Government of Canada is re-establishing mandatory random testing offsite of airports for air travellers

July 14, 2022 | Ottawa, ON | Public Health Agency of Canada

Keeping Canadians safe has been our number one priority since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Government of Canada set up entry restrictions, testing, and quarantine requirements to manage risks at the border. Testing was and remains an important part of our surveillance program to track the importation of COVID-19 virus into Canada and identify new variants of concern.

The Government of Canada had paused mandatory random testing for those entering Canada by air on June 11, 2022, as part of a broader strategy to transition testing for air travellers outside of the airports.

Mandatory random testing will resume as of July 19, 2022, for travellers who qualify as fully vaccinated, arriving in Canada by air to the four major Canadian airports, Vancouver, Calgary, Montreal and Toronto. To qualify as a fully vaccinated traveller to Canada, travellers must have been vaccinated with a primary series of a COVID-19 vaccine accepted by the Government of Canada for the purpose of travel at least 14 calendar days before entering Canada.

All testing for air travellers, for both those who qualify as fully vaccinated and partially or unvaccinated people, will be completed outside of airports, either via an in-person appointment at select testing provider locations and pharmacies, or a virtual appointment for a self-swab test. Travellers who do not qualify as fully vaccinated, unless exempt, must continue to test on Day 1 and Day 8 of their mandatory 14-day quarantine.

Moving testing outside of airports will support testing for travellers arriving by air while still being able to monitor and quickly respond to new variants of concern, or changes to the epidemiological situation. Mandatory random testing continues at land border points of entry, with no changes.

Border testing is an important tool in Canada’s detection and surveillance of COVID-19 and has been essential in helping us slow the spread of the virus. Data from the testing program are used to understand the current level and trends of importation of COVID-19 into Canada. In addition, these data have and continue to inform the Government of Canada’s safe easing of border measures.

Air travellers who qualify as fully vaccinated and who are selected for mandatory random testing, as well as air travellers who do not qualify as fully vaccinated, will receive an email notification within 15 minutes of completing their customs declaration. The email will contain information to help them arrange for their test with a testing provider in their region. Unvaccinated travellers can complete their tests by a virtual appointment or an in-person appointment with the test provider at their store or at select pharmacies and still respect their quarantine requirements.

All travellers must continue to use ArriveCAN (free mobile app or website) to provide mandatory travel information within 72 hours before their arrival in Canada, and/or before boarding a cruise ship destined for Canada, with few exceptions. It is the fastest, easiest and most secure way for travellers to show they meet public health requirements. Additional efforts are being undertaken to enhance compliance with ArriveCAN, which is already over 95% for travellers arriving by land and air combined.

All vaccinated travellers who are randomly selected for the border testing surveillance program must complete arrival mandatory testing requirements.

If your arrival test result is positive, you must go into isolation and follow the federal requirement to isolate for 10 days from the date of the test result. Your 10-day isolation is required, even if the isolation requirement is shorter in your province or territory.

Mandatory random testing and information in the ArriveCAN app are necessary tools that help inform public health advice to protect the health and safety of Canadians.

Quotes

“As we have said all along, Canada’s border measures will remain flexible and adaptable, guided by science and prudence. We need to keep border testing measures in place because that is how we track importation of the COVID-19 virus, and of new variants of concern. We will keep adapting our border measures to balance the need to protect Canadians while supporting our economic recovery.”

The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos
Minister of Health

“As demand for travel increases across the world, today’s announcement marks an important step in our progress to streamline testing processes outside our airports while preventing the further spread of COVID-19. The Government of Canada will continue to protect travellers and employees and ensure our transportation system is safe, reliable, and resilient for the long term.”

The Honourable Omar Alghabra
Minister of Transport

“The safety and security of Canadians remains our top priority. As more people continue to travel again, we’re working hard and adding resources to keep things moving. The CBSA is hiring new people – including retired officers and student border services officers – making additional kiosks available and improving ArriveCAN so it is faster and easier to use. As the situation evolves, we’ll continue to make adjustments and enhancements at the border because that’s what Canadians expect.”

The Honourable Marco Mendicino
Minister of Public Safety

Quick facts:

  • Pausing mandatory random (MRT) testing for air travellers was a temporary measure and part of a broader strategy to transition traveller testing for air travellers into the community. MRT continued during this period at land points of entry.
  • Mandatory random testing for travellers who qualify as full vaccinated remains a critical part of the Government of Canada’s ability to monitor the level of COVID-19 importation associated with international travel. It is also a cornerstone of Canada’s ability to monitor for new COVID-19 variants of concern that could pose a risk to the health and safety of people in Canada and to Canada’s ongoing recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Arrival, Day 8 and mandatory random COVID-19 molecular tests must be completed with a Public Health Agency of Canada approved test provider. Test providers vary based on where travellers enter the country.
  • Travellers selected for mandatory random testing or who are required to take a test on arrival should complete their test by the end of the next calendar day.
  • Travellers arriving at Toronto Pearson International Airport or Vancouver International Airport can save time by using the Canada Border Services Agency Advance Declaration optional feature in ArriveCAN to submit their customs declaration. Early usage data shows that it is 30 percent faster at the kiosk when travellers use ArriveCAN to declare in advance, instead of paper – saving approximately 40 seconds off a 2-minute transaction.
  • Frequent travellers can take advantage of the “saved traveller” feature in ArriveCAN which allows a user to save travel documents and proof of vaccination information so that they can reuse it on future trips. The information is pre-populated in ArriveCAN the next time the traveller completes a submission, which makes it faster and more convenient.

Associated links

Contacts

Marie-France Proulx
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos
Minister of Health
613-957-0200

Media Relations
Public Health Agency of Canada
613-957-2983
media@hc-sc.gc.ca

Laurel Lennox
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Omar Alghabra
Minister of Transport, Ottawa
laurel.lennox@tc.gc.ca

Media Relations
Transport Canada, Ottawa
media@tc.gc.ca
613-993-0055

Public Inquiries:
613-957-2991
1-866-225-0709

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