Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Who can travel to Canada

To protect Canadians from the outbreak of COVID-19, the Prime Minister announced travel restrictions that limit travel to Canada. Until further notice, most foreign nationals cannot travel to Canada, even if they have a valid visitor visa or electronic travel authorization (eTA).


The following topics will be covered in this article: 

  • Who can enter Canada?

  • Flying to Canada requirements checklist

  • Driving to Canada requirements checklist


Who can enter Canada?

You can travel to and enter Canada if you’re a

To be eligible to travel to Canada as a foreign national, you must meet the requirements for one of the following:


Entering Canada for family-related reasons

  • An immediate family member of a Canadian citizen, person registered under Canada’s Indian Act or permanent resident who is staying in Canada for 15 days or more

    • An immediate family member is defined as a

  • Spouse or common-law partner

  • Dependent child (yours, your spouse’s or your common-law partner’s)

  • Dependent child of a dependent child

  • Parent or step-parent (yours, your spouse’s or your common-law partner’s)

  • Guardian or tutor


  • Written authorization is not required


  • An extended family member of a Canadian citizen, person registered under Canada’s Indian Act or permanent resident who is staying in Canada for 15 days or more

    • If your relationship is with a Canadian citizen, person registered under Canada’s Indian Act or permanent resident


You must be

  • In an exclusive dating relationship, have been in the relationship for at least 1 year and have spent time in the physical presence of that person at some point during the relationship

    • You and the person you’re in the relationship with must both be 18 years of age or older.

  • A non-dependent child (adult child)

  • A grandchild (dependent child of a non-dependent adult child)

  • A sibling, half-sibling or step-sibling

  • A grandparent


  • If you’re related to the spouse or common-law partner of a Canadian citizen, person registered under Canada’s Indian Act or permanent resident


You must be a

  • Non-dependent child (adult child)

  • Grandchild (dependent child of a non-dependent adult child)

  • Sibling, half-sibling or step-sibling

  • Grandparent


  • If you’re related to someone in an exclusive dating relationship with a Canadian citizen, person registered under Canada’s Indian Act or permanent resident


You must be a

  • Dependent child

  • Non-dependent child (adult child)

  • Grandchild (dependent child of a non-dependent adult child)


  • Written authorization is required


  • Immediate family members with written authorization from IRCC to reunite with a temporary resident of Canada


    • An immediate family member is defined as a

  • Spouse or common-law partner

  • Dependent child (yours, your spouse’s or your common-law partner’s)

  • Dependent child of a dependent child

  • Parent or step-parent (yours, your spouse’s or your common-law partner’s)

  • Guardian or tutor


  • You must provide evidence that your travel is non-discretionary, such as to live with your spouse, common-law partner or family member.


    • Examples of other non-optional or non-discretionary travel::

      • Supporting Indigenous communities

      • Transiting through Canada for non-optional or non-discretionary purposes

      • Any other activities that are deemed non-optional or non-discretionary by the Government of Canada or based on an officer’s assessment

      • Foreign national coming to assist with the birth of their own child to another foreign national with temporary resident status


  • Written authorization is required


  • a person who is authorized by the Public Health Agency of Canada to travel to Canada for compassionate reasons


    • Examples of compassionate reasons can include

      • Being present during the final moments of life of a loved one

      • Providing support to a person deemed critically ill

      • Providing care to a person who medically requires support

      • Attending a funeral or end-of-life ceremony


    • You must get an authorization from the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) to travel to and enter Canada.


Entering Canada for non-family-related reasons

To be eligible, you must meet one of the following requirements:


  1. You must be travelling directly from the US for a non-discretionary purpose.

  1. Travelers coming from outside the US who are exempt from the travel restrictions


  • Temporary foreign workers

    • You have a valid work permit and normally live in Canada.

      • This applies even if you’ve been laid off.

    • You’re a worker who meets all of the following:

      • Have a letter of introduction for a work permit (open or employer-specific)

      • Have a valid immigration medical exam

      • Can work after you complete your quarantine in Canada (unless you’re exempt) and

      • Have a valid job offer

        • You don’t need a valid job offer if you’ll work with a spouse/common-law partner open work permit


    • Written authorization is not required


  • Some international students

    • Have a valid study permit or a letter of introduction that shows you were approved for a study permit

    • Be attending a designated learning institution (DLI) with a COVID-19 readiness plan approved by its province or territory


  • Some people who have been approved to become a permanent resident of Canada, but who are not yet permanent residents

You may be able to come only if:

  • Your COPR was issued on or before March 18, 2020 or

  • You are exempt from the travel restrictions.


  • Transiting passengers

  • Members of the Canadian forces, visiting forces coming to perform official duties, Department of National Defence and their immediate family members

  • Accredited diplomats and their immediate family members (includes North Atlantic Treaty Organization [NATO], those under the United Nations Headquarters Agreement, other organizations)

  • Air and marine crew members

  • French citizens who live in Saint-Pierre and Miquelon and have been in only Canada, the US or Saint-Pierre and Miquelon during the 14 days before the day they seek to enter Canada

  • Any person who does not pose a significant harm to public health, in the opinion of the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada, and who will provide an essential service while in Canada

  • Any person whose presence in Canada is in the national interest, in the opinion of the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship; Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness; or Minister of Foreign Affairs

  • Any person who is coming at the invitation of the Minister of Health for the purpose of COVID-19 assistance

  • Any person whose purpose is to make medical deliveries

  • A person who’s participating in an International Single-Sport Event (ISSE)


Flying to Canada requirements checklist

Before you travel

  1. Assess your quarantine plan before you travel

  2. Get your pre-entry COVID-19 test

  3. Reserve your 3 night hotel stopover

  4. Register in advance for your arrival test

  5. Use ArriveCAN to submit your travel and quarantine plans


Boarding your flight

  1. Have your ArriveCAN receipt and pre-entry test results ready to provide to the airline

  2. Check the requirements for boarding a flight to Canada


Arriving in Canada

  1. Have your ArriveCAN receipt, test results, hotel confirmation and quarantine plans ready for assessment by a Border Services Officer

  2. Take a test on arrival

  3. Go directly to your pre-booked hotel for up to 3 nights to await results from your arrival test


Completing your full quarantine

  1. Use your Day-8 test and await results


Driving to Canada requirements checklist

Before you travel to Canada by land

  1. Assess your quarantine plan before you travel

  2. Get your pre-entry COVID-19 test

  3. Set up your account for arrival testing

  4. Use ArriveCAN to submit your travel and quarantine plans


Arriving in Canada at a land border crossing

  1. Have your ArriveCAN receipt, test results, and quarantine plans ready for assessment by a Border Services Officer

  2. Receive your arrival and Day-8 test kits

  3. Complete your arrival test at the border if testing stations are available on site

  4. Follow the instructions for driving to your place of quarantine


Completing your mandatory quarantine

  1. Register your Day-8 test kit in advance

  2. Use ArriveCAN to check in and report daily

  3. Use your Day-8 test kit and await results



Written by Xueran HAN
Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC)