Planning an international trip? The costs of necessary PCR tests could add up
KINGSTON, ONT. -- With the United States border reopening to fully vaccinated travellers next month, residents in eastern Ontario are once again dreaming of that international getaway.
However, with the Canadian government requiring those entering the country to take a COVID-19 test before you land, that travel comes with an added cost.
As soon as she heard about travel restrictions easing, Kingston resident Katherine King jumped at the chance to book in her plans.
"Yesterday, we booked a cruise for next year," she says in an interview with CTV News Ottawa.
King knows she will need to pay for a negative test to get back home. Still, she says she is all in.
"I guess we’ll take it in as part of the cost of the trip and fun," she explains.
On Nov. 8, the U.S. will reopen its land border to fully vaccinated Canadians, but the federal government requires all Canadians 5 years of age or older to provide proof of a negative PCR test at the Canadian border.
Rapid tests, which are cheaper and quicker. are not accepted.
Patricia Marques, the director of sales a CAA North Eastern Ontario, says that it should be something you take into consideration, and that where you travel could mean different costs.
"You definitely need to budget for every single person that is travelling at this time," she explains.
For example, she says if you’re flying to Florida, you don’t need a test when you arrive in the state. However, you will need one to return, which can average $180 CDN at a pharmacy.
For a family of four, that can mean another $720 in travel-related costs.
A trip to a resort in Jamaica requires a rapid test to enter the country. Marques says that can average about $40 CDN per person, and to return, while the exchange rate means it’s a little over $1, the added cost for the PCR tests for a family of four can add another $240.
Flying to the United Kingdom, you’ll need a scheduled test after you land in the country. That can be about $120 per person. When you return to Canada, the PCR test can cost another $170 CDN per person. In all, that could add more than $1,100 to a family's trip.
Marques says with information changing daily, you should always check the Canadian government website.
"That site is fantastic because it goes through all the steps before and when you return about what Canadians need to know when they're travelling abroad," Marques explains.
Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy chief public health officer, was asked on Friday why returning travellers still need a negative PCR test, even though the number of positive cases are very low.
"It’s less than one per cent," he says. "But if you look at the volumes of people increasing coming to Canada as a percentage, the actual true number of people coming would obviously be potentially increasing as well."