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ArriveCan: New Rules For Entry or Return to Canada

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Entering Canada from abroad is going to look different after November 21, 2020.

The Government of Canada is making important changes for all passengers entering the country or returning home from a trip abroad. Starting on November 21, all arrivals, regardless if they are Canadian citizens or approved foreign nationals, must fill out the ArriveCan App before entry.

ArriveCan app

Since this is a brand-new step, and not something that has ever been required to enter Canada, here is all the information you need to know about ArriveCan.

ArriveCan is an online app that was created in April 2020 to help minimize the spread of Covid-19 from travellers returning to Canada, or from foreign nationals that are permitted entry at this time.

new rules for entry into Canada

The app asks specific questions about symptoms and the health of the passenger, what their specific quarantine plan is for the full 14-days, and personal contact information for potential checks. It’s essentially making sure all arrivals are aware they must quarantine and sets the tone for personal responsibility by making arrivals check in once in quarantine.

Throughout the spring and summer, using the app was optional, but starting on November 21st, 2020 the app will be a mandatory step when entering Canada, and failure to do so can result in warnings, secondary screenings at customs, or even hefty fines.

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The ArriveCan app has two purposes, both for pre-entry into the country, and post-entry to follow up on travellers once they are in quarantine. Below we will go through both processes and key points for both the pre-entry and post-entry protocols for the app.

The ArriveCan app needs to be used:

  • PRE-Entry: Filled out/completed before entry into Canada
  • POST- Entry: Used to ‘check in’ within 48 hours of arriving at quarantine location
Canadian traveler hiking

ArriveCan PRE-Entry

Is ArriveCan an app or a website?

Both. ArriveCan is available in an app for both iPhone or Android, but also as an online website for those who don’t want to use the mobile app.

Who needs to fill out ArriveCan before entering Canada?

Everyone. Both citizens and foreign nationals. All passengers must fill out the required information either through the mobile app or the online site.

When do I fill out an ArriveCan?

You must submit the required information to ArriveCan via app or online before boarding your flight into Canada.

After completion, you will be sent a ‘receipt’ that you use to show customs upon arrival.

What if I don’t want to fill it out?

Since ArriveCan is now a mandatory part of entering Canada, you are required to complete this step for entry. The government’s press release about the program states “Travellers who do not submit the required information digitally before boarding their flight could be subject to enforcement action, which can range from verbal warnings to $1,000 fine.”

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What about entering by land or sea?

Currently the ArriveCan PRE-Entry step is only mandatory for air travel, but land and sea border crossings are still strongly recommended to use the app.

ArriveCan POST-Entry

The post-entry step is basically a check-in. It is a mandatory step for all forms of entry including by air, sea or land.

If someone entered by land or sea and did not originally use the ArriveCan app for the pre-entry step (as it was only suggested for land/sea), they cannot download the app just for this post-entry step, so they will have to call 1-833-641-0343 to complete their check-in.

ArriveCan check in while in quarantine

What do I have to do with the app after I’ve entered Canada?

Once you have gone through customs and gone to your place of 14-day quarantine, you will need to ‘check-in’ on the app. The app will ask you to confirm you have arrived at your quarantine location and will give you instructions about not leaving quarantine, how to conduct daily self-assessments for symptoms, etc.

What if I don’t check-in within 48 hours?

It seems any travelers who skip this step will be flagged for potential in-person checks or follow ups. The government page states “Travellers who do not submit the mandatory information required after they have crossed the border will be considered a high priority for follow-up by law enforcement.”

Is the check-in step location tracking me?

No. The government says “ArriveCAN does not use any technology or data, such as GPS, to monitor or track traveller movements. Your privacy is protected.”

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Exemptions from using ArriveCan

There are a few exceptions for people filling out the ArriveCan app, they are as follows:

  • Persons in transit
  • Persons with disabilities who cannot use the app/site
  • Persons exempt from the Mandatory Quarantine Order

Who can enter Canada right now?

Tourism = closed. Currently the borders for Canada are still essentially closed for tourism, regardless of the nation the traveler is coming from.

Essential Travelers = some exceptions. There are some exceptions for essential travelers (like spouses of Canadian citizens, essential workers, etc) that are currently permitted to enter Canada. You can see the full list here.

Canadian Citizens = yes. Of course, Canadian citizens are always welcome to return home at any time.

Read More:  See which countries have reopened for Canadian tourists, the new Calgary Airport testing pilot program, and which companies offer Canadain's travel insurance that covers covid.

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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling.  Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories

Jim Paulson

Wednesday 4th of November 2020

What if you you don't use any online technology like a lot of my friends?

Kashlee Kucheran

Wednesday 4th of November 2020

If you have a disability that prohibits you from filling in the forms, they will help you do it at the border and allow you to phone in your checkups in quarantine.

They have an app and a site as well, and everyone in today's world either has a phone or a computer


Tuesday 3rd of November 2020

This gets me very angry. There is no improvement on the 14 day quarantine, even after the 2 month trial with McMaster & Aircanada to provide 3 Covid tests upon arrival till the 14th day, which I personally participated. I was hoping that with this testing program, the government could drop or at least reduce the 14 day period. But no, they are moving in the wrong direction and now add this B.S app that basically does NOTHING! Do the policy makers know what they are doing?!


Tuesday 3rd of November 2020

No they don’t know what they are doing. If you think this is bad , the Europeans are worse in terms of confinement. Nobody knows what they are doing. :-(


Tuesday 3rd of November 2020

Please make a detailed blog on this topic after research That can Assylum seekers with valid b1 b2 visas enter Canada by crossing niagra falls land border or any other land crossing border at this time or they aren’t currently allowed to claim Assylum during covid 19

Kashlee Kucheran

Tuesday 3rd of November 2020

Sorry Hamz, we are a travel/tourism based news site and we do not cover such specific niche topics, as they are out of our wheelhouse of knowledge. It would be best for you to contact the Canadian consulate, embassy or border police to find out vital information like that