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I want to travel to Canada and I’m not fully vaccinated. How can I apply for authorization to travel to Canada?

A passport, airplane and airline tickets

As of the date of writing, entry prohibitions are in effect for foreign national travelers seeking to enter Canada for “optional or discretionary” purposes, such as tourism, recreation, or entertainment. Fully vaccinated travelers are exempt from this prohibition. This means fully vaccinated foreign nationals may enter Canada for tourism, recreation, or entertainment purposes, upon showing negative pre-entry molecular test taken within 72 hours of departure of their flight to Canada.

“Fully vaccinated” means the individual has received 2+ doses of an “accepted vaccine” or a mix of two “accepted vaccines,” or 1 dose of the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine. “Accepted vaccines” at this point include AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD, Bharat Biotech, Janssen/Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, Sinopharm BIBP, and Sinovac, at the time of writing. You can check the full names of accepted vaccines here.

If you were unable to get fully vaccinated in the above vaccines for a variety of reasons, including, for example, unavailability of the specific vaccine in your country of residence, you may still apply to enter Canada if you can show that your travel is “non-discretionary.” You may be allowed entry to Canada provided that you present the appropriate pre-entry test and comply with a 14-day quarantine upon your entry.

Non-vaccinated Traveler from the United States

To be allowed entry into Canada, a non-vaccinated traveler will need to prove that you are traveling for a non-“optional” purpose, such as for employment, study, providing or receiving essential medical care, and reuniting with (or accompanying) “immediate family” members who are either Canadian citizens, permanent residents, or currently living in Canada on a temporary resident visa (e.g., study or work permit).

“Immediate family” means a spouse or common-law partner, dependent child, parent (or parent-in-law), or guardian/tutor of the person. Any other relationship, such as siblings, aunt or uncle, adult (independent) children, exclusive dating relationships, do not qualify for this exemption to the travel restrictions.

Travelers seeking to enter Canada from the United States must ensure to bring supporting documents to the border that shows your family member’s status as a Canadian citizen, permanent resident, or temporary resident, and your relationship to that family member, such as a marriage certificate. The border officer will make the final determination if your visit is truly “non-optional.” Individuals traveling to Canada from the United States who are not U.S. citizens must also possess a valid Canadian eTA or visitor visa to enter Canada as a visitor.

Non-vaccinated Travelers from countries other than the United States

Non-vaccinated travelers from countries other than the United States must also show a non-“optional” purpose of travel, such as study, employment, essential medical care, and reuniting with (or accompanying) “immediate family” members who are living in Canada permanently or temporarily.

One difference is that non-vaccinated foreign nationals who seek to enter Canada from a country other than the United States to reunite with “immediate family” members temporarily living in Canada who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents will need to apply and obtain a written authorization from the IRCC (Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada) before traveling.

If you already hold a visitor visa or eTA, you should apply online through IRCC’s web form for this travel exemption, and provide the required information and documents that show your relationship with the immediate family member temporarily living in Canada, and the reasons for your travel, which must be compelling enough to convince an IRCC officer that it is not “optional” or “discretionary.” You can find the link to apply here.

Note that immediate family members of Canadian citizens or permanent residents do not need to apply and obtain this written authorization before travel, and can simply present at the border with the document proof of the family member’s Canadian citizen or permanent resident status and proof of relationship with that family member.

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