Due to the current travel ban, most trips to Canada cannot take place. However, exceptions can be made in certain situations. For example, if the travel purpose is very important, or if the traveller is an immediate family member of a Canadian citizen or resident. On occassion, relatives of Canadian citizens or individuals who are (legally) permanently staying in Canada, but who are not immediate family members, are also allowed. This page (updated on 01-04-2021) explains the exceptions that are currently in place and the procedures that must be followed.
eTA Canada not a guarantee for entry
Despite all the measures taken as a result of the coronavirus, it is still possible to submit an eTA application for Canada. The application is processed in the same way as before the coronavirus crisis. However, those that have a valid eTA do not yet have a guarantee that their trip to Canada can actually take place due to the current travel ban. This is only allowed if the exceptions and requirements on this page are met.
Who can travel to Canada despite the travel ban?
The current travel ban for Canada applies to travellers from all nationalities. Only a select few exceptions are made, namely for:
Citizens and inhabitants of Canada and their family members
Peoeple with Canadian nationality or Canadian Permanent Resident status, as well as their family members. Immediate family members can even travel to Canada without additional permission from the IRCC (the Canadian immigration service) despite the travel ban. They must be able to prove that their purpose for travelling is to be with their family member and that they will be staying in Canada for at least 15 days. Immediate family members are: the spouse or legal partner, a dependent child, a child of a dependent child, a (step) parent, a guardian or an attendant. Immediate family members must provide two pieces of evidence when checking in. First, a piece of evidence showing that their family member is in fact a Canadian citizen or has Permanent Resident status. And secondly, proof that this person is in fact an immediate family member.
People who are not immediate family members, but who are related to Canadian citizens or people who are (legally) permanently staying in Canada, can receive an exception-permission from the IRCC to still travel to Canada despite the travel ban (if they can prove that their purpose for travelling is to be with their family member and that they will be staying in Canada for at least 15 days). This includes the following people:
- Persons who are in a relationship with a Canadian citizen, which has been ongoing for at least one year and who have been physicially together within that year
- Non-dependent (so adult) children
- (Half-)Brother or sister, or brother and sister from a composite family, who are not related by blood
- Children, minors or handicapped grandchildren, (grand)parents and brothers and sisters of the life partner of a citizen of Canada
To acquire the necessary exception for these persons (on top of the eTA), the Canadian citizen in question needs to fill in a specific form ("application for authorization and statutory declaration") on the website of the IRCC.
Persons registered under the Canadian Indian Act
Persons at risk of persecution in their country of origin on the basis of their race, religion, nationality, social group or political opinion may be considered a protected person.
Persons with a very important travel purpose flying directly from the USA
A member of the Canadian immigration service will assess upon arrival whether the reason is compelling enough to enter the country. Furthermore, airlines and law enforcement may exclude travellers prior to departure if they believe that the traveller does not have a very important reason to travel to Canada. Though not mandatory, it is recommended asking the Canadian immigration service (IRCC) in advance by e-mail whether the intended travel purpose is considered important enough.
Persons with a very important travel purpose that are not flying directly from the USA
Individuals who are not flying directly from the United States of America to Canada, but wish to travel to Canada because of a "very important travel purpose", as described in the previous section, must fall into one of the following categories in order to be admitted:
- Travellers with a Canadian work permit and a work-related travel purpose
- International students with a study permit who have to travel to Canada to study
- Travellers with a permanent residence permit
- Travellers who are only transferring in Canada and will not leave the airport transit zone
- Members of the Canadian Armed Forces, visiting Armed Forces, the Canadian Ministry of Defense and their immediate families
- Recognized diplomats and their immediate family members
- Air and ship crew
- French nationals who live in Saint-Pierre and Miquelon and have only been in Canada, the USA or Saint-Pierre and Miquelon during the 14 days prior to their arrival in Canada
- All persons who, in the opinion of the head of the Canadian Public Health Organization, do not pose a threat to public health and will provide essential services during their stay in Canada
- Persons whose presence in Canada, according to the Ministry of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, the Ministry of Public Security or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is of national interest
- Persons who come to Canada at the invitation of the Minister of Health for support in controlling the coronavirus
- Persons providing medical supplies
- Athletes (both professional and amateur) taking part in an international sporting event (International Single-Sport Event). Their trip must be approved by the Deputy Minister of Canadian Heritage (PCH).
- Persons travelling to Canada for humanitarian reasons ("compelling reason"). They must submit a request for approval of their trip at the PHAC (the Public Health Agency of Canada).
These persons have to fill in a web form on the IRCC website, under "Case Specific Enquiries", to indicate why their journey falls under the exceptions, so that they can travel to Canada despite the travel ban. This web form should be accompanied by evidence in the annex that proves that this person would fall under one of the exception catagories.
Those travelling to Canada to provide care or support to a loved one, or to be with a loved one in their final days, need to download a "Letter of Required Support Form" from the website of the Canadian IRCC. This document needs to be filled in and uploaded in the web form requesting an exception to the travel restrictions.
If the IRCC agrees to make an exception, the traveller will receive an email which explains the following steps that need to be taken to travel to Canada.
Additional requirements for who can still travel
Travellers for whom an exemption to the travel ban is made must also be able to prove that they meet the following requirements:
- The stay in Canada must be at least 15 days
- The traveller must have a PCR test taken at most 72 hours before departure with a negative test result (or must have been tested positive for coronavirus between 14 and 90 days before arrival). Tests which were taken in India or Pakistan are not accepted. After arrival in Canada, the traveller must undergo another PCR test and after the mandatory quarantine period, perform a coronavirus rapid lateral flow test.
- The traveller must download the ArriveCAN app, install it on their mobile phone and fill in the required information. The airline will check during check-in if the app and the required information in the app are available
- The traveller passes the health check carried out or required by the airline company
- The traveller meets the other precautionary measures set by the airline company
- The traveller has a quarantine plan, which states where and how the mandatory 14-day quarantine in Canada takes place, how to travel from the airport of arrival in Canada to the quarantine facility and how the necessary groceries, services and medical care are provided at the quarantine facility. The first 3 days of quarantine must always take place at a hotel designated by the Canadian authorities.
- At the passport check in Canada, the traveller must again provide the evidence which proves that they qualify for an exception to travel to Canada despite the travel ban
- The traveller has a valid visa or eTA Canada, as well as approval from the IRCC (or as mentioned in the situations above, the PHAC or PHC)
Under certain circumstances (for example, visiting a funeral), exceptions can be made regarding the quarantine requirement, but seperate permission must be applied for at the IRCC for this.
It is not yet known how long these requirements will last, but this will be the case until at least 21 January.
Canadian authorities strongly recommend not to travel with symptoms of coronavirus. Travellers showing symptoms of coronavirus will not be allowed to board any aircraft with a destination in Canada. Travellers who are unable to hand over a well-designed quarantine plan are also not allowed on Canadian territory.
Travelling to Canada after the travel ban
It is currently not know when the restrictions mentioned on this page will be lifted. Stay informed about this by regularly read the page on developements regarding the coronavirus in Canada.