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Cross-border business travel – What is the current situation?

Top 5 Questions

As we have now entered the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and are witnessing a clear trend of rising numbers of new cases and active cases involving COVID variants, Canadian officials continue to thoroughly enforce all applicable travel restrictions and sanitary measures at the border to limit the spread of COVID-19 and its variants.

While foreign nationals can still be allowed to travel to Canada in some specific cases, the situation can evolve quickly, and the requirements can change on short notice. Nonetheless, if you absolutely need to travel to Canada from the United States, be prepared and stay abreast of the latest developments. Below are five key points to keep in mind.

1. Who can travel to Canada from the USA?

If you were hoping to spend the summer at your seasonal home in the Townships or visit Québec city for three weeks, you should reconsider your vacation plans!

Travellers coming from the USA can be admitted into Canada if they are able to provide evidence that the purpose of their entry is not optional. Non-optional activities could include performing work in Canada, business related visits and handling legal affairs that must be done in person.

2. Driving into Canada from the USA – Do I need to do a COVID test?

Travellers entering Canada by car actually need to do three COVID tests:

- Pre-entry test before leaving the USA within 72 hours of entry into Canada (an accepted test must be performed in the USA)

- Upon arrival, travellers will receive two COVID-19 At-Home Specimen Collection kits: one to use on the day of arrival in Canada and another to use on Day-10 of the mandatory quarantine.

3. Can I be exempted from the quarantine?

Some travellers may be exempt from the mandatory quarantine requirements, for example those who:

- provide essential services

- maintain the flow of essential goods or people

- will receive medical care within 36 hours of entering Canada (non-related to COVID-19)

- regularly cross the border to work (daily or weekly commuters)

- live in an integrated trans-border community

Travellers can submit a request for quarantine exemption directly at the port of entry; alternatively, if time permits, they can file a request to the Public Health Agency of Canada with variable processing times.

However, even if you are exempt from the self-isolation obligation, you are still required to wear a mask at all times when in public spaces, maintain a list of all close contacts for your first 14 days in Canada and monitor yourself for signs and symptoms of COVID-19.

4. What is ArriveCAN?

All travellers, with limited exceptions, are required to use ArriveCAN. In the 48 hours preceding your arrival in Canada, you should download the Government of Canada's ArriveCAN app on a mobile device. This app is meant to provide the Government of Canada with your travel and contact information, your quarantine plan (unless exempt), and a COVID-19 symptom self-assessment. This will expedite your admission process, whether you are entering by air or land.

5. Am I exempted from the testing and quarantine requirements if I am vaccinated?

Some countries are implementing the “vaccination passport” and Canadian officials are considering this option as well although this rises fairness and ethical issues. While the vaccination campaign is well underway in several countries and many groups of individuals are now vaccinated, there are no testing and quarantine exemptions for vaccinated travellers at this time. If you need to travel to Canada and have questions or need assistance, feel free to contact us!

MT>iplus  provides a streamlined approach to address the complex immigration needs of clients operating in the global marketplace. MT>iplus is a part of MT>Divisions. MT>Divisions is a group of new businesses that have been either acquired or developed by McCarthy Tétrault. Each business operates as a separate division and leverages business, data, technology and other consultants to provide solutions for clients. Current divisions include MT>3 (data management services), MT>Align (legal support services), MT>Version (legal translation services), MT>Ventures (legal smarts and strategic counsel for start-ups) and MT>iplus (business immigration services).