Canadian Government Announces Amendment to Travel Requirements

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On November 19, 2021, the Government of Canada announced the following amendments to its travel requirements: 

  1. Exemption for Short-term Travel of 72 Hours or Less

Effective November 30, 2021, individuals will no longer be required to present a pre-entry molecular test (PCR test) at the Canadian port of entry on return to Canada as long as the following conditions are met:

  • Are fully vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccination that is approved by Canada for travel;
  • Have a right of entry to Canada (i.e., Canadian citizens, permanent residents, individuals registered under the Indian Act);  
  • Re-enter Canada by land or 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 contraindications to vaccination.

Regardless of how long a traveller has been away from Canada, they will continue to be required to submit their mandatory information via ArriveCAN.

  1. Expansion of List of Approved COVID-19 Vaccines for Travel

Currently, Canada recognizes only Health Canada-approved vaccines, which include Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson.  Effective November 30, 2021, the list of COVID-19 vaccines approved for travel to Canada will be expanded to match the World Health Organization Emergency Use Listing.  It will include:

  • Sinopharm;
  • Sinovac; and
  • COVAXIN
  1. Narrowing Class of Travellers Exempt from Vaccination and/or Quarantine Requirements to Enter Canada

As of January 15, 2022, the following groups of travellers, who are currently exempt from vaccination and/or quarantine requirements, will be permitted to enter Canada only if they are fully vaccinated with one of the vaccines approved for entry to Canada:

  • Individuals travelling to reunite with family (unvaccinated children under 18 years of age will continue to be exempt if travelling to reunite with an immediate or extended family member who is a Canadian citizen, 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.

After January 15, 2022, unvaccinated or partially vaccinated foreign nationals will be allowed to enter Canada only if they fall within the following groups:

  • Agricultural and food processing workers;
  • Marine crew members;
  • Those entering on compassionate grounds;
  • New permanent residents;
  • Resettling refugees; and
  • Some children under the age of 18.

Exempt unvaccinated travellers will remain subject to testing, quarantine, and other entry requirements.

Non-exempt unvaccinated or partially vaccinated foreign nationals will not be permitted to enter Canada.

  1. Vaccination to be Required for Travel Within and Out of Canada

Effective November 30, 2021, proof of being fully vaccinated will be required for travel within and out of Canada. A valid COVID-19 molecular test will no longer be accepted as an alternative to vaccination, except in relation to travellers who are eligible for one of the limited exemptions (e.g., a medical inability to be vaccinated).

Bottom Line for Employers

Employers should become familiar with the amendments to Canada’s border measures that will soon apply to their employees who are required to undertake business travel.  The Government of Canada will continue to make amendments to border restrictions in the upcoming months, in response to COVID-19 cases both in Canada and abroad.  Employers should be vigilant and pay attention to any relevant announcements.  We will follow any such announcements and provide updates as they are released.     

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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