Boarding Your Flight to China from Canada

The Very Quick Essential Checklist

  1. Flight Confirmation
  2. Passport
  3. Visa issued after March 28, 2020/Valid Residence permit
  4. A green HDC QR Code. As per the Chinese Embassy in Canada announcement, as of December 1, 2020, all passengers flying to China from Canada will require the HDC QR Code. Before boarding, you must upload your documents, passport, visa, other documents and test certificates of your IgM antibody and PCR covid tests (taken no more than two days before boarding) to the Health Declaration System website. (Here is a a list of clinics providing IgM antibody testing for travel to China. ) The embassy will then approve the test certificates and other documents, and issue a green health QR code, which will be needed to board. We recommend still bringing paper copies of the test results.
  5. The Health Customs App filled out no more than 24 hours before you land. Screenshot the QR code on that it generates. You will need to scan this at arrivals
  6. A surgical or N95/KN95 mask, without any exhaust valves, since the exhaust valves allow you to transmit the virus to others if infected. Cloth masks and masks with exhaust valves are not accepted on Chinese airlines.

Other Things That Are Good to Have

  • Extra time. People seem to get to the airport very early before their China flights, sometimes lining up for check-in up to five hours before the flight. We recommend getting there over three hours before your flight, preferably even earlier in case anything goes wrong.
  • Food and water for the flight and to last you until you get to the hotel. Pack snacks in your carry-on and buy a sandwich and drink once you pass through security. Usually it takes between 2-5 hours from when you land to when you checkin at the hotel. Both Xiamen Air and China Southern just give you a large plastic bag of snacks. Air Canada gives you a light, cold meal (sandwich, noodle salad). If you want something more substantial for the next 20 hours, then be sure to pick up a sandwich or food after security before you board. You might also want to buy extra water to last you until you get to the hotel if three bottles won’t be enough until then.
The Xiamen Air snack bag provided for the flight. It had two apples, raisins, two buns, butter, a granola bar, two chocolate squares, a fruit cup, a muffin and three bottles of water.
  • Bring hand sanitizer. It is a great idea to use it after passing through security, boarding the flight, or touching any common surfaces. You can bring it in your checked luggage or up to a 355 ml bottle in your carry on when going through Canadian airport security. You can also bring disposable gloves to wear through security, arrivals, etc.
  • Lysol wipes are great to wipe down your arm rests, seat tray, etc., on the airplane. Also, depending how clean you hotel room looks, it can be good to wipe down door knobs, surfaces. These can be brought in your carry-on.
  • PPE (personal protective equipment) such as a face shield or goggles, gloves, a hazmat suit or painter’s coveralls. A face shield can be nice to wear when you are in close contact with a lot of people, such as when boarding or deplaning. A basic face shield can be purchased at Dollarama for $3. Some have reported being sprayed down with disinfectant at arrivals. Painter’s overalls can help with that (and a face shield). These are white disposable full suits that can be purchased for $10-$20 at most hardware stores in the painting section. I purchased mine from HomeDepot for $12. A hazmat suit is a more expensive option.
I went a little overboard on the PPE
  • Food and snacks for quarantine. Some hotels let you order takeout (Meituan), especially those in Xiamen and Guangzhou, but others don’t. Bring tea or coffee to last you through quarantine if you can’t get through mornings without it. I brought a can of ground coffee, a pour over and paper coffee filters. I also brought instant coffee to fully cover my coffee bases and tea. Nuts, granola bars, trail mix, Lipton cup of soup, oatmeal and couscous are all foods that transport and keep well. You will almost surely have a kettle in your room.
  • A digital thermometer. I ended up not needing it, since hotel staff came to check my temperature twice a day with an infrared thermometer, at approximately 10 am and 4 pm. However others have told me that they were given an old school mercury thermometer and told to report their temperature twice a day and a digital thermometer can make that easier.
  • A bottle of liquor from duty free can also help the two weeks go by quicker. Most quarantine places won’t check your luggage or confiscate things, but there are reports then Shenzhen does and will give it back to you after quarantine. Hotels that allow food or grocery delivery do not allow alcohol.

Safe Travels!


Diana is from Montreal, but is currently living in Shenzhen. When she is not doing synthetic biology research in the lab at SIAT, she enjoys performing very amateur stand up comedy in the bars of Shenzhen and sailing in Dapeng or Hong Kong.

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