Since October 30, 2021, Canada has required anyone boarding a flight, train, or cruise vessel within the country to present proof of vaccination.
This requirement will be lifted for planes and trains as of June 20, 2022, meaning that Canadians will soon be allowed to travel within and beyond the country without any COVID-19 vaccine or testing checks.
Domestic Travel Returns to Normal
The Government of Canada has announced that as of June 20, 2022, travellers will no longer be required to show proof of vaccination prior to their flight, train, or cruise.
Currently, all travellers within Canada must provide proof of vaccination to the airline or travel operator before departure, with the only exclusions being private and medical evacuation flights.
Furthermore, this requirement is also currently in place for international flights that originate in Canada, effectively meaning that you must be fully vaccinated to leave the country.
The imminent lifting of the vaccine requirement means that unvaccinated travellers can now board flights and other modes of transport as normal once again, while those of us who have been vaccinated all along will also enjoy a smoother journey with fewer document checks along the way.
The only exception is cruise ships – given the close-contact nature and extended duration of cruises, proof of vaccination will still be required to board a cruise departing from a Canadian port of call.
The lifting of the vaccine requirement for planes and trains is described as a “suspension” of the policy, with the government cautioning that they may be brought back if the COVID-19 situation changes for the worse.
What’s Left of Canada’s Travel Restrictions?
With Canada’s once-draconian travel restrictions having mostly been lifted, there are only a handful of entry policies at the border left to consider:
- Foreigners must be fully vaccinated in order to enter the country
- Returning Canadian citizens must be fully vaccinated in order to bypass pre-arrival testing, Day 1 and Day 8 testing, and a mandatory 14-day quarantine
In terms of domestic travel within Canada, things are virtually back to how they were pre-pandemic, with the only exception that masks continue to be required onboard planes and trains for the time being.
It’s tempting to think that the heavy-handed travel restrictions of the pandemic era may have truly come to an end, and I sincerely hope that the status quo sticks around through the fall and winter of 2022, which is when we’ve seen new variants popping up in previous years.
Random Airport Testing Temporarily Suspended
While on the topic of COVID-19 policies, it’s also worth mentioning that random testing for fully vaccinated travellers upon arrival at Canadian airports will be suspended until June 30, 2022, after which it will move off-site away from the airport grounds.
Of course, it’s no secret that the congestion levels at Canadian airports (as well as airports across the world, to be fair) have risen to record levels, so suspending random testing upon arrival should ease the crowds if at least a little bit.
After June 30, random testing upon arrival and mandatory testing for unvaccinated travellers will continue at an off-site location.
There are some unanswered questions about where the testing will be conducted and whether the traveller will be burdened with the cost of getting there, but regardless, it promises to be a less chaotic solution than the makeshift testing booths at Canadian airports that have been taking up space and delaying the arrivals process.
As of June 20, 2022, proof of vaccination will no longer be mandatory for all domestic air and rail travel within the country, as well as for outbound flights departing from Canada.
This latest shift marks the end of COVID-19 travel restrictions for domestic travel, bringing Canada in line with much of the world in terms of the ease of travelling within our own borders.
With fewer document checks required along our journeys and on-arrival random testing also temporarily suspended, here’s hoping that the congestion at Canadian airports will ease up a little ahead of the much-anticipated summer travel season.