A Loophole To Avoid Canada’s New Quarantine Requirement

Canadians are used to driving across the border into the U.S. to find cheaper airfare – even to get other places inside Canada. Flying from Canada to Mexico and back to Canada used to be known among frequent flyers as ‘the Mexican Hat Dance’. And the challenge of sky high fares for Canadians may get worse in the future with Air Canada acquiring Transat.

However Canadians have a new reason to make use of U.S. airports: a loophole that allows them to circumvent mandatory quarantine on arrival.

  • Canada will only allow international flights into four airports: Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, and Montreal

  • They’re required to take a PCR test on arrival, and wait in a federal quarantine hotel for the results.

  • The three nights, including meals, costs CAD$2000

However federal hotel quarantine doesn’t apply to land crossings. Despite the land border closing Canadians have been allowed to cross to return home. So Canadians in the United States, spending time during the winter in warmer locations like Arizona and Florida, have been flying to U.S. cities near the Canadian border and getting a car to drive across (or just taking a cab to the border).

This saves them the cost and restriction of government hotel quarantine. And far from a hassle, it’s added convenience because there are only four airports to fly into from the U.S. while there are over 100 land border crossings (as well as places to legally cross the border without going through a checkpoint).

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. Gary,

    What you wrote isn’t correct.

    People who use the land border to enter Canada avoid the government hotel and paying $2000.

    They are NOT exempt from quarantine and still have to quarantine at home. They just avoid paying $2,000 and staying in a hotel for 3 days.

  2. And how would Nick close (seal) the Canadian – American border? Having spent 9 months in North Dakota, I saw first hand miles & miles of open border between the two countries. I believe that it would be physically impossible to “shut the border”.

  3. @J – i said they don’t have to quarantine in a government approved facility (while waiting for a negative test) not that they aren’t expected to quarantine at home

  4. Why would you encourage people to avoid quarantine. Bad enough they went south against advice now coming back and in likely yo self quarantine properly. If they could be trusted there would not be those rules but experience has shown they have not been trustworthy. Canada unlike US treats covid seriously

  5. I think there is something missing. As I understand New York State foe example have their own manditory quaranteen requirements.

  6. I doubt this can really be classed as a “loophole”. Surely the Canadian Government considered the issue of land border crossings when they made the regulations. What does the Canadian Government say?

  7. Surely doing this contravenes the spirit and intention of the hotel quarantine requirement- to protect all Canadians. Finding away to get around a strict hotel quarantine shows a lack of concern for the broader community

  8. You shouldn’t be able to get out of it. Period. You shose to leve the country against all recommendations, accept the consequences of your selfish actions. You could have brought the virus to the other country, or brought it back to your own country. That takes away everyone else’s right to proper public health and safety.

  9. @Elyse – You seem to be blaming travelers for the spread of covid in Canada. But this doesn’t seem to be the case at all. These new policies make no sense anyway. PCR test required within 72 hours of boarding a Canada-bound plane, another test required upon entry. If the test taken upon entry is negative, why the need to quarantine? The policy seems punitive (NOT scientific), which is what people like Elyse seem to want.

  10. Go to the border and claim refugee status, the Cops will pack you bags, you will be first inline for the vaccine and you can immediately collect a CERB cheque and Justin will look after your hotel stay.

  11. The whole owing the border does nothing to the spread of Covid. Trudeau just likes to act like a dictator. These travelers are not breaking any laws. Actually making it difficult for Canadian citizens may be unconstitutional. I understand that some group will be suing the feds

  12. I am Canadian living in the US. The question is how to cross the land border. I cannot find a company which will allow a one way rental to Toronto.

  13. If a PCR test is required before boarding a plane and the result is negative and again when landing at the airport you need another PCR test and wait for the test result and again after 7 or 8 days and go for another PCR test, and continue in quarantine for 6 to 7 days more. What a waste of money!!!.
    People wouldn’t be dying if they didn’t eat so much junk food. I know a few of my friends got the coronavirus and they told me it wasn’t any worse that the regular flu.

  14. Al. Taxi or driver service. I used Buffalo airport shuttle back in January to come across from the Buffalo airport to Burlington… They go all the way to Toronto. Otherwise the taxi to the border, crossover and then get an Uber from Niagara falls or Buffalo. Happy travels

  15. My neighbour just did the air/land/walk crossing. Fly to a nearby border city, take a Uber to the border crossing, then walk across where your kids have brought your vehicle. Jump in, and drive home. Our authorities keep thinking of stupid ways to control us for this deceitful non-pandemic, so we have to be inventing new ways to circumvent their idiotic ideas. Not sure how we’re going to re-enter our own free country yet, but there’s ways…… God keep our land, glorious and free! ❤️

  16. I want to go visit my boyfriend whom I haven’t seen physically since the border closed. I was in Canada last March and live in Connecticut where it’s not that bad. These comments are harsh sometimes because Canadians can travel where they want an we cannot come there. All I want is to be with my partner whom I love with all my heart.

  17. this started after I left to get married in Bangkok to a beautiful lady from the Philippines. We married in Bangkok where she works. Now I will be returning to Canada and will have to quarantine for three days. I take a test before I board the plane and after I get off the plane in Calgary. Then I have to quarantine at a hotel that cost more than my whole trip to Thailand. Ha ha Ha I’m a Canadian citizen don’t treat me like a criminal. The liberal government is paying for Immigrants from other countries to quarantine I expect the same. The Canadian government has my money I pay taxes stop giving it to China and pay for my hotel stay at your expense.

  18. Al,

    I just picked a random date (next Wednesday) and was able to get a quote from National for a one way between BUF and downtown Toronto (Bloor/Yonge). $92.24 all in for anything up to a fullsize.

    I am Executive Elite with National however and when I then tried to make a booking for the same itinerary whilst not signed in, it wouldn’t let me.

    So you may want to sign up for Emerald Club then try.

    Top tip when doing one way rentals between BUF and Toronto – and I’ve done this many times – it can be cheaper to return the car not full and pay the contract rate than pay for gas in downtown Toronto…

  19. Just make it a minimum $10000 fine of you travel for non essential reasons and test positive for Covid. Double, triple, etc the fines for every suspected infection caused by the traveler. It’ll help curtail the selfish vacationers.

  20. I have been in self Isolation for 1 year now , gone no where. I am so f%#* ing sick of you self entitled, you owe me a living , I will go where I want to. I tru.ly hope each and everyone of you get the virus and fight like h.e.l.l. to survive good luck with that.

  21. You need to do some research with reference to the costs of the quarantine hotel stay. Your article is misleading in a few areas.

    Firstly the requirement is to stay in the Government approved hotel for up to three days awaiting the results of the test.The results are usually available within 48 hours thus your hotel stay is only two nights.

    Secondly the cost of the hotel is much cheaper than $2000. For example the Sheraton YYZ is a Government approved quarantine hotel in Toronto. Im sure Toronto is likely the most expensive of 4 approved Canadian entry airports.They are advertising quarantine stays starting at $319 a night including food. The food is delivered to your room, 3 meals a day, contact less.

    I have stayed in a quarantine hotel 5 times and never had an issue or a stay costing anywhere near $2000.

  22. Why would you give people ways to travel easier amid a pandemic in which we stress no NON ESSENTIAL travel? Amid tons of variants popping up and when the states have as much death as they do? We expect gen Z to behave like jerks when it comes to respecting safety practices but ignorant snowbirds definitely give them a run for their money.

  23. I have a small dog ,need a hotel. Ground floor or where dose she pee no info about this ,there are many travelers with dogs. Help

  24. to Elsie who made the dumbest comment about going against the advice of govt well honey its called a health dictatorship im in columbia right nowENJOYING MY LIFE instead of sitting between 4 walls totally miserable u should get a brain check they have brainwashed u good traveling is the best thing for your mental health and soul ur a pathetic disinformed person BTW 1.5 % of all travellers have contributed to all the covid cases in canada educated yourself lady before u make such dumb comments

  25. If you have had both COVID shots while in the US as many have, you test negative before leaving, take another test in Canada why are people being Quarantined outside of their home. A good number of people from the US have been there for months as they have property there. Most are older and live alone or with their partner who is with them in the US and Canada. A hotel stays seems riskier than going home. No contact with any one, room service, housekeeping…nothing. Just a way to grab headlines

  26. It’s a bit complicated. So the loophole may benefit people who are travelling in U.S. but not else where. This is because if you are coming from land border they require you to get a PCR test in United States.

    I can’t bring a PCR test that was done in Mexico and bring it across the border. It won’t be accepted unfortunately.

  27. The hotel quarantine wouldn’t be necessary if Canadians could get a vaccine. My mom is 86 and in a long term care facility and doesn’t have a vaccine yet. I think the only reason Trudeau implemented the hotel quarantine is out of spite because he can’t fly two jets to private island this year. Stupidest Prime Minister of all timel.

  28. At least 10,000 truckers enter Canada daily without even a Rapid Covid Test. They stay in Hotels, eat at restaurants, or go directly home and take their kids to school. They travel from Covid hotspots like California, Arizona and Florida! People living in the USA are allowed unrestricted crossing to work at their jobs in appliance stores in Canada. People who live in BC and work at Costco in Bellingham, Wa. are also considered essential workers and cross the border UN restricted! Are these people sterile or is this a gigantic hole in Covid security?

  29. This is crazy! My wife and I have been in Florida since October. We have been careful and have been vaccinated! We will have to pay hundreds of USD dollars to get a test and will have to be re-tested on arrival in Montréal and do the hotel quarantine. But 3 days later we will do the second leg of our trip to our hometown of Ottawa. No telling yet if Air Canada will honor our connecting flight that we missed or will force us to buy 2 more airline tickets. In the mean time my Canadian friends will drive from Florida, eat in restaurants, gas up, using public washrooms, sleep in hotels and after crossing the border, simply drive home

  30. Just came back from Florida last Saturday. Now enjoying my quarantine (that I have absolutely no problem with). Wife and I flew Allegiant -Punta Gorda to Syracuse. $51 USD per ticket.

    Arrived at Syracuse had to fill out a travellers for for contact tracing. Rented car through Enterprise in advance Syracuse Hancock to Ottawa Airport. They allow it but pricey at $280USD. Did grocery shopping in Ogdenburg (14 day quarantine coming up). Crossed border…ptn.. Duty Free closed.

    Quickest border crossing ever. Ensure to fill out Arrive Can App prior to arrival at border with your quarantine plan. Dead simple. Border guard used passport number (linked to App).

    Drove home, unloaded groceries and wife. Drove to airport, dropped off car (son had left my truck at the airport 15mins prior.

    Very easy. Only difference on land crossing now is the reqr for PCR test 72 hours prior to reentry into Canada and test upon arrival at border.

    I refuse to listen to JT on travel and making, “bad choices”. He is without any form of ethical standard. His record proves it. For those lemmings who chose to follow and adore him…I feel pity for you…unlike the hatred you may have for people like me.

  31. As for Trudeau being limp rusted he should have closed the border 23 Mar of last year and included land crossing of the border. As for seniors and people saying that this cost was not included in their budget, the cost of having to close because of the amount of virus wasn’t in these peoples budget either and some can’t get enough money to even pay for food for their families. A trip is a luxury it is not a case where people can’t keep their bills paid. As for thinking that the virus isn’t spread thru travel how come we have just had 2 seperate flights that have come in one with 7 active cases and another with 9. How can you say it is not related to travel.

  32. I am a Canadian citizen and Resident of the states. Due to pulmonary disease, autoimmune disease, I have received my vaccines. I still don’t go out. Americans ignore a mandated face mask rule. Last time I went out, pick up prescriptions the sign on the door was clear wear a mask. 6 customers, all no mask. Manager and assistant manager talking in the middle of an aisle, no mask. Cashier mask. I asked why he had one and was told it was mandatory. Lovely. I sought out of the managers 8 feet away and challenged their lack of consideration, and blatantly going against company policy. They didn’t have a response. I bought 4 paper masks and said due the world a favor and put on. I called health department and I was the 10th complaint. So yesterday driving by, the lot was empty. They were shut down. Anyway I have had 20 negative covid tests due to lung disease. All negative. I am in the midst of a divorce and will return home. I will be driving a u haul….I was going to fly but the cheapest and 18 stops, it isn’t an option. I have decided I will take stuff home so a uhaul makes sense or I may purchase a small RV. Turnover time for COVID-19 testing is 15 minutes. I will have the test 48 hours before, my vaccine card and everything is very well labeled. My doctor wrote a letter to say I was leaving an abusive marriage. I am sure there will be complications crossing, but if there is something else I should c o, please let me know. I may seem like I am quarantine but I really need rest and sleep. No intention of going anywhere.

  33. @Sharon,

    Do you have the name of that shuttle you used?

    @Martin,

    A friend tried that with Hertz. You must sign into PC account to book the cross border rental. However he called and Hertz at BUF said it’s an error – they will not allow cars to be dropped in Canada now. Seems risky at the present time. They are blocking it for a reason.

    Thanks

  34. Evelyn.people like you are the problem with this world. Everyone in that store was fine until your bitter old ass showed up. No wonder you are getting a divorce. You sound like a burden.on the health care system go buy some cigarettes

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