COVID-19 U.S. travel rules change for Canadians: What you need to know before you board a plane

·2 min read
COVID-19 U.S. travel rules change for Canadians: What you need to know before you board a plane

Canadians wanting to travel to the U.S. will face an additional obstacle before boarding a flight with a shortened window from pre-departure testing, effective Monday, Dec. 6.

In order to board a flight, all air travellers age two and older flying to the U.S. from any foreign country will be required show a negative COVID-19 viral test result taken no more than one day before travel, or documentation of recovering from COVID-19 in the past 90 days.

Travellers by air will also need to provide an attestation that the information they have is true.

What type of test is acceptable?

This new rule does also apply to U.S. citizens and permanent residents who are returning to the country.

The type of viral tests accepted include an antigen test or a nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT), for example, a reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), reverse transcription loop-mediated isothermal amplification (RT-LAMP), transcription-mediated amplification (TMA), nicking enzyme amplification reaction (NEAR), and helicase-dependent amplification (HDA).

The test result that needs to be shown to the airline must include:

  • Type of test (indicating it is a NAAT or antigen test)

  • Entity issuing the result (e.g., laboratory, healthcare entity, or telehealth service)

  • Information that identifies the person (full name plus at least one other identifier such as date of birth or passport number)

  • Test result

  • Sample collection date

    • A negative test result must show the sample was taken no more than one day before the flight

    • A positive test result for documentation of recovery from COVID-19 must show the sample was taken within the 90 days before the flight

How do the U.S. rules differ from Canada?

Currently, any travellers visiting or returning to Canada by air need to present proof of a negative COVID-19 test result taken no more than 72 hours before departure. Fully vaccinated Canadian citizens, permanent residents and individuals registered under the Indian Act who take a trip to the U.S. for 72 hours or less will not have to complete a PCR test before re-entering Canada.

This week, the Canadian government announced that it will require all air travellers, both vaccinated and unvaccinated (except from the United States), to be tested at the airport where they land.

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