After more than a year of COVID-related travel restrictions, newcomers who have a valid Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR) are now eligible to enter Canada. There are still special COVID-19 travel requirements in place, but as long as COPR-holders can follow these requirements they can enter Canada, activate their status, and begin what they set out to do in the first place — living and working in Canada. 

The new entry allowance for COPR-holders was announced by Canada’s Immigration Minister, Marco Mendicino, during a press conference on June 21. The exemption took effect immediately.

Are you travelling to Canada to activate your PR? Check out our helpful guide on transitioning to the Canadian jobs market and prepare yourself for working in Canada!

The vast majority of COPR-holders have been unable to travel to Canada to activate their status since March 2020. The restrictions on COPR-holders have been deeply criticized as exemptions have been made for other types of immigrants, including international students and various categories of temporary workers. Meanwhile, COPR-holders with plans to immigrate to Canada permanently have been stuck outside Canada for more than a year. 

If your COPR is expired, you cannot travel to Canada until you have your COPR reissued. Those with expired COPRs and travel documents will be contacted by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) with instructions on how to get their COPR reissued. Full details on this are below.

Quick facts — What is a COPR-holder? A Confirmation of Permanent Residence, or COPR, is a document issued by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) once an immigration applicant has been approved for Canadian permanent resident status. However, before the applicant officially becomes a permanent resident, they must activate their PR. Activation can be done either by travelling to a Canadian Port of Entry (POE) or through a streamlined process available for applicants who are already in Canada. In the period between receiving their COPR and activating their PR status, a person is known as a COPR-holder.

What does a COPR-holder need to do in order to enter Canada right now?

COPR-holders have been added to the list of exemptions from Canada’s travel restrictions, meaning that they can now enter Canada whether by air or by driving across the land border from the United States. However, Canada still has special COVID-19 travel requirements in place. These requirements vary depending on whether a person is vaccinated or not.

Unvaccinated / partially vaccinated travellers to Canada: Special travel requirements

If you are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, please refer below for the instructions that apply to you.

If you are eligible to enter Canada at this time, you will need to follow these special measures:

  1. Entering by air — Pre-departure negative COVID-19 test: All travellers over five years of age arriving in Canada by air must show negative test results from a COVID-19 molecular test (note: antigen tests, often called “rapid tests,” are not accepted) obtained no more than 72 hours prior to boarding their flight (or a positive COVID-19 test result from 14 to 90 days prior to boarding). Obtaining test results is the responsibility of the traveller. (Source: Government of Canada)
  2. Entering by air — COVID-19 testing upon arrival: All unvaccinated/partially vaccinated air passengers arriving in Canada are required to take a COVID-19 PCR test upon arrival (Source: Government of Canada). Travellers then must complete their mandatory 14-day quarantine (detailed below). Previously, air travellers had to undergo a mandatory hotel stay, but this requirement ended on August 9, 2021.
  3. Entering by land at the U.S. border — COVID-19 testing requirements: All non-essential travellers crossing the land border into Canada from the United States must present a negative COVID-19 PCR test (antigen tests or ‘rapid tests’ are not accepted) taken in the United States within 72 hours of crossing the border (or a positive test taken 14 to 90 days prior to arrival). Travellers entering Canada at the land border will be required to take a COVID-19 upon arrival, as well as an additional COVID-19 test near the end of their 14-day quarantine period. (Source: Government of Canada)
  4. All travellers — mandatory 14-day quarantine: Unvaccinated/partially vaccinated travellers entering Canada will be forced to enter a mandatory 14-day quarantine. You must prepare an isolation plan in advance of arrival in Canada detailing where and how you will complete your quarantine. This quarantine is being enforced and those breaking quarantine may be subject to fines and jail time. Certain exemptions will be made for essential workers and in certain compassionate situations (Source: IRCC).
  5. All travellers — ArriveCAN app: All those travelling to Canada by air must use the ArriveCAN app to submit information regarding their travel/contact info, quarantine plan, and COVID-19 self-assessment. (Source: Government of Canada).

Fully vaccinated travellers to Canada: Special travel requirements

If you meet an exemption to the travel restrictions, you still need to follow the steps listed below in order to enter.

In order to be considered a fully vaccinated traveller, you must have received the full series of a Health Canada approved COVID-19 vaccine or a combination of accepted vaccines. Canada currently accepts four vaccines: Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD, Johnson & Johnson. If you have been vaccinated using a different vaccine, you are not eligible for this exemption at this time.

  1. Pre-arrival negative COVID-19 test: All travellers over five years of age arriving in Canada must show negative COVID-19 molecular test results (note: antigen tests, or ‘rapid tests,’ are not accepted). If arriving by air, travellers must take their test within 72 hours of their flight departure. If arriving at the U.S. land border, travellers must take a test in the United States within 72 hours of arriving at the border. Travellers who have recovered from COVID-19 may instead present proof of a positive COVID-19 test taken within 14 to 90 days of arrival. Full details on testing requirements are here.
  2. Proof of vaccination submitted via ArriveCAN app: Fully vaccinated individuals travelling to Canada must use the ArriveCAN app before arriving in Canada to submit information regarding their proof of vaccination and other details.
  3. On-arrival COVID-19 test (Day One test): A new randomized testing system is being used for fully vaccinated travellers. Only fully vaccinated travellers who are randomly selected will have to complete an on-arrival COVID-19 test.
  4. Quarantine plan: Even though fully vaccinated travellers are exempt from the quarantine requirement, these travellers must still prepare a suitable quarantine plan in case border officers determine they are not eligible for the exemption or they test positive during an on-arrival COVID-19 test.
  5. Children under the age of 12: Children under the age of 12 travelling with fully vaccinated parents/guardians can enter Canada and are exempt from quarantine requirements, but will have to follow certain special measures, like avoiding schools, camps, and daycares. Refer here for details about requirements for children under the age of 12.

Full details on travel requirements for fully vaccinated travellers are here.

Are you planning your travel to Canada? COPR-holders might not have health insurance for their first few months in Canada. Make sure you have proper health insurance coverage. Explore your health insurance options with our partner, Cigna. Get started today with a free quote!

COPR-holders: What if your COPR is expired?

If you’re outside Canada and your COPR and permanent resident visa are expired or expiring then you cannot travel to Canada until you get your documents reissued. IRCC will be contacting people with expired COPRs with instructions on how to get their COPRs reissued. People with expired COPRs should not contact IRCC directly, but rather should wait for IRCC to contact them.

People with expired COPRs will go through the following process to get COPRs reissued:

  • IRCC will email you about your application;
  • You will respond to the email, letting IRCC know you’re still interesting in coming to Canada;
  • IRCC may request new medicals and/or updated information
  • If you don’t respond, IRCC will close your file and you’ll have to reapply when ready to come to Canada.

Those with expired COPRs should not complete an upfront medical exam before IRCC contacts them. If a new medical is required, IRCC will send new instruction forms to take to the doctor. This will help avoid processing delays.

Those with COPRs valid until October 1, 2021, or later are expected to enter Canada before their COPR expires.

COPR-holders: How to prepare for arrival in Canada

Arriving in your new country can be stressful, but we have prepared a range of resources to help you in your first weeks. From opening a new bank account, to setting up a Canadian phone, to deciding where you’ll live, we’ve got you covered.

We suggest starting with this video on 7 things to do during your first week in Canada.

Remember, although permanent residents do gain access to Canada’s publicly-funded health care system, you may not have access to that system during your first months in Canada. In that case, we recommend exploring your health insurance options with our partner, Cigna. Get started today with a free quote!