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Deciphering Covid-19 Testing and Travel Requirements

Under Lifestyle, News & Updates


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Written on November 23rd, 2021

The long awaited news that the Canadian federal government has lifted its blanket non-essential travel advisory has opened up possibilities for Canadians eager to return to travel.

Due to the myriad rules and regulations that travellers must navigate, I am fielding more calls than ever from frustrated Canadians seeking to travel again. I have collected answers to the most frequent questions below to help you find your way through the maze of terms and restrictions. It contains information on different tests that are currently in use for travellers, as well as a brief summary of entry requirements for Canada, the U.S.A. and Mexico. Links to resources are included.

I encourage you to visit the World Health Organization (WHO) website. It does a great job of explaining information about Covid-19 and the science behind the testing or to read up on the WHO science conversation.

ANTIGEN TESTING: Antigen Rapid Diagnostic Tests

How does the antigen test work? Antigen are the proteins that exist on the outer shell of the virus itself. The testing looks for the antigen on the outer surface of the virus itself. The test uses a nasal swab to get a fluid sample.Testing has been scientifically developed so they do not need a laboratory setting for processing an antigen test. 

How long for results? The turnaround for results is usually under 30 minutes.

How much does it cost? Testing costs are not regulated and can vary greatly starting at approx. $79 CAD.

Are there any drawbacks? Yes, faster and cheaper but not as accurate as a PCR test at detecting the virus. This is why some countries have chosen an antigen test as a requirement whereas others chose a PCR test. For Destination requirements see next page.

Rapid Antigen tests are NOT accepted for re-entry into Canada

PCR TESTING: Polymerase Chain Reaction Test

How does the PCR test work? The PCR test is a type of nucleic acid amplification or NAAT test. It is the most sensitive and accurate testing, as it can pick up minuscule amounts of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. A fluid sample is collected with a nasal swab or a throat swab, or you may spit into a tube to produce a saliva sample. To complete the testing process, needs to be conducted in a laboratory setting. This test is accepted for re-entry into Canada.

How long for results? Turnaround time for these tests can take several days.

What is the cost? Cost is not regulated and can vary greatly starting from approx. $150 CAD.

Links to Antigen and PCR testing site options in BC:

RockDoc

Shoppers Drug Mart

Lifelabs

RT-LAMP TESTING: Reverse Transcription Loop-Mediated Isothermal Amplification

How does the RT-Lamp test work? The RT-LAMP Test kit is a molecular diagnostic test and does not require laboratory processing. It is self-administered test observed by a medical professionals via a Telehealth experience. You are required to have an internet connected mobile device (Phone camera, tablet or PC). The test must be purchased in Canada prior to travelling to take with you to your destination, and is accepted for re-entry into Canada.

How long for results? You can obtain test results within 2 hours.

What is the Cost? $149 CAD for a single RT Lamp test kit

As of November 20th RT-Lamp self administered tests for travellers are SOLD OUT but you can be placed on a waitlist. Aeroplan members receive a discount.

Link here for more information  SwitchHealth.ca 

Re-Entry Requirements Into Canada

Proof of Vaccination status is required, as well as proof of a Covid-19 negative molecular test result* taken within 72 hours of your scheduled flight or arrival at a land border crossing to enter Canada. Be mindful of the time window.Allow enough time to receive your test results but not too far in advance to make the test invalid if it is over 72 hours of your scheduled flight. Testing will conducted in person and then delivery your test results via email. Proof of testing results must be provided to Canada Border services to be permitted re-entry into Canada.

*accepted molecular tests include the following

  • PCR – Polymerase chain reaction
  • Nucleic acid test (NAT) or Nucleic acid amplification test (NAATs)
  • Reverse transcription loop-mediated isothermal amplification (RT-LAMP)

*Rapid Antigen tests are NOT accepted for re-entry into Canada

 

Short trips 72 hours or less by land and air to enter Canada:

Starting November 30, 2021, Canadians or individuals who have right of entry, qualify as fully vaccinated travellers and who re-enter Canada within 72 hours of leaving, won’t have to provide a pre-entry molecular test result. This will also apply to their accompanying children under 12, regardless of whether or not the children are vaccinated.

Government of Canada link here for COVID-19 Travel, testing and borders

Entry into The United States of America

No testing is required to enter the U.S.A. by land or ferry.

All air passengers ages 2 or older, regardless of citizenship or vaccination status, must show a negative result of a COVID-19 viral test or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 before they board a flight to the United States..Rapid antigen tests are accepted for entry into the U.S.A.

Even if you are only on a connecting flight through the U.S.A.,  a negative test result (antigen, PCR, NAAT, or RT-LAMP) is still required.

United States CDC link here for entry requirements for International travellers.

Entry to Mexico

If you’re fully vaccinated nothing additional is required besides your proof of vaccination. Mexico has no entry requirements, however in Canada you are must be fully vaccinated in order to board a plane.

If you are not fully vaccinated, a person can show a molecular test (PCR, NAAT, RT-LAMP) until November 30th instead.

Other requirements for entry to Mexico:

Migratory Form

At some point you need to complete a ‘Migratory Form’ (FMM). They’ll usually give it out on the plane, or at the airport when you land, but if you want you can also fill it out online ahead of time at: https://www.inm.gob.mx/fmme/publico/en/solicitud.html

You can fill it out ahead of time up to 30 days before your trip. After completing it print it and bring it with you. There have apparently been reports that the form may not be accepted unless the page has both sides of the form printed on the same page (front & back). It might be easier to just fill it out when you get there.

When you go through immigration, they tear it in half, and return half of the FMM card. Keep it with your passport so you don’t lose it, or you’ll have to pay when you leave the country.

Health Form

You might be asked to present a Health Form for entry, and/or upon leaving. It varies by airport, and the requirement for the health form is inconsistent.

Similar to the FMM form, a paper version is very likely available at the airport.

To fill it out ahead of time, go to https://www.vuelaseguro.com/login

It needs to be completed within 12 hours of your arrival into Mexico, and 12 hours of your departure time from Mexico.

There’s also a PDF version you can print: https://img.pueblobonito.com.mx/…/cuestionario-identif…

BEFORE CONSIDERING TRAVEL – KNOW BEFORE YOU GO:

For those seeking the most up to date information about the Covid-19 situation, rules, and entry requirements at a specific destination, be sure to check out the Destination Tracker. It was created by the International Air Transport Association – IATA and UN World Tourism Organization to provide a one-stop-shop for travellers seeking information on COVID-19 indicators including infection rates, positivity rates, and vaccination roll out by destination/country.The free online tool also details air travel regulations, including test and quarantine requirements, as well as destination measures, including general health and safety requirements like the use of face masks, transit through a country, curfew, or regulations related to restaurants and attractions, provided by national tourism organizations.

Access link here:  IATA destination tracker

I hope this article has helped answer any questions you might have as you prepare to travel again. If you have further questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Article written by Krista Page-Travel Consultant @ Travel Best Bets November 22, 2021

Krista Page is a Lynn Valley BC based Travel Consultant for Travel Best Bets.

You can reach her by phone @ 604.669.6607 ext. 425

Email krista.page@travelbestbets.com

Facebook page @kristatraveltips

Website: Travel Best Bets

References

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.). Requirement for proof of negative COVID-19 test or documentation of recovery from covid-19. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved November 22, 2021, from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/testing-international-air-travelers.html

Government of Canada. (2021, November 17). Covid-19 testing for travellers. Travel restrictions in Canada – Travel.gc.ca. Retrieved November 22, 2021, from https://travel.gc.ca/travel-covid/travel-restrictions/flying-canada-checklist/covid-19-testing-travellers-coming-into-canada

World Health Organization. (n.d.). Covid-19 mythbusters. World Health Organization. Retrieved November 22, 2021, from https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public/myth-busters

World Health Organization. (n.d.). Episode #14 – covid-19 – tests. World Health Organization. Retrieved November 22, 2021, from https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/media-resources/science-in-5/episode-14—covid-19—tests?gclid=Cj0KCQiA-eeMBhCpARIsAAZfxZApbZlCuVrQTpo9WJmE22jj5-E-9oEzOCfgyOHUS3DmmrWZQrGrb1caAp8NEALw_wcB

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