Canada's COVID-19 vaccine travel changes: The rules you still need to follow before taking a trip

·6-min read

Now that COVID-19 restrictions are easing up around the country and the world, people are gearing up for a summer of travel. But with reports of long lineups at several major Canadian airports, and many other countries still implementing travel restrictions and mandates, there are a few things to know before embarking on vacation plans.

What doesn't change when it comes to COVID-19 vaccine travel mandates?

As of June 20, people travelling domestically or with outbound flights from Canada no longer need to show proof they are fully vaccinated - that means two doses of an approved vaccine or one dose Johnson & Johnson's. This new mandate also applied to train travel.

One aspect of travel that doesn’t change is vaccine mandates for cruise ship passengers and crews. Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said this week the decision was based on "the unique nature of cruise ship travel," which includes passengers being in close contact with each other for an extended period of time.

Another travel-related COVID-19 procedure that remains in place is the use of the ArriveCan app for mobile devices or the desktop version. The app allows travellers to identify how and where they are entering the country and travellers returning to Canada must confirm their information on the app within 72 hours of entry back into the country. Failure to do so, for both vaccinated and unvaccinated travellers, could result in a $5,000 fine.

Those who are unvaccinated will still need to meet “all pre-entry, arrival, Day-8 testing, ArriveCAN and quarantine requirements,” according to the government’s website. Failure to do so could result in a fine or criminal prosecution. Click here for more information on requirements and exemptions for unvaccinated travellers.

Masks are still mandatory for those travelling by plane or train. It is still necessary for foreign travellers entering into Canada to be fully vaccinated.

If numbers spike in coming months, health officials with the federal government have stressed they will bring back vaccine policies to protect Canadians.

What to know when travelling through Canada’s largest airports

Those travelling through Montreal, Vancouver or Toronto can expect to face long lines when checking in, waiting for bags and going through security. This is a result of additional COVID-19 screening for travellers and the lack of staffing.

In a statement to Yahoo News Canada, a representative for the Minister of Transport said 400 new CATSA agent hires will be working on the ground between now and the end of June, with the addition of over 400 new officers (to make a total of 865) recently announced to be deployed as soon as possible over the summer.

Most airlines are advising guests to arrive at the airport 2.5 hours before their domestic flights and 3 hours before international flights. When possible, it helps to complete check-in online up to 24 hours before arriving at the airport.

Vaccine requirements for popular travel destinations

While outbound passengers from Canada will not require proof of vaccination, many countries around the world they’ll be arriving to, including the United State, still have COVID-19 mandates in place. Here’s a roundup of the different mandates for popular travel destinations around the world.

Mexico - No COVID-19 tests are required before or on arrival and it is open to unvaccinated travellers.

Australia - Most travellers from Canada with proof of full COVID-19 vaccination can enter, but there are restrictions. States and territories are responsible for determining and managing quarantine requirements

New Zealand - All fully vaccinated Canada passport holders can enter New Zealand and do not need to self-isolate or go to quarantine.

France - Vaccinated persons shall be under no restrictions when entering metropolitan France. If you are already vaccinated, you only have to show proof of vaccination status. Unvaccinated travellers must present a negative test to travel to France but the measures on arrival (test, isolation) are lifted when they come from countries on the "green" list, characterized by moderate circulation of the virus.

England - You do not need to complete a UK passenger locator form before you travel, take any COVID-19 tests or quarantine when you arrive in England. This applies regardless of vaccine status.

Iceland - Travellers are welcome to visit regardless of vaccination status.

Italy - COVID-19 vaccination passports or certificates are not required for entry. Pre-departure tests are no longer required and there are no quarantine requirements.

Dominican Republic - As of April 23, 2022, all passengers and crew members do not need to present a COVID-19 Vaccination Card, PCR, or antigen test to enter the Dominican Republic or to enter tourist centres, any establishments or to receive services such as excursions. Random COVID-19 testing for passengers and crew upon arrival in the Dominican Republic will no longer be performed. However, when required, random testing operations may be performed. Passengers who present their Vaccination Card will be exempted from random testing.

Cuba - Vaccinated travellers are allowed to enter the country without a pre-arrival COVID-19 test. Unvaccinated travellers must present proof of a PCR test within 72 hours of entering Cuba.

Spain - COVID-19 preventative measures and restrictions are still in effect in some destinations.

These could include:

  • curfews, movement restrictions, or lockdowns

  • mandatory mask use

  • required proof of vaccination or a COVID-19 test result to access public and private services and spaces.

Passengers arriving in Spain by AIR (except children under the age of 12 and passengers in international transit) from countries that DO NOT belong to the European Union or are NOT considered Schengen associated countries, must have one of these documents:

DIGITAL COVID CERTIFICATE OR EU EQUIVALENT vaccination against COVID-19 or a negative certificate of an active infection diagnostic test or a certificate of recovery after passing the disease. You can check if your certificate is valid on the website or in the Spain Travel Health app -SpTH- (Android, iOS, Huawei).Upon arrival at the airport follow the signals indicating the ORANGE WAY .

QR SPTH If you do not have the EU Digital COVID Certificate or EU equivalent, you must fill in the SPTH Health Control Form manually entering the details of your vaccination, recovery or diagnostic test certificate through the website or the Spain Travel Health application -SpTH- (Android, iOS, Huawei). The system will send you a QR code that you will have to present both prior boarding, and upon your arrival in Spain. In the health control, you may be required to present this document certifying vaccination, diagnostic test or recovery. Upon arrival at the airport follow the signals indicating the BLUE WAY.

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