Canada Opens Borders To Vaccinated Travellers

14 Sep 2021

On September 7th, 2021 Canada’s exemptions for fully vaccinated discretionary (non-essential) travel came into effect.

On March 16th, 2020, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that Canada would be closing their borders to Canadian citizens abroad, travellers, and immigrants with few exemptions to limit the spread of COVID-19.  Additionally, Canadian health authorities issued guidelines and restrictions that hindered travel, immigration, which impacted the processing of applications.  Canadians were urged to stay home and only travel if absolutely necessary.  Entry into Canada was locked, and lockdown protocols were issued across the country.  

Additionally, Canada created a legislative Quarantine Act with profound implications.  Violations of quarantine guidelines could result in up to 6 months in prison and/or $750,000 in fines.  If you break the rules resulting in death or severe harm to another individual, consequences get more severe as you could face a penalty of up to $1,000,000 and/or imprisonment of up to 3 years.  These drastic measures were made in good conscience to protect the safety and wellbeing of Canadians.

Just under a year and a half later, border restrictions are finally starting to lift.  Effective September 7th, 2021, Canada will allow exemptions for fully vaccinated travellers, opening Canada up for more discretionary travel. 


What do travel exemptions mean?

This means that Canada is opening up their borders to recreational travel, including for immigration and visitors for those considered fully vaccinated (by Canadian Standards).  Foreign travellers will now be able to enter Canada and skip quarantine restrictions, provided a set of requirements are fulfilled.   If you meet this set of requirements, you will no longer have to:

  • Quarantine (at all).
  • Provide Day-8 testing. 


How do I qualify for the exemption?

  1. Be eligible to enter Canada on the date you enter.  

This exemption starts on September 7th, 2021.  Any date before this, the exemption does not apply.  We currently do not know long this exemption will be available.  The Canadian government is constantly monitoring the COVID-19 situation, and this exemption is subject to change.

  1. Have no signs or symptoms of COVID-19.  

Common symptoms include fever, dry cough, and tiredness.  Others include aches and pains, sore throat, diarrhoea, conjunctivitis, headache, loss of taste or smell, skin rashes, discolouration of fingers or toes.  Each province has different self-assessment tools and resources.  You may be subject to provide a negative pre-entry COVID-19 test result.

  1. Have received a full series of a Canadian accepted COVID-19 vaccine or a combination of the accepted vaccines. 

Accepted Vaccines:

  • Pfizer-BioNTech (Comirnaty, tozinameran, BNT162b2)
  • Moderna (mRNA-1273)
  • AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD (ChAdOx1-S, Vaxzevria, AZD1222)
  • Janssen/Johnson & Johnson (Ad26.COV2.S)

Rejected and Not Recognised Vaccines:

  • Bharat Biotech (Covaxin, BBV152 A, B, C)
  • Cansino (Convidecia, Ad5-nCoV)
  • Gamalaya (Sputnik V, Gam-Covid-Vac)
  • Sinopharm (BBIBP-CorV, Sinopharm-Wuhan)
  • Sinovac (CoronaVac, PiCoVacc)
  • Vector Institute (EpiVacCorona)
  • Other
  1. Received the last dose of the accepted shots 14 days before the day you enter Canada.  Because the start date of the travel exemptions is September 7th, you will have had to receive your last dose (2nd in all the accepted vaccines, except for Johnson & Johnson) by Monday, August 23rd, 2021, respectfully. 
  2. Have proof of your vaccination.  

Because every country has handled the distribution and administration of the vaccine differently, there is no standardized proof of vaccination that the Canadian government accepts.  This information must be translated to English or French and uploaded electronically through ArriveCan.

  1. Meet all of the other Canadian entry requirements and have the necessary documentation with you.  

It is also important that you create a quarantine plan if you don’t qualify for the exemption.  To note, Canada has randomized COVID-19 testing that you may be required to adhere to.


Are there exceptions to the exemptions?

  1. You are still subject to follow provincial COVID-19 guidelines. 

It is important to note that the travel exemption only allows you to skip quarantine and day-8 testing.  It is still necessary to adhere to the provincial COVID-19 guidelines of your destination province.  COVID-19 restrictions vary per province, but common restrictions and best practices include:

  • Wearing a mask
  • Social distancing
  • Keeping lists of close contacts during your first 14 days in Canada
  • Consistently monitoring yourself for any signs and symptoms of COVID-19.
  1. There are special requirements for countries with a sudden increase in COVID-19 cases or variants identified.  

Because this situation is constantly evolving, the Canadian government has jurisdiction to change rules and regulations without warning.  For example, the Canadian federal government has suspended all direct passenger flights from India until September 21st, 2021 and Morocco until September 29th, 2021.

  1. Children under 12 have different travel restrictions.

Because most vaccinations have not been approved for children under 12, this group is subject to different travel restrictions.  Some differences include:

  • Limiting contact with others
  • Subject to more COVID-19 testing
  • Constant monitoring and reporting of health
  • Compliance is closely monitored


Now that the Government of Canada has implemented the travel exemptions, standard travel and immigration rules are restored.  If you are looking to come to Canada as a visitor or an immigrant, Immigrate can help you.  Book a meeting with one of our expert consultants to ensure a peaceful entry to Canada.

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