I know that an American citizen cannot be denied entry to the United States. What about Canada? Under what circumstances can the Canadian Border Services Agency refuse entry to a Canadian citizen?

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    I pretty much doubt that any country in the world can (or would) deny entry to its citizens (except temporarily e.g. covid isolation at the border).
    – Greendrake
    Commented Jan 23 at 8:00
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    Are we assuming that the person in question can prove their citizenship at the border? Obviously, if a Canadian citizen shows up at the border with no passport or ID, they may be turned away. Commented Jan 23 at 8:56
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    Actually, the American authorities cannot deny entry indefinitely if they believe that the person is a citizen. The person may or may not be a citizen, the immigration officials may be right or wrong, and citizens may be rejected or fraudsters admitted.
    – o.m.
    Commented Jan 23 at 15:56

2 Answers 2


Section 6(1) of the Charter states that

Every citizen of Canada has the right to enter, remain in and leave Canada.

Like any charter right it's restricted by the reasonable limitation clause of Section 1. Michael Hardy pointed out in their answer that the right to enter Canada was limited as a COVID response measure. This is the only limitation I'm aware of. (Most information about violation of Section 6(1) that's saved by Section 1 are to do with the right to stay in Canada)

  • This doesn't quite answer the question, since legal rights can be suspended or abrogated under certain circumstances. You would need wording such as "under no circumstances shall a citizen of Canada be denied entry" or "The government shall make no law preventing entry" etc. Or some binding supreme court ruling to that effect.
    – einpoklum
    Commented Jan 26 at 14:02
  • @einpoklum Any humans right instrument has reasonable limits, even if that's not explicitly spelled out like in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Consider that the 1st Amendment of the US Constitution says that "Congress shall make no law [...] abridging the freedom of speech" and yet the courts find Congress' bans on incitement and uttering threats constitutional.
    – TooZni
    Commented Jan 26 at 17:05

For a time during the covid pandemic, Canadians attempting to enter Canada were turned away unless they informed border services agents of an address in Canada where they would self-quarantine for 14 days.

  • Turned away (denied entry), or allowed to return to the U.S. if they are not willing to be isolated in a public health facility?
    – xngtng
    Commented Jan 26 at 10:40
  • @xngtng : It wasn't about public health facilities; it was about self-quarantine in private residences. Commented Jan 29 at 5:43
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    If they could not find a place for self-quarantine themselves, then they were supposed to be referred to a public health officer, if the citizen wished to exercise their right to entry; the quarantine rule was issued under the domestic Quarantine Act, the border measures did not contain anything that was applicable to citizens. Of course, I do not exclude the possibility that CBSA sometimes ignored or was confused about the rules... But I can't find a news article at the moment.
    – xngtng
    Commented Jan 29 at 9:29
  • @xngtng : Being allowed to return to the U.S. is the same as being turned away if their way of entering the country was a border crossing rather than a plane or a ship. Commented Mar 10 at 22:09
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    They have a choice to enter and comply with the orders from public health officials, or to return to the U.S. and not subject to Canadian laws. This is a hard choice, but it is not one from CBSA (immigration) but from domestic public health. They could not be denied entry or be expelled from Canada, but their freedom, like the freedom of many other people during the pandemic, can be restricted within Canada.
    – xngtng
    Commented Mar 11 at 0:51

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