British Columbia Current COVID-19 Travel Restrictions

This blog was prepared with the assistance of Angalee Ghirra, summer student-at-law.

The British Columbia government has imposed travel restrictions to control the spread of COVID-19. The travel restrictions govern incoming and outgoing persons travelling internationally and/or within Canada.

It is important to note that BC is still in a state of emergency and the province’s current travel restrictions encourage avoiding all ‘non-essential’ travel (unnecessary travel for tourism or leisure) across all borders. The Federal Government is the border screening authority who will ensure that travel restrictions are being complied with and will enforce increased health screening measures for incoming and outgoing travellers at airports and/or land border crossings to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

International Travel Restrictions

Effective March, 17 2020, the BC government issued an emergency provincial order mandating a 14-day self-isolation period for people returning to or arriving in BC from international destinations, including the US. A 14-day self-isolation period and the submission of a self-isolation plan is required from incoming travellers, even if they are not experiencing any signs and symptoms of COVID-19.

There are however, certain workers who are exempt from self-isolating under the federal Quarantine Act. These workers include but are not limited to:

  • Transportation workers on plane, train, bus or marine vessel;
  • Persons invited by the Minister of Health to assist with the COVID-19 response;
  • Members of the Canadian Forces or a visiting force;
  • Persons who provide essential services (i.e. asymptomatic truck drivers, health care professionals and emergency responders);
  • Persons permitted to work in Canada to provide emergency services; and
  • Persons entering Canada to receive essential medical services or other treatments.

However, incoming travellers who are readily displaying signs and symptoms of COVID-19, are subject to further restrictions. In an effort to curtail the spread of COVID-19, federal restrictions mandate that incoming travellers who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 are only able to enter Canada by land, rail or sea. These travellers may not enter Canada by air. In addition, upon arrival they must meet the safety requirements to promptly self-isolate and will be provided with medical assistance if required.

Canadians in general, must note that the current restriction for all non-essential travel at the Canada-U.S border has recently been extended for a period of 30 days to July 21, 2020.

Travelling Within Canada Restrictions

Travellers returning or arriving in BC are not mandated to self-isolate for 14-days. However, incoming travellers that are experiencing symptoms are urged to self-isolate.

In addition, all travellers planning to travel within Canada by flight will be subject to a health check prior to boarding. If they display signs and symptoms of COVID-19 they may be refused boarding and will not be permitted to travel for 14-days. A medical certificate stating that the traveller’s symptoms are not related to COVID-19 will be required in order for a traveller, who is showing symptoms of COVID-19 to be permitted to travel.

Important Information for Existing and Potential Travellers

It is important for Canadians to continually check for updates regarding travel restrictions from the provincial and federal government, as the restrictions are constantly being refined and enhanced at the recommendation of health authorities as the COVID-19 pandemic unravels.

The Federal Government has also urged people who are choosing to travel internationally during this unprecedented time to ensure that they have additional funds and/or medication at their disposal to use in the event that movement restrictions change while they are travelling.

Further Information:

More information on travel restrictions and advice for those choosing to travel during the pandemic can be found here.

More information on border screening measures can be found here.