The number of travellers who use ArriveCAN to enter Canada has dropped significantly since the program was made voluntary, even though the government has been increasing the number of airports the app can be used in, according to a new paper tabled in the House of Commons.
The paper, dated June 2, indicates that since the federal government dropped the mandatory requirement for ArriveCAN in September 2022, the majority of air travellers are not using the program. The service was initially only available at the Vancouver, Toronto Pearson, and Montreal airports.
Despite being expanded to airports in Winnipeg, Halifax, Quebec City, Calgary, Edmonton, Mississauga, Ottawa, and Toronto’s Billy Bishop, only 11 percent of air travellers are participating in the program.
By February, only 15 percent of travellers submitted an advance declaration. This number has fallen further since March, when the number of travellers using ArriveCAN dropped by 50 percent overall.
For example, only 1 percent of air travellers entering Halifax International Airport filed with ArriveCAN between Jan. 1 and April 15. Edmonton International Airport, James Armstrong Richardson International Airport, Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, and Ottawa International Airport saw less than 1 percent of travellers use ArriveCan.
The highest compliance with using the program was 52 percent of visitors to Pearson International Airport in Mississauga, Ontario, and 23 percent of passengers arriving at Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport in Dorval, Quebec.
At Vancouver International Airport, 17 percent of travellers used ArriveCan, and Calgary International had 3 percent use.
According to Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), ArriveCAN is voluntary, and offers an advanced declaration for travellers who want to “save time by providing their customs and immigration declaration to the CBSA in advance at 10 Canadian airports.”
The CBSA suggests that the average processing time is 30 percent faster with the use of the advanced declaration. The agency is aiming to increase the digitization of the border and the usage of ArriveCAN and other new technologies.
ArriveCAN is currently only available at airports but the government intends to expand it to land borders. No timeline was given for the move. CBSA is also working on new facial recognition with applications but has not said if it will be part of the ArriveCAN program.
In February, Air Canada started implementing voluntary digital identification using facial recognition through the Air Canada app for select in-country flights.
Noé Chartier contributed to this report.