What BC residents must know about Canada’s vaccine passport

Find out everything from what information will be stored in it to how it will be checked and more. ✈️

“If you’re leaving the country these are federal issues not provincial.” 

That’s B.C. premier John Horgan’s latest comments on new details regarding Canada’s standardized vaccine passport.

On Thursday (Oct. 21), Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that all provinces and territories have agreed to issue the standardized passport, while Ottawa will be covering the costs through its own federal budget.

While B.C. isn’t currently implementing the national standard to provide proof of vaccination, the prime minister said he expects all provinces to be on board in the weeks to come. 

Starting Oct. 30, all travellers from Canadian airports, and travellers on VIA Rail and Rocky Mountaineer trains must be fully vaccinated. That said, there will be a grace period where they may show a valid COVID-19 molecular test within 72 hours of travel as an alternative to providing proof of full vaccination. However, starting Nov. 30, travellers who have not started the vaccination process may risk not qualifying. 

Horgan told reporters in a press briefing Thursday that the province will have clarification for issues regarding the new system in the coming days. He also encouraged British Columbians to exercise patience as the federal and provincial governments work together. 

“The federal government has just announced their plans on how they want to proceed. I know that the BC [Vaccine] Card will be acceptable for a period of time,” he said, adding that he wasn’t sure how long that period will extend. 

The system “does create confusion for people who are anxious to travel” but the federal government is ultimately responsible for implementing Canada’s standardized vaccine passport, noted the premier. 

“We’re going to hopefully clarify those issues in the days ahead.”

Canada’s standardized vaccine passport

The vaccine info carried on the federal card falls within the domain of Canada’s provinces. The federal card requires more information to be displayed than what is currently available to access via the BC Vaccine Card. 

Currently, B.C. residents are not eligible to apply for the documents. The Government of Canada’s website advises them to “check back often with your province or territory to see if it’s available.” 

When the document becomes available for B.C. it will: 

  • say “COVID-19 Proof of Vaccination” at the top of the document
  • include
    • the official logos for
      • your province or territory
      • the Government of Canada (the word “Canada” with the Canadian flag above the last “a”) 
    • your full name and date of birth
    • your COVID-19 vaccination history, including:
      • the number of dose(s)
      • the vaccine type(s), product name(s) and lot number
      • the date(s) you got your vaccination(s)
      • a SMART Health Cards QR code
  • be a bilingual document

Some provinces and territories may add a second page. They will decide what information is on that second page.

How does it work?

Once you get your Canadian COVID-19 proof of vaccination, you can access it

  • as a file on a mobile device, computer or mobile wallet (if your device supports the SMART Health Card format) or
  • on paper, by printing the PDF file with the QR code

Holders at airports will scan their QR codes at check-in to receive a mark on their boarding passes confirming their vaccination status.

If you travel, you’ll need to present your proof of vaccination and another form of identification, such as your passport or status card.

  • Your name and date of birth will be checked against your other ID, such as your passport or status card.
  • Your proof of vaccination and your passport or status card are separate documents and are not digitally connected.
  • Your Canadian passport or status card does not contain vaccination information.

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 and Tyler Orton

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