Hoping to avoid performing a coronavirus test after landing from your next flight?
If you live in Canada and plan on returning home, that might not be possible.
Canada dropped the pre-arrival testing requirement in the spring but air travellers arriving at the country's four largest airports may be randomly selected for off-site COVID-19 testing.
The federal government had paused its random testing requirement on June 11 to ease congestion at airports until it had set up its program at select test provider stores and pharmacies.
Now, the random COVID-19 testing program will resume on Tuesday, July 19, for fully vaccinated travellers, arriving in Canada by air in Vancouver, Calgary, Montreal and Toronto.
Testing for all travellers, regardless of vaccination status, will be completed outside of airports either via an in-person appointment at select testing provider locations and pharmacies, or a virtual appointment for a self-swab test.
How will the random COVID-19 testing program work at YVR?
To qualify as a fully vaccinated traveller, you must have received your second dose of a Health Canada-approved vaccine at least 14 days before you enter the country.
If you qualify as fully vaccinated and arrive at Vancouver International Airport (YVR), you will receive an email from email@example.com within 15 minutes of completing your customs declaration and receiving your kiosk receipt.
This email will have important information about where and when to get tested. It will be sent to the same email address you used for ArriveCAN. The email will be from firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Follow the instructions in the email, as it will explain where and when you will be tested. If you’re landing at YVR, you can complete your arrival test at the LifeLabs nearby walk-in airport location at 6084 Russ Baker Way in Richmond between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Before you receive the test result, you are permitted to travel to your destination, including on connecting flights, without waiting for your arrival test results.
Most travellers will be notified of their test results within four days. If you haven’t received your test result in this time frame, you should contact your test provider.
Flyclear by Lifelabs: On Arrival COVID-19 testing for Canada travel requirements
LifeLabs manages COVID-19 testing for arriving travellers to British Columbia, Ontario, Saskatchewan, and the Yukon through its FlyClear program.
You can register with LifeLabs to create an account if you have been randomly selected. First, you'll select whether you have entered the country via land or air.
Currently, the company offers two testing options.
- In-person collection: You can visit any participating location to complete your sample collection for laboratory testing. You must complete registration before visiting an in-person location.
- Self-collection: You can complete the sample collection for laboratory testing at home by booking a video appointment with a trained technician. You need the COVID-19 Home Collection Kit, which can either be picked up at a participating LifeLabs location or ordered online through the FlyClear registration portal.
Your collection must be monitored by a technician and the kits must be registered to connect results back to you.
"Failure to do so will result in your specimen being rejected and could create a delay to when you can legally end your quarantine," notes LifeLabs.
Find out more about the FlyClear testing program.
Will my child be tested?
if you are selected for testing and you have children ages five to 11 who are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated, they must also be tested.
Children ages five to 11 do not have to be tested if they are fully vaccinated and not selected for testing, even if their parents are selected. However, they must be tested if they are selected for mandatory randomized testing.
Who is exempt from random testing?
Children under five are not eligible for random testing and crew and essential service providers who were already exempt from arrival testing continue to be exempt.
If you've already recovered from a prior COVID-19 infection you are exempt. You must provide proof from a PCR test conducted at least 10 calendar days and no more than 180 calendar days before entering Canada. Counting starts the day you take the test.
Travellers entering by boat or ferry do not have to take the test.
How does COVID-19 testing work at land borders?
If you’re selected for testing, you’ll be given a self-swab kit when you arrive at a land border crossing. You’ll complete your test kit via a virtual telehealth appointment with your test provider. You’ll need to follow the instructions in your self-swab kit to complete the test at your destination. If you’re unable to complete a video appointment, contact your test provider for more testing options.
Use only the test kit that you received at the land border, or from the approved test provider. Tests done using any other test kit won’t be valid for the testing requirement.
What happens if I test positive?
You must report a positive result. If your test is invalid or indeterminate, you must take another test.
Travellers who receive a positive result must isolate and follow Canada's mandatory requirement to quarantine for 10 days. The federal 10-day isolation requirement overrides provincial or territorial ones that may be shorter.
What if I'm not fully vaccinated or am only partially vaccinated?
If you are not fully vaccinated or have not received a full course of a Health Canada-approved vaccine (ie. two doses of Moderna, Pfizer, etc), you must quarantine for 14 days and perform two tests, regardless of the first test result.
The first test will be on day one of your arrival to Canada and the second must be performed on day eight.