The government of Canada has taken temporary measures to protect its citizens against the coronavirus (COVID-19). These have a major impact on travellers that want to travel to Canada on an eTA. Applying for an eTA is still possible, but first read on this page which restrictions you need to keep in mind. This article was updated on 8 July 2021.
Is coronavirus a serious problem in Canada?
Yes. Early March 2021, an increase in infections was seen, but the vaccination programme appears to have borne fruit. As of 8 July, cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in 1,426,122 Canadians. 26,356 deaths have also been confirmed due to COVID-19. Aside from controlling further spreading of the coronavirus within Canada, the government wants to prevent new cases by temporarily banning incoming travellers.
Travelling with an eTA Canada is not possible in many cases due to the coronavirus (COVID-19)
Can I still apply for an eTA Canada despite the coronavirus?
That is possible. Because an eTA Canada is valid for five years, new applications can still be submitted. Frequent travellers often apply for a new eTA as soon as the previous one has expired. This can still be done. It is also possible to still apply for an eTA Canada in other cases. The average delivery time has not been delayed due to coronavirus. You can also already apply for an eTA even if you do not know when you will be travelling to Canada.
Does Canada have a travel ban for travellers with an eTA?
Yes. Currently, a travel ban applies to all people wanting to travel to Canada, aside from a few exceptions. You can check on the page with exceptions to the Canadian travel ban whether you and your travel plans fall under this. The Canadian coronavirus travel ban therefore also applies to residents of the United Kingdom and Ireland that possess a valid eTA Canada. The travel ban is temporary, but passenger flights from India and Pakistan are forbidden from landing in Canada altogether since 22 April. The flight ban between Canada and India and Pakistan will last at least 30 days, so until 21 July 2021, but might last longer.
A stopover in Canada for a transit to another country is currently still possible, if the destination country permits the trip. An eTA Canada is also required for this. During the stopover, the traveller must remain in the terminal for international flights at the airport, and the stopover cannot last longer than 24 hours. The transit flight to the next country also has to depart from the airport where the traveller landed. Baggage must be checked in before leaving for Canada. As you are not allowed to leave the terminal for international flights, you also cannot pick up baggage to take it with you on your next flight. A transfer during which you have to spend the night in Canada (at the airport) is only allowed in Toronto. At other airports where transfers are possible (Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver), the flight has to take place the same day.
Travellers who have been to Europe in the 14 days before their trip also cannot travel to the United States of America. More up to date information about this can be found in the article about coronavirus in the USA.
Exceptions to the travel ban
People that have an essential reason to travel to Canada during the current border closure, or that want to travel to Canada to visit family, are required to ask for seperate permission for their trip with the Canadian IRCC, on top of getting an eTA or visa. Any person who can travel to Canada with this special permission must be able to present a negative PCR test at departure, which must have been taken a maximum of 72 hours before the planned departure, or have been tested positive for coronavirus between 14 and 90 days before their arrival. All travellers must register via the ArriveCAN app or Canadaʼs government website, and must use this app to book their first 3 nights in Canada at a government designated quarantine hotel. The requirement to book a quarantine hotel will not apply to fully vaccinated travellers from 6 July on.
Persons, who have an essential reason to travel to Canada now, during the border closure, or wish to travel to Canada for family visits, must apply for separate permission to travel from the Canadian IRCC, in addition to the eTA Canada or visa. Anyone who is allowed to travel to Canada with such an exception must present a negative PCR test at the time of departure, which must have been taken no more than 72 hours before the planned departure, or must have tested positive for COVID-19 between 14 and 90 days before arrival.
Health check and quarantine
When departing for Canada, the airline will perform a basic health check on all passengers during check-in. Passengers with symptoms, and passengers who in the preceding 14 days were refused due to COVID-19 symptoms, cannot board, unless they can present a medical certificate proving the symptoms are not coronavirus related. On arrival in Canada, travellers must take another PCR test and stay at a quarantine hotel for 14 days (when tested negative, first 3 days at a government-designated quarantine hotel and the 11 remaining days in self-isolation, when tested positive the entire 14 days in the quarantine hotel). They must be able to present a quarantine plan for this purpose at the passport check.
At the end of the 14-day quarantine period, travellers must take a coronavirus rapid lateral flow test (test kits are provided). Not keeping to the quarantine plans can lead to heavy fines and even prison sentences.
Exemption to the quarantine requirement
People who have experienced a coronavirus infection in the period of 14 to 90 days before their trip, diplomats and other people who are providing urgent goods or services to Canada, or people who regularly need to cross the border for their job, are exempt from the mandatory quarantine. From 6 July on, people who have been fully vaccinated with vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca or Janssen at least 14 days before departure are also exempt from the quarantine requirement. However, they must upload the vaccination certificate in the ArriveCAN app and, despite the vaccination, undergo a PCR test before departure and after arrival. Non-vaccinated children up to the age of 18 travelling along are also exempt from the quarantine requirement.
For the time being, however, the requirement remains that a traveller who is not a citizen or permanent resident of Canada, or who is a close family member of such a person, must have an exception permit for the trip in addition to the eTA. These persons, despite the exemption from the quarantine requirement, must have a quarantine plan in case the officer at the border control concludes that this person does not meet the requirements for the exemption from the quarantine requirement after all.
Exceptions to the travel ban for humanitarian reasons
Sometimes, for humanitarian reasons, it is possible to be exempt from the travel ban and to reduce the mandatory quarantine length. This is especially the case if a traveller has to travel to Canada for a funeral or other life ceremony of a loved one or wants to be present in Canada during the last days of a loved oneʼs life. In order to be able to participate in, for example, a funeral or be present in the last days of a loved oneʼs life despite the quarantine requirement, the "Site Visit Authorization Form" on the Canadian IRCC website must be downloaded and completed, and uploaded with the request for the exception.
More in-depth information about the possibilities of travelling to Canada and what you need to do to apply for a special permission to travel, can be found on the page with exceptions to Canadaʼs travel ban.
When can I travel to Canada again?
It is currently not known when travelling to Canada with an eTA will be permitted again, but due to the rising number of infections - including in Canada itself - the travel limitations and other coronavirus measures will remain in effect until at least 21 July. Aside from the travel ban, measures have also been taken by airlines, which can sometimes be more extreme or have different terms compared to the travel ban of the Canadian government. Check with your airline regarding this. The information on this page is continually updated. This means that as soon as more information becomes available, it can be found here.
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What should I do if I am already in Canada?
At present, the government does not consider it necessary to return to the United Kingdom immediately. However, you should observe the precautionary measures that apply in Canada (hygiene, limitation of non-emergency travel, wearing of mouth masks on public transport including airplanes, airports, trains, buses and ferries, keeping 2 metres away and staying at home in case of complaints or if you belong to a high-risk group). The provinces have set up different plans, how the corona measures are relaxed step by step. For persons travelling to Canada under an exemption, some additional requirements apply, such as the obligation to wear a mouth mask in public places at all times and to keep a list of all contacts in the first 14 days after arrival in Canada.
The Canadian government (national or regional) may take additional measures that travelers with an eTA Canada should take into account. For example, since April 20, 2020, all passengers on flights to Canada are required to wear a mouth mask and all Canadian airports are also subject to this requirement. The Canadian government urgently recommends to pay attention to "social distancing" and to avoid all travel that is not absolutely necessary. Keep an eye on the Canadian media for further measures.
Who will pay for the damage caused by coronavirus?
The financial damage as a result of coronavirus is in the billions of pounds. As few insurance companies have sufficient financial means to meet all the claims, it is currently not certain whether all of the damages caused by the Canadian travel ban will be reimbursed. Check with your travel insurance, cancellation insurance, airline, travel bureau or tour operator. The Canadian government does not refund any costs made for an eTA travel permit which cannot be used. However, approved eTAs are valid for five years (or until the passport expires), meaning they can also be used for a trip that will be taken at a later date.
Disclaimer: Coronavirus is a quickly growing problem, and the consequences are immense. Due to the rapid developments, it is not possible to offer any guarantees that the information in this article is at all times complete and up-to-date. However, this article is regularly updated concerning travelling with an eTA Canada, during and after the coronavirus outbreak.