After over a year of lockdowns and limits to travel, it might be time to pay a visit to America’s friendly neighbor, Canada. Indeed, there is nowhere better to explore with a whole host of amazing holiday options – from a city break in Montreal to whale watching and hiking in British Columbia to popping up the CN Tower in Toronto. However, with COVID still ever-present, it's important to be aware of the rules for Americans entering Canada to visit before you plan your trip and delight in the wonderful sights, traditions, and cities that Canada has to offer.
Before you click buy on your tickets, you need to check you are eligible to enter Canada first. To be able to enter Canada, travelers must fulfill two criteria – they have been fully vaccinated over 14 days before travel with an approved vaccine and upload proof of that to the ArriveCAN app.
First of all, travelers must have no symptoms of COVID-19, and they must be fully vaccinated with one of the approved vaccines by Health Canada. All travelers need to have had their last dose at least 14 days before entering Canada to ensure they have developed the antibodies and are more immune to the disease.
Proof of vaccination must then be uploaded to the ArriveCAN app, which you can download for free from any app store. Be aware that some fraudulent sites and apps are posing as ArriveCAN, which ask for payment details; the real app is free and secure, so make sure you’re uploading to the right place and not falling for scams when you’re traveling to Canada.
Once you have fulfilled the eligibility requirements to enter Canada, all travelers over the age of 5 must also provide a pre-entry test. If you are driving to Canada, you have to take a COVID-19 test within 72 hours of your planned entry time into Canada, and if you are flying, you need to take your test within 72 hours of your departure flight time. This result must be entered into the ArriveCAN app before you arrive.
Before you enter Canada, you will also need to have a quarantine plan ready. If you are symptomatic or don’t meet the requirements for entry, you will be required to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. This quarantine plan has to be added to the ArriveCAN app before you enter, and you might be asked about this plan when you cross the border.
If you don’t meet the entry requirements and have to quarantine, you will either have to spend 14 days self-isolating away from others in a hotel or be turned away at the border. However, even once you have got out of quarantine, you should continue to practice social distancing and maintain a record of your close contacts for 14 days.
Travelers who have been allowed to enter without quarantine should also note their close contacts for 14 days to help stop the spread of COVID-19. This is to cover you just in case you come into contact with someone with the virus. If you discover you have been in contact with someone with the virus, you should self-isolate and follow the instructions of local health authorities.
Also, it is important to be aware that there may be provincial or territorial rules and restrictions in Canada. Rules in Manitoba may be different from those in Nova Scotia, so make sure you look up local mandates where you will be staying before you arrive so you don’t make any COVID-19 faux-pas during your travels.
Whether it is the mountains of Alberta, flouncing down the streets of St. John's, or even just digging into Tim Hortons and poutine, you should still practice good social distancing and hygiene measures to stay safe.
Even small actions, such as popping on your mask in indoor crowded places, washing your hands regularly, and meeting people outside, can make a huge difference in keeping yourself and others safe from COVID-19. Continuing to practice these small habits during your stay in Canada is not only polite but will also help to keep the travel industry open in the long term by preventing the spread of new variants of the virus.
While enjoying yourself in Canada, it's also a good idea to keep certain documents on hand as best practice. For example, to make sure you are allowed in every destination, it's a good idea to keep your American passport and proof of vaccination on hand to reassure and provide proof of ID. Also, make sure you keep ArriveCAN on your phone, so you can not only prove your eligibility for entry but also your negative test result and quarantine plan.