Here’s what is changing with Canada’s COVID travel vaccine rules

Starting Monday, travelers will no longer have to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to board a plane or train in Canada.

In an last week, the government unveiled plans to suspend vaccine mandates for both domestic and international travellers, as well as crown-regulated transportation workers and federal government employees.

It was well-received by some in the travel industry, as delays and massive lineups at major airports across Canada and around the world continue making headlines.

Other experts, however, warn the easing of COVID restrictions will do little to loosen airport congestion, and could, in fact, make it worse as the travel industry will still have to contend with staff shortages and hiring challenges.

Vaccinations for domestic and outbound travel

COVID-19 vaccination will no longer be a requirement in order for travelers to board a plane or train in Canada. This includes domestic and outbound international flights.

The federal announcement credited the “improved public health situation in Canada” as a key factor in the decision to remove vaccine mandates for travellers.

Thirty-two million eligible Canadians have been vaccinated against COVID-19.

Vaccination rates and virus control in other countries varies significantly from ours, Canada says, and so foreign nationals traveling to Canada will still need to show proof of vaccination.

Foreign nationals who are not fully vaccinated continue to be prohibited entry into Canada, however unvaccinated foreign nationals will still be able to leave Canada on a flight or by train.

Unvaccinated Canadians returning to Canada are still required to quarantine for 14 days, unless they meet the specific criteria outlined by the federal government.

COVID testing for travelers

Canada has temporarily suspended random COVID-19 testing for fully mandatory vaccinated travelers arriving at Canadian airports. The suspension will run out on June 30.

If you’re an unvaccinated traveler returning to Canada, you will require one of the following:

  • Proof of a professionally administered or observed negative antigen test taken no more than one day before your scheduled flight, or entry by land or water into Canada.
  • Proof of a valid negative PCR test taken outside of Canada within 72 hours of your scheduled flight’s departure time to Canada or your entry to Canada by land or water.
  • Previous positive molecular test result and confirmation that you no longer have symptoms along with proof of a positive PCR test taken at least 10 days and no more than 180 calendar days before entering Canada.

Unvaccinated travelers remain subject to PCR testing on the first and eighth day after arrival.

Children younger than 5 aren’t required to test, regardless of their vaccination status.

Masking requirements

All travelers must continue wearing masks throughout their journey on a plane or train.

Masks must be kept on except for brief periods while eating or drinking on federally regulated flights or trains.

Passengers on cruise ships are required to follow masking and COVID-19 measures as dictated by the ship’s crew, regardless of whether travelers are foreign or domestic.

“Face masks are the most basic, visible, and low-cost measure for reducing transmission of COVID-19. Studies show that masks reduce spread of the disease, especially in enclosed areas or in areas with reduced ventilation. Public health experts continue to recommend the use of masks in crowded spaces and indoor settings,” reads the federal rules.

Ontario ditched most of its mask mandates on June 11 as part of the province’s plan to “learn to live with COVID-19,” according to remarks made by Ontario’s top doctor earlier this year.

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