How can ArriveCAN help in your travels to Canada

What is ArriveCAN?

The app was launched early in the pandemic. From February 2021 onwards, its use is mandatory at land and air country borders, except in the event of accessibility issues or outages.

ArriveCAN reportedly screens arriving travelers for COVID-19 and tracks vaccination status for a year. Refusal to use the app and provide the required information can result in fines of up to CAD 5k under quarantine laws.


What is the use of ArriveCAN?

The application ArriveCan improved the quality of information the government collected about travelers or passengers, according to a December 2021 report from the Federal Auditor General. However, due to the still low quality of data, approximately 138,000 COVID-19 test results could not be matched to arriving travelers. Only 25% of those who were quarantined in state-approved hotels it was confirmed that they stayed there.

Last month, due to a glitch, ArriveCAN ordered nearly ten thousand travelers to self-quarantine for an unnecessary two weeks. Bianca Wylie, a partner at Digital Public, wondered why the app would automate these decisions in the first place rather than comply with the information-gathering obligations that launched the app.

Is the app only about COVID-19?

Recent government updates related to apps focus more on efficiency than public health measures. At airport border crossings, it is now possible, but optional, to use the application to fill out customs forms before you arrive at airports in Montreal, Vancouver, Toronto, or any other airport.

The government last week announced plans to expand this optional feature to include arrivals to Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Quebec City, Halifax, and Billy Bishop Toronto City airports.

Transport Canada said earlier this month in a statement highlighting Canada’s widespread air travel fiasco that people using the forms are spending a third less time at kiosks. This is forty seconds less than the average two-minute visit estimated by the government and is estimated to “save hours of waiting time” if everyone takes advantage of it.


How ArriveCAN help in air travel in the future?

Collection of Electronic data related to COVID-19 has become necessary at many international borders, and online forms are increasingly being used for non-pandemic reasons. Australia only processes electronic travel authorizations via an app, but an online authorization form will be required next year to visit the EU.

Canadian authorities have not gone so far as to say they are planning something similar. However, Public Security Minister Marco Mendocino told reporters in June that although ArriveCAN was developed for COVID-19, it “has the technical capacity to significantly reduce the time it takes to be checked at the border.”

Before the pandemic, Canada had already launched other initiatives to digitize border services, installing customs kiosks at major airports in 2017 and launching the still-existing e-declaration app in 2018. It shortens the processing time.

Wiley said people weren’t using the app widely before the pandemic because it was voluntary, and there are easy alternatives. But she said Ottawa used her COVID-19 as an opportunity to accelerate the transition.

“The federal government used the public health crisis to train people on border modernization exercises that they wanted to do,” Wiley said, noting that the modernization effort was spontaneous. He added that it is not a problem as long as it is targeted and alternatives are available.


How does ArriveCAN affect border travel via land?

According to Customs Union and Immigration spokesman Pierre Saint-Jacques, about a quarter of people driving into Canada from the United States have not used ArriveCAN beforehand.

Canada’s U. Canada Border Services Authority has confirmed that S. Land Border offers a one-time waiver for travelers who “may not have been aware of the rules.” Of the five million crossings between May 24 and August 4, 308,800 were waived, according to a CBSA


But that’s only a temporary solution, St. Jacques said. Police officers, already feeling thinned out by a staff shortage, are acting as “IT consultants” solving travelers’ technical problems rather than doing what they were trained to do. If the goal is to make cross-border travel more efficient or safer, the current iteration will not work,” he said.

Border town mayors, border town chambers of commerce, and even duty-free shops have publicly complained that they believe ArriveCan, along with other pandemic-driven border restrictions, are deterring American tourists.


Whether Canadians resent the extra effort, worry about privacy, sympathize with border towns, or disgust federal liberals, the Conservatives say they will eliminate ArriveCan. They have an audience at their call.

Canadian actor and beloved Shim Liu joined the ‘scrap the app’ bandwagon, prompting his followers to say one good thing about it in a tweet on Tuesday, quickly writing, ‘I failed the challenge. Interim Conservative Party leader Candice Bergen tweeted on Tuesday that ArriveCan would create “unnecessary hurdles” and “only hurt Canada’s tourism industry and economy.”

Some voices have gone a step further, claiming the app is part of a broader effort to collect personal information and scrutinize the public. Conservative Party Leader Leslyn Lewis called this a “surveillance experiment.” The Data Protection Officer is also investigating complaints about apps’ collection and use of personal data.

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