COVID-19 vaccine passports and travel to Canada: The latest updates

Canada has begun using COVID-19 vaccine passports, popularly known as proof of COVID-19 vaccination, to facilitate international travel in a limited capacity.

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By July 5th, Canada started allowing completely vaccinated travellers to bypass the compulsory 14-day quarantine.

This is the first time where Canada is separating totally vaccinated travelers differently from their unvaccinated peers, and this has invariably confirmed that proof of vaccination will be a crucial tool in Canada’s border re-opening strategy.

Specifically speaking, this solely applies to travellers who are “currently eligible to enter Canada.”

This implies that Canada’s borders remain closed to the majority of foreign travellers. Only travellers who meet one of the exemptions clauses to Canada’s COVID-19 travel restrictions will be allowed entrance into the country.

Exemptions for fully vaccinated travellers who meet specific conditions

Completely vaccinated travellers who arrived before 12:01 a.m. on July 5, are not eligible for the exemption. If a traveller returned to Canada before the stipulated time, they must complete the 14 days quarantine and a Day 8 test.

You may be eligible for the exemptions to quarantine and testing requirements if you:

  • are permitted to enter Canada
  • are asymptomatic
  • Satisfy the Government requirements of a completely vaccinated travellers
  • Satisfy all other entry prerequisite, including uploading your information in ArriveCAN before arrival

Those who satisfy the requirements may be exempted from:

  • Quarantining 
  • Hotel stopovers (for all air travelers)
  • day-8 testing prerequisite

Travel restrictions on people who can gain entrance into Canada remain in place.

Foreign nationals (including U.S. citizens) entering Canada for non-essential reasons will be sent back to the border.

Check if you qualify for the exemption

To be considered completely vaccinated, you must:

  • be permitted to enter Canada
  • have taken the full dosage of an accepted COVID-19 vaccine or combinations of accepted vaccines
  • have taken your last dose at least 14 days before to the day you enter Canada
  • Uploaded your proof of vaccination in ArriveCAN

Accepted vaccines:

  • Pfizer-BioNTech (Comirnaty, tozinameran, BNT162b2)
  • Moderna (mRNA-1273)
  • AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD (ChAdOx1-S, Vaxzevria, AZD1222)
  • Janssen/Johnson & Johnson (Ad26.COV2.S)

Vaccines not presently accepted for fully vaccinated status in Canada:

  • Bharat Biotech (Covaxin, BBV152 A, B, C)
  • Cansino (Convidecia, Ad5-nCoV)
  • Gamalaya (Sputnik V, Gam-Covid-Vac)
  • Sinopharm (BBIBP-CorV, Sinopharm-Wuhan)
  • Sinovac (CoronaVac, PiCoVacc)
  • Vector Institute (EpiVacCorona)
  • Any other

The current list of accepted vaccines might broaden in the future.

If you took your vaccines outside Canada, it’s accepted but your proof of vaccination must be uploaded on the ArriveCAN website and should only be in either French or English or a certified translation into French or English.

Entry prerequisite for the completely vaccinated exemption

Completely vaccinated travellers must follow the entry requirements:

  • Pre-entry test needed
  • A quarantine plan incase of rejection.
  • Arrival test
  • Requirements checklist

Pre-entry test needed

  • There are no exemptions to pre-entry testing for completely vaccinated travellers.
  • If you’re driving to a land border crossing, you ought to take the test within 72 hours of your planned entry into Canada.
  • If you’re flying into Canada, you ought to take the test within 72 hours of the scheduled departure time of your flight to Canada.

Quarantine plan in case you don’t get the exemption

The final decision of if or not you qualify for the exemption is made by the government representative at the border.

You must consequently be ready to quarantine for 14 days, in case you:

  • are symptomatic
  • don’t satisfy the requirements

Arrival testing

Registering in advance for your test to save time at the border is key.

You can just travel on to your destination, without needing to wait for your arrival test results.

Ensure to follow the instructions given to you upon entry to Canada to complete your arrival (day 1) test. Airports and some land borders have self-serving testing kiosks or sample observation services where you can complete your test.

If you’re given a home test kit instead, complete it on your arrival day and forward it to the lab following the instructions provided.

If your arrival test result is negative:

  • follow all local public health measures
  • Keep a list of all close contacts for your first 14 days in Canada
  • Have copies of your proof of vaccination for 14 days

If your arrival test is positive

Requirements checklist

All travelers must follow the checklist on the Canadian government website to know what to bring to the border.

Provinces and territories might’ve their own border measures and public health guidelines, so it’s crucial that travelers check for the most updated travel prerequisite for the province or territory of their destination.

Proof of vaccination

You must use the ArriveCAN website to enter your proof of vaccination, quarantine, and travel information.

If you don’t provide all required information in ArriveCAN before getting to the border you won’t be considered for the exemption, regardless of if you meet all the other requirements.

Providing proof of your vaccination

On ArriveCAN, you must give:

  • All the details of your first dose (date, country and vaccine you received)
  • All the details of your second dose if it was required (i.e., for Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca vaccines)
  • A picture or PDF file of the record for each dose of your vaccination, like receipts, cards, or confirmations:
    • if you took two doses and they were both recorded on a single card or PDF, upload same image or file for both dose 1 and for dose 2
    • Accepted file formats: PDF, PNG, JPEG or JPG
    • Maximum size for file uploaded: 2 MB size limit for each.
  • File format preference: if you have a PDF file of your vaccination record, upload the PDF instead of the image, since PDFs are clearer and easier to read
  • File must be in English, French, or a certified translation into English or French

Ensure to bring the original proof of vaccination with you when you travel.

Ensure to provide a certified translation if your proof of vaccination is not in French or English

No exceptions for partially vaccinated travellers

For now, there are no exemptions from testing, hotel stopovers or quarantine for travellers who haven’t received the complete dosage of a vaccine or a combination of vaccines accepted by the Government of Canada.

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