Not so fast: COVID-19 vaccine still required for tourists visiting Canada

Jun 14, 2022

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Canada will no longer require travelers to be vaccinated for domestic or outbound travel starting June 20, Canada’s Transport Minister Omar Alghabra announced Tuesday.

However, incoming international visitors will still be required to present proof of vaccination at least through the end of the month — and that includes cruise passengers.

Face coverings will also be compulsory on trains and planes.

Although this forthcoming change paves the way for easier travel throughout the country, it will also potentially contribute to longer wait times at Canadian airports this summer.

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Since October, Canada has applied a vaccination mandate to air travel within the country and on departing flights, in addition to travel on Via Rail and Rocky Mountaineer trains. Up to this point, airlines and railways were tasked with confirming the vaccination status of travelers. That will change next week, though, when the mandate for domestic and departing international travelers is dropped.

This news does not impact tourists arriving in Canada from the United States, however, as all international visitors must continue to provide proof of vaccination to enter the country. Partially vaccinated or unvaccinated Americans remain barred from entering Canada.

Travelers to Canada are considered fully vaccinated at least 14 days after the final dose of approved two-dose or single-dose vaccine, including those from Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. Travelers ages 5 to 11 are exempt from vaccination and testing requirements if accompanied by a fully vaccinated adult traveler, and entry requirements do not apply to those under age 5.

So while you will still need that vaccination certificate to get into Canada, you will no longer need to present it before traveling within the country or heading back home.

“Because vaccination rates and virus control in other countries varies significantly, current vaccination requirements at the border will remain in effect,” the government said in a statement. “This will reduce the potential impact of international travel on our health care system and serve as added protection against any future variant.”

If you’re planning to visit Canada from abroad anytime soon, you must continue to upload proof of vaccination and additional travel information to the ArriveCan app within 72 hours prior to travel.

Related: Canada extends vaccination requirement for visitors through at least June

What’s more, as of July 1, travelers should be prepared for random COVID-19 testing, regardless of vaccination status. Arrival testing will be moved out of airports, according to CBC. This is due to lengthening wait times for testing and major airports, including Toronto Pearson (YYZ), which are the result of staffing shortages and surges in summer travelers.

Although Tuesday’s announcement should make both getting around Canada and heading home after a trip there easier for international travelers, would-be visitors should be aware that the country could reinstate its domestic travel vaccination requirement, which would be “reintroduced if necessary” in the fall, according to a press conference statement from Canadian Treasury Board president Mona Fortier.

As always, check Canada’s latest entry requirements before traveling there from other countries and make sure you have any documentation that is required at the time of your visit to ensure as smooth an experience as possible.

Featured photo by Pierre Ogeron/Getty Images.

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