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How to do a COVID-19 test at home for international travel

Here's where you can find COVID-19 at-home tests approved for travel and how they work.

As well as the usual affair of visas, bookings and travel insurance, we now have to contend with vaccine passports and entry requirements, which often include having a negative COVID-19 test result.

You can’t just take advantage of your province’s free PCR testing clinic either because you don’t get the documents to certify your negative test. That’s where at-home private COVID testing kits for travel come into the picture.

How do at-home COVID tests work?

You’ll need a pre-departure COVID-19 test to travel to some countries. Some may require that you get tested within either 48 or 72 hours of departure. It’s important to check these rules before you travel. Airlines are responsible for checking you have proof of a negative test and may not let you board the plane without it.

RAT or PCR?

There are two main types of Covid tests that you can do at home but only one is usually accepted for international 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. But they are less accurate than PCR tests and most of the time cannot be used as proof of a negative test result for international travel:

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.

Once you’ve determined that you need a PCR test, you can search for a private pathology clinic that conducts them or you can purchase a PCR kit online and take the test yourself at home.

What are the turnaround times for a result?

Most laboratories have your results available within 1-3 days of collecting your sample as they’re performing tests 7 days a week.

How do I receive my results?

Clinics offer certified test results that include a dated report that meets airline and government travel requirements. Some clinics offer a QR code that will allow the airport and border agents to scan and verify your COVID test results and certificates.

Check out our guide on PCR tests in Canada

Are COVID-19 tests for travel covered?

No, pre-departure tests for travel are at the expense of the traveller. PCR tests can vary in price but typically cost anywhere from $100 to around $200. But you may find some PCR tests at around $300 up to nearly $400.

It’s worth shopping around to find the best deal on your airline and destination country’s specific requirements for PCR travel tests. You can also check out the reviews for retailers offering PCR tests to make sure they’re legit.

Where can I buy at-home PCR COVID-19 test kits for travel?

TestRetailerPriceSpeed of resultsValid for travel
Ichor COVID-19 PCR Saliva testRexall$199.991-2 days after sample is received at the labYes
PCR Swab Test (RT-PCR)Santé Medic$199.99Within 24 hoursYes

Where to buy travel approved COVID home testing kits in Canada

⚠️ COVID-19 testing kits ⚠️


We're checking availability for testing kits every hour but these products sell out quickly and prices can change rapidly. Delivery times are estimated by providers but are also subject to change due to courier delays and supply chain issues.
Some sellers charge prices far above the average ("price gouging"). Be vigilant about unusually high prices, and always consider your options carefully before buying.

1 - 5 of 5
Name Product Price From Test Type Results Timeframe (Mins) Stock Availability Benefits
Antigen At-Home Tele-Test Service
$40.00 (1-pack)
Antigen
15
IN STOCK
Delivery: 1-5 days
Test yourself at home via a video call with a trained professional. These tests are approved for travel to some countries. Check you have the proper Covid-19 entry test for the country you’re travelling to.
Artron Test
Artron Test
$275.00 (25-pack)
Antigen
IN STOCK
Delivery: 1-5 days
Boson Rapid SARS CoV-2 Antigen Test
$120.00 (20-pack)
Antigen
15
IN STOCK
Delivery: 1-5 days
BTNX Rapid Test
$70.00 (5-pack)
Antigen
15
IN STOCK
Delivery: 1-5 days
SD Biosensor Rapid Test
SD Biosensor Rapid Test
$350.00 (25-pack)
Antigen
15
IN STOCK
Delivery: 1-5 days
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Compare up to 4 providers

Which airlines require pre-departure COVID-19 tests

The following airlines are just some that require a pre-departure COVID-19 test for international travel. Be sure to check directly with your airline before you fly as these rules may change at any time.

  • Air Canada
  • Air New Zealand
  • All Nippon Airways
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Delta Airlines
  • Emirates
  • Etihad Airways
  • Fiji Airways
  • Garuda Airlines
  • Japan Airlines
  • Qantas
  • Qatar Airways
  • Singapore Airlines
  • United Airlines

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.

Wondering what to do next? Learn more about how COVID-19 testing works.

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