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Canada to resume mandatory random COVID-19 testing at 4 major airports

July 14, 2022
4 min read
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Canada to resume mandatory random COVID-19 testing at 4 major airports
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Editor's Note

This story has been updated with new information.

Although Canadian airports had paused randomly testing arriving passengers for COVID-19 in June, air travelers to Canada could once again be selected for testing upon entering the country, the Canadian government announced on July 14.

All travelers (regardless of vaccination status) should prepare for the realities of random arrival COVID-19 testing starting next week. However, testing will now occur outside of the actual airports.

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Random testing will resume on July 19 for fully vaccinated people arriving at four airports: Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ), Vancouver International Airport (YVR), Montreal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (YUL) and Calgary International Airport (YYC).This testing will occur either in person at select testing provider locations (including pharmacies) or at virtual appointments where participants can take self-proctored tests. Additionally, random testing will continue at land border entry points.Within 15 minutes of completing their customs declaration, travelers will be notified via email if they have been selected to take a random test, according to the Canadian government. The email should contain instructions on how to schedule their test. More information on what to expect with mandatory arrival testing can be found here.

Although random, this testing is mandatory for anyone selected.

"If your arrival test result is positive, you must go into isolation and follow the federal requirement to isolate for 10 days from the date of the test result," per a press release issued by Canadian officials on July 14. "Your 10-day isolation is required, even if the isolation requirement is shorter in your province or territory."

Read more: Canada extends vaccination requirement for visitors through at least June

Additional entry requirements

Although Canada dropped vaccination requirements for domestic and outbound travelers, all incoming international visitors must show proof of COVID-19 vaccination to enter Canada at this time. Partially vaccinated or unvaccinated travelers continue to be barred from entering Canada.

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Travelers to Canada are considered fully vaccinated if at least 14 days have passed after the final dose of an approved two-dose or single-dose vaccine (including those from Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson). Travelers ages 5 to 11 are exempt from vaccination and testing requirements if accompanied by a fully vaccinated adult traveler, and entry requirements do not apply to those under age 5.

If you’re planning to visit Canada from abroad anytime soon, you must continue to upload proof of vaccination and additional travel information to the ArriveCan app within 72 hours of travel.

Additionally, face coverings remain mandatory for all passengers traveling on trains and planes to Canada.

Related: Canada extends vaccination requirement for visitors

Bottom line

Mandatory random arrival testing — plus a potential quarantine, in the case of a positive result — is something all air travelers to Canada, including Americans, should again be prepared for.

To give a sense of the scale of this, when Canada was testing more frequently from Nov. 28, 2021 - Feb. 27, 2022, it ran 194,730 tests on those arriving by air. Of those, 6.06% were positive, according to data from Canada's Public Health Agency. That's over 11,000 people in that three month timeline that found themselves with a potentially surprise positive COVID test to deal with in Canada.

As exact Canadian entry rules remain fluid, be sure to review the latest entry requirements before traveling. Also, make sure you have any required documentation ready well ahead of your visit to ensure a smooth experience.

Featured image by Getty Images
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.