ArriveCan app troubles causing consternation at border
Canadians continue to report issues with the ArriveCan travel app, which is necessary in order to cross into Canada.
Glitches, coupled with confusion about what information is required, has caused some to receive penalties for not producing what border agents want.
Along with a passport, proof of vaccination and if required, a negative COVID-19 molecular test result, it is mandatory to use ArriveCan.
“I knew when I got to the border I was going to have a bit of an issue because I tried to use the ArriveCan app and I wasn’t successful at getting logged into it,” says Kathy Nield, who recently returned home to Mallorytown, Ont. from a three-day trip in New York State. “It was anxiety producing for me because I was sitting in a parking lot three hours earlier panicking because I couldn’t get it going. I was very upset that I had tried to do as much as I could do and it wasn’t my fault that their app didn’t work.”
Nield had previously used the app for travel to the U.S. in November. It worked fine then but, this time, she was left with little choice other than to explain what happened to a border agent.
“She started to read me all the regulations and penalties I have to incur and I started to get very upset at which point she said, 'No, don’t worry; I’m going to exempt you.'”
Canada Customs wants to see the six-digit code ArriveCan produces after trip details are entered, such as; date, destination, a quarantine plan, along with passport and vaccination status. For smart devices, operating Apple and Android software, a six-digit code is stored in the app and it’s best to take a screen shot and store it in photos.
If you do not have a smart device, travel details can be entered online. Once the account is created and details uploaded, an email confirmation will be sent; it should be printed and can be shown at the border.
Failing to submit travel plans through the federal government’s program can land you a find up to $75,000 or a 14-day quarantine.
Lorie Rockburn-Dunlop could not log on to the app, but went to the border anyway. She says the agent chose to impose a two-week quarantine.
Martin Firestone, president of Travel Secure Inc., a travel insurance firm, says he has heard multiple accounts of application errors and incorrect information submitted to a customs agent, who gets to decide if a penalty will be imposed.
“You get somebody [border agent] who’s a little off that day and says nope, these are the rules and I’m going to make you quarantine for fourteen days,” says Firestone. “Really think some leniency has got to be part of this game for sure over the next couple months. It’s a lot of work that I think we’re taking for granted at this point and we really have to give the benefit of the doubt to many individuals, especially those who are confused with respect on how to complete it. Let them pull over, let them go into an office and fill it out, and then accept that and then do what you would do normally.”
On Monday, Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino was asked during Question Period in the House of Commons how the government plans to fix the problem. Mendicino did not admit any problems with the app, instead saying the government will never hesitate to implement measures to keep Canadians safe, especially as more information surrounding the Omicron variant of COVID-19 comes available.
Information can be submitted to ArriveCan up to 72 hours before crossing into Canada.