Travel to Canada during COVID: A guide for international visitors

Travel to Canada - What to Expect

Travel to Canada during COVID: A guide for international visitors

(Updated April 1, 2022) First off, can we just say how stoked we are to welcome back our international visitors? With borders open, travel to Canada is back on and we’re ready to see you back in the mountains.

These days, travel is happening but it’s a little different. Travel restrictions in Canada require a few extra documents and tests, but nothing that can’t be organized before you arrive. To help you travel to the Canadian Rockies this winter, here are a few travel and safety tips you should know before you arrive in Banff and Lake Louise. We’ve even got rapid testing in Banff to make things easier for your return journey home.

North of the border, we’re working hard to keep our communities safe and, with your help, we can keep our resorts open all winter long.

What’s happening with COVID in Canada

Here in Canada, things are opening up! Vaccines rates are climbing, safety protocols (like physical distancing) are second nature, and the majority of Canadians are willing and ready to do their part to keep cases down and the economy open. In fact, as of October 30, 2021, if you are 12 years of age or older, you need to be fully vaccinated in order to board any domestic or international flight departing from Canadian airports.

In Alberta, as of March 1, 2022, the mask mandate was lifted, meaning masks are no longer required in public spaces. There are a few exceptions to this rule which include riding on public transport (including ski shuttles), visiting long-term care facilities, and while accessing health care settings (eg hospitals, healthcare clinics).

ake-louise-ski-resort-travel-to-canada-during-covid
SkiBig3 is excited to welcome back international visitors this season! | Photo: Lake Louise Ski Resort

What you need to travel to Canada during COVID

Travel restrictions in Canada

These days, travel to Canada is back. Fully vaccinated international guests are now welcome to travel to Canada for leisure (aka ski vacation) so long as you comply with travel restrictions in Canada and bring along a few key documents. Travel isn’t 100% back to the way it was – airports may feel a bit different and there may be some extra checkpoints on your journey – but, like with everything during these times, arriving at the airport well in advance, showing patience and plenty kindness will always make the trip easier. Whether you’re travelling into Canada by land or by air, here’s what you’ll need.

Documents needed to cross the Canadian border

  • Passport (err, you already know this one)
  • Travel details submitted through the ArriveCAN app (submitted with 72 hours of departure)
  • Proof of full vaccination (2 doses)
  • As of April 1, 2022, a pre-entry negative test is no longer be required.

Vaccines accepted at the Canadian border

  • Pfizer-BioNTech
  • Moderna
  • AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD
  • Janssen/Johnson & Johnson (1 dose)

In Canada, you need two doses of vaccine to be considered what we call “fully vaccinated”. If you have a combination of two different brands, that’s okay. You’re still considered fully vaccinated.

**As of April 1, 2022** Fully vaccinated travellers no longer need to provide a pre-entry COVID-19 test result to enter Canada by air, land or water.

All international travellers may be selected for random covid testing upon arrival at a Canadian airport. Fully vaccinated travellers arriving from any country will no longer be required to quarantine while awaiting their test result. If your arrival test is negative, please follow all local public health measures and monitor yourself for signs and symptoms of covid. Should you test positive during your stay, you will be required to isolate for 10-days.

What about kids?

Children over the age of 12 must be vaccinated and provide proof of a negative test result. 

Unvaccinated children (less than 12 years of age) who travel to Canada during COVID with their fully vaccinated parents, step-parents, or guardians, are exempt from quarantine and are without limitations on their activities. This means, for example, they are able to attend a snow-school lesson without limitations. 

What to expect once you’re in Banff and Lake Louise

Besides skis, a snowboard, and maybe some hot paws – here’s what you’ll need and what to expect once you’ve arrived in Banff or Lake Louise.

The provincial mask mandate was lifted as of March 1, 2022. Masks are now only required on public transit, when entering medical establishments, and continuing care facilities.  Please note – masks are still required to access ski shuttles. 

When it comes to shopping, events or eating establishments, there are no restrictions currently in-place. Private businesses may still be encouraging social distancing and/or operating with capacity limits in place, but all of these details will likely be posted on their front window. If a shop or restaurant is a little busy and you’ve got to wait outside for a minute – there’s definitely something good inside! We, as a community here in Banff and Lake Louise, really appreciate the patience of our international visitors and the support of our local businesses. 

What to expect at the ski resorts

At each of our three resorts – Banff Sunshine, Lake Louise Ski Resort, and Mt. Norquay – the teams are working hard to provide a safe and healthy place for their team members to work and their guests to recreate. All of the resorts are committed to your well-being and are following Alberta Health Services (AHS) guidelines, adjusting their operations accordingly. 

All three resorts request that guests wear a mask when jumping on a ski shuttle to the mountains or riding one a gondola at Banff Sunshine or Lake Louise. Masks are recommend but not required within indoor spaces on-mountain.

As things are always changing (be it slightly) during these times, we recommend you visit each resort’s health and safety page to learn the latest on-resort protocols and requirements for things like indoor lodge access, snow school, and shuttles. Updated Travel, Health & Safety Guidelines

skibig3-health-safety-mask-on-chairlift
At all SkiBig3 resorts, safety of guests is a top priority. That’s why face coverings are required in all indoor lodges spaces, gondolas, enclosed chair lifts, and ski shuttles. | Photo at Banff Sunshine

Travelling back home

Rapid testing in Banff

To travel back home into most countries, including the United States, rapid antigen tests (or rapid tests) are required. In Banff, there are a number of local pharmacies and clinics offering rapid testing in Banff for travellers flying home from their holiday. 

Now, thanks to these rapid testing sites, travelling back can be a little less stressful. No need to travel into the city and wait for your results before you fly, get rapid testing in Banff and enjoy the last few days of your vacation (getting in those last few turns) while you wait for your results. 

If you are a US citizen, and a guest at the Fairmont Banff Springs or Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, you can also book and take a rapid test or a PCR test on-site, at the hotel. At the Fairmont hotels, rapid tests are $89, plus tax, and PCR tests are $129, plus tax. These tests are only available to hotel guests, please contact the hotel before your stay for more details on how to book.

Where to get rapid testing in Banff – PDF

Travel-to-Canada-during-COVID-skibig3-banff-go-rapid-testing
Go Rapid is a rapid testing site located conveniently in the centre of Banff, in the Bear Street Mall.

What you need to travel to the United States

  • A negative rapid antigen OR molecular test result (within 24 hours of departure)

OR

  • Documentation of having recovered from COVID-19 (also accepted)

If you’re an American citizen, you do not need to be fully vaccinated to enter back into the United States. You do, however, need a negative rapid test result if you’re travelling by air. If you’re travelling by land, no negative test result of any kind is required. Return protocols are subject to change without notice. 

What you need to travel to the United Kingdom

Currently, Canada is on the UK’s “green list”. For more information, see the UK Government’s guidance for travel into the United Kingdom from abroad. Return protocols are subject to change without notice.

Travel to Canada during COVID – no questions asked cancellation policy

At SkiBig3, we’re committed to keeping you updated with ongoing health & safety information. Should you need to cancel or change your plans this winter our no-questions-asked cancellation policy allows for free changes and cancellations until 3-days prior to arrival. To book your winter ski vacation, call 1-844-754-2443 to speak with a reservation specialist or go online to access some exceptional Ski & Stay Package deals.

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