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 travelers 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 travelers departing on domestic and international flights from Canadian airports.
Who is Affected?
Effective October 30, 2021 travelers will need to be fully vaccinated in order to utilize certain transportation. 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
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 travelers in digital formats, will be easily recognized and trusted.
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.
The Government of Canada has advised that the vaccination mandate will include specific accommodation for travelers 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. Travelers 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 traveling to Canada from airports in other countries. When first announced, the Government of Canada stated these new full vaccination rules would apply to all commercial air travelers. 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. To stay up-to-date with all current immigration and COVID-19 updates, visit the MLT Aikins COVID-19 Resource Centre.
The immigration group at MLT Aikins can provide guidance and assistance in ensuring that all prospective travelers are fully aware of their ability to travel and whether any exemptions apply.
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 travellers 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 travellers 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