (Exercise normal security precautions) or Level 2 (Exercise a high degree of caution) for fully vaccinated travellers.

    The Global Level 3 COVID-19 Travel Advisory to avoid non-essential travel remains in effect for travellers who are NOT fully vaccinated.
  • On March 7, 2022, the Government of Canada lifted its Level 4 COVID-19 Travel Advisory to avoid all cruise ship travel and is now advising cruise ship travellers to exercise a high degree of caution.

You can find current Government of Canada travel advisory levels for individual countries and regions here.

Returning to Canada

Snowbirds returning to Canada are required to comply with the following COVID-related requirements for travellers entering Canada.

Pre-arrival COVID Testing Requirements

Fully Vaccinated Travellers:

As of April 1, 2022, fully vaccinated travellers are no longer required to take a pre-entry COVID-19 test to enter Canada by land, air or water.

Please note that fully vaccinated travellers are still required submit their travel information through ArriveCAN within 72 hours before your arrival to Canada (see further details below).

You can find more information about COVID-19 related travel requirements for fully vaccinated travellers on the official Government of Canada website.

Unvaccinated and Partially Vaccinated Travellers:

All unvaccinated and partially vaccinated travellers 5 years of age or older must continue to provide proof of one of the 3 following accepted types of COVID-19 test results when entering Canada by land, air or water:

  1. Proof of a professionally administered or observed negative antigen test taken outside of Canada no more than 1 day before your scheduled flight or entry to Canada by land or water.

    The one-day window does not depend on the time of day the test was taken or the time of your flight or entry. For example, if your flight is scheduled to leave or you enter by land any time on Friday, you could provide proof of a negative result from an antigen test taken any time on Thursday, or on Friday.

    Antigen tests must be administered or observed by a pharmacy, laboratory, healthcare entity or telehealth service.

    The test must be authorized for sale or distribution in Canada or in the jurisdiction in which it was obtained.

    The test must be performed outside of Canada.
  2. Proof of a valid negative molecular test taken outside of Canada within 72 hours of your scheduled flight’s departure time to Canada or your entry to Canada by land or water.

    For example, if your flight is scheduled to leave at 11:00 am on Friday, your test must have been taken any time after 10:59 am on Tuesday
  3. If you have had and recovered from COVID-19, proof of a previous positive molecular test result, taken at least 10 calendar days and no more than 180 calendar days before entering Canada.

    Counting starts the day after your test. For example, if your positive COVID-19 molecular test was taken on January 1, then January 11 would be the earliest scheduled departure date of your flight to Canada, or the first day you could use it to enter Canada by land or water.

    This test can be taken inside or outside of Canada.

    A positive antigen test result is never a valid test result for boarding a flight or entry to Canada and can’t be used as proof of a previous infection.

The following pre-arrival COVID-19 testing rules also apply if you are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated and you are a Canadian citizen or permanent resident:

If you arrive without an accepted COVID-19 test, you will be allowed entry to Canada. However, you may be:

  • Subject to a fine of up to $5,000 plus additional surcharges or face criminal prosecution, and/or
  • Required to go to a designated quarantine facility if they are symptomatic on arrival at the border and do not have a suitable quarantine plan

If your pre-arrival COVID-19 test is positive, to avoid being fined $5,000 per traveller (plus surcharges), you must wait to enter Canada at least 10 calendar days after your positive molecular test result. If travelling by air, you’ll be denied boarding. Counting starts the day following the day of testing.

  • for example, if your positive COVID-19 molecular test was taken on January 1, then January 11 would be the first day you could use it
  • January 11 would be the earliest scheduled departure date of your flight to Canada, or the first day you could use it to enter Canada by land or water
  • if you had a positive antigen test result, you must either:
     
    • wait until you obtain a negative antigen test result,
    • obtain a positive molecular test result to use after 10 days have passed from the date the molecular test was taken, or
    • obtain a negative molecular test result which can be used within 72 hours of your scheduled flight or entry to Canada by land or water

You can find more information about COVID-19 related travel requirements for unvaccinated or partially vaccinated travellers on the official Government of Canada website.

Arrival Testing

From June 11 at 12:01 a.m. (EDT) to June 30, 2022, the Government of Canada is temporarily suspending mandatory random arrival testing at all airports for travellers who are fully vaccinated.

During this time, fully vaccinated travellers arriving at land borders may still be selected for mandatory random arrival testing.

Fully vaccinated travellers arriving in Canada who are randomly selected for arrival testing are no longer required to quarantine while awaiting their test results.

All unvaccinated and partially travellers age 5 and older arriving in Canada by land or air may be randomly selected for a mandatory arrival test by a CBSA officer.

If you are randomly selected, you must take the arrival test as directed on the day you enter Canada. The test may be administered at the airport or you may receive a self-swab kit at the airport or land border to complete within 24 hours after entering Canada.

Exemption if you have already had COVID and recovered: Travellers who provide a positive COVID-19 molecular pre-entry test result, conducted at least 10 and no more than 180 days before their scheduled flight or arrival at the land border crossing, are exempt from arrival testing.

Air Travellers: Registering in advance for arrival testing: If you are randomly selected for an arrival test and you are required to get tested before exiting the airport, you will need to register with the test provider for your airport before your test is administered. Accordingly, it is recommended that you register in advance with the testing provider for the airport you will arrive at to speed you through the process. You can find a list of test providers for Canadian airports here.

When you register with the testing provider, be sure to use the same email address you used for your ArriveCAN account.

ArriveCAN Requirements

Regardless of how you enter Canada, all travellers must use ArriveCAN to provide mandatory travel information within 72 hours before your flight departure or your arrival at the land border, depending on your mode of entry into Canada, including your:

  • Contact information and travel details
  • Proof of vaccination information
  • Pre-entry COVID test result information (for unvaccinated and partially vaccinated travellers)
  • Quarantine plan, in case it is determined that you need to quarantine upon arrival

Once you have submitted your information through ArriveCAN, a receipt will be emailed to you. You may be required to show this to your airline or a Canadian border official.

Some travellers may also be required to submit information through ArriveCAN after they enter Canada as well.

On December 6, 2021, the federal government announced that in some circumstances exceptions may be made for Canadians to provide their information in person at the border when entering Canada if they are unable to use ArriveCAN. However, travellers should still use ArriveCAN whenever possible, as it is unclear under which circumstances CBSA officers will make exceptions.

ArriveCAN is available as an app for iOS and Android as well as online. It is free and is available in English, French and Spanish.

NOTE: If you are using ArriveCAN online, make sure you use the official ArriveCAN website, as there have been reports of scams where third-party websites either try to charge travellers to use ArriveCAN or steal their personal information.

You can find more information about ArriveCAN requirements for returning to Canada here

United States

Vaccination Requirements

  • Canadians age 18 years and older must be fully vaccinated to travel to the U.S. by air, land or sea.
  • Canadians under 18 years of age are exempt from the requirement to be fully vaccinated, but are still subject to pre-arrival COVID testing requirements if travelling by air (see below for more details).

Definition of “Fully Vaccinated”

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”), travellers are considered “fully vaccinated” 2 weeks (14 days) after receiving:

  • Your dose of an accepted single-dose COVID-19 vaccine, or
  • Your second dose of an accepted 2-dose COVID-19 vaccine series, or
  • Your second 2 doses of any “mix-and-match” combination of accepted COVID-19 vaccines administered at least 17 days apart

You can find a list of accepted COVID-19 vaccines from the CDC here, which includes AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Moderna, Janssen/J&J and others.

Required Proof of Vaccination

Travellers should use the new standardized proof of vaccination documents available from your province or territory of residence, which are currently available from all provinces and territories

In addition to downloading your vaccine passport to your phone, travellers should print a physical copy of your vaccine passports to take with you in case you experience issues with your mobile device.

You can learn more about the status, availability and how to access standardized proof of vaccination documents in your province on the Government of Canada website.

COVID Testing & Quarantine Requirements

  • Travel by Air: As of June 12, 2022, Canadians travelling to the U.S. by air are NOT required to take a pre-entry COVID test.
  • Travel by Land or Sea: Canadians travelling to the U.S. by land or sea are NOT required to take a pre-entry COVID test
  • Quarantine: Canadians travelling to the U.S. are not required to quarantine upon arrival in the United States.

Official U.S. Government Resources

Mexico

Vaccination Requirements

Mexico does not currently require arriving travellers to be vaccinated or show proof of vaccination

COVID Testing & Quarantine Requirements

Mexico does not currently require arriving travellers to take pre-entry or arrival COVID tests and does not require travellers to quarantine upon arrival.

Other Destinations

If you are travelling to a destination other than the U.S. or Mexico, please check with your airline in advance of your departure for up-to-date information about your destination’s COVID-related entry, testing and quarantine requirements.

Disclaimer: The material provided on the SnowbirdAdvisor.ca website is for informational purposes only and does NOT constitute legal, tax, accounting, financial, real estate, medical or other advice, and should not be relied on as such. If you require such advice, you should retain a qualified professional to advise you.

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