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Everything you need to know about Canada's new COVID-19 testing program for air travel

The random testing program will begin next week.
people-lined-up-airport
The federal government announced Thursday, July 14, 2022, that random COVID-19 testing will resume at Canada's four largest airports starting July 19.

Random coronavirus testing will resume at Canada's four largest airports starting next week. 

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.

Partially vaccinated and unvaccinated travellers, unless exempt, will continue to test on day one and day eight of their 14-day quarantine.

Random COVID testing will happen outside of airports 

Travellers who are selected for mandatory random testing will receive an email notification within 15 minutes of completing their customs declaration that contains information to help them arrange for their test with a testing provider in their region.

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) adds that "unvaccinated travellers can complete their tests by a virtual appointment or an in-person appointment with the test provider at their store or at select pharmacies and still respect their quarantine requirements."

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. 

Canada uses the data from the testing program used to understand the "current level and trends of importation" of the virus into the country and the risk to Canadians.

The government also uses the data to inform decisions on the safe easing of border measures.

New ArriveCAN feature for Vancouver travellers

Travellers to airports in Vancouver and Toronto can also save time using a new feature in the ArriveCAN app. 

Travellers arriving at Vancouver International Airport (YVR) and Lester B. Pearson International Airport (YYZ) are urged to use the new "Advance CBSA Declaration" optional feature in ArriveCAN.

Travellers to these two airports may submit their customs and immigration declaration in advance of arrival, reducing the amount of time they spend in the airport. 

Currently, only travellers to YVR and YYZ's terminals one and three may use the new feature; it will be made available at other airports across Canada as the year continues.

Find out more information about how to use the new ArriveCAN feature online.