Appearance at TRAN: Supplemental Mandate Letter and on the pre-entry testing requirements


border measures


The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) has put successive border measures in place, in response to COVID-19, under the Quarantine Act.


What is the Government doing to encourage the restart of the Canadian economy while continuing to prevent imported cases of COVID-19?


  • Now is not the time to travel. Canada continues to advise against non-essential travel to and from Canada until further notice.
  • Canada has established robust border measures, including travel restrictions and pre-departure testing, for travellers coming to Canada.
  • These measures have been effective in helping to protect the health and safety of Canadians, while continuing to allow essential workers to enter the country.
  • New measures being introduced, in combination with those already implemented, will further reduce the risk of importation and transmission of COVID-19 and new variants of the virus related to international travel.


  • As of February 22, 2021, travellers arriving to Canada by air, with some exceptions, will be required to take a COVID-19 molecular test when they arrive in Canada before exiting the airport, and another toward the end of their 14-day quarantine period.
  • Air travellers, with limited exceptions, will need to pre-book and stay up to three nights, at their own expense, in a Government of Canada authorized accommodation at the location of entry while they await the results of their on-arrival tests.
  • On receipt of a negative test result, travellers will be allowed to continue to a suitable place of quarantine to complete their quarantine period.
  • International flights arriving to Canada are now being directed to one of four international airports (Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, or Montreal).
  • As of February 22, 2021, all travellers, whether arriving by land or air, will be required to submit their travel and contact information, including a suitable quarantine plan, electronically via ArriveCAN before crossing the border or boarding a flight.
  • To limit possible exposure of COVID-19 to others, we have introduced more stringent criteria for suitable quarantine plans to reduce risk of household transmission, particularly to those who work with at-risk subpopulations


  • Pre-departure and pre-arrival testing are helping to reduce the number of travellers arriving in Canada with COVID-19. This layer of protection is working together with our quarantine approach.
  • The goal of these measures is to prevent the introduction of new COVID-19 cases in light of increased infection rates and new variants.


  • Travellers are responsible for arranging a suitable place to quarantine prior to their arrival in Canada.
  • If no other suitable arrangements to quarantine are possible, individual travellers may be referred to a federally designated quarantine facility, if necessary.


  • The Public Health Agency of Canada continues to collaborate with partners to digitize the collection of health-related information from passengers pre-arrival through ArriveCAN.
  • This allows traveller information to be shared quickly and securely with provinces and territories - so they can contact travellers for public health follow-up - and with law enforcement to verify compliance with the Quarantine, Isolation and Other Obligations Order.


  • The Public Health Agency of Canada is working with the RCMP, and provincial and municipal law enforcement agencies to verify compliance with the Quarantine, Isolation and Other Obligations Order.
  • Compliance verification visits by a third party contractor are now underway in all provinces.
  • Officials provide information handouts at the border, and contact travellers throughout their isolation or quarantine period to remind them of the requirements.
  • If travellers cannot be reached, or appear non-compliant with isolation or quarantine requirements, they are referred to local law enforcement for follow-up.
  • Failure to comply with the Quarantine, Isolation and Other Obligations Order is an offence under the Quarantine Act. Penalties could include up to six months in prison and/or $750,000 in fines. Tickets of up to $3,000 per day may also be issued for non-compliance pursuant to the Contraventions Act.
  • Violating other measures in the Quarantine Act, including exposing another person to serious disease, can lead to up to three years in prison and/or $1 million in fines.


  • Public Health Agency of Canada’s Designated Officers are present at 33 Canadian points of entry that receive international travellers. 
  • All international air travel to Canada is being directed to one of four airports (Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, or Montreal).
  • As international travel resumes, the Public Health Agency of Canada will increase its public health presence to 36 points of entry across the country.
  • All of Canada’s points of entry will continue to have 24/7 access to support from the Public Health Agency of Canada’s Quarantine Officers through the remote Central Notification System.


  • Des agents désignés de l’Agence de la santé publique du Canada sont présents dans 33 points d’entrée canadiens qui accueillent des voyageurs internationaux.
  • Tous les voyages aériens internationaux à destination du Canada sont dirigés vers l’un des quatre aéroports (Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto ou Montréal).
  • À mesure que les voyages internationaux reprendront, l’Agence de la santé publique du Canada augmentera sa présence en santé publique à 36 points d'entrée de partout au pays.
  • Tous les points d’entrée du Canada continueront d’avoir un accès 24 heures par jour, 7 jours par semaine, au soutien des agents de quarantaine de l’Agence de la santé publique du Canada grâce au système de notification centralisé à distance.


  • Canada’s Travel Health Notice was updated on January 16, 2021, to advise that all travellers arriving from, or who have spent time in the United Kingdom, South Africa or Brazil in the 14 days before they enter Canada are subject to secondary screening and enhanced measures, including increased scrutiny of quarantine plans.
  • The Government of Canada continues to advise against all non-essential travel outside of Canada, including all cruise ship travel, until further notice.
  • We continue to evaluate the evolving COVID-19 pandemic to inform our travel advice to Canadians.
  • As we explore a gradual approach to reopening international travel, we must consider:
    • The capacity of our public health system;
    • Provincial and territorial perspectives;
    • Our capacity at the borders; and
    • The epidemiological situation within Canada and in other countries.


The continued identification of new variants around the globe, with demonstrated increases in transmissibility, has introduced new risks to manage.

Between February 3, 2020 and February 14, 2021, the Governor in Council has made 45 Emergency Orders under the Quarantine Act to minimize the risk of exposure to COVID-19 in Canada – to reduce risks from other countries, to repatriate Canadians, and to strengthen measures at the border to reduce the impact of COVID-19 in Canada.

On Arrival Testing, Mandatory Hotel Stays and Enhanced Quarantine

On January 29, 2021, the Government of Canada announced enhanced testing and quarantine measures, in addition to the pre-departure testing requirement already in place. All air travellers to Canada, with limited exceptions, will face additional costs, including a COVID-19 molecular test on arrival, as well as a hotel stay when they return to Canada.

As of February 22, 2021, all travellers, with limited exceptions, whether arriving by air or land, will be required to

  • submit their travel and contact information, including a suitable quarantine plan, electronically via ArriveCAN before boarding their flight or crossing the border;
  • take a COVID-19 molecular test on arrival; and
  • take a COVID-19 molecular test later during their quarantine.

As of February 22, 2021, travellers arriving by air will be required to reserve and stay in a government-authorized accommodation (hotel) for up to three nights, at their own cost, while they await the results of the COVID-19 molecular test they took on arrival, before completing the rest of their mandatory 14-day quarantine period.

To ensure travellers’ awareness and compliance with quarantine requirements, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is working with security companies to help complete compliance checks for travellers arriving in Canada. Employees of these companies were trained by PHAC and authorized as Screening Officers under the Quarantine Act. These Screening Officers will visit travellers’ quarantine locations to establish contact, confirm identity and confirm that travellers are at the place of quarantine they identified upon entry into Canada. These new officers will conduct visits in 35 cities across the country, starting in Montréal and Toronto.

Travel Advisories

The Government of Canada’s current travel advice to all Canadians is to avoid all non-essential travel outside of Canada (Level 3) and to avoid all cruise ship travel (Level 3). Although this travel advice is not binding on Canadians choosing to travel abroad, some travel insurance providers no longer cover travel booked on or after March 13, 2020, when these advisories came into effect. Canada’s Travel Health Notice was updated on January 6, 2021 to reflect pre-departure testing requirements, and on January 16 to reflect the countries with variants of concern

Emergency Orders

Currently, the emergency order on the prohibition of entry from the United States (U.S.) is in place until at least March 21, 2021. The other two emergency orders - prohibition of entry from countries other than the U.S., and the quarantine, isolation, and other obligations order, are in place until at least April 21, 2021.

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) has been working with federal and provincial partners to facilitate commercial traffic to maintain the flow of essential goods and services, while continuing to protect the health of Canadians.

A travel ban is currently in place for most people entering Canada, including:

  • Foreign nationals entering from the U.S., across all modes, for non-essential travel including recreation and/or tourism purposes;
  • Foreign nationals entering Canada if they arrive from a foreign country other than the U.S., with some exceptions, such as those delivering essential services; and
  • Foreign nationals entering from any country with signs or symptoms of respiratory illness.

Cross-border supply chains are vital to ensure the continued flow of goods, including food and medical supplies for all Canadians. As such, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) is working with other federal partners to share information with commercial stakeholders to provide assurances that commercial traffic is not impeded.

Border Presence

Canada has 117 land border points of entry, 12 large international airports, 4 commercial marine ports, and 3 rail stations. PHAC has increased the physical presence of its designated officers, including quarantine officers, at 33 points of entry across Canada, including major land borders.

Testing will be available on site at 5 of Canada’s busiest land ports of entry as of February 22, 2021.This service will be available as of March 4, 2021 at another 11 land ports of entry.  At land ports of entry with no on-site testing capacity, Border Services Officers will provided two take-home test swabs kits to every traveller.

Testing Pilots

The Government provided an exemption to mandatory quarantine to enable specific border COVID-testing pilots with provincial and territorial governments. The Government of Canada will continue to work with its provincial and territorial partners to discuss how the new testing and quarantine requirements will affect pilot programs. The Government of Canada will continue to monitor international alternatives to quarantine closely and will review the evolving science.


PHAC undertakes compliance and enforcement to ensure that travellers are abiding by the requirement to isolate/quarantine for 14 days. In those instances, where compliance cannot be confirmed, PHAC refers these travellers to the RCMP for compliance follow-up. Maximum penalties for failing to comply with an order under the Quarantine Act (e.g. the Quarantine, Isolation and Other Obligations Order) include a fine of up to $750,000 or imprisonment for six months, or both.

Additionally, the Contraventions Act gives law enforcement partners (including RCMP, provincial and local police) the enforcement power to issue tickets to people who do not comply with the Quarantine Act, with fines of up to $3,000 for different Quarantine Act offences (this does not apply in AB, SK and the territories, as these jurisdictions have not signed on to the contraventions regime).

A person who causes a risk of imminent death or serious bodily harm to another person, while willfully or recklessly contravening the Quarantine Act or the regulations could be liable for a fine of up to $1 million or imprisonment of up to three years, or both.