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Canada Will Now Require Negative Test for Land Border Crossing

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The Canadian Government is moving to extend its testing requirement for international arrivals to now cover land borders as well. 

The new policy was announced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and is set to come in effect next week on February 15th

Peace Bridge, US-Canada border

Similar to the requirements already imposed on international arrivals, those crossing the border by land, for non-essential, travel will now be obligated to present a negative COVID-19 PCR test result which must be no later than 72 hours prior to arrival at the land border. 

Speaking at a news conference outside his Rideau Cottage residence, Trudeau stated: “As of Feb.15, when you return to Canada through a land border, you'll need to show a 72-hour PCR test, just like air travel.”

senior woman mask in car

Trudeau further declared that those unable or unwilling to present a test result will be given a fine of $3000 CDN, however, they will still be granted entry as they are already in Canada once they reach the land border.

Regarding this, Trudeau stated:

“You can't prevent someone who's standing at a land border crossing from entering Canada because technically they're already on Canadian soil when they're speaking to that customs officer. That's why what we can do is in cases of no test to show apply a stiff penalty, a fine and demand and ensure a rapid and complete follow-up to make sure that they are getting tested, that they are being properly quarantined, that they are not putting at risk the safety of other Canadians by returning home without a clear, negative test.”

Entry to Canada US

Canada Imposing Strict Measures to Combat Virus

Canada has already imposed some of the world’s toughest restrictions when it comes to travel.

The borders are mostly closed to all non-citizens and residents. All international arrivals by air are already subject to testing requirements, as well as a mandatory 14-day quarantine. 

A mandatory 3-day hotel quarantine for international arrivals by air has also been announced, though a definitive date for the measure to come into effect remains ambiguous. 

Canadian Highway state of emergency COVID sign

Additionally, Canada required its national airline carriers to suspend operations of all flights departing to Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. 

The absence of testing requirements at the border provided some crafty travelers with a loophole to return from international destinations via the land border after first taking a flight to a U.S. city close to the border. 

The incoming land border requirement will now render such efforts futile, though, there was no mention of a mandatory hotel quarantine for those arriving by land border.

US Canada land border crossing

Canada’s Measures Effective

While Canada’s stance on travel restrictions may be regarded as tough, the measures, along with lockdowns imposed in much of the country, appear to be making progress in combatting the global pandemic. 

The nation’s daily case count of COVID-19 continues to decline, with public health officials reporting hospitalizations are down by about 15% over the last week. 

mask traveler on phone

In spite of the advancements Canada has made, it continues to be aggressive in restrictions, as evidenced by the latest requirement on the land border. 

The threat of a resurgence of the virus, as well as the emergence of new variants spreading quickly, combined with Canada’s inability to meet its vaccination targets, is cited as the reasoning to continue to maintain strong restrictions.

Covid ontario canada

In this regard, Trudeau stated: 

“I think we're all worried about the arrival of new variants and the impact that could have even as we are working hard to get everyone vaccinated as quickly as possible. There are real questions about what the impacts these variants will have both on spread of Covid-19 and on the impact of the vaccines.”

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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


Wednesday 10th of February 2021

This is blatantly illegal and trudeau knows it: “You can't prevent someone who's standing at a land border crossing from entering Canada because technically they're already on Canadian soil when they're speaking to that customs officer." Sounds like a ton of lawsuits could arise if they really try to enforce this. We are NOT prisoners in our own countries and we must stand for that fact.


Wednesday 10th of February 2021

I really hope I can visit Canada next year 2022 again... my favorite country :-D.


Wednesday 10th of February 2021

Trudeau is basically scapegoating travellers to deflect anger from the public off him onto someone else. And unfortunately, most Canadians agree with increasingly repressive restrictions because the public is very easy to control. My fellow Canadians consent to be ruled by fear, whereas if they did this in the US it may cause a larger stir of anger among their public.