Prohibition of Entry into Canada from any Country Other than the United States

Date: February 18, 2021

Classification: Unclassified

Branch/Agency: SPB/CBSA

Proposed Response:

If pressed on enhanced processing for travellers who have been in the United Kingdom, South Africa, and Brazil:


On March 13, 2020, the Government of Canada issued an official global travel advisory to avoid non-essential travel abroad. In an attempt to limit the spread of COVID-19, many governments implemented special entry and exit and movement restrictions for their territories. As a result, the Government of Canada advised Canadians to avoid non-essential travel outside of Canada until further notice.

To further complement these measures, Transport Canada implemented measures pertaining to cruise ships in Canadian waters. Cruise ships with overnight accommodations allowed to carry more than 100 persons are prohibited from operating in Canadian waters until February 28, 2021. As of July 1, 2020, all other passenger vessels must follow provincial, territorial, local and regional health authority requirements for timelines and processes to resume operations. Passenger vessels with the capacity to carry more than 12 persons continue to be prohibited from entering Arctic coastal waters (including Nunatsiavut, Nunavik and the Labrador Coast) until February 28, 2021.

Orders in Council

New OIC 45: 2021-0077 entitled Prohibition on Entry into Canada from any Country other than the United States, has effect from the period beginning on February 14, 2021 (11:59:59 PM) and ending on April 21, 2021 (11:59:59 PM). This order repeals and replaces OIC 41: 2021-0010.

For a foreign national to enter Canada from a country other than the US:

The Order restricts travel of foreign nationals to Canada by air and marine from any country other than the US. This restriction does not apply to a person registered as an Indian under the Indian Act, nor a protected person as defined in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA). Specified exemptions exist for persons seeking entry for purposes that are not optional or discretionary. Despite these exemptions, persons who exhibit signs and symptoms such as a fever and cough or a fever and breathing difficulties, are prohibited from boarding a flight to Canada or entering Canada at the border.

Exemptions under subsection 3(1)

Provided a person is not symptomatic and not travelling for an optional or discretionary purpose, exemptions to the prohibition of entry for foreign nationals travelling to Canada by air and marine from destinations other than the US include:

  1. Immediate family members of Canadian citizens, permanent residents and persons registered as an Indian under the Indian Act;
    • (a.1) Extended family member of a Canadian citizen, a permanent resident or a person registered as an Indian under the Indian Act if they:
  2. Persons authorized in writing to enter Canada to reunite immediate family members;
  3. Crew members or those that seek entry to become a member of a crew under the CAR;
  4. Crew members or those that seek entry to become a member of a crew under the IRPR;
  5. Persons exempt from obtaining a temporary resident visa under 190(2)(a) of the IRPR and their immediate family members;
  6. Persons travelling at the invitation of the Minister of Health to assist in the COVID-19 response;
  7. Persons arriving by aircraft operated by the Canadian Forces or the Department of National Defense;
  8. Members of the Canadian military, visiting forces, and their immediate family members;
  9. French citizens of Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon (SPM) who have only been in SPM, the US or Canada for 14 days before they arrived in Canada;
  10. A person or any class of persons who, in the opinion of the Chief Public Health Officer:
    1. do not pose a risk of significant harm to the public health; or
    2. will provide essential service while in Canada;
  11. Persons or any person in a class of persons whose presence in Canada is in the national interest as determined by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Citizenship and Immigration or Public Safety;
  12. Persons holding a valid work permit as defined in section 2 of the IRPR or whose application for a work permit in Canada was approved in writing;
  13. Persons holding a valid study permit, as defined in section 2 of the IRPR; or whose application for a study permit was approved in writing before noon, Eastern Daylight Time on March 18, 2020.
  14. Persons seeking entry to attend a listed institution, and their immediate family members (except a dependent child of a dependent child) if the person:
    • holds a valid study permit, as defined in the section 2 of the IRPR,
    • may apply for one when entering Canada under section 214 IRPR, or
    • received written approval of the application;
  15. Persons authorized to work in Canada as students in a health field under 186(p) IRPR;
  16. Persons authorized to work in Canada as emergency service providers under 186(t) of the IRPR;
  17. Licensed health care practitioner with proof of employment in Canada;
  18. Persons seeking entry to deliver, maintain or repair medically necessary equipment;
  19. Persons seeking entry to make medical deliveries of cells, blood and blood products, tissues, organs or other body parts, that are required for patient care in Canada;
  20. Persons whose application for permanent residence in Canada was approved and received written notice of the approval before noon (EDT) on March 18, 2020;
  21. Workers in the marine transportation essential for movement of goods by vessel;
  22. Persons to take up post as diplomats, consular officers and representatives of other countries or international organizations and their immediate family members;
  23. Persons arriving at Canadian airports aboard commercial passenger conveyances and transiting to another country while remaining in a sterile transit area;
  24. Persons seeking entry on board a vessel that is engaged in research and that is operated by or under the authority of the Government of Canada.

Foreign nationals with a National Interest Exemption Letter pursuant to paragraph3(1)(k)

In accordance with subsection 3(5) of the OIC , a person or any person in a class of persons whose presence in Canada, as determined by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration or the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, is in the national interest, is exempt from the prohibition from entering Canada for an optional or discretionary purpose.

Immediate Family Members

For the purposes of the border restrictions, the definition of immediate family member is aligned between Orders in Council and is as follows:

  1. the spouse or common-law partner of the person;
  2. a dependent child of the person or of the person’s spouse or common-law partner;
  3. a dependent child of a dependent child referred to in paragraph (b);
  4. the parent or step-parent of the person or of the person’s spouse or common-law  partner; or
  5. the guardian or tutor of the person.

However, a foreign national simply meeting the definition of “immediate family” or “extended family” does not guarantee their eligibility to enter Canada. The individual travelling for a non-discretionary (essential) purpose may still enter Canada. But, foreign nationals can be exempt from the requirement to enter for an essential purpose if they can establish their intent to enter Canada to be with an immediate or extended family member (who is a Canadian citizen, permanent resident or person registered as an Indian under the Indian Act), their intent to remain in Canada for more than 15 days, and who agree to comply with all the requirements to quarantine detailed in the Order pertaining to mandatory isolation.

Extended Family Members

For the purposes of the border restrictions, the definition of extended family member means:

  1. an individual who is 18 years of age or older and is in an exclusive dating relationship with the person (who is also over 18 years of age), has been in such a relationship for at least a year, and has spent time in the physical presence of the person during the course of the relationship (exclusive partner);
  2. a dependent child of an exclusive partner as defined in (a);
  3. a dependent child of a dependent child of an exclusive partner;
  4. a child of the person or of the person’s spouse, common-law partner or of the exclusive partner, other than a dependent child.
  5. a sibling, half-sibling or step sibling of the person or of the person’s spouse or common-law partner; or
  6. a grandparent of the person or the person’s spouse or common-law partner. 

Extended family members must:

Compassionate Travel

In accordance with subsection 3.1, border restrictions do not apply to foreign nationals who intend to enter Canada for the following reasons:

International Students

For the purposes of border restrictions, international students are allowed entry if they seek to enter Canada to attend a listed institution and:

A listed institution is an institution that is determined by the provincial government in which the institution is located to have appropriate measures in place to ensure that students can meet any applicable obligations under any order made under section 58 of the Quarantine Act and is published on IRCC’s website.

Immediate family members of international students, other than dependent children of dependent children, are also exempt from border restrictions.

International-to-International (ITI) Transit

ITI transit is allowed with some restrictions including remaining airside, not formally entering into Canada, and arriving and departing from the same Canadian airport within 24 hours. Should one of these ITI travellers have to enter into Canada through no fault of their own (e.g., onward border closures or flight cancellations), the Minister of Foreign Affairs has issued a letter of national interest to enable their temporary admission provided that they immediately self-isolate while waiting for their onward flight and report any signs or symptoms of COVID-19 to the Public Health Agency of Canada. These travellers are bound by the same rules as any other person entering Canada, except that their self-isolation order can be for a short duration and end when they leave Canada, provided they are asymptomatic.

This approach promotes the Government’s positive bilateral relations around the world and promotes enhanced cooperation during this crisis through reciprocal boarding on government supported repatriation flights to help Canadians come home, and foreign nationals return to their home country. 

Note: Travellers who are in transit and remain in sterile transit areas are also exempt from the requirement to submit quarantine information by electronic means (ArriveCAN).

High performance amateur athletes and essential personnel

Foreign nationals who are high performance amateur athletes participating in an International Single Sport Event (ISSE) or persons deemed to perform an essential role in relation to an ISSE, may seek entry into Canada as long as they have an authorization letter issued by Heritage Canada (PCH). The authorization is granted and remains valid only with the support of the provincial government and local health authorities and may be revoked by PCH if this support is withdrawn or if the event is cancelled by the organizers. The discretionary purpose test will not apply at the POE.


Approved by: Kathy Thompson, Vice-President, Strategic Policy Branch

Date modified: