With the border between the U.S. and Canada remaining closed to non-essential travel, many Canadians have questions about where they are permitted to vacation, and which requirements may be in place in those countries. After all, it makes little sense to travel to a country for 10 days if the entire time must be spent in quarantine. Below, we outline the current travel possibilities open to Canadians in several continents around the world.
On August 14, it was announced that the Canada-United States border will remain closed to non-essential travel for at least another month until September 21. This has been the fifth extension of the border restrictions because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The agreed-upon exemptions to the ban will continue to be honoured, so if you fit into one of those exemptions you can still travel across the border. When broached about when the border may open, Public Health Chief Dr. Theresa Tam stated:
“Every month when we evaluate that situation again, we’ll take into account what’s going on, on both sides of the border. But, as you know, as we look at further planning out, we have to look at different options of how we can increase safely—as safely as possible—international travel.”
So if you are hoping the border ban will end soon, you may be out of luck. Canadians are permitted to travel to Mexico and some Caribbean countries but are required to quarantine for 14-days upon arrival. Some countries also require a negative COVID-19 test within a certain period before travel.
Regarding the rest of the world, the Canadian government is advising all Canadians to avoid non-essential travel outside of Canada and has advised avoiding all travel to a select few countries. Despite the government’s advice, Canadians are permitted to travel but must check the local laws of the country they intend to travel to and will be subject to a mandatory 14-day quarantine upon their return to Canada.
If you do plan on travelling, be sure to check whether you can still buy travel insurance through your provider, and if that provider would cover COVID-19-related expenses, as some providers have explicitly stated they will not cover these expenses should you choose to travel. Further, a federal government advisory warns that airspace closures and movement restrictions may occur without warning, so if you choose to travel, you are taking a risk that the situation could change in your absence and returning to Canada could become more difficult in a short period of time.
Good news for those who want to travel to Europe, as Canada was listed among 14 countries whose citizens would be allowed to enter the Schengen area of Europe starting on July 1. The Schengen area countries are:
As of August 7, Canada is still listed as a country exempted from the general European Union travel ban. Canadians do not need a visa for travel to countries within the Schengen area for up to 90 days of travel. However, make sure to stay up to date on the Schengen zone regulations, as the countries within the zone have some individual discretion to restrict immigration, so regulations can vary from country to country. Remember that the United Kingdom is no longer part of the European Union, so they will have separate regulations than those announced for the E.U. Canadians can enter the United Kingdom without a specific visa, but will have to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival.
As of August 17, Canadians still are being denied permission to enter Japan, unless there are exceptional circumstances present. If you are allowed entry into Japan, you will have to quarantine for 14 days and take a COVID-19 test. If you are looking to travel to South Korea, you will have to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. China is also largely closed to non-essential travel, although there are some exemptions for economic, trade, scientific, or technological reasons. If you fly to China, you will be subject to a 14-day quarantine.
Canadians are not currently allowed to enter Australia unless they have been granted an exemption prior to departure. Canadians generally are also not allowed to enter New Zealand. However, some exceptions apply, such as immediate family members of New Zealand nationals or travellers who have a permanent resident visa in New Zealand. Prospective travellers to New Zealand who do not fit one of the previously stated exemptions must submit a request to travel to New Zealand in order to be granted permission to enter the country.
If you are looking to travel, we advise you to continuously check travel restrictions or regulations pertaining to your destination, right up until you leave. The situation changes regularly as infection numbers increase or decrease. Keep in mind that even if you are not required to quarantine upon arrival to your destination, you will have to do so once you return. Travel anywhere outside the country is a risk because the situation is so dynamic and could change while you are away.
Make sure you stay updated on regional restrictions and regulations before you make your arrangements. If you are trying to travel and need to prepare an exemption request, be sure that you fit into one of the stated exemptions from the country you are trying to travel to. If you have questions about where you can travel, please do not hesitate to contact us.
The immigration lawyers at Garson Immigration Law are continuing to monitor the immigration fallout in relation to COVID-19 on both sides of the border and will provide updates as the situation develops. If you have any questions about your potential classification as essential or about how you should comply with the changing regulations, do not hesitate to reach out to us online or by calling us at 416-321-2860.