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Leading indicator of international arrivals to Canada, October 2021

Released: 2021-11-12

Highlights

October saw the number of international arrivals to Canada increase from the same month last year, but remain well below the pre-pandemic levels of October 2019.

Compared with October 2020, there were over 14 times as many non-resident travellers arriving from abroad in Canadian airports equipped with electronic kiosks in October 2021.

Meanwhile, the number of Canadian residents returning from abroad via the same airports was over eight times greater in October than in October 2020.

US residents made 292,200 trips to Canada through land ports equipped with electronic sensors in October 2021, over 225,000 more than in October 2020.

Likewise, in October 2021, there were over 45,000 more Canadians who returned from the United States (for a total of 207,600 in the month) through the same land ports than in October 2020.

This release provides a first glimpse of international arrivals to Canada in October 2021. Complete counts will be available with the release of October data for "Travel between Canada and other countries" on December 22, 2021.

Canada opens to fully vaccinated travellers

The federal government has now opened Canada's borders to all fully vaccinated international travellers. However, effective October 30, 2021, all air travellers departing on flights from Canadian airports are required to be fully vaccinated in order to travel.

The United States reopened its land border to fully vaccinated travellers, including Canadian residents, following the opening of ports of entry on November 8, 2021.

Non-resident arrivals by air

Arrivals of non-residents—from overseas countries (149,200) and the United States (114,200)—at Canadian airports equipped with Primary Inspection Kiosks (PIKs) numbered 263,400 in October, up from 18,300 in October 2020. Despite this increase, it is less than half (43.3%) of the 608,000 such arrivals in October 2019.

The increase in October 2021 comes partly from the inclusion of international arrivals at Toronto/Pearson Terminal 1 where the PIK system was fully implemented as of June 22, 2021. Infographic 1 shows the counts both including and excluding international arrivals at Toronto/Pearson Terminal 1.

Infographic 1  Thumbnail for Infographic 1: Non-resident air travellers arriving in Canada, October 2019, 2020 and 2021
Non-resident air travellers arriving in Canada, October 2019, 2020 and 2021

Non-resident arrivals by car

In October, US residents took 292,200 trips to Canada in US-licensed automobiles through 111 land ports equipped with the automated Integrated Primary Inspection Line (IPIL) application. While over four and a half times higher than the 64,700 trips taken in October 2020, it was less than one-third (29.4%) of the 994,100 US arrivals by car during the same month in 2019.

Infographic 2  Thumbnail for Infographic 2: US residents entering Canada in US-licensed automobiles, October 2019, 2020 and 2021
US residents entering Canada in US-licensed automobiles, October 2019, 2020 and 2021

Canadians returning by air

While about half (51.1%) of the number from the same month in 2019, the number of Canadian residents flying back from abroad in October 2021 via Canadian airports equipped with PIKs was 480,100, up from 58,400 in October 2020.

Again, some of the increase from October 2020 to October 2021 reflects the inclusion of international arrivals at Toronto/Pearson Terminal 1. Whether including or excluding these arrivals, there were more returning Canadians flying home in October 2021.

Infographic 3  Thumbnail for Infographic 3: Canadian residents returning by air from abroad, October 2019, 2020 and 2021
Canadian residents returning by air from abroad, October 2019, 2020 and 2021

Canadians returning by car

In October, there were 207,600 Canadian residents who returned from the United States in Canadian-licensed automobiles via the 111 IPIL equipped ports. The number is up significantly from the 159,500 recorded in October 2020.

Given that the US land border was closed for non-essential travel until November 8, 2021, this represents about one-tenth (10.3%) of the 2.0 million Canadians who drove back across the border in October 2019.

Infographic 4  Thumbnail for Infographic 4: Canadian residents returning from the United States in Canadian-licensed automobiles, October 2019, 2020 and 2021
Canadian residents returning from the United States in Canadian-licensed automobiles, October 2019, 2020 and 2021

  Note to readers

This indicator uses administrative data from the Canada Border Services Agency on international travellers entering the country by automobile and by air.

Counts of travellers entering the country by air are from the Primary Inspection Kiosk (PIK) system and represent a subset of arrivals by air. Pre-pandemic PIK systems captured approximately 58% of international arrivals, as it excluded Toronto/Pearson Terminal 1 where PIKs were not yet deployed.

PIKs have been deployed at Toronto/Pearson Terminal 1 since June 22, 2021, and starting with the July reference period, these arrivals are included in the total counts and will raise coverage accordingly. The coverage statement will be amended when a complete year of international traffic is observed for all Canadian airports receiving international flights.

Counts of cross-border travel by automobile through 111 land ports equipped with the automated Integrated Primary Inspection Line (IPIL) system are available by the traveller's state or province of residence, based on the licence plate of the automobile, and by the province of entry into Canada.

The IPIL data are a subset of Canadian and US residents entering Canada by automobile and exclude some crossings. In 2020, the 111 IPIL ports captured approximately 80% of cross-border automobile traffic between Canada and the United States.

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; STATCAN.infostats-infostats.STATCAN@canada.ca) or Media Relations (613-951-4636; STATCAN.mediahotline-ligneinfomedias.STATCAN@canada.ca).

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