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

Updated: July 31, 2020

Below are answers to the most frequently asked questions from Canadians 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.

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 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 work to respond to this unprecedented situation.

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I heard that the NHS has just launched a 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: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/nhs-test-and-trace-how-it-works

Are there new rules for passengers coming into the UK?

Yes there are new rules for those entering the UK. Effective June 8, travellers will be required to share their contact details and travel information. They will also have to self-isolate for 14 days on arrival or they may incur a fine. Transit passengers who remain airside and do not pass border control will be exempt from self-isolation requirements. More information available at https://www.gov.uk/uk-border-control.

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 confirm their 14-day mandatory quarantine accommodations 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 U.S.

All air passengers are required to have a non-medical mask or face covering to cover their mouth and nose during travel. When travelling by air, travellers will be asked to cover their mouth and nose:

  • 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
  • when 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.

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.

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 if they are entering to be with their immediate family member for a period of 15 days or more. Immediate family members must provide proof of their relationship (see below). 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.

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:

  1. the spouse or common-law partner;
  2. a dependent child or of their spouse or common-law partner;
  3. dependent child of the dependent child referred to in paragraph (b);
  4. the parent or step-parent of the person or of the spouse or common-law partner; or
  5. 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 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.

More information on who is exempt and to monitor the most recent updates: https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/coronavirus-special-measures.html.

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. Flights from London to a few major Canadian cities are still available. We understand that airlines are reducing flight schedules and we recommend you book a flight as soon as possible, while commercial options are still available. 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 responding to calls 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?

On March 17, Global Affairs Canada announced the COVID-19 Emergency Loan Program for Canadians Abroad. 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 can be found here: https://travel.gc.ca/assistance/emergency-info/financial-assistance/covid-19-financial-help-faqs. 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 will not be allowed to board your flight if you are displaying symptoms of COVID-19.

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 recommend that Canadians in the UK who wish to return home do so without delay, while commercial flights to Canada are still available.

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 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.

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

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 drop-off box at Canada House.  

We would be glad to assist you with any urgent questions or concerns by phone (returned voice mail) 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 with your full name and phone number.

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. Click here for 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.

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Date Modified:
2020-07-31