The new mandatory vaccination requirement to board planes in Canadian airports came into effect on October 30th (with a one-month grace period that allows non-vaccinated travelers to present a test as an alternative). But in reality… as I experienced myself 3 days later, there is strangely no verification at all.
I had read several such testimonials since Saturday and was skeptical (since the beginning of the pandemic, 90% of what everyone says about the rules is just wrong, unfortunately). I figured this was too dumb to be true.
But indeed, I flew yesterday and nobody ever asked to see my proof of vaccination at all. And Transport Canada confirmed it to Flytrippers.
That doesn’t mean you should lie, of course. It’s just that no matter whether you think banning the unvaccinated from traveling is justified or not, it’s strange that the government says it’s important to be vaccinated or tested… but not important enough to verify.
Here are the details.
Basics of the new requirement
I’ll remind you that there was never any requirement to board a plane in Canada or to leave Canada, only the destinations’ entry rules applied (contrary to the very common myth).
As explained in the ultimate guide to the new requirement to board a plane in a Canadian airport, this change was announced over 2 months ago and it started on Saturday.
It’s a whole new step of rules to check when planning a trip: Since the beginning, there were only 2 steps and now there are 3, as explained in our ultimate guide on pandemic travel.
Anyway, the short version is that absolutely nothing changes for vaccinated travelers.
For non-vaccinated travelers, a 72-hour molecular test (PCR, RT-LAMP, etc.) can be provided as an alternative before November 30th.
And as we said last week, that option might remain after because it is very possible that the government is bluffing when it says that unvaccinated travelers won’t be allowed to leave the country (an extreme measure, by its own admission).
My experience yesterday
On Tuesday, I left from Montreal (YUL) to go to New Orleans (MSY), via Newark (EWR).
I was anxious to see if the vaccine proof check was really an honor system as many had said.
So upon arriving, I quickly headed to the security checkpoint. No one asked if I was vaccinated or not (apparently CATSA was supposed to help airlines verify).
When I got to the boarding gate, nobody asked if I was vaccinated either.
So no verification at all.
I could have not been vaccinated (and not tested either) and I would have been allowed to board anyway.
According to the government’s logic, as they claim that the new requirement is supposed to be to protect travelers, that means that this other failure on their part puts us at serious risk…
The government says it’s so vital to ban the unvaccinated from flights (even though those who are vaccinated like me can still transmit the virus and we don’t need to be tested… and even though foreigners can still board flights to and from Canada without being vaccinated—or even tested—to transit in Canada)…
… but it’s not vital enough to verify that everyone is complying with the requirement.
If it’s so important to have only vaccinated travelers on planes, why not verify (and why let foreigners onboard planes without being vaccinated and without being tested for their transits)? And if it’s not important enough to verify, why does the measure exist?
Honestly, I’ve had a front-row seat to the absurdity of many of the government’s travel rules by following this all closely from the beginning… but even I thought the government would certainly not make such a big deal out of this new requirement without at least making sure that proof of vaccination was verified…
A pattern of many half-baked measures
Of course, there are surely fines for those who don’t follow the rules—or rather those who get caught not following the rules. And probably some random checks too.
As we’ve said since day one, it’s important to follow all the rules… it’s really just to show that once again, what the government is putting in place for travel is managed haphazardly.
Like when they implemented a hotel quarantine stay… and everyone could go home after a day (even people who tested positive upon arrival…)
Once again it’s exactly the same thing: The new rule sounds good and it reassures all the low information voters who will just look at the headlines and will certainly be happy that restrictions are being added… but in practice, it is not very effective if no one verifies.
(Just like the hotel quarantine was completely ineffective as we said from the start, but the government’s own panel of experts confirmed that when they were tasked with analyzing it…)
There are so many examples since March 2020…
What you need to do about this requirement
In short, airlines will ask if you are vaccinated and the government relies on the travelers’ honesty. For the moment at least.
As always (and as everyone should always do now that we’re in 2021), I had done my check-in online on Monday.
They asked if I was vaccinated (or if I had a PCR test if not), but they didn’t ask for any proof. I just clicked to say that I am vaccinated.
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But anyway, I imagine it’s similar with other airlines.
Or actually possibly even less verified with foreign airlines. Those ones surely have not changed their computer systems to ask this question, considering Canada is one of the few countries in the world that requires a vaccine to leave the country (if not *the* only one).
Could it be that the government has not asked airlines to verify the requirement for international flights because it knows this rule is not actually feasible? Maybe, but maybe they just don’t check for any flight either.
Flytrippers has reached out to Transport Canada media relations for clarification on the verification process, and they confirmed that there is no systematic verification.
In the meantime, get your proof of vaccination ready if you’re flying, so that you’re compliant. So many people seem to be stressing about the proof required for nothing, as explained in our article about the new “Canadian” vaccine passport.
That’s what this document is for, so you can use that one.
But you can also show the paper version if you prefer. It obviously depends on each country (each country makes its own rules; this is the most important thing to understand about travel rules) but most are not very strict about the format of the proof at this point in time. Always check, you have no choice but to check the rest of their rules too anyway…
Canada is pretty loose on the accepted proofs (so loose that they don’t check them at all…)
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Canada’s new vaccine requirement to board a plane in Canada is in effect since Saturday after 2 months of preparation, but no one verifies if you actually are vaccinated…
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