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With the COVID-19 coronavirus being declared a global pandemic, Canada is starting to restrict travel and border crossings in an attempt to help slow the spread of the virus. There are unprecedented actions being taken, and travel is becoming increasingly complex.
We’re also maintaining a more general coronavirus Canada updates and information page if you’re looking for additional news and information.
- Domestic and interprovincial travel
- The Canadian border and international travel
- Current travel advisories and advice for Canadians
- Travelling back to Canada from abroad
- Self-isolate for 14 days when you get home
- If you do fly, fly as safely as possible
- What should you do with your travel rewards?
- Should you travel if travel advisories are lessened or lifted?
Domestic and interprovincial travel
Travel has become increasingly restricted since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. Most recently, there are new restrictions on domestic and interprovincial travel.
|Province||Travel advisories, restrictions, and requirements||More information|
|All||* As of March 30th, domestic travel by plane or train is no longer allowed for people showing coronavirus symptoms.
* The Prime Minister has also invoked the Quarantine Act, and now everyone returning from international travel is required to self-isolate for 14 days else face fines or possible jail time.
|* No more domestic travel by plane or train for those showing coronavirus symptoms, Trudeau says|
|Alberta||* No province-specific travel or border restrictions.||* COVID-19 information for Albertans: Self-isolation|
|British Columbia||* No province-specific travel or border restrictions.||* COVID-19: Travel|
|Manitoba||* All travellers coming into the province are advised to self-isolate for 14 days.
* Has set up checkpoints at border crossings to inform travellers of current self-isolation requirements and other health information.
|* Manitoba establishing checkpoints at provincial borders to warn travellers about COVID-19 risks|
|New Brunswick||* Has closed its borders and all non-essential travel into the province has been banned.
* Screening checkpoints have been set up at provincial borders and officers are authorized to turn people away.
* Anyone coming into the province is legally required to self-isolate for 14 days.
|* New Brunswick adds border checkpoints to prevent spread of COVID-19|
|Newfoundland and Labrador||* All travellers coming into the province are required to self-isolate for 14 days, including those arriving from other parts of Canada.||* Travel advice|
|Northwest Territories||* Has closed borders to all incoming non-essential travel by air, land, and port.
* Those who do come into the territory are legally required to self-isolate for 14 days in one of the major centres.
|* N.W.T. to close borders to all inbound travel by air, land and port — with limited exceptions|
|Nova Scotia||* There’s a checkpoint on the highway near Amherst where people are being informed of the new requirements.
* People coming into the province by land, air, or sea are legally required to self-isolate for 14 days.
|* N.S. border tightened with emergency declaration, N.B. premier hints at similar measures|
|Nunavut||* Has prohibited all cross-border travel with some exceptions.
* People planning to return to Nunavut must self-isolate for 14 days before returning to the territory.
* Other restrictions are in place.
|* Nunavut travel restriction order|
|Ontario||* No provincial travel or border restrictions are currently in place.||* The 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)|
|Prince Edward Island||* Anyone coming into the province must self-isolate for 14 days.||* Impacted travel|
|Quebec||* Police checkpoints have been established on major roads leading to the more remote regions of the province to block all non-essential travel into or out of those areas.
* Recently Quebec set up a checkpoint at the border between Ottawa and Gatineau to minimize non-essential travel into Quebec.
* Quebec has also set up checkpoints near the Canada-US border to make sure that everyone travelling into Canada is aware of the mandatory 14 day quarantine for international travellers.
|* COVID-19: Quebec to add checkpoints, forbid non-essential travel to eight regions|
|Saskatchewan||* No current travel restrictions on a provincial level.
* Muskeg Cree Nation has closed all roads to non-essential traffic (north of Saskatoon).
|* COVID-19 in Sask: 30 new cases confirmed, 18 attributed to snowmobile rally|
|Yukon||* Strongly advises against all non-essential travel.
* Everyone coming into the territory is required to self-isolate for 14 days.
|* Yukon.ca coronavirus updates|
The Canadian border and international travel
The Canadian government has closed the border to most foreigners, but Canadian citizens and permanent residents can still enter.
Most recently, Canada and the United States have agreed to restrict non-essential travel across our shared border in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus. This is not expected to affect trade.
International flights have also been restricted and are now only allowed to land at 4 Canadian airports:
- Toronto Pearson International Airport,
- Vancouver International Airport,
- Montréal-Trudeau International Airport, and
- Calgary International Airport.
It’s very important to note that currently airlines will prevent all travellers who present COVID-19 symptoms, regardless of their citizenship, from boarding international flights to Canada.
Related: Best Travel Insurance Credit Cards
Current travel advisories and advice for Canadians
The government has issued a Level 3 travel health notice asking Canadians to avoid all non-essential travel.
This travel advisory has been issued because there are many countries reporting widespread transmission of the coronavirus, and this is one way to help slow the progress of the pandemic to Canada and around the world.
In some countries, travellers will also have limited access to timely and appropriate health care if they fall ill. Certain groups of people are at a higher risk of developing severe disease, including:
- older citizens,
- those with a weakened immune system, and
- people with underlying medical condition(s).
There’s also a strong chance that travel will become increasingly restricted, making it difficult to get home from abroad if the need arises in the future.
If you must travel, please visit the Government of Canada’s travel advice and advisories page to verify travel health recommendations and safety information.
Travelling back to Canada from abroad
If you were outside of Canada before all these restrictions were in place, you can still get back home.
Register as a Canadian Abroad
You should register with the Canadian Government so they know where you are and how to get in touch with you, should the need arise.
You can do this online through the Registration of Canadians Abroad page.
Return to Canada as soon as possible
It’s strongly recommended that you return to Canada as soon as you can, using what commercial means are still available to you, even if it means cutting your trip short. This includes coming home from the United States.
If you’ve already booked air travel, contact your airline or other travel provider and try to change your flight. Many airlines are currently waiving change and cancellation fees.
If you can’t get through to your airline, consider booking a one-way flight to get home, and contact your airline later to see if the cost of that flight can be offset or forgiven. Record everything you do to attempt to change your flight and be sure to save all your receipts.
If you have not already booked a flight, do so as soon as possible. Canadians seeking to return now face reduced commercial travel options and may experience a sudden spike in prices.
The Government is not currently providing emergency flights or evacuation back to Canada, but some airlines have stepped up to help Canadian travellers get home.
Remember that airlines will prevent all travellers who present COVID-19 symptoms, regardless of their citizenship, from boarding international flights to Canada.
What if you can’t travel back home?
If you’re a Canadian citizen and are in need of emergency consular assistance, you should contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre (EWRC).
Please note that due to the current situation the EWRC is experiencing a very high volume of calls. See the Request emergency assistance page for more details and the most up to date information.
If you need non-emergency consular assistance, visit the Ask Travel page to get more information about what services are available to you.
Access emergency funds if needed
Not everyone has the extra cash lying around in order to get back home at a moment’s notice. So in light of the pandemic, it may be time to dip in to that emergency fund you’ve been saving.
How to get emergency funds to/from loved ones abroad
Transferring money to someone in another country is also known as sending a remittance. Depending on the service, money can be given as cash, a bank account deposit, or a credit card, debit card, or prepaid card.
Money transfer services are usually provided by:
- banks or credit unions,
- money transfer or cheque cashing businesses, or
- currency exchanges.
Sometimes these services are also available:
- in post offices,
- grocery stores,
- pharmacies, and
- convenience stores, or
Of course, due to the closures of many public facilities, finding an online option (like Transferwise) may be your best bet.
Whoever sends the money should always get a receipt and a transaction number for the money that was sent, and should also ask how to confirm that the transfer was completed and the money delivered.
Money transfers can take between a few minutes and a few days to arrive, so ask what sort of delivery times might be expected as well.
How travellers can access emergency funds from the Canadian government
In response to the current pandemic, the Canadian government has set up the COVID-19 Emergency Loan Program for Canadians Abroad.
If you’re outside of the country and directly impacted by COVID-19, you’ll be able to apply for an emergency repayable loan to facilitate your return to Canada, and to cover essential basic needs while you work on getting home.
Eligible Canadians who are currently outside of Canada should contact either:
- the nearest Government of Canada office,
- the Global Affairs Canada 24/7 Emergency Watch and Response Centre, or
- email [email protected]
Self-isolate for 14 days when you get home
When you do manage to travel home, it’s very important to know that the Government is asking all travellers entering Canada to voluntarily self-isolate for 14 days upon entry.
This means you must stay home and avoid contact with other people, even if you have no symptoms and feel fine.
It’s starting to look like this virus is asymptomatic in a significant number of carriers, so it’s very important to avoid other people as much as possible for at least 2 weeks after you get home.
Further self-isolation advisories may be issued in the future, so stay up to date on the current coronavirus Canada news.
If you do fly, fly as safely as possible
If you do have to travel, do everything you can to protect yourself and the people around you from potential infection.
- Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly: Washing your hands with regular soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds several times a day will help prevent the spread of the virus.
- Carry alcohol-based hand sanitizer with you at all times, and use it liberally: Used properly, strong alcohol-based hand sanitizer is relatively effective. Sanitizer must be at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid touching your face: Even if you have the virus on your hands, you’re less likely to get infected if you don’t touch your nose, eyes, or mouth.
- Avoid regular physical greetings: Instead of hugs or handshakes, opt for a friendly wave or nod.
- Purchase pre-packaged food and bottled water: Also avoid eating from shared or communal food sources such as buffets.
- Avoid touching potentially contaminated surfaces in airplanes: Place a sheet of paper on your tray table so laptops and other items don’t come in contact with the surface. Use a paper towel or napkin when opening and closing the bathroom door (then throw that in the trash). Don’t place food directly on your tray table, and don’t use the seat pocket.
- Wipe down your seat, tray table, and arm rests: If you have a sanitizing wipe, use it to disinfect commonly touched areas around your seat. Don’t forget any touch screens or buttons you may use during the flight.
- Masks and gloves: These aren’t believed to be necessary, but if you have them and you’re more comfortable wearing them, do so.
- Adjust air vents: Using a paper towel, move the air vents above your seat so they don’t blow on your mouth, face, or nose.
- Avoid crowds: This applies both while you’re at the airport and when you arrive at your destination. Maybe now is the time to indulge yourself in a visit to the airport lounge? (
This cardoffers unlimited airport lounge access.)
- Maintain your distance: If you do end up around other people, do your best to maintain at least a 6-foot distance between yourself and others.
- Take care of yourself: Sleep 6 to 8 hours a night, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, and exercise. The healthier your immune system, the less chance you’ll get sick.
Related: Best Business Credit Cards in Canada
What should you do with your travel rewards?
In times like these, it’s hard to really know what to do with your travel rewards. Here are some options.
Use them to help absorb high flight prices
Flight availability is decreasing, and prices may increase as a result. If you need to, use your travel rewards to offset these increased prices.
There are some flexible travel rewards programs that allow you to book with any travel provider, like American Express Membership Rewards.
Consider cashing them in
You could use your travel rewards as a makeshift emergency fund by cashing them in for groceries or gift cards for essentials.
Of course, since reward points are worth different amounts when used in different ways, their value will depend on how you redeem them. You can find out what your points are worth by looking up your card on our credit card search page.
We also have a rewards program value guide to help you figure it all out.
Hang on to them
If you don’t need to use your travel rewards, you might just want to hang on to them for future high-value travel redemptions after the pandemic ends, or for future emergency use if needed.
Be sure to keep an eye on possible point expiration policies. We’ve written a handy guide about which travel rewards do and don’t expire, and how you can avoid losing yours if you don’t want to use them right now.
Should you travel if travel advisories are lessened or lifted?
Right now it’s important that all Canadians do their best to adhere to the travel advisories issued by the Canadian government. Should these advisories change, we’ll update this page with the most current information available.
Whatever you decide to do, proceed with caution and follow the government-recommended prevention guidelines.