international students entering ontario

Canada imposes new travel restrictions as COVID-19 variants surge

On January 29 Canada announced new and stricter COVID-19 measures for travellers coming into the country. The announcement made by Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, came after several weeks of pressure from several Canadian provinces to implement tougher travel restrictions to limit the spread of new COVID-19 variants in Canada..

“With the challenges we currently face with COVID-19, both here at home and abroad, we all agree that now is just not the time to be flying.”

“We know that just one case of the variant that comes in could cause significant challenges and that’s why we need to take extra measures.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

New Canada travel restrictions

The new travel restrictions include the following.

Air Canada, WestJet, Sunwing, and Air Transat are suspending all flights to “sun” destinations such as the Caribbean effective Sunday, January 31. The measures will be in place until April 30.


In a further move, from next week, all international passenger flights are to land at one of Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver or Calgary airports.

The government is also introducing mandatory Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) testing at these airports for those coming to Canada. A pre-boarding test is already mandatory.  See Negative pre travel COVID testing mandatory before boarding plane to Canada.

You may pre-qualify for a Canada immigration program.

Arriving passengers will be required to pay more than $2,000 for their stay at an approved hotel for up to three days while waiting for test results.


Those testing negative can then complete their 14-day quarantine at home, with another test on day 10 of that period. Travellers vaccinated abroad will still be required to quarantine, although that could change.

All travellers entering Canada from the U.S. land border will need to be tested upon arrival and demonstrate a negative test.

Travel to Canada from the United States and other countries has been restricted since March 2020. The current bans on foreign and U.S. non-essential travel are in effect until at least February 21, 2021.

The restrictions bar entry to all except citizens and permanent residents, with some exemptions.

  • Seasonal agricultural workers, fish/seafood workers, caregivers and all other temporary foreign workers.
  • International students who held a valid study permit, or had been approved for a study permit, when the travel restrictions took effect on March 18, 2020. More international students will be allowed to travel from October 20 under a new exemption.
  • Permanent resident applicants who had been approved for permanent residence before the travel restrictions were announced on March 18, 2020, but who had not yet travelled to Canada.
  • Immediate family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents are also exempt if entering to be with an immediate family member for at least 15 days.
  • Extended family members of citizens and permanent residents, plus foreign nationals travelling on compassionate grounds.

Travellers to Canada now required to have a negative COVID-19 test


Travellers to Canada must now use ArriveCAN app

Quick facts

  • Travellers entering Canada have a responsibility to make suitable arrangements for mandatory quarantine, which begins on the day they enter Canada. They are also required to submit COVID-19 related information electronically daily.
  • Failure to provide accurate information is an offence under the Quarantine ActIn addition, violating any quarantine or isolation instructions provided to travellers by a Screening Officer or quarantine officer when entering Canada is also an offence under the Quarantine Act and could lead to serious penalties, including six months in prison and/or$750,000 in fines.
  • PHAC currently contacts more than 6,500 travellers each day through phone calls, which verify their compliance with the mandatory isolation order.
  • As of January 26, 2021, 99% of the 48,682 interventions by law enforcement have resulted in compliance by travellers. However, in a minority of cases, verbal warnings, written warnings, tickets, and charges have been issued.
  • The Government of Canada is working directly with Aéroports de Montréal to offer voluntary testing on-site at the Montréal-Trudeau International Airport for arriving international travellers who wish to take a test before leaving the airport. This testing pilot project is in addition to those at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport and the Calgary International Airport.

You may pre-qualify for a Canada immigration program.