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Travel Ban Update: Canada’s Response to COVID-19

March 18, 2020


The Government of Canada continues to provide updates on the measures to combat the spread of the COVID-19 virus in Canada. We will continue to provide updated information as it becomes available, and we recommend that you monitor official Government of Canada releases for the most up-to-date information.


Canada-U.S. Border to Close to Non-Essential Travellers

The Canadian and United States government have announced an agreement to close the Canada-U.S. border to any non-essential travel in order to slow the spread of COVID-19.

This morning, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that Canada and the United States will temporarily restrict all non-essential travel across the Canada-U.S. border. The government has indicated that these measures will remain in effect for as long as they are considered necessary.

‘Non-essential travel’ includes travel for recreational and tourist purposes. Essential travel, including the cross-border trade of goods and essential work purposes, will continue to be permitted in order to ensure the critical delivery of goods between the two countries. Both countries will continue to encourage their citizens to work from home and to avoid travel wherever possible.

At this time, specific details regarding ‘essential travel’ have not been made available. We are continuing to closely monitor this situation and will provide updates as further information becomes available.


Canadians will be Stranded Abroad

Over the past week, the Canadian government has repeatedly stressed that Canadians outside the country should make every effort to return home as soon as possible.

Many air travel carriers have temporarily suspended and cancelled international flights to Canada, including between the U.S., Mexico, and the Caribbean and other destinations. New restrictions may be imposed with little warning, which may severely disrupt travel plans.

Given the increasing restrictions on commercial travel, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has warned that Canadians will be stranded abroad during the COVID-19 pandemic if they are not able to return home in the very near future. The federal government is working with airlines to make sure that as many Canadians as possible can return home while it is still possible to do so.

Regardless of citizenship, all airlines have been instructed to deny boarding for any traveller who displays symptoms of the COVID-19 virus, including fever, cough or other respiratory issues.

Canadians crossing at a land border will also be screened for symptoms. Major land ports of entry will have quarantine officers available on site who will be tasked with directing the sick to public health authorities on the Canadian side of the border.

Anyone entering Canada from a foreign country, including the United States, will be advised of the requirement to self-isolate for 14 days upon entry.


Government Providing Financial Assistance for Stranded Canadian Travellers

As Canadians abroad urgently plan their return trips home, the cost of international and continental flights have skyrocketed due to limited flight availability.

The Canadian government has announced a COVID-19 emergency loan program for Canadians abroad, which allows citizens to apply for an emergency, repayable loan of up to $5,000 to help cover the cost of plane tickets, or to temporarily cover life-sustaining needs while they work toward their return, such as emergency accommodations.

In addition, the government has pledged additional support to Canadians directly affected by COVID-19 who are unable to immediately return home. This support will be provided through partnerships with local and other organizations and will complement existing consular services.