Prohibition of Entry into Canada from any Country Other than the United States
Date: February 18, 2021
- Travel to Canada by air and marine modes is prohibited for all foreign nationals, unless they are exempt and not seeking entry for an optional or discretionary purpose, until April 21, 2021.
- There are a number of exemptions to this prohibition, including (but not exclusive to):
- airline or marine crew members;
- diplomats and their immediate family;
- persons that have a valid work or study permit or for whom an application to work or study has been approved;
- persons invited by the Minister of Health that will assist with the COVID-19 response; and,
- international-to-International travel through Canada (arriving and departing from the same Canadian airport within 24 hours).
- The Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Citizenship and Immigration, and Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness may also authorize entry for any person or class of persons whose presence in Canada is determined to be in the national interest.
- Foreign nationals must abide by all public health requirements related to COVID-19 issued pursuant to the Quarantine Act, and provide proof of a valid COVID-19 molecular test, which includes:
- a negative molecular test taken no more than 72 hours before seeking entry into Canada; or
- a prior positive COVID-19 molecular test taken between 14-90 days before entry into Canada.
- In addition, these travellers must self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival and will be required to submit their travel and contact information, including a suitable quarantine plan, electronically via ArriveCAN before crossing the border.
- As of February 22, 2021, travellers entering Canada, with limited exceptions, will be required to take a COVID-19 molecular test on arrival as well as towards the end of their 14-day quarantine.
- Additionally, asymptomatic foreign nationals who are immediate or extended family members of a Canadian citizen, a permanent resident or a person registered as an Indian under the Indian Act are permitted to enter Canada to be with their family members.
- They must also establish at the time of entry that they intend to stay with their family members and to remain in Canada for a period of at least 15 days.
- Extended family members must also have a statutory declaration attesting to their relationship signed by the Canadian citizen, permanent resident or registered Indian; and are required to have a written authorization to enter Canada from IRCC prior to arriving at a Canadian port of entry.
- Foreign nationals seeking entry for compassionate reasons, such as attending a funeral or providing support to a critically ill person residing in Canada, are exempt from the prohibition on entry.
- Foreign nationals seeking entry for compassionate reasons must be in possession of a travel authorization letter from the Public Health Agency of Canada before arriving at the port of entry.
- International students can only enter Canada to study if they have a valid study permit and if their school is on an approved list of learning institutions that are capable of receiving students from abroad while respecting public health measures. This list is provided by provincial authorities and maintained and published by IRCC.
- As of December 1st, 2020, high performance amateur athletes and supporting personnel participating or engaging in International Single Sport Events can seek entry into Canada after receiving an authorization letter from Heritage Canada.
- Notwithstanding the exemptions, all foreign nationals are prohibited from entering if they display signs and symptoms of COVID-19, including a fever and cough, or a fever and breathing difficulties.
- In the current fiscal year (up to January 18, 2021), we have processed 18,622 cargo vessels so far. This figure includes rail, marine and air vessels.
- As of January 20, 2021, 834 foreign nationals were denied entry to Canada as a result of the prohibition of certain foreign nationals from entering Canada from a country other than the U.S. by air (from foreign locations other than the U.S.). In addition, 478 foreign nationals, other than U.S. citizens, were denied entry to Canada from the U.S. by air for discretionary travel reasons.
If pressed on enhanced processing for travellers who have been in the United Kingdom, South Africa, and Brazil:
- On the recommendation of the PHAC, as of January 16, 2021, the CBSA implemented additional measures, specifically for persons who have been in Brazil, in the 14 days prior to seeking entry into Canada.
- Any passengers travelling to Canada who have been in the United Kingdom or South Africa in the previous 14 days may be subject to secondary screening and will be subject to increased scrutiny of quarantine plans.
- Whether seeking entry to Canada in air or land mode, all travellers who have been in Brazil within the period of 14 days prior to day they seek entry to Canada will be referred to PHAC, either on site or via the PHAC Central Notification System.
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:
- they must not have COVID-19 or suspect having COVID-19 or exhibit signs and symptoms of COVID-19; and
- their travel must not be optional or discretionary, unless they meet the immediate or extended family members exception; and
- they must qualify for one of the exemptions outlined in the Order.
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:
- 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:
- have a signed statutory declaration attesting to their relationship; and
- are authorized, in writing, by IRCC before entering Canada;
- Persons authorized in writing to enter Canada to reunite immediate family members;
- Crew members or those that seek entry to become a member of a crew under the CAR;
- Crew members or those that seek entry to become a member of a crew under the IRPR;
- Persons exempt from obtaining a temporary resident visa under 190(2)(a) of the IRPR and their immediate family members;
- Persons travelling at the invitation of the Minister of Health to assist in the COVID-19 response;
- Persons arriving by aircraft operated by the Canadian Forces or the Department of National Defense;
- Members of the Canadian military, visiting forces, and their immediate family members;
- 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;
- A person or any class of persons who, in the opinion of the Chief Public Health Officer:
- do not pose a risk of significant harm to the public health; or
- will provide essential service while in Canada;
- 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;
- 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;
- 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.
- 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;
- Persons authorized to work in Canada as students in a health field under 186(p) IRPR;
- Persons authorized to work in Canada as emergency service providers under 186(t) of the IRPR;
- Licensed health care practitioner with proof of employment in Canada;
- Persons seeking entry to deliver, maintain or repair medically necessary equipment;
- 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;
- Persons whose application for permanent residence in Canada was approved and received written notice of the approval before noon (EDT) on March 18, 2020;
- Workers in the marine transportation essential for movement of goods by vessel;
- Persons to take up post as diplomats, consular officers and representatives of other countries or international organizations and their immediate family members;
- Persons arriving at Canadian airports aboard commercial passenger conveyances and transiting to another country while remaining in a sterile transit area;
- 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:
- the spouse or common-law partner of the person;
- a dependent child of the person or of the person’s spouse or common-law partner;
- a dependent child of a dependent child referred to in paragraph (b);
- the parent or step-parent of the person or of the person’s spouse or common-law partner; or
- 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:
- 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);
- a dependent child of an exclusive partner as defined in (a);
- a dependent child of a dependent child of an exclusive partner;
- a child of the person or of the person’s spouse, common-law partner or of the exclusive partner, other than a dependent child.
- a sibling, half-sibling or step sibling of the person or of the person’s spouse or common-law partner; or
- a grandparent of the person or the person’s spouse or common-law partner.
Extended family members must:
- have a statutory declaration attesting to their relationship with the Canadian citizen or permanent resident signed by the Canadian citizen or permanent resident;
- have a written authorization to enter from an officer designated under subsection 6(1) of the IRPA.
In accordance with subsection 3.1, border restrictions do not apply to foreign nationals who intend to enter Canada for the following reasons:
- To attend the death of or provide support to a Canadian citizen, permanent resident, temporary resident, protected person or registered Indians pursuant to the Indian Act, residing in Canada who is deemed to be critically ill by a licensed health care professional;
- To provide care for a Canadian citizen, permanent resident, temporary resident, protected person or registered Indians pursuant to the Indian Act residing in Canada who is deemed by a licensed health care professional to have a medical reason why they require support;
- Attend a funeral or end of life ceremony.
For the purposes of border restrictions, international students are allowed entry if they seek to enter Canada to attend a listed institution and:
- hold a valid study permit, or
- they may apply for a study permit when entering Canada, or
- their application for a study permit has already been approved but the permit has not yet been issued.
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: