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New entry requirement for air travellers to Canada

Written by
Mathews Dinsdale, Canada’s only national labour and employment law firm.
From 7 January 2021, Canada will impose a negative PCR test requirement on travellers wishing to enter the country.

The Government of Canada has announced that as of January 2021, all air travellers over age five (including Canadians and Permanent Residents) will be required to provide a negative COVID-19 test result prior to entering Canada. Specifically, air travellers must provide a negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test result, taken within the 72hour period before boarding a flight to Canada. 

These PCR tests can take a full 24 hours for results, so travellers should plan ahead. Airline agents will confirm the negative test results prior to boarding flights to Canada. This new entry requirement is an addition to the current entry requirements which include: 

  • Submitting an ArriveCan application via the app/website prior to boarding; 
  • Using the ArriveCan application post-arrival for mandatory reporting; and 
  • Remaining in quarantine for at least 14 days upon arrival to Canada. 


Travellers unable to take a PCR test before flying will not be able to fly to Canada. Rather, they will need to delay their trip until they can provide a negative test result. The only exception is if the traveller can demonstrate that they are travelling from a country where PCR testing is not available. In this instance, they may be able to board their flight, but once in Canada will be immediately directed to federally-approved quarantine facilities where they will remain for the duration of their 14-day quarantine.  

Worldwide, this ‘negative test requirement’ is not new: many countries require a negative PCR test result before entry. At present, this new Canadian requirement is only directed at air travellers, and not at those who are driving to Canada from the United States. Employers who have employees travelling within the next few days and weeks should be aware of this new entry requirement as it could delay re-entry. 

Katie Van Nostrand
Katie Van Nostrand
Partner - Canada
Mathews Dinsdale
Natasha Lakhani
Associate - Canada
Mathews Dinsdale