Canada has implemented one of the strictest border policies in the world in response to COVID-19, barring nearly all non-resident foreigners from entry. If you were planning a trip there before the pandemic, the wait to travel to Canada again can seem excruciating.
The good news is that with vaccines approved for emergency use in both the US and Canada, the light at the end of the closed border tunnel is burning brighter than ever. The better news? No matter when you end up being able to travel to Canada again, now is the time to start planning your trip.
Can I travel to Canada right now?
If you want to travel to Canada again, you will need—at a minimum—to be able to cross the border. As of January 2021, Canada’s only land border (with the United States) remains closed. Flights to Canada do operate from the US and several other countries. However, only Canadian citizens and resident foreigners (namely, those who work and study in Canada) are able to board them. If you do travel to Canada now, you must also present proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test. When will Canada lift travel restrictions? Well, that’s a more complex question.
When can I visit Canada again?
The question you’re asking yourself is “when can I travel to Canada again?”. With this in mind, it’s possible that non-essential travel to Canada will be possible at some point in 2021. On the other hand, officials have focused on setting epidemiological benchmarks (i.e. those pertaining to the progression of the coronavirus pandemic), rather than expectations related to a particular date. As Prime Minister Justin Trudeau himself put it: “Until the virus is significantly more under control everywhere around the world, we’re not going to be releasing the restrictions at the border.”
Will we need a vaccine to travel to Canada after COVID-19?
You won’t be able to travel to Canada again until COVID-19 is under control around the world. In other words, until a significant portion of the population has been vaccinated against the SARS-Cov-2 virus. Canada has begun vaccinating its own citizens and has committed to funding vaccine development and distribution around the world. However, it’s unclear as to whether future travelers to Canada will be required to show proof that they themselves have been vaccinated.
With this being said, you should still speak to your doctor about getting a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as one becomes readily available. And not just because doing so will make travel easier and safer, whether you take one of Canada’s most amazing road trips or venture elsewhere. Taking a COVID-19 shot will diminish your likelihood of developing a severe illness related to the virus. It may even prevent you from spreading it to people who are more vulnerable than you!
Where to go when Canada re-opens
Alberta’s national parks
Social distancing will become a thing of the past one day, perhaps before the time you travel to Canada again. However, wide-open space is part of what makes a trip to the national parks of Canada’s Alberta province so alluring. Explore Banff’s glacial Lake Louise, go white-water rafting in Jasper, or drive the scenic Icefields Parkway between them.
TIP: Thanks to Skyscanner’s flexible flight search, you can book a flight to Calgary now and change it later if necessary!
Even though it isn’t possible to travel to Canada now, you can search for Vancouver hotels to get inspiration for the jewel of British Columbia. As far as what to do here, that depends when you go. If you visit in summer, you can enjoy mornings amid the bustling market of artsy Granville Island, or take long walks in lush Stanley Park. In winter, meanwhile, use a night or two in Vancouver as a palate cleanser before or after ski-slope adventures in Whistler.
Who says you have to speak English when you travel to Canada again? Get two trips in one (especially if Europe is still closed) and visit Quebec City, the French-inflected capital of Canada’s Francophone province. Craving a more extensive trip, as replete with rural adventures as urban delights? Use Skyscanner to browse flights to Montreal and plan to visit the scenic Gaspé peninsula once you get your city fix.
The wild East
If you’ve already ticked some items off your north-of-the-border bucket list, consider heading east when traveling to Canada again. And we mean far east, to the “wild” Atlantic provinces of Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island. You can search rental cars on Skyscanner and take an epic road trip, or simply camp out (figuratively or literally) in Cape Breton Highlands of Bay of Fundy National Parks. In any case, Canada’s wild East is a breath of fresh air, albeit one that sometimes blows in at gale force.
Other FAQ about traveling to Canada right now
Although Canada has seen infection rates far below those in the US and most of Europe, the country did experience a large second wave of illness and death during late 2020 and early 2021. As a result, you should avoid travel to Canada now if you can absolutely avoid it. If you do visit Canada while COVID-19 is ongoing, wear a mask and maintain at least 6 feet of physical distance between yourself and others.
If you want to travel to Canada now, you need to fall into one of a few categories. For example, you might be a citizen or resident of one of these countries heading home. Alternatively, you could be an essential healthcare worker or freight driver. If not, then travel between the US and Canada is effectively suspended during COVID-19.
The land border between the United States and Canada has been closed since March 2020, with some exceptions. First among these is citizens of both countries returning home. Additionally, essential medical workers and drivers transporting goods are allowed to cross the border, as well as those with pre-approved extenuating circumstances.
If you absolutely have to travel to Canada now, there are a few things to keep in mind. First and foremost, if you are not a citizen or resident of Canada, contact your nearest Canadian embassy or consulate to make sure you are authorized to enter Canada. Additionally, as of January 2021, all passengers entering Canada are required to submit a negative COVID-19 test performed no more than 72 hours before arrival. It is possible, in the future, that proof of vaccination against the SARS-CoV-2 virus will be required to travel to Canada again.
Where can I go now?
Canada might not be open just yet, but there are other international destinations that are open to travelers originating in the US. Click here to see Skyscanner’s interactive travel restrictions map. Come back often, too, as we’re constantly updating it!
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NOTE: This article was last updated at January 21, 2021. It’s possible some of the information is no longer current. Make sure to check official guidance from the Canadian and US governments before booking any travel on Skyscanner.