This blog was originally published on October 6, 2021 and has been updated to reflect the most recent announcements.
UPDATE: On October 29, 2021, Transport Canada announced new transitional measures for unvaccinated foreign nationals who do not live in Canada, but who have entered into Canada before October 30, 2021.
Unvaccinated foreign nationals who entered Canada prior to October 30 will be able to fly out of Canada by showing proof of a valid COVID-19 molecular test at the time of travel until February 28, 2022. After these new transitional measures, all travellers flying out of Canadian airports will need to be fully vaccinated.
In addition, travellers are now strongly encouraged to use the new standardized Canadian proof of vaccination, but may continue using their provincial proof of vaccination if their province has not yet issued the Canadian standardized proof of vaccination.
Effective October 30, 2021, all air travellers departing on flights from Canadian airports will be required to be fully vaccinated in order to travel. This will also extend to domestic travel on VIA Rail and Rocky Mountaineer trains, as well as marine passenger vessels.
On August 13, 2021, The Government of Canada announced the intent to require COVID-19 vaccinations for travellers using federally regulated air, rail and marine transportation. On October 6, 2021, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland announced that as of October 30, 2021, full vaccination will be mandatory for travellers departing on domestic and international flights from Canadian airports.
Who is Affected?
Effective October 30, 2021 travellers will need to be fully vaccinated in order to utilize certain transportation. Specifically, the vaccination requirement will apply to all travellers 12 years of age and older who are:
- Air passengers flying on domestic, transborder or international flights departing from airports in Canada
- Rail passengers on VIA Rail and Rocky Mountaineer trains
- Marine passengers on non-essential passenger vessels, such as cruise ships, on voyages of 24 hours or more
A pan-Canadian, secure, and standardized proof of vaccination for international travel was announced on August 11, 2021, and is being developed in partnership with provinces and territories. This document, which will be available to travellers in digital formats, will be easily recognized and trusted.
For travellers who are in the process of being vaccinated, there will be a short transition period where they will be able to travel if they can show a valid COVID-19 molecular test within 72 hours of travel, but that transition period will end on November 30.
The Government of Canada has advised that the vaccination mandate will include specific accommodation for travellers from small, remote communities to ensure they can obtain essential services. This accommodation will be informed by engagement with Indigenous organizations and provinces and territories in the coming days.
The Government of Canada strongly advises any Canadians planning to travel by plane or train this holiday season to get vaccinated as soon as possible or they will be unable to travel. Travellers will be responsible for declaring their vaccination status and providing documentation prior to boarding.
International Travel to Canada Does Not Appear To be Affected
Currently the new policy does not appear to apply to individuals travelling to Canada from airports in other countries. When first announced, the Government of Canada stated these new fully vaccination rules would apply to all commercial air travellers. It is possible international travel to Canada could be affected by future announcements or policy changes.
We will continue to monitor the restrictions and the exemptions as they are provided by the Government of Canada.
The immigration group at MLT Aikins can provide guidance and assistance in ensuring that all prospective travellers are fully aware of their ability to travel and whether any exemptions apply.
Note: This article is of a general nature only and is not exhaustive of all possible legal rights or remedies. In addition, laws may change over time and should be interpreted only in the context of particular circumstances such that these materials are not intended to be relied upon or taken as legal advice or opinion. Readers should consult a legal professional for specific advice in any particular situation.