The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) has announced that the federal government is dropping the mandatory PCR testing requirement for travellers who will be outside of the country for 72 hours or less.
As of Nov. 30, fully vaccinated Canadians who take short trips outside of the country will no longer be required to take a molecular test. The government will also reevaluate the entry requirements for U.S. citizens coming to Canada.
This exemption is only for trips originating in Canada taken by fully vaccinated Canadian citizens, permanent residents or individuals registered under the Indian Act, who depart and re-enter by land or by air and can demonstrate that they have been away from Canada for less than 72 hours.
This exemption extends to accompanying children under 12, and individuals with medical contraindications to vaccination.
All travellers, with limited exceptions, whether entering Canada by air, land, rail or marine vessel, must continue to use ArriveCAN to enter their travel information.
Starting Nov. 30, vaccination will be required for travel within and out of Canada. As a result, proof of a valid COVID-19 molecular test will no longer be accepted as an alternative to vaccination unless travellers are eligible for one of the limited exemptions, such as a medical inability to be vaccinated.
Also, effective Nov. 30, Canada will expand the list of COVID-19 vaccines that travellers can receive to be considered fully vaccinated for the purpose of travel to Canada. The list will include Sinopharm, Sinovac and COVAXIN, matching the World Health Organization Emergency Use Listing.
“As we restart many aspects of our economy, including travel, vaccination will continue to play an important role in keeping each other and our transportation systems safe and secure," said Transport Minister Omar Alghabra. "No matter the final destination, ensuring travellers are vaccinated against COVID-19 protects travellers and transportation workers.”
Effective Nov. 8, fully vaccinated travellers were permitted to cross the Canada-U.S. border into the United States but they were required to present proof of a negative PCR test upon their return; the border had been closed to non-citizen travellers since March 2020.
Other changes to Canada's entry requirements
As of Jan. 15, 2022, certain groups of travellers, who are currently exempt from entry requirements, will only be allowed to enter the country if they are fully vaccinated with one of the vaccines approved for entry into Canada. These groups include:
- individuals travelling to reunite with family (unvaccinated children under 18 years of age will retain exemption if travelling to reunite with an immediate or extended family member who is a Canadian, permanent resident, or person registered under the Indian Act);
- international students who are 18 years old and older;
- professional and amateur athletes;
- individuals with a valid work permit, including temporary foreign workers (outside of those in agriculture and food processing); and
- essential service providers, including truck drivers.
Earlier today, Health Canada has authorized the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty vaccine in children 5 to 11 years of age. Until now, this vaccine was authorized for use in people 12 years of age or older. Dr. Supriya Sharma, Canada's Senior Medical Advisor spoke to media following the announcement and addressed how the vaccine was approved, its dosage, and potential side effects.
With files from Cameron Thomson.