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How to book a PCR COVID test in Canada

A PCR test could cost you anywhere between $100 and $200. But you could pay more if you need fast results.

The information on this page is current as of March 10, 2022. Visit the Government of Canada website for the latest updates on COVID testing requirements, vaccinations, travel restrictions and more.

Overseas travel currently requires proof of a negative PCR COVID test or rapid antigen test for many countries. This means you will need to book a COVID test prior to your flight. Additionally, you may need a negative PCR test or rapid antigen result to go to work, attend school or visit public places. If you’re not sure how to book a test or what is required, this guide is here to help.

Where can I book a PCR COVID test?

A COVID test can be taken at a private blood test clinic, pop-up COVID test site, doctor’s office, pharmacy or at home under the virtual supervision of a medical professional. This is necessary to get the certification you need to board an international flight. A text message from a free COVID testing clinic is not sufficient evidence, even if it clearly shows a negative result.

How much does a PCR COVID test cost?

COVID tests typically range in price from $100 up to around $200. The amount you pay will depend on how quickly you need the results and whether you require additional tests such as an IgM Antibody test. Faster turnaround times are more expensive, possibly between $200 and $300+ for 12-24 hour PCR tests.

How do I book my test?

Usually, you can book a PCR test online on the test provider’s website or by phone. You may be able to walk in to some pharmacies like Shoppers Drug Mart, clinics or pop-up COVID testing centres and get tested. However, it’s wiser to book an appointment to avoid lengthy wait times.

What tests do I need to get?

You need to take a PCR (molecular) or rapid antigen test to enter Canada. PCR tests must be taken within 72 hours of entering the country. Rapid antigen tests are only approved for international travel if professionally administered or observed and taken within 1 day of entering Canada.

That being said, private businesses, institutions and schools within the country may exercise discretion in allowing rapid antigen test results from employees, customers and students.

Other countries may accept rapid antigen tests results from inbound travellers. Before you fly, you will need to check what tests are required for the country you’re travelling to.

PCR or RAT – what’s the difference?

There are 2 main types of Covid tests that you can do:

PCR tests involve taking a swab from the tonsils, nostrils or both. The swab is then sent to a lab for analysis. Results from a PCR test are more accurate, usually take 2-5 days to process and can be used for travel.

Rapid antigen tests (RATs) can be used at home without a medical professional and do not require you to send the test to a lab. Results typically take 10-15 minutes. Rapid antigen tests are considered less accurate than PCR tests. Also, you can only use rapid antigen tests for travel if a professional administers or observes the test and you take the test within 1 day of entering or exiting Canada.

Nearly all countries require a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test or a reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test. Some countries may require a Blood Antibody/IgM Antibody test in addition to a COVID PCR test.

Travellers are responsible for checking the COVID rules for their destinations, including the required test type and cut-off times.

Where to buy Rapid Antigen home testing kits in Canada

Boson Rapid COVID 19 Antigen Test

Boson Rapid COVID 19 Antigen Test

IN STOCK
Delivery: 3-7 days

- Antigen test
- Results in 15-20 minutes
- Health Canada approved

  • $149.99 for 20-pack
  • Free shipping over $99.99

Buy now

Roche SARS-CoV-2 Rapid Antigen Test

Roche SARS-CoV-2 Rapid Antigen Test

IN STOCK
Delivery: 3-7 days

- Antigen test
- Results in 15 minutes
- Health Canada approved

  • $299.99 for 25-pack
  • Free shipping over $99.99

Buy now

BTNX Rapid Test

BTNX Rapid Test

IN STOCK
Delivery: 1-5 days

- Antigen test
- Results in 15 minutes
- Health Canada approved

  • $70 for 5-pack
  • Delivery in 1-5 business days

Buy now

Boson Rapid SARS CoV-2 Antigen Test

Boson Rapid SARS CoV-2 Antigen Test

IN STOCK
Delivery: 1-5 days

- Antigen test
- Results in 15-20 minutes
- Health Canada approved

  • $120 for 20-pack
  • Delivery in 1-5 business days

Buy now

Artron Test

Artron Test

IN STOCK
Delivery: 1-5 days

- Antigen test
- Results in 15-20 minutes
- Health Canada approved

  • $275 for 25-pack
  • Delivery in 1-5 business days

Buy now

SD Biosensor Rapid Test

SD Biosensor Rapid Test

IN STOCK
Delivery: 1-5 days

- Antigen test
- Results in 15-30 minutes
- Health Canada approved

  • $350 for 25-pack
  • Delivery in 1-5 business days

Buy now

Antigen At-Home Tele-Test Service

Antigen At-Home Tele-Test Service

IN STOCK
Delivery: 1-5 days

- Antigen test
- Administered by health professional via video call
- Results within 1 hour
- Approved for travel to some countries

  • $40 for 1-pack
  • Delivery in 1-5 business days

Buy now

I forgot to book a COVID PCR test and my flight is tomorrow. What now?

Many clinics provide express testing for an additional fee. You’ll be hard pressed to find a test provider that operated across all of Canada. Instead, look for local pop-up clinics or services that provide at-home sample collection.

International airports are often partnered with various COVID test providers to provide quick pre-departure testing for passengers. For example, Switch Health offers COVID tests for passengers arriving to, and departing from, Toronto Pearson International Airport.

Quick facts: COVID testing and vaccination requirements in Canada

This table was last updated on March 17, 2022. Visit the Government of Canada website for the latest rules on COVID travel, testing and vaccinations.
Question Answer
Do I need a COVID test to enter Canada?
  • Both unvaccinated and fully vaccinated travellers must take a molecular (PCR) COVID test within 72 hours of entering Canada or a rapid antigen test within 1 day of entering Canada.
  • Starting April 1, fully vaccinated travelers do not need a pre-entry test.
Do I need a COVID test to leave Canada?
  • Negative COVID test results are not acceptable. Proof of vaccination is required. Destination countries may require COVID tests for entry.
What types of COVID tests can I take for international travel?
  • Molecular tests (PCR, NAT, NAAT, RT-LAMP)
  • Rapid antigen tests administered or observed by a pharmacy, laboratory, healthcare entity or telehealth service (take-home tests without professional supervision are not approved)
Are COVID home tests available in Canada?
  • Yes. A number of retailers sell molecular (PCR) and rapid antigen COVID tests that can be taken from home. Note that PCR tests and rapid antigen tests for international travel may need to be administered under the remote (virtual) supervision of a medical professional.
Do children need to take COVID tests to travel?
  • Children under 5 years old do not need to take a COVID test (pre-entry, arrival or Day-8).
  • Those who are 5+ years of age (on the day they travel) must follow COVID testing rules for travellers.
What if I can't supply COVID-19 test results at the airport?
  • Canadian citizens or permanent residents. You won't be denied entry, but you may face a fine, criminal charges or other penalties. If you have COVID symptoms, you have to quarantine.
  • Others. You won't be allowed to enter Canada.
Do I have to quarantine after entering Canada?
  • Fully vaccinated travellers do not need to quarantine. Your eligibility for exemption will be determined at the border based on information you provide. A Day-8 test is not required.
  • All others must quarantine for 14 days. A test will be provided for incoming travellers to take on day 8 of quarantine.
Do I need to be vaccinated to travel?
  • Yes. Canadian authorities require proof of vaccination to board flights and trains for both domestic and international travel. Note that destination countries may have different rules for inbound travellers.
Which COVID vaccinations are approved in Canada?
  • Moderna (Spikevax), mRNA vaccine
  • Pfizer-BioNTech (Comirnaty), mRNA vaccine
  • AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria), viral vector-based vaccine
  • Janssen (Johnson & Johnson), viral vector-based vaccine
  • Nuvaxovid (Novavax) protein-based vaccine
  • Covifenz (Medicago) plant based virus-like particle
How do I submit my COVID testing and vaccination info for travel?
  • All travellers must use the free ArriveCAN app to submit contact info, travel details, vaccination status, test results and quarantine plans to the Canadian authorities.

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