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Changes to Canadian border rules for international travellers: what do you need to know?

Written by
Mathews Dinsdale, Canada’s only national labour and employment law firm.
On 19 July 2021, the Government of Canada announced that, provided Canada’s COVID-19 epidemiology remains favourable, the Canadian border will soon be open to travellers fully vaccinated with Government of Canada-accepted vaccines.

The projected dates for the border opening are 9 August 2021 for American travellers and 7 September 2021 for international travellers. Currently, the Government of Canada-accepted vaccines are manufactured by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD, and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson). Details for both border openings are provided, below.

9 August 2021

Discretionary (non-essential) travel will be allowed for fully vaccinated American citizens and permanent residents, currently residing in the US, who meet all required criteria.

Unvaccinated children under 12 years of age, or unvaccinated dependent children (due to a mental or physical condition) who are US citizens or permanent residents and currently residing in the US and who are accompanying a fully vaccinated parent, guardian or tutor will be allowed entry. These unvaccinated children will no longer be required to complete a 14-day quarantine, but must follow strict public health measures (such as avoiding group settings or daycare) during the first 14 days after arrival.

Canadian citizens and permanent residents travelling to the US for less than 72 hours will be able to complete their pre-entry test in Canada.

Fully vaccinated travellers will not need a post-arrival test unless randomly selected.

As of 00:01EDT on 9 August 2021, travellers arriving by air will no longer need to complete the three-night government-authorised hotel stay.

Individuals who cannot be fully vaccinated due to a health condition may also qualify for the eased quarantine and testing requirements but must follow a modified quarantine plan.

Note that there are no changes to the mandatory testing or quarantine requirements for unvaccinated travellers.

7 September 2021

Discretionary travel will be permitted by travellers from any country who have been fully vaccinated with Government of Canada-accepted vaccines at least 14 days prior to entering Canada.

Travellers can receive their vaccine in any country, though they must provide evidence supporting their vaccination in English, French or accompanied by a certified translation.

For all travellers to Canada

Fully vaccinated travellers must continue to:

  • provide COVID-19-related information electronically through ArriveCAN (app or web portal) including proof of vaccination prior to departing for Canada;
  • meet the pre-entry testing requirements;
  • be asymptomatic upon arrival; and
  • have a paper or digital copy of their vaccination documentation in English or French (or certified translation, along with the original) ready to show a government official on request.


All travellers must still present a suitable quarantine plan, and be prepared to quarantine, should they not meet all of the conditions required to be exempt from quarantine.

Note that as of 9 August 2021, all air carriers will verify that the travellers coming to Canada have submitted their information digitally by using the ArriveCAN app or website before they board their flight. If a traveller is unable to show their ArriveCAN receipt, they will not be allowed to board their flight to Canada. In addition to their ArriveCAN receipt, travellers should carry their actual vaccine certificate with them to show officials at the border entry point.

Katie Van Nostrand
Katie Van Nostrand
Partner - Canada
Mathews Dinsdale
Eric Kroshus
Associate - Canada
Mathews Dinsdale