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

Last updated: April 6, 2021

Below are answers to the most frequently asked questions from Canadians in the United Kingdom. There is also useful information for foreign nationals who are living, working or studying in Canada.

Please check these FAQs before contacting the High Commission to allow us to focus on assisting Canadians who are in distress or require urgent assistance.

In line with UK and Canadian government guidance, the High Commission of Canada in the UK is currently operating with very reduced on-site presence. We advise against coming to Canada House in person.

If you are a Canadian citizen in need of emergency consular assistance, please contact: ldn.consular@international.gc.ca. We strongly recommend that you contact us by email in the first instance. We check this inbox 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 with your full name and number on (+ 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 on 00 800 2326 6831 (charges apply) or (+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.
We recommend you check this page regularly for ongoing guidance. You can also follow our social media channels (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) for updates. We recommend you also  visit the website Travel.gc.ca and register on ROCA (Register of Canadians Abroad) as a Canadian citizen abroad.

Thank you for your patience while we work to respond to this unprecedented situation.

On this page

For Canadians in the UK

For Canadian citizens

Questions about family

UK-specific questions

Returning to Canada

For foreign nationals travelling to Canada

Entry to Canada

Questions about family

Working in Canada

Studying in Canada

For Canadians in the UK

For Canadian citizens

I am a Canadian citizen in the UK. Should I now return to Canada due to COVID-19?

Since March 2020, the Government of Canada has recommended against all non-essential travel – see official travel advice here. If you are travelling abroad and your home is in Canada, it is recommended that you return while commercial options exist. We understand that airlines may adjust their flight schedules and we recommend you book a flight as soon as possible if it is your intent to return. Please contact your airline directly with any questions or concerns about your booking.

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 you live in the UK and have access to healthcare and benefits, please do not travel unless it is essential. Moving home to Canada is considered essential travel. We cannot advise on re-entry to the UK; please check with the UK authorities directly for advice related to UK entry.

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

I am a Canadian citizen. Will the High Commission help me to find flight information and buy or change an airline ticket to return to Canada?

No – the High Commission cannot book your flights for you. 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 responding to calls at present. Many travellers have found that contacting a local travel agent has been very helpful in identifying travel options.

I am a Canadian citizen in the UK. Do I have to apply in person for passport or citizenship applications?

No. We are unable to check and accept routine applications at the public counter. Clients should submit their applications to us by tracked mail or by placing in the dropbox at Canada House. Due to the current COVID-19 situation, we have a very reduced on-site presence, processing times may vary and delays should be expected.

We would be glad to assist you with any urgent questions or concerns by phone (please leave a message with your phone number and we will call you back) or email. In case of emergency travel please send an email to: ldn.passport@international.gc.ca including your full name and phone number.

For urgent citizenship matters, general consular services or notarial services, please send an email to: ldn.consular@international.gc.ca including your full name and phone number.

I am a Canadian citizen in the UK. Can I register with the High Commission as a Canadian 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.

Questions about family

Some COVID-19 travel restrictions prevent certain persons from boarding flights to Canada. Are there any exemptions applicable to immediate family members of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident? What about extended family members?

Yes. Immediate family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents are exempt from Canada’s COVID-19 travel restrictions. They are allowed to board a flight to Canada if they are travelling to Canada with their immediate family member and will remain in Canada for a period of 15 days or more, or if they are travelling to Canada to visit their immediate family member and will be remaining in Canada for a period of 15 days or more.

An immediate family member is limited to:

  • the spouse or common-law partner of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident
  • a dependent child of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, or of the spouse or common-law partner of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident
  • the dependent child of a dependent child of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, or of the spouse or common-law partner of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident
  • the parent or step-parent of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, or of the spouse or common-law partner of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident
  • the guardian or tutor of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.

A dependent child is a person under 22 years old who does not have a spouse or common-law partner, or is 22 years old or older and has depended on their parents for financial support since before they were 22 and cannot financially support themselves because of a mental or physical condition. For more information on who qualifies as a dependent child, please visit: Who you can include as a dependent child on an immigration application.

Please note: adult children and siblings of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident are not included in the definition of immediate family member. See below for guidance on extended family members.

In all cases, the traveller must still possess the required travel documents for entry into Canada. They will be asked to confirm their 14-day mandatory quarantine accommodations, as would any other traveller entering Canada. Passengers are encouraged to bring documents that confirm their immediate family member is a Canadian citizen or permanent resident (e.g. a photocopy of their Canadian passport or Canadian permanent resident card) and evidence of their relationship to the Canadian citizen or permanent resident (e.g. photocopy of a marriage or birth record).

Immediate family members of Canadian citizens or permanent residents who are travelling to Canada for a purpose other than to visit their immediate family member may not be eligible to travel to Canada.

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

Extended family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents may be exempt from Canada’s COVID-19 travel restrictions and will be allowed to board a flight to Canada if they have obtained written authorization in advance.

Extended family members covered by these measures include, among others: adult children, siblings, grandchildren and grandparents, as well as those in an exclusive dating relationship. Every person entering Canada, with limited exceptions, must quarantine for 14 days, starting on the day of arrival.

Without advance written approval for an exemption of a border restriction, you may be denied aircraft boarding or entry into Canada.

You should not book a flight to Canada until you receive written authorization from IRCC.

To find out more and to apply for the special authorization, please visit the IRCC website.

Who does Canada consider to be a common-law partner of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident?

A common-law partner of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada is somebody who has lived with the Canadian citizen or permanent resident for at least one year in a conjugal relationship.

To be considered a common-law partner of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, you will need to provide evidence that you have cohabited with that person in a conjugal relationship for at least one year. The cohabitation must have been continuous, and not intermittent cohabitation adding up to one year.

Passengers should bring documents showing that they have lived together with a Canadian citizen or permanent resident in a conjugal relationship for at least one year. For a more complete list of the types of documents you will need to provide when travelling as a common law partner of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, please visit the IRCC Help Centre.

For further details on the definition of a common-law partner, please visit the IRCC Help Centre.

What does Canada consider to be an “exclusive dating relationship?”

An exclusive dating relationship means that you are in a romantic relationship with a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, have been in the relationship for at least 1 year and have spent time in the physical presence of that person at some point during the relationship.

Examples of an exclusive dating relationship include:

  • fiancé(e)
  • committed romantic partners for at least 1 year who live or have lived together but don’t meet the definition of common-law
  • boyfriends, girlfriends or any other couple in an intimate, loving relationship

You should not book a flight to Canada until you receive written authorization from IRCC.

To find out more and to apply for the special authorization to be exempt from COVID-19 travel restrictions, please visit the IRCC website.

UK-specific questions

Are there new travel rules or restrictions for passengers coming into the UK?

Yes. There are new rules for those entering the UK. As of June 8, 2020, travellers are required to share their contact details and travel information with the UK authorities. They also have to self-isolate for 10 days on arrival or they may incur a fine. Transit passengers who remain airside and do not pass border control are exempt from self-isolation requirements. More information is available on Entering the UK.

All international arrivals to England are also now required to present a negative COVID-19 test taken up to 72 hours prior to departure. Find out more here.

What is the Test and Trace service? How does it work?

For an overview of the NHS Test and Trace service, including what happens if you test positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) or have had close contact with someone who has tested positive, please consult: NHS Test and Trace: how it works.

I am a Canadian citizen in the UK. 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) (fever, cough, respiratory difficulties), however mild, you should stay at home for 10 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 10 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.

I am a Canadian citizen living in the UK. My long-stay visa / my residency permit is due to expire soon. Do I have to leave the UK and return to Canada?

On 24 March 2020, the UK announced that visa nationals who cannot return home due to the COVID-19 pandemic will be able to extend their visa. For the latest advice, visit 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.

Returning to Canada

I am a Canadian citizen returning home to Canada soon. What are the new entry and quarantine requirements?

As of February 22, 2021, all travellers arriving to Canada by air, with some exceptions, will:

  • be required to take a COVID-19 molecular test when they arrive in Canada before exiting the airport, and another toward the end of their 14-day quarantine period.
  • be required to reserve prior to departure to Canada, a 3-night stay in a government-authorized hotel.
  • be required to stay at their reserved hotel for up to 3 nights, at their own cost, while they await the results of their arrival test.

Hotel registry and booking information will be available online as of February 18, 2021. Travellers will:

  • need to book a hotel in the city in which they first arrive in Canada.
  • if they receive a negative result on their arrival test, they will be able to continue to their final destination.

Costs of these hotel stays may vary slightly at each location and will include the room, food, cleaning, infection prevention and control measures, and security as well as transportation. Should you have questions regarding your hotel stay and related expenses, please contact your chosen hotel. Travellers are required to book their hotel and provide this information via the ArriveCAN application prior to departing.

Travellers who do not meet the new quarantine requirement may be subject to fines.

For more information, see Entering Canada by air during COVID-19.

Currently, Global Affairs Canada is unable to provide documentation exempting travellers from the mandatory hotel quarantine upon arrival.

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

No. You will not be allowed to board your flight if you are displaying symptoms of COVID 19. Furthermore, you should not go to the airport if you are required to self-isolate according to the UK government guidance.

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).

We would also ask that you 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 check 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 with your full name and number on (+ 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.

Do I have to get tested for COVID-19 before boarding a flight to Canada?

Yes, all travelers aged 5+ must present a negative PCR or LAMP test within 72 hours of departure (with temporary exceptions for select locations) before boarding their flight to Canada. Failure to do so will result in denial of boarding. Please refer to the “Is a negative NHS COVID-19 test result acceptable for travel to Canada? ” Q&A below for additional details and lists of private COVID-19 test suppliers in the United Kingdom.

Is a negative NHS COVID-19 test result acceptable for travel to Canada?

No. The test must be a laboratory test using one of two types of COVID-19 tests–either a molecular polymerase chain reaction (PCR) or Loop-mediated Isothermal Amplification (LAMP).

Please be aware that test results from the National Health Service (NHS) do not specify the testing methodology, so they cannot be used as proof of a negative test result. A certificate indicating a negative COVID-19 test result is required to board a flight to Canada and Canadian citizens should seek testing at private clinics, at their own expense. You can find some providers of these tests here and a list of private providers of coronavirus testing is available here.

A negative laboratory test (paper or electronic proof of result) must be presented by the traveller to the airline or private operator prior to coming to Canada. Travellers must ensure that the negative laboratory test result includes the following data elements:

  • Traveller name and date of birth
  • Name and civic address of the laboratory/clinic/facility that administered the test
  • The date on which the test was conducted
  • The method of test conducted (e.g. PCR or LAMP)
  • The test result (such as “negative” or “not detected”)

Would proof of vaccination replace the need for a COVID-19 test?

No. At this time, proof of vaccination does not replace a negative test result. While a vaccine protects an individual from illness, further evidence is required to understand whether a vaccinated person can still transmit the virus.

I have recovered from a confirmed COVID-19 infection and no longer have symptoms. Do I need to take a new test before boarding the plane? What if I keep testing positive?

If you have been infected with COVID-19, but have since recovered and are no longer infectious, you will be allowed to board a plane to Canada with proof of a positive COVID-19 test conducted on a specimen collected between 14 – 90 days prior to departure. This is in lieu of providing a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of departure. Please note that NHS test results are not accepted. See question above: “Is a negative NHS COVID test result acceptable for travel to Canada?”)

This measure takes into account that individuals who have previously tested positive for COVID-19 may continue to test positive for up to three months after the initial infection, even though they are no longer considered infectious.

What should I do if I am not allowed to board the plane because I have tested positive with COVID-19?

If a Canadian traveller is not allowed to board an aircraft because of illness, they should follow the instructions of UK authorities. If consular services are required, contact the High Commission at: ldn.consular@international.gc.ca.

Please note that we strongly recommend that you contact us by email. We check 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 with your full name and number on (+ 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.

Do I have to wear a mask on the plane when travelling from the UK to Canada?

Yes, all air passengers aged over 2, with few exceptions, are required to have a non-medical mask or face covering to cover both their nose and mouth during travel. When travelling by air, travellers will be asked to cover their nose and mouth:

  • at Canadian airport screening checkpoints, where the screeners cannot always keep two metres of separation between themselves and the traveller
  • when they cannot physically distance from others, or as directed by the airline employees
  • and whenever directed to do so by a public health order or public health official.

Aviation passengers on all flights departing or arriving at Canadian airports will be required to demonstrate they have the necessary non-medical mask or face covering during the boarding process, otherwise they will not be allowed to continue on their journey. Travellers must have their own masks – these will not be provided. Passengers should follow the current Public Health Agency of Canada’s guidance on face coverings.

Please note that the requirements on travel to Canada are subject to frequent change. We recommend you check for the latest guidance prior to booking your travel.

Do I have to quarantine when I arrive in Canada?

Yes. All persons entering Canada, by air, sea or land, whether or not they have symptoms of COVID 19, are required to confirm their 14-day mandatory quarantine accommodation plan before they will be allowed to enter the country. There are exemptions in place to ensure that critical infrastructure, essential services and economic supply chains continue between Canada and the USA.

Travellers are also required to submit their information via ArriveCAN. Please see next question.

What is ArriveCAN?

All air travellers whose final destination is Canada are now required to submit their information electronically through the ArriveCAN app before they board their flight. This includes travel and contact information, quarantine plan (unless exempted under conditions set out in the Mandatory Isolation Order), and COVID-19 symptom self-assessment. Travellers must be ready to show their ArriveCAN receipt when seeking entry into Canada. A border services officer will verify that they have submitted their information digitally.

In addition, travellers who enter Canada by air, land or sea, unless exempted under conditions set out in the Mandatory Isolation Order, are also required to submit information through ArriveCAN or by calling the 1-833-641-0343 toll-free number during their quarantine or isolation period. Travellers must confirm they have arrived at their place of quarantine or isolation within 48 hours of entering Canada, and those in quarantine must complete a daily COVID-19 symptom self-assessment during their quarantine period.

For more information on arrival to Canada, both pre- and post-entry, see here.

Are there exemptions to travel restrictions to include foreign nationals who have already committed to working, studying or making Canada their home?

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 only travel to Canada if your travel is deemed essential.

You will be asked to confirm your 14-day mandatory quarantine accommodations, as would any other traveller entering Canada. If you do not have an adequate place to quarantine (self-isolate), the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada will designate a facility where you must remain for 14 days. If your travel is not deemed essential, you will be turned back. Before you travel, you will need to go through health screening protocols.

For more information on who is exempt and to monitor the most recent updates, see: How the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is affecting immigration, refugees, citizenship and passport services.

Are there any exemptions in place to allow foreign nationals to travel to Canada for compassionate reasons, such as to say goodbye to a loved one?

Yes. Foreign nationals may be exempt from Canada’s COVID-19 travel restrictions for compassionate reasons, if they have obtained a written authorization in advance from the Public Health Agency of Canada. Applications will be considered for those needing to:

  • be present during the final moments of life for a loved one or to provide support or care to someone who is critically ill
  • provide care for a person who has a medical reason as to why they require support
  • attend a funeral or end-of-life ceremony

Every person entering Canada, with limited exceptions, must quarantine for 14 days, starting on the day of arrival. Travellers entering Canada for compassionate reasons may seek approval for an exemption from border restrictions and a limited release from mandatory quarantine.

Before your trip to Canada, you must receive advance approval for both the exemption to the border restrictions and a limited release from quarantine.

Without advance written approval for an exemption of a border restriction, you may be denied aircraft boarding or entry into Canada and without an approved release from quarantine, you’ll be subject to all mandatory quarantine requirements.

To find out what steps to follow to apply for an exemption to current border restrictions and a limited release from quarantine for compassionate reasons, please visit the PHAC website.

Can holders of work permits board a flight to Canada?

Passengers with a valid work permit or with a letter from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada confirming that their application for a work permit has been approved are eligible to travel to Canada under the following circumstances:

  • They have confirmation from their employer that they will be starting to work in Canada after the conclusion of the mandatory quarantine period
  • They were previously established, living and working in Canada, they were only outside of Canada for a temporary period, and they have maintained their home or residence in Canada during their absence
  • Or they have been issued an open work permit or had an application for work permit approved as the spouse or common-law partner of a foreign national in Canada as a student or worker and the purpose of their trip to Canada is family reunification.

Passengers travelling to Canada to work should bring their valid work permit or letter of approval along with either written confirmation from their employer that they are expected to start working upon arrival in Canada, or in the case of the spouse or common-law partner of a student or worker in Canada, a copy of the spouse or common law partner’s work or study permit.

Applications for work permits are not currently being accepted at Canadian Ports of Entry.

Passengers who were previously eligible to apply for a work permit at a Port of Entry are advised to apply for a work permit before travelling to Canada.

Can holders of study permits board a flight to Canada?

Passengers with a study permit issued before 18 March 2020 are eligible to travel to Canada under the following circumstances:

  • They were previously established, living and studying in Canada, they were only outside of Canada for a temporary period, and they have maintained their home or residence in Canada during their absence
  • Their presence in Canada is necessary for their continued participation in their program of studies (e.g., participating in laboratories or workshops)
  • Or pursuing online studies is not an option for their school or program.

Passengers with a letter from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada confirming that their application for a study permit has been approved before 18 March 2020 are eligible to travel to Canada under the following circumstances:

  • The passenger is required to begin studying immediately upon arrival to Canada and their physical presence in Canada is necessary (e.g. the educational institution is delivering the studies through a combination of on-line and in-person classes).
    Passengers whose study permit was issued after 18 March 2020 or whose application for a study permit was approved after 18 March 2020 are not currently allowed to board a flight to Canada.

Passengers travelling to Canada to study should bring their valid study permit or letter of approval along with written confirmation from their school or academic institution confirming that their studies are scheduled to resume and that the course or program requires them to be physically present in Canada.

What are the rules for international students wanting to travel to Canada to start their studies?

As of October 20, 2020, Designated Learning Institutions (DLIs) with a COVID-19 readiness plan approved by their Province or Territory have been be able to reopen to international students who are currently outside Canada. A list of DLIs with approved COVID-19 readiness plans is available here.

If you plan to come to Canada as an international student, your DLI must be on the list of DLIs with approved COVID-19 readiness plans before you travel to Canada. This change applies to all international students, including those who currently hold a study permit.

This change doesn’t affect study permit holders who are already physically present in Canada.

If you’re already in Canada, you can continue studying at any DLI. However, if you leave Canada, you may not be able to return if your DLI doesn’t have a COVID-19 readiness plan approved by the Province or Territory in which you are residing.

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Date Modified:
2021-04-06