COVID-19: Guidance material for air carriers - Managing travellers during the check-in procedure at international airports
The Minister of Transport has issued an Interim Order to Prevent Certain Persons from Boarding Flights to Canada Due to COVID-19, pursuant to sub-section 6.41 (1) of the Aeronautics Act, requiring that air operators:
- prohibit the boarding of foreign nationals travelling to Canada as a final destination (part 1); and
- conduct a health check of all air passengers travelling to Canada from international locations (part 2).
This Interim Order is in support of the Public Health Agency of Canada’s Minimizing the Risk of Exposure to COVID-19 in Canada Order (Prohibition of Entry into Canada from any country other than the United States) Emergency Order made under the Quarantine Act.
In addition to the requirements under the Interim Order, Transport Canada is requesting that air carriers read out the In-flight announcement, provided in Annex B, prior to landing in Canada.
On this page
- Part 1 – Foreign Nationals
- Part 2 – Health Check
Part 1 – Foreign Nationals and Quarantine Act
To provide guidance to air operators regarding the prohibition of boarding for foreign nationals, which means a person who is not a Canadian Citizen or a permanent resident, and includes a stateless person, traveling to Canada as a final destination.
The management of foreign nationals will require the air operators to ask the following sample questions to each traveller (documentation provided by the traveller may be used to support their response). The questions can be asked through automated check-in kiosks, agents at the check-in counter, or any other means, at the discretion of the air carrier. A decision tree model follows to help determine whether the air traveller will be permitted to board the aircraft to Canada based on his/her responses to the following questions; a refusal to respond to any of the questions will result in a denial of boarding.
Sample questions for online check-in or counter check-in
- Are you a Canadian citizen, permanent resident, registered Indian under the Indian Act, a protected person under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act or are you transiting* through Canada?
- If “Yes”, proceed to Health Check
- If “No”, proceed to next question
- Do you meet one of the exceptions for foreign nationals made under emergency orders pursuant to the Quarantine Act? (see Annex A)
- If “Yes”, proceed to next question
- If “No”, deny boarding
- Are you travelling for optional or discretionary purposes, including tourism, recreation or entertainment purposes?
- If “Yes”, deny boarding
- If “No”, proceed to Health Check
*Special note to air carriers about transiting passengers:
When planning flights for passengers that must transit Canada, please be aware that “a person in transit” means that they:
- arrive and depart from the same airport within a reasonable time frame
- remain on the airside or sterile area of the airport
- do not have to go through Customs and formally enter Canada and pick up their bags so they can take their next flight
- do not move between terminals at an airport, unless they can do so without going through Customs and formally entering Canada
- do not take a domestic flight to get to another airport so they can catch their next international flight
If a passenger is unable to arrive and depart from a Canadian airport within a reasonable amount of time, they should not attempt to transit through Canada. If no other flight options are available (i.e. the only possible route for that passenger is to transit through Canada), please contact Transport Canada.
Decision Tree Model – Canadian pre-board measures for COVID-19 (Part 1 - Foreign Nationals and Quarantine Act)
Annex A – Exceptions for foreign nationals seeking entry into Canada made under emergency orders pursuant to the Quarantine Act
Exceptions for foreign nationals seeking entry into Canada made under emergency orders pursuant to the Quarantine Act
- Immediate family members of a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident which includes: spouse or common-law partner of the person; a dependent child of the person or the person’s spouse or common-law partner; a dependent child of a dependent child of the person or of the person’s spouse or common-law partner; the parent or step-parent of the person or person’s spouse or common law partner; or the guardian or tutor of the person.
- Person authorized in writing by an officer designated under subsection 6(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act or by a consular officer of the government of Canada to come to Canada to reunite with immediate family members
- Crew members as defined in subsection 101.01(1) of the Canadian Aviation Regulations
- Member of a crew as defined in subsection 3(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations
- Person who is exempt from the requirements to obtain a temporary resident visa under paragraph 190 (2)(a) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, and their immediate family members
- Person who enters Canada at the invitation of the Minister of Health for the purpose of assisting in the COVID-19 response
- Person who arrives by any means of conveyance operated by Canadian Forces or the Department of National Defence
- Member of the Canadian Forces or a visiting force, as defined in section 2 of the Visiting Forces Act, and their immediate family members
- French citizen who resides in Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon who has not been outside Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon / Canada / U.S. in the last 14 days
- Person or class of persons that the Chief Public Health Officer, appointed under subsection 6 (1) of the Public Health Agency of Canada Act, determines does not pose a risk of significant harm to public health or who will provide an essential service while in Canada
- Person whom the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration or the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness determines their presence is in the national interest
- Person holding a valid work permit, as defined under section 2 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, or a person whose application for a work permit was approved under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and who has received written notice of the approval, but who has not yet been issued the permit
- Person holding a study permit, as defined in section 2 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations or a person whose application for a study permit was approved under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, and who received written notice of the approval before noon, Eastern Daylight Time on March 18, 2020, but who has not yet been issued the permit
- a person permitted to work in Canada as a student in a health field under paragraph 186(p) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations
- a person permitted to work in Canada as a provider of emergency services under paragraph186(t) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations
- a licensed health care professional with proof of employment in Canada
- a person who is delivering, maintaining, or repairing medically-necessary equipment or devices
- a person who is making medical deliveries of cells, blood and blood products, tissues, organs or other body parts, that are required for patient care in Canada during or within a reasonable period of time after the expiry of the Order
- a person whose application for permanent residence was approved under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, and who received written notice of the approval before noon, Eastern Daylight Time on March 18, 2020, but who has not yet become a permanent resident under that Act
- a worker in the marine transportation sector who is essential for the movement of goods by vessel, as defined in section 2 of the Canada Shipping Act, 2001
Part 2 – Health Check
Once it has been established that the person is allowed to board as per part 1, part 2 begins.
To provide guidance on detecting and managing ill travellers with suspected COVID-19 infection who present themselves at international airports for travel to Canada, or those transiting through Canada on their way to another destination.
The management of ill travellers at international airports in the context of the current COVID-19 disease outbreak includes the following steps:
- Detection of ill travellers – Air operators are required to observe and do a health check of all air travellers before they board an international flight to Canada. The health check (identified below) has been approved by the Public Health Agency of Canada and is based on guidance material published by the World Health Organization on February 16, 2020. The health check may be administered by an employee at the check-in counter asking the traveller the questions or via an electronic check-in kiosk. The visual observation for symptoms may be done by an employee at the check-in counter or boarding gate to look for signs that the person is unwell.
- Denial of boarding – In the event that the air operator observes that the air traveller has COVID-19 symptoms or that their response to any of the questions on the health check indicates a need to deny boarding (including refusal to answer the questions), the air operator will be required to refuse to board the person for travel for a period of 14 days or until a medical certificate is presented that confirms that the symptoms that the person is exhibiting are not related to the COVID-19 virus.
- Provide explanation for future travel – Air operators should explain to air travellers who are denied boarding, based on the health check, observation or refusal to answer, that they will need to wait 14 days before they are able to fly to Canada. Alternately, the air traveller will need to provide a medical certificate indicating that the symptoms that they are exhibiting are not related to the COVID-19 virus.
- Advise air travellers to follow local health authorities related to COVID-19 – Air operators should advise air travellers who have been denied boarding to follow indianthe guidance/direction from the local health authorities for dealing with the COVID-19 infection.
- Consular services – Air operators should direct air travellers to the appropriate consular services, as required. Those can be found at www.travel.gc.ca.
Questionnaire for Health Check
Air operator staff should protect themselves by maintaining more than 2 m between themselves and travellers at all times, which is also known as social distancing. Staff should be instructed to encourage travellers to maintain more than 2 m distance between themselves while in line.
If the response (or non-response) to any of the three questions below results in the answer that is in bold, then a denial of boarding must be applied, in accordance with the Interim Order.
- Do you have a fever and a cough? If YES or passenger refuses to answer, deny boarding.
- Do you have a fever and breathing difficulties? If YES or passenger refuses to answer, deny boarding.
- Have you been refused boarding in the past 14 days due to a medical reason related to COVID-19? If YES or passenger refuses to answer, deny boarding.
Alternative to the above Health Check Questionnaire
If a foreign country is already performing a health assessment or the air operator wishes to submit an alternative health assessment process, the air operator must submit a request to Transport Canada for an exemption to the Interim Order.
Annex B – In-flight announcement prior to landing in Canada
In light of the global pandemic related to COVID-19, the Government of Canada has put in place emergency measures that require mandatory 14-day self-isolation for all persons entering Canada, with few exceptions, even if the person does not have symptoms.
Some provinces and territories may have specific recommendations for certain groups, such as health care or transportation workers. These efforts will help contain the outbreak and limit the spread of COVID-19 in Canada.
More information will be provided on self-isolation upon arrival and travellers can speak to a Canada Border Services Officer. Travellers are also reminded to seek COVID-19 related information from their national, provincial and territorial health authorities.
Annex C – Poster on COVID-19 – Health Check for all air passengers travelling to Canada from international locations
Download the poster: Travelling from overseas to Canada by air? New COVID-19 restrictions in effect (PDF, 356 KB)