Canada Travel Restrictions & COVID-19: Latest Updates

February 24, 2021
Posted in How To Guide, Recognized Organization (RO)


UPDATED: November 19th, 2021

aeroplane ready for take-off to Canada

Dreaming of working and travelling abroad? You’ve come to the right place, as Canada’s borders are open for International Experience Canada (IEC) participants, discover everything you need to know about applying for an IEC work permit in 2022 here.

Unsurprisingly, there have been quite a few complex changes to the requirements to enter Canada in 2021. Luckily for you, that’s our remit. From navigating the complicated process of applying for an IEC work permit to keeping up-to-date with evolving travel restrictions for entering Canada, we make the whole process of setting up in Canada a breeze – so you can focus on planning the fun stuff.

To save you from having to research (and make sense of) travel restrictions during COVID-19, we’ve summarized the most updated requirements to enter Canada.

Who Can Enter Canada During COVID-19? Requirements to Enter Canada – IEC & Students

It doesn’t matter if you are travelling to Canada under an International Experience Canada (IEC) work permit: as a working holiday, young professional or international co-op, or if you are an international student. Everyone needs to comply with the new requirements to be allowed to enter Canada.

Furthermore, these travel restrictions apply to all countries. So, for example, if you’re travelling to Canada from the UK during coronavirus, the same rules will apply to Australians looking to work and travel in Canada. 

Please note that it’s very important that you ALWAYS use the IRCC website as a reference. This will always be your best and most updated source of information. By reviewing the information on the IRCC website, you can guarantee that you are not missing anything that needs to be prepared for your arrival in Canada.

canada travel restrictions

Fully Vaccinated Travellers do Not Need to Quarantine

Canada opened for fully vaccinated travellers in September 2021, but what does this mean for IEC work permit holders, such as those with a working holiday permit or students travelling to Canada on a study and work permit?  

This means that fully vaccinated travellers with an approved vaccine by the Government of Canada will be exempted from the following federal requirements:

  • Quarantine for 14 days (and therefore won’t need to complete the test on day 8 of quarantine)

How can you verify that you will be accepted to enter Canada as a fully vaccinated traveller? 

  • You already received the full series of a vaccine or a combination of vaccines accepted by the Government of Canada: Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty, Moderna Spikevax, AstraZeneca Vaxzevria/COVISHIELD or Janssen/Johnson & Johnson; and from November 30th, 2021 Sinopharm, Sinovac and Covaxin.
  • You received your last dose at least 14 days prior to entry.

You MUST bring with you your ORIGINAL proof of vaccination. You must use ArriveCAN to enter your proof of vaccination, quarantine and travel information. If you don’t provide the required information in ArriveCAN before arriving at the border you won’t be considered for the exemption, even if you meet all the other requirements.

If You Are Not Fully Vaccinated or Your Vaccines Are Not Accepted in Canada 

As of January 15, 2022, certain groups of travellers, including IEC work permit holders will only be allowed to enter the country if they are fully vaccinated with one of the vaccines approved for entry into Canada.

Also please note that if you are not fully vaccinated, you WILL NOT be able to take connecting flights once you land in Canada after October 30th, 2021. Please read the new regulation here for non-vaccinated travellers. This will apply to all air passengers flying on domestic, transborder or international flights departing from airports in Canada.

IMPORTANT NOTE for IEC working holiday permit holders that are not vaccinated,  as of January 15, 2022, will only be allowed to enter the country if they are fully vaccinated with one of the vaccines approved in Canada. 

airport departure lounge

Important Steps to Take Before Travelling to Canada

We highly recommend following these steps before travelling to Canada under the new Covid-19 regulations…

1. Get Informed BEFORE Booking Your Flight to Canada

Have a thorough idea of what you will need before booking your flight to Canada to avoid any problems. Do not book a last-minute flight. If you miss any of the requirements you will not be allowed to board the flight to Canada, which might involve losing quite a bit of money, so do not risk it – preparation is key!

For example, before booking your flight there are a few details that you must keep in mind:

  • Book the most direct flight to Canada. If you have to do a layover in a third country, make sure that you are aware of the visa requirements and the COVID-19 restrictions in the specific layover country.
  • You will need a negative COVID-19 test result within 72 hours of your departure to Canada. This is very important. Once you know where you are going to take your COVID-19 test and how long the results will take, you will know when exactly to book your flight to comply with this requirement. Keep in mind if you are transiting through any other country, that country might have different requirements, so please make sure you check this BEFORE booking your flight. 

Example: If you are flying to Canada from Spain and you have a connecting flight in Amsterdam, you must check the requirements in Amsterdam for transiting passengers. Remember the 72 hours of the Covid-19 test are counted from the moment you board your flight to Canada, not from the moment you leave your home country. In this example, the 72 hours are important for your flight from Amsterdam to Canada.

2. Book Your COVID-19 Test (PCR) – Even if You Are Fully Vaccinated

In order to board your flight to Canada, you MUST present a negative COVID-19 test result. It does not matter if you are fully vaccinated by an approved vaccine or not, a negative COVID test is mandatory to every single traveller to Canada at this time.

Before booking your COVID test appointment in your home country, make sure you check the requirements of the COVID test here. Not all tests will be accepted in Canada, so make sure to verify the type of test with the clinic. 

Your PCR or LAMP test result shows the following information:

  • Your complete name and date of birth
  • Name and address of the laboratory/clinic/facility that administered the test in your home country
  • The date on which the test was conducted
  • The test result – you will only be allowed to take your flight to Canada if the test result is negative 

IMPORTANT: An antigen test will NOT be accepted. Make sure you complete the COVID-19 test at a government-approved institution in your home country.

3. Download the ArriveCan App BEFORE Your Trip to Canada

The ArriveCAN app is MANDATORY to travel to Canada, which you can easily download on your phone. If you are fully vaccinated, you can upload your proof of vaccination record so that the Government of Canada will be aware that you are entering Canada as a fully vaccinated traveller.

Please remember that you MUST bring the ORIGINAL proof of your vaccination record with you as officers can request it at any time upon arrival to Canada.  Check all the details here about how to provide proof of vaccination.

Through this app, you will also be able to provide all your personal information, flight details, etc. If you are not vaccinated, or you are vaccinated with a vaccine that is not yet approved in Canada, this app will also be required during your isolation period. 

IMPORTANT – there are no exceptions for partially vaccinated travellers. At this time, there are no exemptions for travellers who haven’t received the full series of a vaccine or a combination of vaccines accepted by the Government of Canada, even if you have had covid in the past, or if you are considered fully vaccinated in your home country.

 4. Organize Your Quarantine Plan – Even if You Are Fully Vaccinated

Plan your quarantine, in case you don’t get the exemption. The final determination of whether or not you qualify for the exemption is made by a government representative at the border. You must, therefore, be prepared to quarantine for 14 days, in case you:

  • are symptomatic
  • don’t meet the requirements

You will find all the requirements for your isolation plan here. All travellers must use the ArriveCAN app to submit their plan BEFORE their trip to Canada. So time to get organized!

Please remember that your isolation plan should be very detailed. You must explain:

  • Where you will be staying: complete address
  • How will you get there (taxi, uber, etc..)
  • How you will get your groceries (Instacart, Walmart, UberEats, SkipTheDishes etc.)
  • How do you access essential services and medical care if needed?

This quarantine plan is MANDATORY and if you are requested to quarantine, anyone breaking the quarantine requirements will be subject to very expensive fines and, in some cases, jail time. You can read more about the consequences of failure to comply with the Emergency Order here.

5. Prepare the Required Documents for Your Arrival

Remember that besides the general requirements to enter Canada, at this point Canadian borders are open for fully vaccinated travellers:

  • International Experience Canada: POE holders (approval letter or letter of introduction).
  • Students: Enrolled at an approved Designated Learning Institution (DLI) and holding an approved study permit

Make sure that you bring the correct documents for your status in Canada at the time of entry. If you are a Stepwest participant we will make sure you are not missing any of those documents. We will organize together a pre-departure orientation before your departure to go over every single detail and make sure that you are fully ready for your trip to Canada! You will not miss a thing!

panorama ridge hike in Canada

Now, Time To Get Ready for Your Trip to Canada!

Now that you know that you have the green light to travel to Canada, you can set the wheels in motion for planning your working holiday abroad. Most of the Stepwest team travelled to Canada on a working holiday, so we know the whole process inside out and will guide you through from start to finish; we’ll even secure you a job before you arrive, so you can start your Canadian adventure from the moment you land. 

Discover what you need to work and travel in Canada, the type of work programs available and the nitty gritty on life in Canada.

Get in touch to learn more about travelling to Canada on a working holiday:

Disclaimer: No Legal Advice Provided.

The material on our website and this webpage is intended to provide only general information and comment to our clients and the public. Although we make our best efforts to ensure that the information found on our website is accurate and timely, do not, under any circumstances, rely on information found on our website as legal or immigration advice. Nor do we guarantee the accuracy of any information contained on websites to which our website provides links. For assistance with your specific inquiry or problem, please contact IRCC.