Find out what to expect when travelling to Europe (France and Poland) and when returning to Canada now that restrictions are lifted.
My spouse and I were invited in July to a wedding in France and a baptism in Poland.
With the easing of entry restrictions in France and in several European countries that came into effect at the beginning of July, we were able to leave as planned.
The following is a summary of our experience as foreign travellers under the newly relaxed measures.
Test before departure
We were both lucky enough to receive our two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine before we left for France, but it hadn’t been 14 days yet so we weren’t considered fully vaccinated to avoid testing.
France accepts antigenic tests, so we made an appointment at a clinic (Clinique médicale Lacroix) that does the tests in “drive-through” mode. $49 per person, results received a few hours later.
At the airport
In Quebec City, where we were flying to YUL, we were asked for proof of our vaccination at the check-in counter. Thwy also checked to see if an antigenic test had been done.
However, it was not until we crossed over to the international departure area at YUL that we were asked to present the said test. A lady stamped our boarding card to indicate that we were compliant.
On the plane, we were asked to fill out a certification form (which we had already done), but no one asked us for it afterwards.
Arrival in France
Everything went well once we arrived at the airport (except for the twenty-seven minutes spent in a bus on the tarmac at Charles de Gaulle, but hey… nothing dramatic). When we went through customs, nobody asked us anything.
I guess since we were allowed on the flight, the French authorities consider that we were eligible to be on their territory without restriction!
See this post on Instagram
Travelling from one European country to another - the health pass, or European certificate
As mentioned before, we were also invited to a baptism in Poland. So we left for a 4-day escapade in Warsaw. Since July, Europe has introduced the concept of a travel health pass, or European certificate. According to the French government website:
This aims to facilitate the verification and acceptance of vaccination, test and certificates between EU countries, Corsica and overseas. It is valid in all countries of the European Union without exception as well as in Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Iceland, Norway, Monaco and Andorra. It is available in the national languages and in English.
As we were vaccinated in Canada, it was impossible for us to get the European pass (note that if you are French and vaccinated in Canada, you can apply for your health pass).
Fortunately, Poland (like most European countries) accepts proof of vaccination (in English or in the language of the country visited) issued in another (non-EU) country.
I prepared everything; we also had to fill out a form indicating where we were going to spend our stay, in detail. Once we arrived at Warsaw airport, we got off the plane (without going through customs, as it was an intra-European flight). I had the required papers in hand, but it was finally useless.
Three guards were posted near the airport exit, and they were asking (apparently at random) people to show their pass. I tried a “Canada – here’s my vaccination proof” and was waved through.
I am not saying that this will be the case for everyone, but for us, let’s say that there were no controls. I hope we just fell through the cracks, and that the control is usually better!
See this post on Instagram
Return to Canada
For our return home, having been vaccinated for more than three weeks at the time of our flight, we had to do a PCR test (50 euros for a PCR test, results obtained the same day at Roissy-Charles de Gaulle) less than 72 hours before our return flight.
We also had to fill out a declaration in the ArriveCAN application, and upload our proof of vaccination in the same application.
Once we arrived at Montreal-Trudeau International Airport (YUL), we had a 95 minute layover and an appointment to do the “arrival” test. We mentioned that we had a connecting flight – we were then given a screening kit to do at home in front of a nurse on video call. After running to catch our flight to Quebec City (YQB), we finally boarded – heading home!
The test is easy enough – the hardest part is waiting for the appointment with the nurse. 2 hours later, it was our turn. The instructions are clear and the test is easy to do. Simply place the tube with the swab in the refrigerator and wait for Purolator (or other) to pick it up at a time of your choosing after the appointment. For us, it was the next afternoon.
We got the results 3 days later, 4 days after our arrival. Note that fully vaccinated people are not quarantined, even while waiting for the test results.
There you go!
All in all, we have experienced two European countries in the context of lighter measures, in addition to Canada.
I think that everything went well and that we can start travelling again with much less headaches than a few months ago!