What you need to know about COVID-19 testing for travel to and from Canada
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
Earlier this year, the United States began requiring all travelers flying to the U.S. to show proof of a negative coronavirus test before boarding. The only travelers exempt from this rule are those flying to U.S. territories or arriving via a land border like Mexico or Canada.
But COVID-19 tests can be expensive, particularly if you don’t have insurance or are traveling with a family. And in some places in the U.S., approved tests for travel can be hard to find. This question from TPG reader Patricia Mattheiss is one that I’m sure travelers are wondering now that Canada has reopened for travel.
Do I need two COVID-19 tests — one in the U.S. before we go into Canada and one in Canada — before we return to the U.S.? Will the test we take to enter Canada suffice as our return test?Patricia Mattheiss
For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
The testing mandate only applies to air travel, so travelers arriving in the U.S. from Canada by car don’t need to bring a negative coronavirus test. However, it’s important to note that the rules differ for travelers reentering the United States by land or air.
When I visited Niagara Falls earlier this month, my negative COVID-19 test was checked at the Canadian land border. Upon returning to Buffalo, the border agent simply checked my passport and waved me along.
Travel got slightly more complicated when Canada reopened to fully vaccinated U.S. citizens on Aug. 9. Unlike the U.S., travelers have to take a test within 72 hours of departure regardless of whether they’re driving or flying into Canada.
So, yes, when you get a COVID-19 PCR test to enter Canada before leaving the U.S., that same test will get you back into the country as long as it’s been three days or less. That means you wouldn’t need to take two tests.
If you’ll be out of the country for longer than three days, you’d need to take another test before flying back to the U.S.
And remember: Right now, PCR tests are still considered the “gold standard” of COVID-19 tests. They are the only type of test suitable to enter Canada.
Government leaders in the U.S. and Canada first announced the border closure in March 2020, and it had been extended on a near-monthly basis until Canada announced its reopening. However, while Canada is open to fully vaccinated Americans, the United States has not yet reciprocated.
The U.S. extended the closure of the land border with Canada to nonessential travel through at least Sept. 21, 2021.
Featured photo by Victoria Walker/The Points Guy
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.
With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
- Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
- Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
- Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
- Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
- Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
- Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
- Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $250 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees