Travel restriction measures: COVID-19 program delivery
This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by IRCC staff. It is posted on the department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.
The majority of travellers are still subject to the travel restrictions outlined below. The following previous changes to the travel restrictions provide context:
- As of August 9, 2021, U.S. citizens and U.S. lawful permanent residents do not need to be travelling for a non-discretionary purpose if they have proof that they are fully vaccinated. U.S. citizens and permanent residents who are not fully vaccinated continue to be required to be travelling for a non-discretionary purpose.
- As of September 7, 2021, all other foreign nationals do not need to be travelling for a non-discretionary purpose if they have proof that they are fully vaccinated. Foreign nationals who are not fully vaccinated will continue to be required to meet an exemption.
However, as of January 15, 2022, all foreign nationals must be fully vaccinated to enter Canada, unless otherwise exempt. Notable exemptions are included for unvaccinated new permanent residents, refugees, temporary foreign workers in agriculture or food-processing occupations, asylum claimants, and some minors under the age of 18. Regular travel document requirements for air travel and entry to Canada continue to apply. Foreign nationals who are exempted from the travel restrictions must continue to meet all travel document requirements under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR).
While the travel restrictions are in effect, IRCC has temporarily changed how applications are processed. For information, please see
- Ministerial Instructions with respect to the processing of certain new and existing applications for temporary residence
Canadian citizens, permanent residents and protected persons continue to be permitted to enter Canada, subject to health screening measures.
On this page
- Travel restrictions affecting foreign nationals
- Definition of immediate family members
- Definition of extended family members
- Travel restriction exemptions for those departing from the U.S. or from a country other than the U.S.
- Fully vaccinated foreign nationals
- Immediate family members of Canadian citizens, persons registered under the Indian Act and permanent residents
- Extended family members of Canadian citizens, persons registered under the Indian Act and permanent residents
- High-performance amateur athletes
- National interest
- Travel restriction exemptions for those departing from a country other than the U.S.
- Compassionate grounds
- International students
- Temporary workers
- Permanent resident visa holders
- Accredited officials
- Incoming accredited officials
- Protected persons
- Transit passengers
- Crew members and foreign nationals entering Canada to become crew members
- Members of the Canadian Forces or a visiting force as defined in section 2 of the Visiting Forces Act and the immediate family members of those members
- Canadian citizens travelling on a foreign passport
Travel restrictions affecting foreign nationals
These restrictions have been implemented under the authority of the Minister of Health through emergency orders under the Quarantine Act and of the Minister of Transport through interim orders under the Aeronautics Act (the Orders). For more information on the Orders, visit List of Acts and Regulations.
The restrictions prohibit entry for unvaccinated travellers, with some exemptions. For more information on who is considered fully vaccinated, consult the fully vaccinated traveller exemption section.
Restrictions vary depending on from where the foreign national is departing. However, any COVID-19-symptomatic travellers will not be permitted to enter Canada.
Departing from any country other than the United States
In the air mode, foreign nationals departing from any country other than the United States may be permitted to travel to Canada if
- they meet the fully vaccinated traveller exemption, or
- they are covered by any of the exemptions in the Orders (consult Travel restriction exemptions for those departing from a country other than the U.S.)
Departing from the United States
Foreign nationals departing from the United States may be permitted to travel to Canada if
- they meet the fully vaccinated traveller exemption, or
- they are covered by any of the exemptions in the Orders
Regardless of whether the foreign national is departing the United States or any other country, all asymptomatic persons entering Canada must quarantine themselves, unless they have been fully vaccinated (or are exempt from quarantine requirements) and their arrival test is negative.
Definition of immediate family members
The definition of immediate family members set out in the Orders is broader than the definition of family members in subsection 1(3) of the IRPR.
Immediate family members in respect of a person are
- the spouse or common-law partner
- the dependent children of the person or of the person’s spouse or common-law partner
- any dependent children of a dependent child
- parents or step-parents
- parents or step-parents of the spouse or common-law partner
- guardians or tutors
- Guardians and tutors are individuals who are responsible for caring for a foreign national minor who is living apart from a parent for an extended period of time, for example to attend a secondary school in Canada. The guardian or tutor should be able to demonstrate that they habitually reside at the same address as the minor. Officers should be flexible in accepting documentary evidence.
For additional information related to the interpretation of a dependent child, consult
Definition of extended family members
In contrast to the immediate family member definition, the extended family member definition does not apply to familial relations of temporary residents in Canada. As of January 15, 2022, the definition of an extended family member has been amended.
Extended family members in respect of a Canadian citizen, person registered as an Indian under the Indian Act or permanent resident are
- a sibling, half-sibling or step-sibling of the person
- a grandparent of the person
Travel restriction exemptions for those departing from the U.S. or countries other than the U.S.
Fully vaccinated foreign nationals
Foreign nationals are permitted to travel to Canada if they have proof that they are fully vaccinated. Proof of vaccination status must be submitted via ArriveCAN prior to departing for Canada. Fully vaccinated travellers do not need written authorization from IRCC. Foreign nationals who are not fully vaccinated must meet an exemption under the Orders to be permitted entry to Canada.
Immediate family members of Canadian citizens, persons registered under the Indian Act and permanent residents
An immediate family member of a Canadian citizen, person registered under the Indian Act or permanent resident may only travel to Canada if they are fully vaccinated, unless they meet another exemption under the Orders. As of January 15, 2022, the exemptions to travel restrictions for immediate family members of Canadian citizens, persons registered under the Indian Act and permanent residents have been removed, and unvaccinated immediate family members will not be eligible to travel to Canada unless they are under the age of 18 or dependent adults.
Travellers are expected to self-identify to airlines at the point of boarding that they are exempt under this provision by presenting documentation to establish their family member’s Canadian citizenship, status as a person registered under the Indian Act or permanent resident status, as well as their relationship to that family member. The Canadian citizen, person registered under the Indian Act or permanent resident immediate family member may be in Canada or accompanying the foreign national.
Immediate family member is a child or dependent adult
Dependants accompanying a fully vaccinated traveller or travelling to reunite with an immediate family member who is a Canadian citizen, permanent resident or person registered under the Indian Act are not required to be fully vaccinated to enter Canada. Children under 18 and dependent adults are eligible to enter Canada unvaccinated but are required to follow specific quarantine guidelines depending on their age. For more information, visit the quarantine requirements for children and dependants.
When the foreign national is a child, age and dependency determine whether they meet the family member definition under the IRPR as a dependent child, and consequently whether they meet the immediate family member definition of the Orders.
Supporting documents to demonstrate eligibility for an exemption
Documentation must show their immediate family member’s Canadian citizenship, status as a person registered as an Indian or permanent resident status, such as a
- Canadian passport
- proof of Canadian citizenship such as a citizenship certificate, citizenship card or provincial or territorial birth certificate
- Certificate of Indian Status (status card)
- Temporary Confirmation of Registration Document (TCRD)
- Canadian permanent resident card
- Canadian permanent resident travel document (visa counterfoil)
- visa-exempt foreign passport and IRCC Special Authorization for Canadian Citizens (consult Canadian citizens travelling on a foreign passport)
Documentation must show their relationship to that immediate family member, such as a
- birth certificate
- Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR) for the family class (the COPR category under Application Details will be FC) or under the one-year window (coded OYW under Special Program)
- other document(s) supporting an immediate family connection (for example, correspondence from IRCC showing spousal sponsorship in progress or documentation indicating a common residential address)
Electronic copies of the documents listed above are acceptable.
IRCC is no longer issuing letters of authorization for immediate family members.
Role of IRCC
Air carriers who require assistance to confirm that a foreign national passenger is eligible for this exemption will communicate through established channels with Transport Canada and the CBSA.
Extended family members of Canadian citizens, persons registered under the Indian Act and permanent residents
As of January 15, 2022, an unvaccinated foreign national whose extended family member is a Canadian citizen, person registered under the Indian Act or permanent resident is not exempt from the travel restrictions and will not be permitted to travel to Canada unless they are under the age of 18.
Dependants accompanying a fully vaccinated traveller or travelling to reunite with an extended family member who is a Canadian citizen, permanent resident or person registered under the Indian Act are not required to be fully vaccinated to enter Canada. Children under the age of 18 are permitted to enter Canada unvaccinated, but are required to follow specific quarantine guidelines depending on their age. For more information, visit the quarantine requirements for children and dependants.
Recommended documentation for travel
In addition to meeting all regular eligibility and admissibility requirements for travel and entry to Canada, including holding a valid eTA or TRV, if required, unvaccinated foreign nationals seeking a travel restriction exemption under the extended family member provision must provide the following to be eligible to enter:
- a completed and signed statutory declaration
High-performance amateur and professional athletes
As of January 15, 2022, foreign nationals who are authorized high-performance amateur or professional athletes, trainers or coaches are no longer exempt from travel restrictions and must be fully vaccinated to travel to Canada.
The Orders exempt a foreign national whose presence in Canada, in the opinion of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship or the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, is in the national interest.
This exemption may only be applied by any of the 3 ministers listed. The decision for the exemption will be made by the respective minister. The IRCC Case Management Branch (CMB) will manage these situations in accordance with existing processes.
National interest considerations used to overcome the travel restrictions pertain to why the person should exceptionally and immediately be allowed to board a flight bound for Canada or enter Canada. For example, business visitors travelling to contribute to Canada’s critical infrastructure may be considered to be in the national interest. Public Safety Canada’s website contains a non-exhaustive list of essential services and functions.
The national interest exemption is intended to be used in exceptional circumstances only. All other exemptions must be considered before giving consideration to applying the national interest exemption. The national interest is meant to be used in limited cases beyond those contemplated by the other exemptions. It is not meant to be a workaround for cases when a more appropriate exemption is not granted by the authority authorized to make the exemption.
Clients wishing to request a national interest exemption from IRCC can contact their nearest visa office.
Travel restriction exemptions for those departing from a country other than the U.S.
Unvaccinated foreign nationals seeking an exemption from the travel restrictions on compassionate grounds will be required to submit a request to the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) to receive authorization for one of the following reasons:
- to attend to the death of, or provide support to, a Canadian citizen, permanent resident, temporary resident, or protected person who is residing in Canada and who is deemed to be critically ill by a health-care professional entitled under the laws of a province to provide health services in the province
- to provide care for a Canadian citizen, permanent resident, temporary resident, or protected person residing in Canada who is deemed by a health-care professional entitled under the laws of a province to provide health services in the province to have a medical reason as to why they require support (for example, assisting in a birth, providing elder care, supporting someone during pregnancy)
- to attend a funeral or end of life ceremony of a person who resided in Canada
PHAC will provide foreign nationals with an authorization letter confirming that they qualify under the compassionate grounds exemption.
Foreign nationals without a TRV or eTA or with an application in progress
In all instances, case notes must be entered in GCMS stating that PHAC has authorized the foreign national under the compassionate grounds exemption. Note that foreign nationals must still continue to meet all regular eligibility and admissibility requirements for travel to Canada, and that a PHAC authorization letter does not equate to an automatic TRV or eTA approval.
Clients applying to IRCC for a TRV will need to submit their PHAC authorization letter with their application for a TRV via the TR eApp.
Clients who have applied for an eTA that drops out for manual review will need to provide IRCC with a copy of their PHAC authorization letter through the Web form.
Given the nature of the travel, compassionate cases should be processed on an urgent basis.
Recommended documentation for travel
While the travel restrictions are in effect, applicants must present the PHAC authorization letter at the time of travel and at a POE to demonstrate that they meet the compassionate grounds exemption.
For information on the impact the Orders in Council have on international students consult Student – Travel to Canada: COVID-19 program delivery
For information on the impact the Orders in Council have on foreign workers, consult Work permit: COVID-19 program delivery
Permanent resident visa holders
The Orders exempt foreign nationals who have been approved for permanent residence.
These foreign nationals can self-identify to airlines at the point of boarding that they are exempt under this provision by presenting
- a permanent resident visa (nationals from visa-required countries only), or
- a COPR document (all foreign nationals)
The Orders exempt foreign nationals who are exempt from the requirement to obtain a temporary resident visa under paragraph R190(2)(a) and their immediate family members. Note that the broader definition of immediate family members continues to apply.
The foreign national must hold a passport that contains a diplomatic acceptance, a consular acceptance or an official acceptance issued by the Chief of Protocol for Global Affairs Canada (GAC) on behalf of the Government of Canada. They must be a properly accredited diplomat, consular officer, representative or official of a country other than Canada, of the United Nations or any of its agencies or of any international organization of which Canada is a member.
Incoming accredited officials
The Orders exempt foreign representatives and their accompanying family members destined to Canada to become accredited by GAC and to assume their postings.
These foreign representatives and their accompanying family members, whether they are from a visa-required country or not, are required to apply for and obtain a TRV prior to their arrival in Canada under the current travel restrictions.
The issuance of these TRVs must only occur with the authorization of GAC’s Office of Protocol. The TRV coded D-1 or O-1 is the only indication to border services officers that the passport holder, in Canada’s view, may be entitled to diplomatic, consular or official privileges and immunities and recognized under the Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act.
Application instructions for these foreign representatives during the travel restrictions have been shared with GAC. Questions about the process can be sent to the Rapid Response Operations Centre (RROC)
The Orders exempt protected persons within the meaning of subsection A95(2).
A protected person is a person on whom refugee protection is conferred under subsection A95(1) and whose claim or application has not subsequently been deemed to be rejected under subsection A108(3), A109(3) or A114(4). The only document that may be presented to provide proof of this status is a Canadian refugee travel document issued by IRCC, in line with paragraph R39(c).
The Orders exempt persons arriving at a Canadian airport aboard a commercial passenger conveyance and who are transiting to a country other than Canada and remains in a sterile transit area within the meaning of section 2 of the IRPR.
Crew members and foreign nationals entering Canada to become crew members
The Orders exempt foreign national crew members, including those arriving by air to join a vessel.
Airlines will permit boarding for seafarers travelling to Canada to join a ship’s crew if they are holding a seafarer’s identity document supplemented by a passport or other seafarer documentation, including proof of employment on a vessel at a Canadian port.
This exemption does not affect regular travel document and permit requirements for foreign nationals under IRPR.
Members of the Canadian Forces or a visiting force as defined in section 2 of the Visiting Forces Act and the immediate family members of those members
Any person who is a member of the armed forces of a designated state present in Canada in connection with official duties, including civilian personnel designated under section 4 of the Visiting Forces Act as a civilian component of a visiting force, should be permitted to board.
For additional information on the Visiting Forces Act, refer to the following instructions:
- Military personnel and family members
Canadian citizens travelling on a foreign passport
Canadian citizens are encouraged to carry a valid Canadian passport at all times. Exceptionally, Canadian citizens may travel to Canada on a visa-exempt foreign passport with a special authorization. When this special authorization is issued, IRCC will produce a confirmation email approving the special authorization. For the purposes of the interim order, the Canadian citizen can provide this email to the airline to show they are not a foreign national and therefore not subject to this travel restriction. Note that the foreign passport number in the approval email should match the traveller’s foreign passport number.
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