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Everything B.C. residents need to know about international travel

What to know before you go ✈️
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canadians must show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 travelling by air and rail by October 30, 2021.  

Canadians looking to travel outside of the country will need to be vaccinated by the end of October.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made the announcement on Oct. 6, noting that proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test will be mandatory for people travelling by air and rail by Oct. 30. 

But there are several other factors British Columbia residents will need to consider before packing their bags. 

Providing proof of vaccination 

Canadians aged 12 and older must show proof of vaccination by the end of October if they are looking to fly by rail or air. This rule applies for travel on VIA Rail and Rocky Mountaineer trains and all airlines. 

The vaccination requirement also applies to marine travellers on non-essential passenger vessels on voyages of 24 hours or more, such as cruise ships. The rule does not apply to passengers on BC Ferries. Currently, cruise vessels carrying over 100 passengers are unable to enter Canadian passengers. But the new rule will apply to travellers on cruise ships when the cruise season commences in 2022.

During the transition period from Oct. 30 to Nov. 30, anyone who is partially vaccinated can travel if they show a negative COVID-19 molecular test from within 72 hours prior to departure.

By the end of November, however, all travellers will need to be fully vaccinated. 

Travelling outside of Canada if you're fully vaccinated 

Since mid-July, Canadians who are fully vaccinated can avoid quarantine upon their return to the country by using the ArriveCAN app. All travellers must provide one of the accepted types of tests, not an antigen test, including those who are fully vaccinated. While fully vaccinated travellers do not have to quarantine, they must still have a quarantine plan in place in case they do not meet the requirements.  

You must use ArriveCAN to enter your proof of vaccination, quarantine and travel information up to 72 hours before your travel.

The Canadian government says a new official digital vaccine passport will use data provided by the provinces and territories, who hold the vaccine records of their residents. The vaccine passport will include data on the type of vaccines received, the dates and the location they were given.

If you are symptom-free, you can provide proof of a positive COVID-19 molecular test when crossing the border, instead of a negative one.

  • The test must have been conducted at least 14 and no more than 180 days before:
    • the initial scheduled departure time of your aircraft, or
    • your entry into Canada by marine or by land

Travelling outside of Canada if you're not fully vaccinated 

For travellers who are not fully vaccinated, there are no changes to Canada’s current border measures. They must continue to adhere to the current testing and federal quarantine requirements. They must also provide COVID-19-related information electronically through ArriveCAN before arriving in Canada. 

No travellers are required to stay in a government-approved quarantine hotel, however. That program for travellers arriving by air was eliminated on Aug. 9. 

Face mask policies

Major airlines around the world are updating their coronavirus face mask policies to slow the spread of COVID-19 during travel. While some airlines continue to permit a cloth face mask, others have introduced stricter measures.  require surgical masks.

Find out what airlines have updated their policies and what to consider before you pack your onboard essentials

Possible vaccination expiration dates 

Many countries around the world now allow fully vaccinated Canadians to skip quarantine but some are entertaining the idea of implementing an expiration date on when travellers received their vaccines. 

That said, a booster shot may allow some travellers to enter countries that implement the rule. A booster shot is an extra administration of a vaccine after an earlier dose. In other words, travellers who don't meet the requirement as their first dose falls outside of the 270-day expiration date may receive an extra dose to gain entry. For now, however, B.C.'s top doctor says some immunocompromised British Columbians will be prioritized for a third coronavirus vaccine.

But even if B.C. residents receive booster shots, the timing may complicate matters. Find out more information about what countries have implemented an expiration policy and what to consider before you book a ticket.

Coronavirus testing travel costs 

All Canadians five years of age or older must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 molecular test to return to the country. This rule applies to fully vaccinated individuals, too. Screening tests for work or travel are not covered by public health services. 

But it's not just re-entry to Canada that residents need to be concerned about. Most countries around the world require travellers to present a negative test result, regardless of vaccination status, in order to enter the country.

Canadians can expect to pay over $100 locally to get tested for travel but they may spend even more money while in their destinations to get tested again. Find out everything you need to know about testing requirements

Mixed doses of vaccine 

While many countries around the world accept travellers who received two different types of vaccine, many others say they will only accept people who have two doses of the same. Additionally, Oxford-AstraZeneca is not on the list of approved vaccines in many places. 

The United States recently announced that it will allow travellers who received two doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine but it hasn't specified if travellers with mixed vaccines will be permitted.

Find out more information regarding mixed vaccines and international travel

Exempt travellers 

Currently, the Government of Canada states that you should avoid all travel outside of the country until further notice due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. If you elect to travel during the global health crisis, there are strict requirements you must follow even if you are exempt from quarantine.

You must:

  • wear a mask at all times when in public spaces
  • maintain a list of all close contacts for your first 14 days in Canada
  • monitor yourself for signs and symptoms of COVID-19

Monitor for symptoms for at least 14 days after your arrival. If you start having COVID-19 symptoms you must immediately:

  • contact the local public health authority and follow their directions, including isolation
  • report symptoms to PHAC by calling 1-833-641-0343

Check advisories for your destination

No matter where you plan to travel, make sure you check the Travel Advice and Advisories page for your destination twice: once when you are planning your trip, and again shortly before you leave.

Safety and security conditions may change between the date you book your travel and your departure date.

Find more information about entering the country with the Government of Canada's pre-travel checklists

With files from the Canadian Press.