On Thursday October 6th, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland announced that, as of October 30th, travelers departing from Canadian airports, and travelers on VIA Rail and Rocky Mountaineer trains, will be required to be fully vaccinated in order to travel. Also effective October 30th, the Government of Canada will require employers in the federally regulated air, rail, and marine transportation sectors to establish vaccination policies for their employees.
For travelers 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.
By the end of November, everyone must be fully vaccinated – testing will not be an optionJustin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada
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. Travelers will be responsible for declaring their vaccination status and providing documentation prior to boarding.
Vaccine requirements for travelers
Effective October 30, air passengers departing from Canadian airports, travelers on VIA Rail and Rocky Mountaineer trains, and travelers on non-essential passenger vessels on voyages of 24 hours or more, such as cruise ships, will need to be vaccinated.
Effective October 30, travelers will need to be fully vaccinated in order to board. Specifically, the vaccination requirement will apply to all travelers 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
For travelers 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. By November 30, all travelers must be fully vaccinated, with very limited exceptions to address specific situations such as emergency travel, and those medically unable to be vaccinated.
In addition, this vaccination mandate will include specific accommodation to recognize the unique needs of travelers from small, remote communities (some of which are not accessible by road) to ensure they will be able to travel to obtain essential services in support of their medical, health, or social well-being, and return safely to their homes. This accommodation will be informed by engagement with Indigenous organizations and provinces and territories in the coming days.
Enforcement and fines
Transport Canada will oversee compliance by means of inspections and enforcement tools—including Administrative Monetary Penalties—using oversight systems in place for each mode.
For those who falsify information or otherwise fail to comply, there will be serious consequences. For example:
- Railway companies could be subjected to compliance actions up to $250,000 per violation, per day, under the Railway Safety Act
- In the air sector, individuals—either travelers or employees—could be fined up to $5,000 per violation under the Aeronautics Act, and operators could be fined up to $25,000 per violation
- In the marine sector, employees and travelers could be fined for being non-compliant with the obligation to provide proof of vaccination up to $250,000 per violation, per day, and operators could be fined up to $250,000 per violation, per day, for non-compliance to the Interim Order made pursuant to the Canada Shipping Act, 2001
Canada’s vaccine passport
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. With the vaccine passport, travelers will be able to use to show proof of vaccination for non-Canadians. The document, which will be available to travelers in digital formats, will be easily recognized and trusted.