Travelling to Canada during COVID-19 Restrictions – IEC participants & Students

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

Updated June 2021

Requirements to enter Canada 2021 – IEC & Students

This 2021 started with quite a bit of change among the requirements to enter Canada. That’s why we want to make sure to summarize the most updated requirements here as a reference for our participants.

It does not matter if you are traveling 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.

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 to be prepared for your arrival to Canada.


1. Get informed BEFORE booking your Flight to Canada

We highly recommend you have the big picture of what you will need before booking your flight to Canada. Do NOT book a last-minute flight to Canada. Now is NOT the time to go with the flow, as you MUST plan your trip to Canada to avoid any problems. And, 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. If you want to travel to Canada during the restrictions, you have to make sure to pay close attention to the requirements.

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 there and the specific COVID-19 Restrictions in that specific layover country.
  • The mandatory hotel stopover must be completed in the first Canadian city you land. This will be Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, or Calgary. No layover is allowed to your final destination until you complete your 3 Day mandatory hotel stay and receive a Negative COVID-19 result once in Canada. 

Example: If you are a student traveling to Vancouver through our co-op programs, and you book a flight with a layover in Toronto – you MUST book your 3 days hotel quarantine stay in Toronto. Only after you receive a negative COVID-19 test result, will you be allowed to continue your trip to Vancouver to comply with the rest of the isolation period to complete your total of 14 days.

  • You will need a Negative COVID-19 Test Result within 72 hours of your departure to Canada. This is very important and it must be done in your home country. Once you know where you are going to take this 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 in 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. Regardless, your Covid-19 test must be done in your home country, but it needs to be valid until you board your final flight that lands in Canada. 

2. Organize your Quarantine Plan – Including the 3 Day Hotel stay.

From February 22nd, 2021 you will need to book a hotel for 3 days through the Government of Canada, but you still MUST HAVE an isolation or quarantine plan for the remaining days.

You can only leave your place of quarantine if you receive a negative result from your Day-8 test AND once you have completed your mandatory quarantine (14 days). The 14-day quarantine period includes the days you spent at your government-authorized hotel. No exceptions – even if you are a student or a working holiday under the International Experience Canada program. Everyone must complete this step. 

Book your 3 nights mandatory Hotel Isolation

Important facts about the mandatory Hotel stay in Canada:

    • You can BOOK ONLINE for most hotels. You can find the list of available Hotels here.
    • The Hotel must be booked in the city that you first land in upon arrival to Canada – You can not travel within Canada until you comply with this requirement. Only once you receive a Negative COVID-19 test, you will be allowed to continue with your trip inside Canada. 
    • If you call the phone line, you will be charged right away for your booking once you call the Government phone line – so be ready on the phone with your credit card and your flight details. 
    • The credit card must be under your name. If not the person whose name is on the card has to call the hotel for third-party verification.
    • Prices are not set and it will depend on availability. The price you pay will include Transport to the Hotel, 3 meals a day, and an individual or double room depending on if you are traveling with someone to Canada.
    • We HIGHLY RECOMMEND YOU TO BOOK ONLINE but if you want to call the phone line, use apps like Google Voice, Skype, Fongo, or any online service to make cheap international calling from your home country, otherwise, you can be charged a hefty amount of money.

IMPORTANT: Make sure you bring with you a payment confirmation that your payment went through when booking your 3 nights hotel stay (bank transaction or bank statement that shows the charge). Officers can ask you for a proof of payment upon arrival to Canada.


Organize your quarantine plan after your 3 Day Hotel stay

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. Also, to leave the hotel after a negative COVID-19 test result, you must prove that you have a solid isolation plan to continue the quarantine on your own. 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 after the 3 days hotel isolation period (taxi, uber, etc..)
  • How you will get your groceries or food  (Instacart, Walmart, UberEats, SkypTheDishes,… )
  • How you access essential services and medical care if needed.

This quarantine plan is MANDATORY and anyone breaking the quarantine requirements will be subject to very expensive fines and even jail time. You can read more about the consequences of failure to comply with the Emergency Order here.

Complete your Day-8 test kit – during your isolation period.

On Day-8 of your mandatory quarantine, follow the instructions to complete your COVID-19 final test. You can only leave your place of quarantine if you receive a negative result from your Day-8 test AND once you have completed your mandatory quarantine. The 14-day quarantine period includes the days you spent at your government-authorized hotel.


3. Book your COVID-19 Test in your home country

In order to board your flight to Canada, you MUST present a Negative COVID-19 test result. You should complete this in your home country. Before doing so, make sure you check the requirements of the confirmation of results here. Not all test results will be accepted, so make sure your 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 method of test conducted (PCR or LAMP)
  • The test result – only if the test result is Negative will you be allowed to take your flight to Canada.

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.


4. Download the ArriveCan app BEFORE your trip to Canada

ArriveCAN app is MANDATORY to travel to Canada. Through this app, which you can easily download on your phone, you will be able to provide all your personal information, flight details, and 3 days hotel booking confirmation code, etc. This app will also be required during your isolation period.  You will be able to check-in during the quarantine once in Canada.


5. Prepare the required documents for your arrival

Remember that besides the general requirements to enter Canada, at this point Canadian borders are closed to most travellers, but there are exceptions. Among those exceptions:

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! 

Now, time to get ready for your trip to Canada! 


 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.