international vaccine passport

This is how to get Canada's new international vaccine passport in Ontario

Canada has launched its own standardized COVID-19 vaccine passport for international and domestic travel, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau just announced — and it's a document you'll be required to fly with beginning Nov. 30.

"The Canadian COVID-19 proof of vaccination provides Canadian residents with a reliable way to demonstrate that they are vaccinated against COVID-19 when travelling within and outside Canada," reads a backgrounder issued by the federal government on Thursday.

"The only medical information shown is a person's COVID-19 vaccination history. The proof, including the QR code, does not contain any additional medical or identity information."

Rather, the card simply shows the full name and birth date of its holder, as well as what the government calls "a neutral, factual account of the holder's COVID-19 vaccination history."

While standardized in look nationwide, it's up to each province and territory to issue these international passports to their own (fully-vaccinated) citizens.

Designed with a "common look" based on the SMART Health Card standard, the proof-of-vaccination document features Canada's official wordmark for easy recognition in other countries and by transportation providers.

"We are very confident this proof-of-vaccination certificate that will be federally approved, issued by the provinces with the health information for Canadians, is going to be accepted at destinations worldwide," said Trudeau when announcing the move in Ottawa on Thursday morning.

That said, not even the PM can guarantee that you'll walk into foreign destinations with ease using the passport: Each individual country decides what type of vaccination proof is required, the types of vaccines they accept, and the number of doses required.

"Even with a Canadian COVID-19 proof of vaccination, a traveller may not be considered fully vaccinated in another country," notes the government, which is currently working with other countries to ensure their document is widely accepted.

"Canadians should always check the entry and public health requirements of their destination country, as well as the Government of Canada's travel advice and advisories, before booking a trip."

The international passport isn't yet available in every part of the country, though the government says "We expect the Canadian COVID-19 proof of vaccination to be issued by all provinces and territories soon."

Trudeau noted on Thursday that the document is already available in provinces with their own vaccine passports, such as Ontario, Québec, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, Saskatchewan and all three territories.

Ontario residents can get their proof from the provincial government's COVID-19 vaccination portal. If you already downloaded the new enhanced vaccine certificate — the one they rolled out by birth month last weekend — you don't need to do anything.

Ontario's new QR code-enabled certificate was built to the SMART Health Card standard with a federal government logo on top. It functions as both a local and international vaccine passport.

Once you download the document, you can access it as a PDF file on a mobile device, computer or mobile wallet. You could also print out the file, which contains a QR code.

The PM says the "pan-Canadian" proof certificate will actually make travelling easier for vaccinated individuals, who will soon be able to have their QR codes scanned when checking in for flights. 

"You can download it into your phone, you can print it out, you can ask for a copy by mail if you don't have those capacities, but you are now able to show proofs of vaccination immediately in all those provinces," said Trudeau of the locations where the Canada-branded vaccine passports are available.

"All other provinces have agreed and are working hard to come online."

As of October 30, 2021, you'll need to show your COVID-19 proof of vaccination for any domestic or international flights departing Canada, as well as on trains and non-essential passenger vessels like cruise ships.

"To allow travellers time to become fully vaccinated, there will be a short transition period where they will be able to travel if they show a valid COVID-19 molecular test within 72 hours of travel as an alternative to providing proof of full vaccination," reads the government's website.

"If travellers have not already started the vaccination process, or do not start soon, they risk not qualifying for travel as of November 30."

Lead photo by

Pearson Airport

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