I travel from Belgium to Canada. There is a layover in Amsterdam.

I will take a PCR test before boarding the plane in Belgium. Some hours later, I will get the results before I board the plane to Canada.

I am fully vaccinated and can travel from Belgium to the Netherlands. I need the PCR test to enter Canada.

Is this possible, or do I need to have the negative PCR test at check-in of the starting airport already?

Of course, the best is to take a PCR test in advance. But, I didn't...

edit: The timings were all calculated, I was going to be able to return to Belgian from Amsterdam IF I were positive. But, no way it would have worked. As said in the solutions, at check-in all documents needed to be provided. I ended up delaying my flight for two days and take a PCR test like everybody.

  • 10
    What is your intended backup plan, if it turns out that you're actually an asymptomatic carrier and your test comes back positive?
    – Kevin
    Oct 10, 2021 at 4:03
  • 1
    A premise of your query appears to be that it takes "some hours" to travel by air from somewhere in Belgium (Brussels, maybe?) to Amsterdam. More like "15 to 20 minutes", actually. Hence, if you don't have the result of the PCR test in hand by the time you check in for the Brussels to Amsterdam flight, chances that you'll have the results by the time you make it to AMS airport are vanishingly small. Even if the airline would allow you to board the first flight (which won't happen), you almost certainly won't receive the PCR test results by the time you line for boarding in AMS.
    – Mico
    Oct 10, 2021 at 17:08
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    @Kevin I think that’s an excellent question - “what does one do if testing positive during travels?”). Please ask it as a separate question here.
    – JonathanReez
    Oct 14, 2021 at 5:44

2 Answers 2


If your itinerary is one ticket with one record locator number, then the carrier will examine your paperwork at your first check-in to ascertain if you are admissible into your final destination in Canada. If they determine you are inadmissible (here, because of missing paperwork), the airline will not allow you to board the first flight.

Every airline has Terms and Conditions that place responsibility for having the appropriate paperwork and documents on the traveler. If they deny boarding, the airline will neither offer nor provide any compensation or relief to you.

Thus, you must have the negative PCR test results available to you at check-in in Belgium.

  • At least for some connecting passengers, Air Canada checks the PCR test and vaccination proof before the direct flight to Canada. But that might be possible only for passengers with longer layovers.
    – xngtng
    Oct 9, 2021 at 16:46
  • @xngtng I wonder if this is because of connecting flights where a different (partner) airline checked the passenger in and Air Canada decides to re-check the documentation before boarding the final leg? With OP's layover in AMS I would assume they are flying KLM which could check it all at the very beginning as it's one layover -- but it might be like the confirmation of passenger identity by passport before boarding thing, in which case KLM would likely be doing it too in AMS ...
    – Jan
    Oct 11, 2021 at 10:54

Your credentials for entering the destination country will be verified when you are checking in and not when you board the plane. If you don't have all the paperwork ready when you start the trip in Belgium, you must really expect that the airline will not let you fly.

It is of course in possible that you can explain the situation and ask them for an exception, but at least I would not at all rely on the airline to do so.

  • 2
    It's always asking, though I strongly suspect the airline won't make an exception. If you do ask, do so in writing, and explain what you would do if the results fail to arrive before the second leg of the flight, to demonstrate that you have a viable plan that won't cause the airline problems. For example, if might be that you satisfy the requirements for entering the Netherlands if you get stranded there, even without the test results. If they do say yes, take a paper copy of their response when you check in at Brussels. Oct 9, 2021 at 21:07
  • When I have travelled around Europe my Digital Covid Certificate has been checked at the boarding gate, not at the check in. But I was travelling through the Schengen area.
    – SJuan76
    Oct 11, 2021 at 10:05
  • A friend had a long flight from asia to europe for which he didn't need a PCR test and then a short flight within europe for which he needed a test no older than 24 hours. As far as I know despite it being a single ticket he was able to get the test result after the initial departure (I think this was with Turkish Airlines) as the length of the initial flight + timezones meant that it was more or less impossible to have it before the first leg. But that was already nearly a year ago, stuff might be different now. Oct 11, 2021 at 11:29

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