Indeed, the federal mandate of the COVID-19 vaccine for travel on federally regulated trains and planes has come into effect and applies to most Canadians, permanent residents, international visitors and more.
While there will be exemptions, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has made it clear that they will be “unreasonably narrow,” meaning it is about to become much more difficult for unvaccinated and partially vaccinated people to to travel.
This isn’t the only change on November 30, either. The COVID-19 vaccines that Canada will accept have been expanded and the requirements for those taking short trips abroad have also been revised.
Here’s everything you need to know about what’s changed and how to make sure you’re ready.
The Canadian vaccine passport
As of November 30, 2021, almost all travelers who have not received the full cycle of a Health Canada-approved COVID-19 vaccine will not be able to board a flight in Canada.
This applies to people aged 12 and over on domestic and international flights, as well as rail passengers on VIA Rail and Rocky Mountaineer trains.
Those who are considered partially vaccinated will not be allowed to board.
To travel, fully vaccinated people must show proof of vaccination, such as Canadian proof of COVID-19 vaccination, which is now available in all provinces and territories.
“Airlines and railways will continue to be responsible for confirming the immunization status of travelers,” officials said.
A negative COVID-19 test is no longer accepted as an alternative to a full vaccination, except in cases where the traveler has a valid exemption.
What are the exemptions?
While Trudeau has made it clear that the exemptions will be limited, there are a few.
This includes people with a “medical incapacity to be vaccinated”, people with “sincere religious beliefs”, those traveling for emergency reasons and those traveling in the national interest.
In most cases, eligibility for exceptions will be determined by individual airlines and railways. Travelers wishing to be exempted should contact the relevant airline or rail company to submit their request.
Vaccines against covid-19
Canada has also expanded its list of accepted COVID-19 vaccines to include those manufactured by Sinopharm, Sinovac and COVAXIN.
Authorities said it would help align with the World Health Organization’s list of emergency uses.
This means that travelers from other countries who have received these vaccines will be considered fully vaccinated in Canada and therefore will be allowed to bypass certain travel restrictions.
Although an approved vaccine can be received in any country, proof of vaccination must be submitted via ArriveCAN in French or English.
COVID-19 vaccines manufactured by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) continue to be accepted.
That’s not all. It is now easier and less expensive for fully vaccinated persons with the right to enter Canada to leave the country for short periods.
That’s because the federal government has removed pre-entry COVID-19 testing for those taking trips of 72 hours or less.
This means that eligible travelers who depart and return to Canada within this timeframe do not have to take a PCR test to return, whether returning by car or plane.
It also means that Canadians making a short trip across the Canada-U.S. Land border can skip testing altogether, as the United States does not require testing at its land borders.
So far, the rules have not changed for travelers making trips longer than 72 hours. Those taking longer trips must continue to provide a pre-entry molecular test before returning to Canada. Antigenic tests are not accepted.
Following the detection of a new variant of COVID-19 in South Africa, the federal government introduced new travel restrictions on November 26 for Canadian citizens, permanent residents and foreign nationals from seven African countries southern.
The new measures include an entry ban for some travelers and mandatory quarantine and testing requirements for others.
The cover image for this article is used for illustration purposes only.
Before you go, check out our responsible travel guide to be informed, be safe, be smart and most of all, be respectful on your adventure.