Pandemic COVID-19 all countries: avoid non-essential travel outside Canada

Updated: November 19, 2020


Original publication: March 14, 2020

Current Situation

The COVID-19 outbreak is a global issue that has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The Public Health Agency of Canada is continuing to advise travellers to avoid all non-essential travel outside of Canada.

Advice provided by the Public Health Agency of Canada will continue to be re-evaluated based on the evolving situation in Canada and in other countries.

Many foreign governments continue to implement strict travel restrictions and international transportation options continue to be less available. As a result, you may have difficulty returning to Canada, or may have to remain abroad for an indeterminate period. Local authorities abroad may impose control measures suddenly, including movement restrictions such as quarantine. In some countries, travellers may have limited access to timely and appropriate health care should they become ill.

The Government of Canada's Emergency Order under the Quarantine Act requires persons entering Canada by air, land or sea to isolate for 14 days if they have symptoms of COVID-19, or to quarantine for 14 days if they are asymptomatic to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Travel to Canada is also currently being restricted for all foreign nationals coming from any country. These restrictions prohibit foreign nationals, including U.S. nationals, from entering Canada for discretionary (optional) travel purposes. Exemptions to the prohibition exist for certain groups of foreign nationals, for example, temporary foreign workers and persons delivering urgent medical supplies, as long as they do not exhibit symptoms of COVID-19.

About COVID-19

COVID-19 is caused by a novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause respiratory illnesses. Some coronaviruses can cause no or mild illness, like the common cold, but other coronaviruses can cause severe illness, like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (SARS-CoV) and the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV).

Recent evidence indicates that the virus that causes COVID-19 can be transmitted to others from someone who is infected but not showing symptoms. This includes people who:

Symptoms of COVID-19 can vary from person to person, and may take up to 14 days to appear after exposure to the virus.

Symptoms may also vary in different age groups. 

Some of the more commonly reported symptoms include:

Children have been more commonly reported to have abdominal symptoms, and skin changes or rashes.

Older people and those with a compromised immune system or underlying medical condition(s) are at a higher risk of developing severe disease.

There is no specific treatment for COVID-19. Most people with mild illness will recover on their own.

Recommendations for travellers

Do not travel if you are sick or if you have been in contact with a confirmed or probable COVID-19 case in the past 14 days.

If you are well and must travel, it is important to be aware of the risks involved.

During your trip:

All travellers are reminded to follow the health precautions listed below.

Wash your hands:

Practise proper cough and sneeze etiquette:

Wear a non-medical mask or face covering:

To protect yourself and others, wear a non-medical mask or face covering when:

Monitor your health:

If you become sick when you are travelling, avoid contact with others. If you think you have COVID-19, follow local public health advice regarding seeking care. 

Travelling back to Canada:

Do not travel if you become sick with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 prior to your planned return to Canada or if you have been in contact with a confirmed or probable COVID-19 case in the past 14 days.

Plan ahead for delays to your return home, including the financial implications and the practical arrangements (e.g. flight re-booking, etc) you may need to make.

Air travellers are required to undergo a health check prior to boarding. In the event that the air operator observes that the air traveller has COVID-19 symptoms, the air operator will be required to refuse to board the person for travel for a period of 14 days or until a medical certificate is presented that confirms that the symptoms that the person is exhibiting are not related to COVID-19.

Measures requiring all air passengers to have a non-medical mask or face covering to cover their mouth and nose during travel are in effect. Some airlines may conduct a temperature check prior to boarding.

If you do not have a non-medical mask or face covering, you won't be allowed to enter the restricted areas of the airport and continue with your journey.

When travelling by air, travellers will be asked to wear the non-medical mask or face covering:

If you feel sick or experience any symptoms of COVID-19 during your flight to Canada or upon arrival, you must inform the flight attendant or a Canada Border Services Agent immediately.

If you do not have symptoms but believe you were exposed to someone with COVID-19, report this information to a Canada Border Services Agent on arrival in Canada. This is required under the Quarantine Act. The Canada Border Services Agent will provide instructions for you to follow.

Upon return to Canada:

The Government of Canada has put in place an Emergency Order under the Quarantine Act that applies to all travellers arriving in Canada. The purpose of this Order is to slow the introduction and spread of COVID-19 in Canada.

Compliance with this Order is subject to verification and enforcement. Those in violation may face detention in a quarantine facility as well as fines and/or imprisonment.

Travellers require non-medical masks or face coverings upon arrival in Canada. Travellers can also wear homemade cloth face coverings.

Ensure you have a suitable place of quarantine/isolation that has access to the necessities of life and is not shared with those at risk of more severe disease.

Do not quarantine or isolate in places you can't separate yourself from those who live with you. For example:

It is expected that most travellers will quarantine in their own home or in the same place they are visiting in Canada. If this is not possible, travellers are responsible for making alternative arrangements for quarantine accommodations that are within their own financial means.

A traveller may be transferred to a federal designated quarantine facility if it is deemed necessary by a public health officer designated under the Quarantine Act, and only if travellers are confirmed to have no other suitable quarantine or isolation options available. This measure is used as a last resort.

Use ArriveCAN to speed up your arrival process in Canada and spend less time with border and public health officers. Submit your information easily and securely before arriving in Canada

Travellers entering Canada must:

Travellers with symptoms: mandatory isolation

If you have recently returned to Canada and you have symptoms, you must ISOLATE. This is mandatory. If required, immediate medical attention will be provided upon arrival in Canada.

You MUST isolate without delay.

If your symptoms get worse:

Travellers without symptoms: mandatory quarantine

If you have recently returned to Canada and you have no symptoms, you must QUARANTINE. This is mandatory. You are at risk of developing symptoms and infecting others.

This means you MUST:

If you develop symptoms within 14 days:

Some provinces and territories have additional travel restrictions.

Some examples of additional travel restrictions may include:

Please refer to the list of provincial and territorial websites for more information.

Note that travellers may also be contacted by provincial/territorial authorities throughout their 14-day quarantine/isolation. If federal and provincial/territorial guidelines differ, travellers should follow the most precautionary and stringent requirements.

As the continued global movement of goods and people and the ongoing delivery of essential services will be important for Canada's response to COVID-19, there are some exemptions to the order to quarantine for classes oftravellers who perform an essential job or function.

If you don't have symptoms of COVID-19 and you're a member of one of the exempt classes of persons listed in the mandatory isolation order, then you are exempt from federal quarantine requirements, however still required to respect the intent of the order in addition to any provincial and local requirements.

Government of Canada COVID-19 information line: 1-833-784-4397.

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