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Travel between Canada and other countries, September 2018

Released: 2018-11-20

Overseas travel to Canada up from August

Travel to Canada by residents of overseas countries (countries other than the United States) rose 1.4% in September to 556,000 trips. This was the second consecutive monthly advance.

The increase in September was led by travel from China (+9.5%), Mexico (+11.7%) and India (+13.2%). The gains were partly offset by declines in travel from Australia (-3.0%) and Japan (-2.5%).

Of note, Canada welcomed 315,000 travellers from Mexico from January through the end of September this year. This was almost 60% more than the 197,000 who arrived during the same nine months in 2016, when visitors from Mexico still required a visa.

Trips by US travellers to Canada decline in September

US residents made 2.0 million trips to Canada in September, down 1.3% from August. The decline was mainly from fewer car trips by US residents, but was partially offset by an increase in arrivals by air.

US travellers made 1.4 million car trips to Canada in September, down 0.7% from August. Although the numbers for September were lower than the previous month, they were 2.0% higher than September 2017.

The average value of the American dollar—a factor known to influence travel between the two countries—was $1.23 Canadian in September 2017, compared with $1.30 in September 2018. This reduced prices in Canada for visiting US residents.

Same-day trips, which totalled 688,000 for the month, accounted for just over half of all car trips to Canada, down 0.7% from August. On a year-over-year basis, the number of same-day car trips rose 0.6% compared with September 2017.

Overnight car trips to Canada by US residents fell 0.6% in September to 677,000. There were declines in overnight car travel by US residents to Ontario (-2.0%), Quebec (-1.6%), New Brunswick (-3.8%) and Saskatchewan (-4.9%). These were slightly offset by increases in British Columbia (+3.4%), Alberta (+2.6%), Yukon (+1.0%) and Manitoba (+0.6%). The September total was 3.4% higher than in September of the previous year.

The number of overnight plane trips to Canada by US residents rose for the second consecutive month, up 0.8% in September to 378,000. Overnight plane trips were up in the five provinces with the largest numbers of US air arrivals: Ontario (+0.4%), British Columbia (+1.4%), Quebec (+1.2%), Alberta (+0.7%) and Manitoba (+5.7%).

Overnight travel to the United States by Canadian residents rises

Canadian residents took 3.6 million trips to the United States in September, up 0.7% from August. The increase in September follows five consecutive monthly declines that began in April 2018.

Car trips, which accounted for close to three-quarters of all trips by Canadian residents to the United States, were unchanged from August, but down 4.3% from September 2017. On a year-to-date basis, Canadians made 6.0% more car trips to the United States over the first nine months of 2018 than they did during the same period in 2017. Almost all of the increase took place during the first half of the year.

Canadian residents made 876,000 overnight car trips to the United States in September, up 0.3% from August but down 3.6% from September 2017.

Same-day car trips to the United States, which accounted for two-thirds of car trips to the US, were down 0.1% from August and 4.6% lower than in September 2017.

Overnight plane trips to the United States by Canadian residents rose 4.2% in September to 800,000, following four consecutive monthly declines.

Fewer Canadians travel overseas in September

Trips by Canadian residents to overseas destinations (countries other than the United States) were down 0.5% in September to 986,000. This was the second consecutive monthly decline and followed two successive monthly increases.

  Note to readers

Monthly data are seasonally adjusted. For information on seasonal adjustment, see "Seasonally adjusted data – Frequently asked questions." Year-to-date figures are based on unadjusted data.

Seasonally adjusted data from June to August 2018 have been revised. No revisions were made to non-seasonally adjusted data. No corrections were made to the previous month (August).

In 2018, Statistics Canada has been updating its sources of data for counts of overseas residents entering Canada at land ports. Overseas residents who enter Canada at land ports represent about 10% of total overseas travellers to Canada. Total counts of overseas travellers have been revised to reflect new sources of data at some ports. In addition, starting with August 2018 data, Statistics Canada implemented a new method for estimating the country of residence breakdowns of these overseas travellers entering Canada at most land ports. These changes have varying degrees of impact on the total counts of travellers to Canada from individual countries. Users are therefore advised to use caution when comparing changes in travel to Canada with previous months for individual overseas countries.

Users are advised to exercise caution when a) making comparisons with 2017 data that include international travellers to Canada by air for the months of March to December, and b) analyzing 2018 data on Canadian residents returning from the United States or overseas by air. Further explanation is provided below.

Data for Statistics Canada's Frontier Counts program are produced using administrative data received from the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) on all international travellers who have been cleared for entry or re-entry into Canada. This includes residents of Canada, the United States and overseas entering Canada from abroad.

In 2017, the CBSA began introducing the electronic Primary Inspection Kiosk (PIK) system at airports in Canada. The PIK system replaces the E311 Declaration Cards that are completed by international travellers to Canada. Initially, while awaiting receipt of PIK data, Statistics Canada prepared preliminary estimates for airports at which the PIK system was deployed.

Frontier Counts data since January 2018 incorporate PIK data from the airports where the system has been implemented. The preliminary estimates of 2017 traveller counts for PIK airports will be revised at a later date.

Until preliminary estimates from March to December 2017 have been revised, users are advised to exercise caution when making comparisons with data for these months that include international travellers to Canada by air.

Data users are also cautioned that the switch from E311 cards to PIK has affected the historical comparability of some data series. Most notably, there has been an increased tendency of Canadian travellers returning from overseas trips via the United States to report that they are returning from the United States and not overseas via the United States. In the Frontier Counts, this has led to increases in the numbers of Canadian residents returning from the United States by air in 2018, and decreases in the numbers of Canadian residents returning from countries other than the United States by air via the United States (as well as more aggregated series to which these data contribute).

The numbers of travellers to and from Canada by car and other modes of transportation are not affected by revisions to PIK data. Further information is available in the document "Impacts of PIK on Tourism Data."

Overseas countries refer to countries other than the United States.

A Canadian resident traveller is a Canadian resident who has travelled outside Canada for a period of less than 12 months.

A non-resident traveller is a resident of a country other than Canada who is travelling to Canada for a period of less than 12 months.

An overnight traveller or a tourist is a traveller whose trip includes one or more night's stay.


The September 2018 issue of International Travel, Advance Information, Vol 34, no. 9 (Catalogue number66-001-P) is now available.

For more information regarding the impacts on Statistics Canada travel and tourism data resulting from the replacement of E311 cards with the Primary Inspection Kiosk (PIK), please consult the document "Impacts of PIK on Tourism Data."

Contact information

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300; or Media Relations (613-951-4636;

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