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Travel between Canada and other countries, November 2019

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Released: 2020-01-23


The number of travellers to Canada from the United States and overseas declined 1.4% in November, while travel abroad by Canadian residents edged up 0.3%.

Over the first 11 months of 2019, 5.4 million residents of overseas countries came to Canada by air, 1.2% more than during the same period in 2018.

More Canadian residents travelled to overseas countries (+3.1%) from January to November compared with the same period a year earlier, but fewer travelled to the United States (-1.5%).

US arrivals decline in November

US residents made 2.1 million trips to Canada in November, down 1.2% from October.

Trips to Canada by car accounted for 1.4 million of these trips, down slightly (-0.1%) from the previous month. Car arrivals from the United States increased in British Columbia (+4.6%) and the Prairie provinces (+1.7%), while Ontario (-1.6%) recorded the largest decline. The decline in Ontario coincided with severe snowstorms that affected the bordering states of Michigan and Minnesota during the last week of November. This may have slowed US car travel to the province during the US Thanksgiving weekend.

Plane arrivals to Canada from the United States declined 1.8% in November to 457,000 trips—a second consecutive monthly decline.

From January to November 2019, US residents took 23.3 million trips to Canada, up 2.4% from the same period in 2018. This was the fifth consecutive year-to-date increase since 2015, and the highest year-to-date level since 2007, just before the 2008 recession. Both car (+2.5% to 15.5 million) and air (+2.8% to 5.2 million) arrivals were up in 2019 compared with the same period in 2018.

Arrivals to Canada from overseas countries decline

Residents of overseas countries (countries other than the United States) took 612,000 trips to Canada in November, down 2.2% from October. From January to November, 5.4 million residents of overseas countries arrived in Canada by air, up 1.2% from the same period a year earlier.

Residents of Mexico (+12.5%), India (+7.9%) and France (+7.1%) took more trips to Canada by air in the first 11 months of 2019 compared with the same period in 2018, while air arrivals from Brazil (-10.8%), China (-9.9%) and the United Kingdom (-0.8%) declined.

The number of air arrivals from China—Canada's third-largest source market for overseas travellers in 2019, after the United Kingdom and France—declined 9.9% to 537,000 arrivals, year to date. British Columbia (-11.8%) and Ontario (-7.6%) reported the largest declines in air arrivals from China. Combined, these two provinces accounted for 90% all air arrivals to Canada from China.

Canadian travel to the United States by car declines while plane travel increases

Canadian residents took 3.6 million trips to the United States in November, up slightly (+0.1%) from October. Travel by car, the primary mode of transportation across the border, declined 0.5% from October to 2.7 million trips. This was led by a 2.2% decrease in overnight car travel to the United States, to 878,000 trips. Same-day car travel increased 0.4% to 1.8 million trips.

In November, fewer Canadian residents returned from the United States by car in most provinces, including the three largest: Ontario (-0.4%), Quebec (-3.8%) and British Columbia (-0.7%).

Meanwhile, car travel from Manitoba (+10.1%) and Saskatchewan (+7.6%) to the United States rebounded following a heavy snowstorm in the southern parts of these provinces in October.

Plane travel to the United States increased 1.9% in November to 851,000 trips.

Canadian residents made 40.4 million trips to the United States over the first 11 months of 2019, down 1.5% from the same period a year earlier. Car travel, which accounted for three-quarters of all trips to the United States, fell 3.2% to 29.9 million trips, while the number of plane trips to the United States rose 4.1% to 9.2 million.

The lower value of the Canadian dollar, a factor known to influence cross-border travel, may have contributed to fewer cross-border car trips by Canadian residents. The Canadian dollar averaged $0.75 USD from January to November 2019, compared with $0.77 USD during the same period in 2018.

The number of Canadians travelling overseas increases

The number of Canadian residents travelling overseas (trips to countries other than the United States) increased 1.0% in November to 1.0 million trips. On a year-to-date basis, Canadians made 3.1% more trips to overseas countries in 2019 compared with the same period in 2018.

  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 July to October 2019 have been revised. No revisions were made to non-seasonally adjusted data.

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, United States residents and overseas residents entering Canada from abroad.

Starting with January 2019 data, Statistics Canada updated the method for determining trip durations for US residents travelling to Canada and for Canadian residents returning from the United States. This change affects the relative proportions of same-day and overnight travellers arriving in Canada by air and by "other" modes of transportation (train, marine private, pedestrian or other vehicles). Trip durations for travel by automobile and bus are not affected. Caution is therefore advised when comparing 2019 data with data from earlier periods for these modes of transportation. Users who are analyzing trends in the same-day or overnight travel portions for these modes of transportation are advised to also compare trends for the total as a reference.

In 2017, CBSA began introducing the electronic Primary Inspection Kiosk (PIK) system at airports in Canada. The PIK system replaces the E311 Declaration Cards that were completed by international travellers to Canada.

Data users are cautioned that the switch from E311 cards to PIKs has affected the historical comparability of some data series. Most notably, there has been an increased tendency of Canadian residents returning from overseas trips via the United States to report in PIKs that they are returning from the United States and not from overseas via the United States. In the Frontier Counts program, this has led to increases in the number of Canadian residents returning from the United States by air and to decreases in the number of Canadian residents returning from overseas countries by air via the United States (and more aggregated series to which these data contribute). Data for other series that include international travellers to Canada by air do not appear to be affected by the switch from E311 cards to PIKs. Therefore, comparisons with data for other reference months can be made.

Further information on the switch from E311 cards to PIKs is available in the document "Impacts on Statistics Canada travel and tourism data resulting from replacement of E311 declaration cards with Primary Inspection Kiosks."

In 2018, Statistics Canada undertook a review of sources of data on 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 were 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 country of residence through breakdowns of these overseas travellers when they enter 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.

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 nights' stay.


The November 2019 issue of International Travel, Advance Information, Vol. 35, no. 11 (Catalogue number66-001-P), is now available.

Contact information

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