Travel

Visiting different regions of the world can put you at greater risk of exposure to diseases.  Even if you take precautions when travelling to areas that have a high risk of some infections carried by insects, animals or people, you can still catch something and not realize it. In most cases, you may feel fine and have no symptoms at all, but still have an infection that could be transmitted through your blood to a patient. To protect blood recipients, our screening process includes checking for time spent in these areas.   

Donors who have travelled outside of Canada may have a waiting period before they’re eligible to donate blood or plasma. If you travelled to the continental U.S., Europe or Antarctica, there is no waiting period. 

All other countries require a 21-day wait. If you travelled to a malaria risk area, the wait may be longer.

More information on Malaria

What countries have no waiting period?

If you have travelled to the following countries, you will not have to wait to donate blood, plasma or platelets. Travel to all other countries will require at least a 21-day wait.  

  • Albania 
  • Antarctica (all countries) 
  • Andorra 
  • Armenia 
  • Austria 
  • Azerbaijan 
  • Belarus 
  • Belgium 
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina 
  • Bulgaria 
  • Croatia 
  • Cyprus 
  • Czech Republic 
  • Denmark (includes Greenland) 
  • England 
  • Estonia 
  • Finland 
  • France (ncludes St. Pierre and Miquelon) 
  • Goergia 
  • Germany 
  • Greece 
  • Holland (Netherlands) 
  • Hungary 
  • Iceland 
  • Ireland 
  • Italy 
  • Kazakhstan 
  • Kosovo 
  • Latvia 
  • Liechtenstein 
  • Lithuania  
  • Luxembourg 
  • Macedonia 
  • Malta 
  • Moldova 
  • Monaco 
  • Montenegro 
  • Netherlands 
  • Northern Ireland 
  • Norway 
  • Poland 
  • Portugal 
  • Romania 
  • Russia 
  • San Marino 
  • Scotland  
  • Serbia 
  • Slovakia 
  • Slovenia 
  • Spain 
  • Sweden 
  • Switzerland 
  • Ukraine 
  • United Kingdom (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, the Isle of Man, Channel Islands) 
  • United States excluding Hawaii and territories (e.g. Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands) 
  • Vatican city 

What countries have a waiting period due to malaria?

Canadian Blood Services uses the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC) malaria information to determine which countries have malaria risk. Check the malaria risk of the countries you’ve visited here.

I’ve travelled to a malaria risk area. How long do I have to wait to donate blood or platelets?

Your waiting period to donate whole blood or platelets will depend on the length of your stay in certain countries/regions. 

  • If your stay in a malaria risk area was less than one day, you may be able to donate depending on where you were. 
  • If your stay in a malaria risk area was less than 6 months, you will need to wait 3 months from the date of your return. 
  • If your stay was 6 months or more, you will need to wait 3 years. 
  • Did you actually have a malaria infection? 
  • If you had a malaria infection, you will not be able to donate whole blood or platelets. 

If you’ve had malaria more than 6 months ago or are in the waiting period to donate whole blood or platelets because of travel to a malaria risk country, you may be eligible to donate source plasma. Source plasma is collected through a process called plasmapheresis and is used to produce products used to treat patients. This type of donation is available at some Canadian Blood Services clinics. 

If you are interested in making an source plasma donation, or have any questions about your travel and eligibility to donate please call us at 1-888-236-6283 for more information.  

How Does Canadian Blood Services determine which areas or countries are risk areas for malaria?

We use a list provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to identify malaria risk areas, and may revise some areas for clarity (e.g., if the list is not precise, saying there is a risk “in northern areas only”, we expand our criteria to include the whole state, province or, in some cases, the country).

Does Canadian Blood Services test for malaria?

Today, there is no suitable test in Canada to screen blood donors for malaria. In the absence of an available test, we rely on thorough donor screening and health assessments to protect the blood system. Our malaria policy applies to all donors, even those who have taken anti-malarial medication. This is because some medications are believed to mask malarial symptoms for a period of time, prolonging the onset of the disease. As well, some zones contain medication-resistant strains of malaria. The longer you stay in a malaria risk zone, the more likely you are to come in contact with the disease. Our precautionary approach includes a longer deferral period for people who have spent six consecutive months or more in a malaria risk zone. 

I have fully recovered from malaria. Can I donate blood?

No, but you might be able to donate plasma.  

We do not accept whole blood or platelets from individuals who have had malaria. Even if you are fully recovered, there is a chance you may still be carrying the malarial parasite in your red blood cells and platelets. You may give a plasma only donation (Plasmapheresis) at a Canadian Blood Services donor centre that has the equipment to perform this specialized procedure, if you have been recovered from malaria for more than 6 months.

If you are interested in making an apheresis plasma donation, or have any questions about your travel and eligibility to donate please call us at 1-888-236-6283 for more information.