Canada is set to open its borders to fully vaccinated U.S. travelers next month, but travelers will notice a few differences compared to their pre-pandemic trips.
From COVID testing and vaccination requirements to lodging prices, a number of things have changed up north since nonessential border travel between the two countries was first shut down in March 2020. Since then, only essential trade and travel have been permitted.
Fully vaccinated U.S. citizens and permanent residents will be permitted to enter Canada for nonessential travel starting Aug. 9 at 12:01 a.m. EDT, even as the U.S. continues to enforce strict travel restrictions at its land borders.
Here are 10 things to know before a trip to Canada.
Canada border crossing requirements: Travelers will need to be fully vaccinated
American travelers wanting to visit Canada by land, air or water must complete a COVID-19 vaccinationat least 14 days prior to entry. The government of Canada accepts the Pfizer-BioNtech, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD vaccines.
Cruises are not yet permitted to enter Canadian waters, but the country’s ban on cruise ships with more than 100 passengers is set to end Nov. 1.
Everyone needs to get a negative COVID test
All travelers, regardless of COVID vaccination status, will need to show proof of a COVID-19 molecular test– such as a PCR test – to enter. Fully vaccinated travelers will not need to take a post-arrival test unless they are randomly selected to do so.
Bring COVID vaccine card, documentation
Travelers must show proof of COVID vaccination in either English, French or with a certified translation.
Airlines will be verifying passengers’ vaccination status through the ArriveCAN app or website before passengers board their flights. Those driving across the border must also use ArriveCAN before departing. Information must be submitted within 72 hours before arrival.
Travelers are also advised to carry their vaccine documentation to show officials at border entry points and should keep their test results and a list of close contacts and locations visited on hand.
Canada border reopens:Canada border opens to vaccinated US citizens Aug. 9: Everything you need to know
Check for any COVID symptoms, and be prepared to quarantine
Fully vaccinated travelers won’t need to quarantine upon arrival, but visitors with COVID symptoms will need to self-isolate. All visitors must provide a quarantine plan.
Children, others who are exempted can enter Canada
Children under the age of 12 and unvaccinated dependent children will be allowed to enter the country with a fully vaccinated parent, step-parent, tutor or guardian who is eligible to enter Canada.
People with health conditions that prevent them from becoming fully vaccinated can also qualify for eased quarantine and testing requirements but must follow a modified quarantine. More details will be announced in the coming days, according to the Canadian government.
You may run into other COVID travel restrictions
Travelers will be required to follow a number of public health measures, including monitoring for signs of COVID-19 and keeping a copy of COVID vaccine documentation and test results 14 days after entry.
Travelers entering by air will need to wear a mask in Canadian airports and on flights to and from the country, regardless of vaccination status.
Some provinces still impose other various COVID restrictions, too. Newfoundland and Labrador, for instance, require a travel form to enter. Ontario has capacity limits on organized public events, retail spaces, museums, casinos, theaters and more.
The country’s national parks are open and welcoming visitors, but access to visitor facilities and services may be limited.
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Airlines are adding more flights to Canada
Airlines are adding more flights to Canada to accommodate the anticipated uptick of air travel demand.
Air Canada announced a summer transborder schedule with up to 220 daily flights between the U.S. and Canada as of Aug. 9. The initial schedule will include 55 routes and 34 U.S. destinations, but the airline plans to restore service to all 57 U.S. destinations previously served “as conditions allow,” according to the airline.
United, which flies to Calgary, Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver, said Monday it would add additional flights to Toronto and Vancouver in September.
American Airlines services four airports in Canada – Calgary, Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver – and is set to resume operations in Halifax, Quebec and Ottawa in the spring of 2022, according to a June statement.
Pricing from flight search tool Skyscanner on Wednesday showed airfares for August trips from the U.S. to Canada are starting at $251 for Vancouver, $266 for Toronto and $300 for Calgary.
Effective Aug. 9, international flights carrying passengers will be permitted to land at nine Canadian airports:
- Montréal-Trudeau International Airport
- Toronto Pearson International Airport
- Calgary International Airport
- Vancouver International Airport.
- Halifax Stanfield International Airport
- Québec City Jean Lesage International Airport
- Ottawa Macdonald–Cartier International Airport
- Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport
- Edmonton International Airport
Canada hotel room rates are low – but prices are rising
In May, the average daily room rate — or ADR — across Canada’s hotels was $113.40 in Canadian dollars(US$90.27), down 32% compared to 2019, according to hotel analytics company STR.
Hotel room prices should rebound when border restrictions ease; STR expects ADR to hit $116.22between July and September, according to a June statement. The firm expects smaller cities and resorts to lead the recovery.
“International demand plays an incredibly important role in the recovery process, and we expect a jump in hotel leisure and corporate demand once the U.S./Canada land border reopens,”the press release read.
The majority of eligible Canadians are vaccinated against COVID-19
Canada’s COVID vaccine rollout had a slower start, but the country has since surpassed the U.S.’s vaccination rates.
Nearly 70% of the Canadian population was at least partially vaccinated and nearly 44% fully vaccinated as of July 10. In the U.S., 56% of the population was partially vaccinated and 49% was fully vaccinated as of Tuesday.
Canada reported 712 confirmed new COVID cases in the last 24 hours as of Wednesday, according to the World Health Organization, a fraction of the 34,678 new cases reported in the U.S.
US extends Canada border closure
The U.S. extended border restrictions on nonessential travel Wednesday, keeping its borders with Canada and Mexico closed through at least Aug. 21. The restrictions to entry affect both land and ferry travel.
The move is meant to help the country decrease the spread of COVID-19, including the highly contagious delta variant.
International travelers who plan to return to the U.S. by air will need to get tested no more than 3 days before travel and show a negative test result or documentation of recovery to the airline before boarding, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Follow USA TODAY reporter Bailey Schulz on Twitter: @bailey_schulz.