It won’t be long before British Columbia snowbirds head home. It has become a trip that needs careful planning to comply with the Canadian government’s current travel requirements and restrictions. Up to recently, returning snowbirds had to present border officials with test results to prove they were healthy. However, the timeline allowed only 72 hours from taking the test to arrival at the border.
Snowbirds returning from warmer winter homes in southern climates were hard pressed to plan their returns because so many unknowns existed. Many trips took longer than 72 hours because travellers preferred to avoid dangerous fatigued driving, not to mention unanticipated traffic accidents and inclement weather. Border crossings then had to be delayed, requiring overnight stops in border cities to get new health tests done.
Recent border crossing rule adjustments
The Canadian government made the process much more manageable with recently announced adjustments to border-crossing rules. As of Feb. 28, 2022, fully vaccinated travelers need only rapid antigen tests instead of the molecular tests required for meeting the 72-hour rule. The benefits offered by the rapid antigen test are:
- Rapid antigen tests are widely available.
- It costs significantly less than the molecular test.
- The results are obtained much faster.
Criteria to meet
Although the new requirements simplify the planning for entering Canada, pre-entry requirements must be met. While rapid antigen tests can be taken at home, the test used for the border crossing must have been taken at a government-approved location. Furthermore, a telehealth service, a laboratory or health care entity must administer the test.
Snowbirds have a while still before heading back to British Columbia or other Canadian provinces or territories. The logistics of such a trip could be overwhelming, and they are bound to have many questions and concerns. Ensuring they have a good support network in place could provide essential peace of mind that will allow them to focus on safe driving when they embark on the long trip north.