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H1 – Things to know before traveling to Canada during COVID

If you have visited the country in the past, you may be aware that Pakistanis need a visa for Canada no matter the period of intended stay or the motive of the visit, as citizens of Pakistan are not eligible to apply for the Canada ETA

However, in recent months it has become necessary to obtain a range of other documentation to travel to the country as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

This page aims to clarify the current Canadian entry requiremtns that travelers need to meet, and whether or not it is now possible to travel to Canada directly from Pakistan. 

H2 – Canada extended the suspension of flights from India and Pakistan  

Canada has extended the ban on flights from India and Pakistan. The flight suspensions were first imposed on April 22nd and were expected to be lifted after a month. However, the Canadian government has since deemed it necessary to extend the measures in order to contain the spread of the mutated variants of the coronavirus. 

Canadian Transport Minister Omar Alghabra announced that the extension was necessary “based on public health advice to reduce the importation risk of COVID-19 and its variants”. He also added that  Canada has “seen a significant reduction in the number of positive cases of COVID-19 arriving from international flights since this restriction was put in place”.

Nevertheless, cargo flights from India and Pakistan are exempt from the flight suspensions, in order to ensure that shipments of essential medical supplies such as PPE and vaccines can still be maintained. Additionally, citizens of India and Pakistan can still travel to Canada if they arrive via a third country and meet the necessary entry requirements.  

Travelers should be aware that passengers arriving from abroad are currently only permitted to arrive at either Calgary (YYC), Montreal (YUL), Toronto (YYZ), or Vancouver (YVR) airports. However, this does not apply to passengers arriving on a direct flight from Saint Pierre and Miquelon.

H2 – Some passengers are exempt from the entry ban 

While entry to Canada remains prohibited for most passengers, there are some exceptions: 

  • Nationals of Canada
  • Dual nationals of Canada with a Special Authorization approval email
  • Permanent residents of Canada;
  • Persons registered under Canada’s Indian Act with a Certificate of Indian Status (CIS) or the Secure Certificate of Indian Status (SCIS)
  • Passengers with a Canadian Refugee Travel Document or a Single Journey Document for Resettlement to Canada
  • Immediate family members of nationals of Canada, of permanent residents of Canada, or of persons registered under Canada’s Indian Act, who are staying for at least  15 days and who have a quarantine plan. Extended family members of these groups may also enter if they also have a  written authorization issued by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC)
  • Passengers with authorization from the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC);
  • Passengers with a letter of authorization from the Deputy Minister of Canadian Heritage (PCH)
  • Passengers arriving directly from the USA and traveling on an essential purpose
  • Passengers with a study permit or a post-graduation work permit issued by Canada, who  are attending a designated learning institution (DLI) with a COVID-19 readiness plan approved by the relevant province or territory
  • Passengers with approved permanent residence in Canada, if the Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR) was issued on or before March 18, 2020
  • Members of the Canadian forces traveling on duty, and their immediate family members
  • Nationals of France resident in Saint-Pierre and Miquelon and who have only been in Canada, the US, or Saint-Pierre and Miquelon within the past 14 days.

All travelers who fall under one of these exceptions must register their information electronically at most 72 hours before arrival in Canada. This can be done by downloading the ArriveCAN application on a mobile device.  

H2 – A negative COVID test is required for entry to Canada

It is currently mandatory for all passengers aged 5 years or older to present proof of a negative COVID-19 test to gain entry to Canada, no matter their nationality. The test must have been taken no more than 72 hours before the departure of the last direct flight to Canada. 

Tests currently accepted by the Canadian government include: 

  • Ct
  • ddPCR
  • LamPORE
  • NAAT
  • NAT
  • NGS
  • PCR
  • qPCR
  • RNA
  • RT-PCR
  • WGS

Additionally, testing which detects either the E, N, RdRp, or S genes, Orf1a/b, or isothermal amplification tests are also accepted. However, test results issued in either India or Pakistan are not currently accepted. 

Passengers who have tested positive for COVID-19 using any of the testing methods listed above between 15-90 days before departure of the last direct flight to Canada are exempt from the negative test requirements. 

H2 – It may be necessary to quarantine on arrival 

Most passengers arriving in Canada at present must also meet the Canadian quarantine requirements, and self-isolate for at least 14 days. They must also take a COVID-19 molecular test on day 1 and day 8 of the quarantine. There are only a few exceptions: 

  • Passengers with a positive COVID-19 test result that meets the requirements listed above
  • Residents of Point Roberts in Washington, USA, who are entering Canada to return to their place of residence
  • Members of the Canadian Forces or a visiting force traveling on duty

Nevertheless, all passengers apart from members of a military force must have a confirmed hotel booking for the first 3 nights, made online in advance of arrival.

All of these entry restrictions for Canada are expected to remain in place at least until the vaccine rollout in Canada is well underway and herd immunity has been achieved among the population.