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Mia Holowaychuk

Photo by Mia Holowaychuk

As the weather begins to turn colder, many people might start to consider heading down south towards a warmer climate. But with the COVID- 19 pandemic still being an international health emergency, travelling might look different to those who are planning their trip. Here is what to anticipate when crossing international borders this winter. 

According to Statistics Canada, “travel and tourism was among the first and hardest-hit sectors of the economy as a result of restrictions to contain the spread of COVID-19.” For those who are looking to travel now, Canadian and United States airports are now implementing new restrictions for those who are travelling to and from the country. For travellers like Amber Soulliere, an Edmontonian who travels almost monthly across the Canadian and American borders, flying has become “an absolute nightmare at times.”

Soulliere travels between Edmonton, Michigan and San Francisco almost monthly to visit friends and family.

 “They say you should show up two hours before your flight, but I honestly need to be there three hours before taking off,” she says. “Not to mention, it will cost you almost $500 just for testing.” 

For those planning to leave for the United States, there are a few things to take into consideration, one of them being presenting a negative test before boarding. The Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states, “If you plan to travel internationally, you will need to get a COVID-19 viral test (regardless of vaccination status) before you travel by air into the United States. You must show your negative result to the airline before you board your flight.” 

Soulliere says that she has had to pay for a specific PCR test to cross the border, and that she books her tests through the Dynalife website which can be found here

“But make sure you book your test two days before you leave, because if you do it too soon, they will deny you at the gate,” she says. 

The Dynalife test which can be booked online will cost Canadians $150 for the PCR test, (which is the required test to cross the border).

Photo by Mia Holowaychuk

Although Soulliere says that travelling takes longer at the airport with added security, showing proof of a negative test and overall longer lines at the check-in desk, travelling to the states is much easier than coming back home to Canada.

Soulliere estimates that she has been on at least 10 international trips during the COVID- 19 pandemic to visit family in the United States, and that she was “shocked to find out that coming home was far more expensive than paying for a test to leave.” 

Yes, you will also need to provide a negative COVID- 19 test at Canadian Customs when returning home internationally. 

“I have spent anywhere from $150 to $300 on a negative test coming home,” Soulliere says. “Remember that it’s US dollars.” 

According to the Government of Canada, “You must take a molecular test within 72 hours of the scheduled departure time of your flight to Canada.” Although this might be deemed as seamless to some, it can cause a headache for those who do not want to spend extra money to come back to the country. Soulliere also states that sometimes she will be randomly selected to take a COVID- 19 test at the airport which will provide her results one to three days after taking it. 

“It can take me up to an hour to get through customs as a citizen,” she says.

Photo by Mia Holowaychuk

For those who are returning to or entering Canada, the Federal government requires individuals to use the ArriveCAN app when going through customs. The Government of Canada states that information needs to be filled out on the app 72 hours prior to entering Canada, and this goes for “all travellers, with limited exceptions, whether entering Canada by air, land, rail or marine vessel.” 

When downloading this app, travellers will be expected to enter information about their destination, how long they have been away from Canada, the specific address they will quarantine at if they contract the virus and even proof of vaccination. Soulliere says “it’s just like customs but for your phone.” 

For individuals who are planning to travel across the border for university reading week or Christmas vacation, Soulliere suggests saving up to $500 to cover COVID- 19 tests expenses and possible extended hotel days until results are in. 

“It’s the price you have to pay to travel.”  


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