How To Get Into Canada

In the Covid era, it takes a little planning

Paul Greenberg

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Photo: Paul Greenberg

Last week, I left the United States for the first time in two years. I’d been invited to give a talk about my book Four Fish at Montreal’s Concordia University. But when the organizers suggested I do the event virtually, I declared, “je refuse!”

I am done with zoom talks. Instead I made a run for the border.

Crossing into Canada though, isn’t as simple as hopping in your car and heading north. In the COVID era it takes a little prep. So if you’re thinking about a Canadian idyll this holiday season here’s what I learned on my brief jaunt to the Great White North.

1) You need to show proof of a negative PCR test within 72 hours of your crossing the border into Canada. A typical rapid test done at home will not be accepted. These tests typically take 24–72 hours to process so you have to time this out carefully. I planned to cross the border around Thursday at noon, so I scheduled my test for as close to 72 hours as possible so I’d just barely squeak in under the Canadian window but also get my test back in time.

2) You will need to show proof of COVID vaccination to enter the country without quarantining (If you aren’t vaccinated the Canadian government has this helpful page of what to do). The easiest way to show evidence of vaccination is to download the free ArriveCAN app. This app allows you to pre-load not only your vaccination history but also your passport and planned point/date of entry. After you go through the process the app issues you a QR code. It saves a lot of time. You can do all of this in advance of departure so you don’t need to worry about whether or not you’ll have cell reception at the border.

3) In the ArriveCAN app you will be asked questions about where you plan to quarantine in Canada. This appears to be a fossil left over from a harsher, more restrictive time. But keep in mind the threat of quarantine could return. Canada takes COVID much more seriously than the US. Here I entered my intended address in Canada and answered truthfully to all the questions should a quarantine necessity arise.

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Paul Greenberg

New York Times bestselling author of Four Fish as well as The Climate Diet and Goodbye Phone, Hello World paulgreenberg.org