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High Commission of Canada in the United Kingdom COVID-19: Frequently asked questions

Updated: March 27, 2020

Below are answers to the most frequently asked questions from Canadian travellers or those temporarily living, working and/or studying in the United Kingdom. There is also useful information for foreign nationals who have already committed to working, studying or making Canada their home. Please read this before contacting the High Commission to allow us to focus on assisting Canadians in distress and requiring urgent assistance.

On March 16, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called upon all Canadian travellers to go home and on March 17, Global Affairs Canada announced the COVID-19 Emergency Loan Program for Canadians Abroad. The program provides the option of an emergency loan to eligible Canadians who are in need of immediate financial assistance to secure their timely return travel to Canada and to temporarily cover their life-sustaining needs while they work towards their return.

The High Commission of Canada in the UK is currently operating with very reduced on-site presence in line with UK and Canadian government guidance. We are facing high demands for support. We advise against coming to Canada House in person. If you are a Canadian citizen in need of emergency consular assistance, contact ldn.consular@international.gc.ca. Please note that we strongly recommend that you contact us by email. We are checking this address frequently between 8:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. on weekdays. If you do not have access to email, you can leave us a voicemail message at (+ 44) 0 20 7004 6000 (international call from a Canadian number) between 8:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. on weekdays. Follow the prompts for Services to Canadian citizens, then Emergency situation involving a Canadian. We will reply by the next business day.

For serious consular emergencies after hours, please call the 24-hour Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa, either directly at 00 800 2326 6831 (charges apply), or via (+44) 0 20 7004 6000 (international call from a Canadian number) outside of office hours. Please note that the Centre is currently experiencing a high volume of calls.

You can also follow our social media channels (TwitterFacebook and Instagram) for ongoing guidance and check this page regularly for updates. Please also visit www.travel.gc.ca and register on ROCA as a Canadian abroad.
Thank you for your patience while we attempt to respond to the unprecedented demand for additional information and support.

On this page

If I am a Canadian citizen travelling in the UK, should I leave and return to Canada because of the COVID-19 pandemic?

Yes, the Government of Canada advised, as of Monday, March 16, that Canadian travellers should return to Canada by commercial transport while they still can. If however, you choose to stay in the United Kingdom, please ensure that you have sufficient financial resources and basic necessities, including medications. 

Should I reschedule my flight home to Canada?

Flights to major Canadian cities are still available, but very busy. We understand that airlines are reducing flight schedules and you may wish to seek an earlier flight. If you decide to stay in the United Kingdom, you should consider the implications of flights being cancelled or ceasing to operate and your ability to cover unexpected living expenses in the UK if flights suddenly stop operating. There may also be implications for your health and travel insurance.

If I am a Canadian citizen, will the High Commission of Canada in the UK assist me to find flight information and buy or change an airline ticket to return to Canada?

Consular services at the High Commission, particularly in the current circumstances, must focus on assisting Canadians in distress requiring urgent assistance. In most cases, travellers should take responsibility for changing their own travel arrangements, taking into consideration that airlines are extremely busy at present. Many travellers have found that contacting a local travel agent has been very helpful in identifying travel options.

How do I access the new COVID-19 Emergency Loan Program for Canadians Abroad, as announced by the federal government?

As Canadians abroad react to the Government of Canada’s recommendation to return to Canada by commercial means while they remain available, and as more and more governments throughout the world implement measures to reduce cross-border transit and otherwise restrict movement, Canadians abroad are encountering financial and logistical impediments to arranging their return travel to Canada. The COVID-19 Emergency Loan Program will facilitate Canadians’ return to Canada, or help ensure that their basic essential needs are met while they work on their return to Canada, through a repayable loan.

Canadian citizens abroad who are directly impacted by COVID-19 and who require emergency financial assistance to secure their return to Canada, and those who need to sustain themselves while they work towards securing their return to Canada, are eligible for a loan of up to $5,000 CAD. The loan can be used to cover expenses related to transport (most economical option possible) and for basic needs: housing, meals, medical expenses that are not covered by travel insurance or Canadian provinces).

If you wish to apply for a loan under this program, please email our office at ldn.consular@international.gc.ca with a subject heading of “COVID-19 Emergency Loan Program”, and provide your contact details. Further information on eligibility and advice on how to apply. Each application will be assessed according to the specific situation and need. In all cases the Canadian will need to undertake to repay the loan in its entirety.

In the meantime, please research the cost of flights, as your application will need to include a budget estimate with a breakdown of expenses, and ultimately proof of expenses or cost estimates.

Can I travel to Canada if I have symptoms of COVID-19?

No. You must self-isolate if you have symptoms (fever, cough, respiratory difficulties). In this situation, you should follow the United Kingdom’s procedures and use the 111 online coronavirus service to find out what to do (only call 111 if you cannot get help online, or 999 for emergencies). Please also keep the High Commission informed of your situation: ldn.consular@international.gc.ca. Please note that we strongly recommend that you contact us by email. We are checking this address frequently between 8:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. on weekdays. If you do not have access to email, you can leave us a voicemail message at (+ 44) 0 20 7004 6000 (international call from a Canadian number) between 8:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. on weekdays. Follow the prompts for Services to Canadian citizens, then Emergency situation involving a Canadian. We will reply by the next business day.

You may also choose to apply for a loan if this situation leads you to require financial assistance (see above).

I am concerned about COVID-19 affecting my longer-term plans to return to Canada. Can you provide me with any information about what I should do?

We understand that a number of Canadians are planning to return or travel to Canada in the coming weeks and months, and it is currently unclear whether travel as planned will be possible. We recommend that Canadians follow official UK and Canadian advice on COVID-19, as follows:

Please note that for Canadians who have been living outside Canada, most provinces have a three-month residency requirement before you would become eligible for healthcare coverage once again. Please check this directly with the provincial healthcare provider and ensure that you have travel/medical insurance to cover you for your initial three months in Canada.

If you are concerned about travelling or need to change your flight, you will need to contact your airline and/or accommodation providers directly.

I am concerned about contracting COVID-19 while here in the UK. Can I access local healthcare?

The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) has a 111 online coronavirus service which is accessible to all, where you can answer questions about your health and get advice if you feel you may be at risk.

The present advice is that if you have flu-like symptoms, if you live alone and you have symptoms of coronavirus illness (COVID-19), however mild, stay at home for 7 days from when your symptoms started. If you live with others and you are the first in the household to have symptoms of coronavirus, then you must stay at home for 7 days, but all other household members who remain well must stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days. The 14-day period starts from the day when the first person in the house became ill.

As with any illness abroad, we would recommend that you contact your health insurance provider to make enquiries about your particular situation.

If I am leaving the UK, do I have to quarantine myself when I get back to Canada?

Yes. All persons entering Canada, by air, sea or land, whether or not they have signs and symptoms of COVID 19, are REQUIRED to self-isolate for 14 days. There are exemptions in place to ensure that critical infrastructure, essential services and economic supply chains continue between Canada and the U.S. Please note that the requirements on travel to Canada are subject to frequent change.

Should a Canadian traveller not be allowed to board an aircraft because of illness, they should follow the instructions of UK authorities and if consular services are required, contact: ldn.consular@international.gc.ca. Please note that we strongly recommend that you contact us by email. We are checking this address frequently between 8:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. on weekdays. If you do not have access to email, you can leave us a voicemail message at (+ 44) 0 20 7004 6000 (international call from a Canadian number) between 8:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. on weekdays. Follow the prompts for Services to Canadian citizens, then Emergency situation involving a Canadian. We will reply by the next business day.

If I need a new passport or want to make a citizenship application, do I have to apply in person?

No. The High Commission of Canada in the UK is currently operating with very reduced on-site presence in line with UK and Canadian government guidance, so we advise against coming to Canada House in person. We are facing high demands for support, therefore applications should be limited to those with upcoming/urgent travel. We would be grateful if any document requests that are not time-sensitive could be deferred until regular services resume.

We would be glad to assist you with any urgent questions or concerns by phone (returned voice mail) or email, and receive any application(s) by post. Applications may be sent to us (recorded delivery recommended) at Consular Section, Canada House, Trafalgar Square, London SW1Y 5BJ or dropped into our dedicated drop-box which is situated at the Cockspur Street entrance of Canada House.

If you’d like to speak with us before sending in your urgent passport application, please send us an email to ldn.passport@international.gc.ca including your full name and phone number so that we can be in touch with you.

For urgent citizenship applications, general consular services or notarial services, email ldn.consular@international.gc.ca with your full name and phone number so that we can be in touch with you.

Is there a means to register with the High Commission of Canada to let you know that I am a Canadian presently in the UK?

Yes. We would encourage you to register as a Canadian abroad to stay in touch with the Government of Canada. You will be asked to provide your contact details and emergency contact information.

If I am a Canadian citizen living in the UK and my long-stay visa or my residency permit is due to expire in the coming weeks, do I have to leave the UK and return to Canada?

On 24 March, the UK announced that visa nationals who cannot return home due to the COVID-19 pandemic will be able to extend their visa. See the latest advice for UK visa applicants and temporary UK residents. You can also contact the UK’s Coronavirus Immigration Helpline: 0800 678 1767 or email: CIH@homeoffice.gov.uk

I know there are some restrictions in place to prevent certain persons from boarding flights to Canada due to COVID-19. Are there any exemptions applicable to immediate family members of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident?

Yes. Immediate family members of a person who is a Canadian citizen or permanent resident are exempted from Canada’s COVID-19 travel restrictions and are allowed to board a flight to Canada. In all cases, the traveller must still possess the required travel documents for entry into Canada. All travellers will be asked to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival to Canada. Should a Canadian traveller not be allowed to board an aircraft because of illness, they should follow the instructions of UK authorities and if consular services are required, contact: ldn.consular@international.gc.ca. Please note that we strongly recommend that you contact us by email. We are checking this address frequently between 8:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. on weekdays. If you do not have access to email, you can leave us a voicemail message at (+ 44) 0 20 7004 6000 (international call from a Canadian number) between 8:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. on weekdays. Follow the prompts for Services to Canadian citizens, then Emergency situation involving a Canadian. We will reply by the next business day.

To find out what documentation you require to enter Canada please consult the IRCC website.

Immediate family members of a person are defined as:

  • the spouse or common-law partner;
  • a dependent child or of their spouse or common-law partner;
  • a dependent child of the dependent child referred to in paragraph (b);
  • the parent or step-parent of the person or of the spouse or common-law partner; or
  • their guardian or tutor.

Travellers should have on hand documentary evidence to demonstrate to the airline their immediate family relationship to the Canadian citizen or Permanent Resident of Canada. 

I have heard that Canada has updated exemptions to travel restrictions to include foreign nationals who have already committed to working, studying or making Canada their home – is that true?

Exemptions to travel restrictions for foreign nationals who are coming to Canada as temporary foreign workers, some international students and approved permanent residents who haven’t landed are now in effect. If you’re exempt, you can now travel to Canada. When you arrive in Canada, you must isolate for 14 days even if you have no symptoms. This is mandatory. Before you travel, you will need to go through health screening protocols.

More information on who is exempt and monitor the most recent updates.

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Date Modified:
2020-03-27