How to Apply For a Travel Exemption As A Family Member or Compassionate Traveller

Canada Outlines Criteria For Recent Family and Compassionate Travel Exemptions

Following the announcement on October 2 that Canada would be lifting travel restrictions for family members and compassionate travellers, the government has now released the full list of criteria along with the steps that must be taken to apply for an exemption.

Who Is Able to Apply For an Exemption

Under the new rules, certain family members of citizens and permanent residents and those travelling for compassionate reasons can gain entry to Canada, despite the ongoing COVID-19 travel restrictions. However, there is a process that they must follow to apply for an exemption, along with a list of criteria that they must meet.

Family Members

As of October 8, extended family members can now enter Canada, provided they are staying in the country for at least 15 days and meet the eligibility and admissibility requirements. Such individuals do not require a non-optional, non-discretionary reason for travelling to Canada.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC)’s definition of an “extended family member” is not black and white, and varies depending on how the traveller is related to a Canadian, their spouse, common-law partner, or dating partner.

You may be exempt from travel restrictions if you are directly connected to a Canadian citizen or permanent resident and:

  • Have been in a dating relationship with them for at least one year and have physically spent time together in-person during the relationship
  • Are their non-dependent minor or adult child
  • Are their grandchild (dependent child of a non-dependent adult child)
  • Are their sibling, half-sibling, or step-sibling
  • Are their grandparent

If you are related to a Canadian’s spouse, common-law partner, or dating partner, you are also considered extended family if you meet the above criteria.

Family members that are exempt will still need written authorization by IRCC along with a signed declaration by the Canadian citizen or permanent resident that verifies their familial relationship. They must also meet existing eligibility and admissibility requirements to enter the country, and require a valid passport and travel document (such as a visa or an electronic travel authorization).

In order to obtain a valid travel exemption, family members must apply to the IRCC by following a six-step process outlined on their website.

Compassionate Travelers

You can also travel to Canada to visit your loved ones and be exempt from travel restrictions and be eligible for a limited release from the otherwise mandatory 14-day self-quarantine period if you are travelling to Canada for compassionate reasons, such as:

  • To say goodbye to a loved one who is dying and to be present during their final moments of life
  • To provide support or care to someone who is critically ill
  • To offer medical support
  • To attend a funeral or celebration of life

In order to receive an exemption for compassionate reasons, advance approval for both the travel exemption and the limited release from quarantine is required.

You may apply for an exemption by filling out an application form and providing a Letter of Required Support or proof of death, as well as any necessary Site Visit Authorizations. A Site Visit Authorization is the authorization from the site that you would like to visit, such as a hospital.

If you are travelling to attend a funeral, Canada will accept the following documents as evidence of your intentions:

  • A statement of death
  • A medical certificate of death
  • A burial permit
  • A death certificate

Permission from the site you will be visiting may also be required if you plan to visit a hospital or another facility where you may come in contact with vulnerable people.

Besides meeting the eligibility requirements and presenting the required documents and approvals, a 14-day quarantine plan must also be presented and followed. If you are quarantining with a vulnerable person, they must consent to this. In some cases, additional requirements may also be necessary.