Quarantine in Canada: Here’s the latest for international students

quarantine in Canada
Returning to your Canadian university soon? Here's the latest on quarantine measures. Source: Cole Burston/AFP

Selected groups no longer need to quarantine in Canada if they are fully vaccinated, allowing international students to breathe a sigh of relief. Those who are not yet vaccinated will need to adhere to the existing quarantine and testing rules, and get vaccinated once they arrive in the country.

As the Canada Border Services Agency states, the relaxed border rules only apply to eligible parties. This includes Canadian citizens or permanent residents and their family members; permit holders and certain international students; and new permanent residents as of March 18, 2020.

While Canada is being praised for relaxing border control, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reminds citizens and travellers that the pandemic is far from over. “Nobody wants us to move too fast and have to reimpose restrictions as case numbers rise like we’re seeing elsewhere in the world,” he said. “We need to do this right … We’re going to ensure that our airports and our travel facilities are able to handle the new surge with careful measures in place.”

Who is required to quarantine in Canada?

International students who are not vaccinated — or have received vaccines that are not recognised by the Canadian government — still have to quarantine in Canada and test thrice (pre-departure, on arrival, and day 8) to get through. You will be required to cover the cost of this 14-day stay at a hotel or university accommodation. For example, The University of British Columbia charges students between 45 and 79 Canadian dollars a day for self-isolation facilities at Walter Gage Student Residence.

Fully-vaccinated international students who have received Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, and AstraZeneca vaccines do not have to quarantine in Canada — as long as they got their second dose at least two weeks before. They also no longer have to perform an additional COVID-19 test on the eighth day, nor spend the first three days waiting at a hotel for the results. Instead, they will only have to test for the virus twice — once three days before arriving in Canada, and another time upon arrival. Bear in mind that you will still need to have a quarantine plan as a contingency.

quarantine in Canada

Travellers are seen wearing masks at the international arrivals area at the Toronto Pearson Airport in Toronto, Canada. The relaxed travel measures are expected to reinvigorate travel to Canada. Source: Cole Burston/AFP

How to prepare for your trip to Canada

The first steps to quarantine-free travel? Vaccination and visa. You should only plan your travel once you obtain your student visa and confirm that your university is welcoming students back.

Next, international students and travellers alike should log their travel details and documents in the ArriveCAN app, which is used to verify your COVID-19 and vaccination status. You must log your vaccination information and the results of your pre-departure COVID-19 test in order to qualify for quarantine exemption.

You may access this app on Apple or Android stores, or the official federal government website. Be sure to use the latest version, which was updated on July 5.

Travel between Canada and the US is still prohibited until July 21 — though international students are exempted. Besides that, international students from India are not allowed to fly directly into Canada until July 27, in view of the country’s high COVID-19 cases and notorious Delta variant. Relaxing travel restrictions for international students is hoped to reinvigorate travel for higher education, thereby recovering the massive enrolment and population drop recorded during the pandemic.