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Travel Exemptions for Immediate Family Members

Posted on 20/08/2020

Do you have family members in Canada who you would like to see? Are you wondering how COVID-19 restrictions will affect your ability to travel to Canada to visit with them?

If you’re worrying about needing to get travel authorizations, you need to know the following. In order to visit family members in Canada you have to obtain authorization to travel unless the following two conditions hold:

  • You are an immediate family member of whoever you plan to visit in Canada, and
  • Your family member in Canada is either a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada.

Please note that if your family member is in Canada on a temporary basis (visitor, student visa, temporary work permit) then you must obtain an authorization to travel to Canada to visit them. To get a travel authorization, you must prove that your travel to Canada is non-discretionary, or in other words, essential.

  • Send an email to the following address (only if you have an immediate family member in Canada on a temporary basis):

  • Provide the following information:
    • Your full name
    • Your date of birth
    • Your UCI (unique client identifier)
    • Your passport number
    • A detailed reason for your travel
    • Proof of your relationship with your immediate family member (see below for examples of proof of relationship)
    • Proof of immigration status of your immediate family member in Canada (a study or work permit, for example)
    • Proof of temporary resident visa or eTA

Withing 5 business days you should be contacted by authorities and informed about the following steps to take.

Who’s an immediate family member?

According to IRCC regulations, the following are considered immediate family members:

  • A spouse or common-law partner (someone you have been living with in a conjugal relationship for at least 1 year)
  • A dependent child (someone under 22 years of age on the date of your application and who does not have a spouse or common-law partner)
  • The dependent child of a dependent child
  • A parent or step-parent
  • A guardian or tutor

If one of these categories describes your relationship with your family member then they are considered an immediate family member and if they are a citizen or permanent resident of Canada, you do not have to obtain a travel authorization to visit them.

What do I need to be allowed to board the flight to Canada?

You will need to prove a number of things which means you will need additional supporting documentation beyond what you would have required to travel before COVID-19 restrictions were put in place.

  • You will have to pass a health check done by airline officials to ensure you don’t show any symptoms of COVID-19. If you have difficulty breathing, coughing, or a fever – for example – you will not be allowed to board the flight.
  • You will have to tell the airline that you are exempt from travel restrictions as the immediate family member of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.
  • You must have a valid travel document (a valid passport and a visitor visa or eTA, for example)
  • You must show you are eligible to travel by providing evidence of one of the following:
    • You will stay in Canada for at least 15 days AND your family member in Canada is either a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident, Or
    • You are travelling to Canada for a non-discretionary purpose AND are an immediate family member of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.
  • Show proof that you’re an immediate family member. This includes paper copies or electronic copies of documents such as:
    • Marriage certificate (for spouse, for example)
    • Birth certificate (for dependent child, for example)
    • Confirmation of Permanent Residence – family class
    • Correspondence from IRCC that demonstrates a spousal application
    • Documents that show a shared home address
  • Show proof that family member in Canada is either a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident. This could include paper copies or electronic copies of the following:
    • A Canadian passport that your family member in Canada possesses
    • A Canadian citizenship certificate
    • A Canadian citizenship card
    • A territorial or provincial birth certificate
    • A Canadian permanent resident card
    • A Canadian permanent resident travel document
  • You must also have a quarantine plan for your first 14 days after you arrive in Canada. This is a legal requirement which can result in major financial penalties or even up to 6 months of jail time, if you are found to have violated your quarantine. A quarantine plan involves the following:
    • Ensure you have a specific place to stay (an apartment for example)
    • Go directly to your quarantine location and remain there for the 14 days immediately from your date of arrival in Canada.
    • Wear a face mask while in transit.
    • Use private transportation, if possible, to reach your quarantine destination.
    • Avoid contact with other people while in transit to your place of quarantine including:
      • Remain inside any vehicle you are travelling in as much as possible
      • Pay for gasoline at the pump
      • Use a drive through to get food at a franchise
      • Use physical distancing and a face mask at any restroom you have to use
  • During your 14-day quarantine you should monitor your health and look for signs of:
    • Coughing
    • Difficulty breathing
    • Fever
  • If you develop any of these symptoms during your quarantine period:
    • Isolate yourself from any others
    • Contact local public health officials
  • To contact officials during quarantine you should:
    • Call 1-833-641-0343 Or
    • Go here to download the ArriveCAN app
    • You should contact officials within 48 hours of arriving in Canada and commencing your quarantine, and then contact them daily during your quarantine to report on your symptoms (i.e. whether you have cough, difficulty breathing, or fever)
    • If you develop symptoms, call the above number or use the app to contact authorities immediately.
  • Do not leave your place of quarantine.
  • Do not have any guests, not even outside with social distancing.
  • If your place of quarantine is shared with others:
    • Avoid contact with them
    • Disinfect any surfaces you use
    • Always wear a face mask if you cannot keep a 2-metre distance from others

The following table gives information on public health authorities in each province or territory:

Provinces and Territories Telephone number Website
British Columbia 811
Alberta 811
Saskatchewan 811
Manitoba 1-888-315-9257
Ontario 1-866-797-0000
Quebec 1-877-644-4545
New Brunswick 811
Nova Scotia 811
Prince Edward Island 811
Newfoundland and Labrador 811 or 1-888-709-2929
Nunavut 1-867-975-5772
Northwest Territories 811
Yukon 811


Posted in News Tips and tagged COVID-19, Travel to Canada

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