Coronavirus (COVID-19): travel

Travel restrictions and guidance, including how to apply to travel into Nova Scotia (Safe Check-in Form), international travel and travelling within Atlantic Canada.

Travel into Nova Scotia

Everyone who travels from outside Atlantic Canada (including if you’re travelling through Nova Scotia to another destination) needs to apply to travel to Nova Scotia by completing the Safe Check-in Form, including most travellers who are exempt from self-isolation. They may need to self-isolate when they arrive in Nova Scotia for up to 14 days. If they have already self-isolated in Atlantic Canada, they may enter Nova Scotia without self-isolating again. You don’t need to self-isolate if you’re exempt from self-isolation.

Self-isolating

Self-isolation requirements for people who travel from another Canadian province or territory (outside Atlantic Canada) are based on vaccination status and testing. Self-isolation requirements include:

  • people who are fully vaccinated (2 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine or 2 doses of a combination of COVID-19 vaccines accepted by the Government of Canada, 1 dose of Janssen/Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine or a complete series of a COVID-19 vaccine authorized by the World Health Organization) at least 14 days before arriving in Nova Scotia don’t need to self-isolate; testing is recommended
  • people who are partially vaccinated (first dose of a 2-dose COVID-19 vaccine or combination of COVID-19 vaccines) at least 14 days before arriving in Nova Scotia must self-isolate for 7 days and receive 2 negative tests results in order to leave self-isolation after 7 days
  • people who have a letter from Public Health in a Canadian province or territory stating that they’ve recovered from COVID-19 in the 12 weeks before arriving in Nova Scotia and are partially vaccinated (first dose of a 2-dose COVID-19 vaccine or combination of COVID-19 vaccines) at least 14 days before arriving in Nova Scotia must self-isolate for 7 days; testing is recommended (but you don’t need to get tested in order to leave self-isolation after 7 days)
  • people who are not vaccinated (0 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine) at least 14 days before arriving in Nova Scotia must self-isolate for 14 days; testing is recommended at the start and end of your self-isolation

International travellers need to follow Government of Canada rules. If you travel into Nova Scotia from outside Canada, only COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in Canada are accepted.

Testing must be standard PCR lab tests (they can’t be rapid tests). If you enter Nova Scotia by air, you can complete your first test when you arrive at the Halifax Stanfield International Airport and complete a COVID-19 self-swab test. Or you can book a COVID-19 test.

Children 18 or younger follow self-isolation requirements for the least vaccinated parent or guardian they’re traveling with. If the child is more vaccinated than the parent or guardian, the child follows the self-isolation requirements based on their own vaccination status. The child also follows the self-isolation requirements based on their own vaccination status if they’re travelling alone. People who arrive in Nova Scotia together can stay in the same place, even if their vaccination status is different.

Self-isolation means you go directly to your destination and stay there for up to 14 days. The day you arrive in Nova Scotia counts as your first day of self-isolation. You need to stay in the same location while you’re self-isolating (you can’t change locations). Avoid taking public transportation (like a taxi, bus or shuttle) if possible. If you do need to take public transportation, wear a mask and keep a physical distance of 2 metres (6 feet) from others, as much as you can. Only take public transportation if you don't have COVID-19 symptoms. Make plans to have groceries and other supplies delivered.

Travelling through Nova Scotia

If you’re travelling through Nova Scotia to another province and are not fully vaccinated, you should make as few stops in Nova Scotia as possible. You need to show proof that you’re only travelling through Nova Scotia (like airline, ferry or car rental reservations). You should self-isolate as much as you can and follow social distancing guidelines with people who are not travelling with you.

Voluntary airport testing for travellers

Travellers flying into Nova Scotia can get a COVID-19 test kit at the Halifax Stanfield International Airport and the JA Douglas McCurdy Sydney Airport. The kit includes instructions on how to complete the self-swab and what to do after the swab.

If you arrive at the Halifax airport and are fully vaccinated at least 14 days before arriving in Nova Scotia, the test kit is a take-home rapid antigen test. You need to take the test kit to your self-isolation location and complete the test within 48 hours of arriving in the province. Once you complete your self-swab, the test provides a result within 15 minutes (you don’t need to drop off the swab at a primary assessment centre).

If you arrive at the Halifax airport and are partially vaccinated at least 14 days before arriving in Nova Scotia or not vaccinated, the test kit is a self-swab that uses a PCR COVID-19 test. You need to take the test kit to your self-isolation location and complete the test within 48 hours of arriving in the province. Once you complete your self-swab, you then need to drop off the swab at a primary assessment centre.

If you arrive at the Sydney airport, the test kit is a self-swab that uses a PCR COVID-19 test. You need to take the test kit to your self-isolation location and complete the test within 48 hours of arriving in the province. Once you complete your self-swab, you then need to drop off the swab at a primary assessment centre.

Rotational workers and specialized workers can complete their first testing requirement with a self-swab test kit that uses a PCR COVID-19 test.

International travellers can also get a COVID-19 test kit at the Halifax or Sydney airport. The voluntary airport testing doesn’t count towards one of their testing requirements under the federal Quarantine Act.

Travellers will receive their test result by phone or email within 72 hours of dropping it off at one of the primary assessment centres. Voluntary testing at the airport doesn’t replace self-isolation requirements when you arrive in Nova Scotia.

Apply to travel to Nova Scotia (Safe Check-in Form)

Everyone who travels from outside Atlantic Canada needs to apply to travel to Nova Scotia by completing the Safe Check-in Form, including travellers who are exempt from self-isolation.

Each adult (18 or older) must complete their own form, unless they’re 18 and travelling with a group. You can complete your own form if you're 16 or 17 and travelling alone (your parent or guardian can also complete the form for you). A parent or guardian needs to complete the form for someone 15 or younger.

Proof of vaccination status needs to be provided for each adult traveller (18 or older) and any child travelling alone when you complete the Safe Check-in Form.

Most applications are automatically approved. For fish harvesters, it should take 3 business days to find out if your application is approved.

Children, groups and families

If a group is entering the province together and staying together in Nova Scotia, each adult must complete their own form. When travelling with a group, if you’re 18 or younger need to be included on the form of the least vaccinated adult (19 or older) in the group and follow the self-isolation requirements for that adult. If you’re more vaccinated than the parent or guardian, you follow the self-isolation requirements based on your own vaccination status.

A child who is travelling alone completes their own form if they’re 16 or 17. If the child is 15 or younger, the parent or guardian the child is staying with in Nova Scotia needs to complete the form in their own name (even though the adult is not travelling) and includes the child on the form. The child follows self-isolation requirements based on their own vaccination status.

Learn more: self-isolation requirements based on vaccination status and testing.

Vaccination documentation

Vaccination documentation needs to provide proof that you received the COVID-19 vaccine, including the date, location, type, brand and lot number of COVID-19 vaccine you received. Documentation must be issued by the government or the organization that administered the vaccine and show the name of the issuing government or the name and civic address of the organization that administered the vaccine.

Border documentation

If you’re approved, when you arrive in Nova Scotia you need show your approval letter to border officials (you receive the letter by email). You also need to provide required documentation, including:

  • proof of permanent residency if you’re a permanent resident of Atlantic Canada
  • custody agreement (legal or court ordered agreement or an informal written agreement) if you’re travelling for child custody reasons
  • documentation proving your reason for travel if you’re exempt from self-isolation
  • proof of vaccination if you’re travelling to Nova Scotia from outside Atlantic Canada and were fully vaccinated or partially vaccinated at least 14 days before arriving in Nova Scotia

Apply online

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When you don’t need to apply

You don’t need to apply to travel to Nova Scotia if you:

  • live in Atlantic Canada (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island or Newfoundland and Labrador) and are travelling within Atlantic Canada
  • are travelling from outside Atlantic Canada and have already spent 14 days in New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island or Newfoundland and Labrador
  • are a professional truck driver
  • have a compassionate exception
  • are an essential healthcare worker who travels to and from Nova Scotia and another province or territory for work on an ongoing regular basis

Compliance checks and enforcement

Once you’re self-isolating in Nova Scotia, you need to complete a digital check in each day of your isolation period. If you don’t check in daily, police will visit the address you provided for self-isolation in Nova Scotia to confirm. If you’re a post-secondary student, the university or college will be notified and they’ll try to help you comply with the check in.

You could be fined $2,000 for a first offence.

Exceptions

If you’ve been granted an exception in advance of travelling to Nova Scotia, when you arrive in Nova Scotia you need show the email you received from the Government of Nova Scotia granting you an exception to border officials. If you have been granted an exception you don’t need to apply to travel to Nova Scotia.

Travel within Atlantic Canada

If you travel within Atlantic Canada (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island or Newfoundland and Labrador) you don’t need to self-isolate when you arrive in or return to Nova Scotia.

If you live in Atlantic Canada, you need to show proof of residency when you enter Nova Scotia. You don’t need to complete the Safe Check-in Form before you travel to the province. When you arrive in Nova Scotia, every adult needs to provide a government-issued identification card, driver's licence, passport or a utility bill or bank statement that shows their permanent home address. You also need to follow public health measures while you’re in Nova Scotia (like social distancing and masks).

If you have already spent 14 days in New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island or Newfoundland and Labrador, you may enter Nova Scotia without self-isolating again. You don’t need to complete the Safe Check-in Form before you travel to the province. When you arrive in Nova Scotia, you need to show proof that you spent 14 days in another Atlantic province (like a hotel bill or gas and grocery receipts).

Travel outside Nova Scotia

If you travel outside Nova Scotia, the destination you travel to may have different rules and public health measures in place to help protect residents from COVID-19. You need to follow the rules in place at your destination and the public health measures when you return to Nova Scotia. Do your research before you travel so you’re prepared for when you arrive at your destination.

International travel

Departing Canada

The Government of Canada has issued a travel advisory asking Canadian citizens and permanent residents to avoid all non-essential travel outside Canada until further notice.

Entering Canada

Travellers entering Canada must follow Government of Canada rules set out by the emergency orders under the Quarantine Act, including testing and quarantine requirements. Learn more: entering Canada by air and entering Canada by land.

There are some exemptions for people eligible to enter Canada, who also meet specific conditions for fully vaccinated travellers. Learn more: COVID-19 vaccinated travellers entering Canada.

All travellers are required to take a COVID-19 test on arrival. If required to quarantine, they need to take another test on Day 8 of their quarantine. After starting quarantine at your point of entry into Canada, you can complete the rest of your quarantine in Nova Scotia once you receive your first negative test result. You need to quarantine for 14 days in Canada, even with negative test results. Your quarantine period ends after 14 days if you receive your Day-8 negative test result.

International travellers who are exempt from federal quarantine for a reason other than being fully vaccinated or who complete their quarantine outside Atlantic Canada before coming to Nova Scotia may need to self-isolate when they arrive in Nova Scotia based on their vaccination status.

Everyone who travels from outside Atlantic Canada needs to apply to travel to Nova Scotia by completing the Safe Check-in Form before they travel to the province, even if they're exempt from self-isolation. You also need to follow public health measures while you're in Nova Scotia.

Temporary Foreign Workers and employers

Temporary Foreign Workers employed in agriculture and seafood sectors who come to Nova Scotia need to follow self-isolation, testing and other requirements in the federal Quarantine Act. They also need to follow public health measures while they're in Nova Scotia and follow the COVID-19 Temporary Foreign Workers Protocol (PDF 175 kB).

There are some exemptions for Temporary Foreign Workers who meet specific conditions for fully vaccinated travellers. Learn more: Quarantine, testing and other COVID-19 measures for temporary foreign workers and employers.