Random COVID-19 testing for travellers and vaccination requirements for foreign nationals entering Canada will soon come to an end, according to multiple media reports.

The Toronto Star and Globe and Mail broke news that the federal government would end random testing for all travellers entering Canada and vaccination requirements for foreign nationals entering the country on September 30, 2022 – the date the current COVID-19 Emergency Order-in-Council on border measures ends. Travellers on planes and trains will still require face masks.

Media reports also indicate that the ArriveCAN app – which travellers use to submit their vaccination status, customs declarations and travel plans – will become optional at the end of the month.

News of the federal government removing these measures came amid calls from border-city mayors and MPs to end travel restrictions in Canada and the U.S. Currently, the U.S. also requires foreign nationals entering the country to be vaccinated, but whether that policy will change remains unclear.

An About-Face on ArriveCAN

The removal of travel restrictions will come as welcome news to travellers frustrated by delays at Canadian border crossings, and the decision to make ArriveCAN optional may come as a surprise after the government hinted the app was here to stay.

The union representing the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) estimated that 30–40% of travellers entering the country this summer hadn’t completed the ArriveCAN app upon entry, further contributing to delays amid a CBSA staffing shortage that forced the agency to cancel vacations and implement mandatory overtime for border guards.

ArriveCAN also came under fire for technical glitches that resulted in vaccinated travellers with no symptoms being advised to quarantine or face a potential $5,000 fine – and alleged privacy issues that prompted an investigation by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada.