UPDATE: Just a few days after posting this, the Canadian Government announced changes to their entry requirements. Effective April 1 they are removing the pre-arrival test requirements for fully vaccinated passengers. Please review the official announcement here for exact details.
I flew to Canada this month, taking two of the kids to check out some universities. While US mainland travel is returning to ‘normal’ March 26th with the sunset of the Safe Travels Program, there are still federal barriers on international travel, both to and from Canada. Entering Canada isn’t as easy as it used to be.
Pre-travel Covid test
According to Canada’s official website, as of March 2022 you need either an antigen Covid test taken the day prior to travel OR a PCR Covid test taken up to 3 days prior to travel. Please see the official website for the most current info for entering Canada.
When I booked our Monday flights, I hadn’t considered the ability to get Covid tests on the weekend. One of our Canadian guests (staying at our condos) pointed me to the Mauliola Pharmacy in Wailuku (next to the main police station). They currently allow patients to schedule their antigen test online one week prior. You either pay online or in person (and it was free for US residents). The drive-thru testing was super easy and we had our results by the time we had arrived back in Kihei (though they say one hour).
The ArriveCan app
Up to three days prior to your trip you can set up your ArriveCan account. The two kids are minors, so I was able to add them to my account. I had to upload our vaccine information, give a detailed quarantine plan (where we would quarantine in Canada, should we test positive), and check a box that we had negative Covid results. Curiously I didn’t have to upload them. For our Canadian guests returning home, your quarantine location would be your home. In my case, home is on Maui, so I asked a family member if we could list her basement as our potential quarantine location. The app gives you a QR code once all the information is entered. They email you the QR code, but I printed it out so I didn’t have to fumble looking for it.
The airline check-in process
We flew Westjet to Canada. The website/app asked me to acknowledge the Canadian government entry rules when I checked in within 24 hours of travel. When I went to drop off my bags at the airport, I was asked to show
- vaccination cards (Hawaii doesn’t have QR codes)
- ArriveCan QR code
- negative Covid test results
Several guests were paged to the counter at the gate to show this information. I presume because they didn’t check luggage?
Arrival process in Canada
We flew into Calgary where we had a layover before continuing to our final destination. Once we had ‘journeyed’ from the airplane to customs, we scanned our passports and answered the customs questions on the terminals. We then passed through three check stations where we had to show, first
- the Customs receipt print out
- then the Customs receipt print out again, boarding passes for the arriving flight, IDs and our vaccination cards
- the Customs receipt print out again, IDs and the continuing on boarding passes.
Curiously we were not once asked to show the ArriveCan QR code (besides needing to show it to Westjet at the bag-check).
By the way, this is what we landed to in Toronto….. SNOW! Huge fluffy snow flakes. That’s the thing about entering Canada in winter. It’s winter. I had a little panic session. I haven’t driven in snow in….. at least 12 years. And for the record…. car rental prices on both the US mainland and Canada are just about as nutty as they are on Maui. Yikes.
Sig has two major gripes about flying ~ security and having to be at the airport hours before the flight even leaves. While flying private is definitely NOT in the books, we did apply for Nexus cards a few years ago. At the time I was grumbling ~ what do we need this for? Well…. let me tell you. I really like the pre-check it automatically gives us which whisks us through security. Yes, that was a worthwhile investment. And yes, Sig is still carefully studying all those private jets lined up on the Kahului airport tarmac. And no, we are not catching a ride in any of them.
He suspects the black private jet must belong to Larry Ellison. At the very least, it was flying to Lanai the other day according to the free flight tracker app Flightradar24.