You are currently viewing Here’s What We Know About The Mandatory Vaccination To Board A Plane In Canada Coming This Month

As we told you in August, vaccination will be mandatory to board ANY flight from a Canadian airport (not just domestic flights). It’s a major change, since there was NEVER any requirement whatsoever to board a plane in Canada (or to leave Canada). But with the narrow Liberal electoral victory in September (even if they didn’t win the most votes), the new measure is now confirmed and we now know many more details.

So here’s everything we know about Canada’s upcoming mandatory vaccination for travel (making unvaccinated Canadians prisoners of their own country… or not).


Key facts about Canada’s mandatory vaccination rule

Here are the highlights in an infographic.

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And here’s the text version:

  • Takes effect October 30
  • Mandatory to be fully vaccinated to travel
  • Includes all commercial flights, trains, or large marine vessels
  • Exemption option with a 72-hour PCR test until November 29
  • End of the grace period on November 30 (no longer possible to test instead)
  • “Very limited” exemptions will remain (not wanting a vaccine will not be one)
  • Details of those exemptions (or any other details) have not been announced
  • Kids cannot be vaccinated so obviously they are exempt
  • This obviously changes absolutely nothing about Canada’s entry rules

Here’s another way to look at it, to help you understand.

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To be very clear, it’s the same thing they’ve been saying since the beginning: It will apply to take ANY flight departing from a Canadian airport. NOT just domestic flights.

Flytrippers has been telling you since literally day 1 in August that this new rule will apply to all flights departing from a Canadian airport. There was NEVER any mention of it applying to just domestic flights by the way, I really don’t know where everyone got that idea.

(Well, even several major media outlets wrote articles in a way that seems to have been confusing from the beginning…)

Hence the importance of following Flytrippers as travel experts who are 100% focused on travel rules and therefore understand them better than almost everyone, clearly. 

We had watched the government press conference in mid-August and they said it would be for all flights. For once (which is rare with this government), it was very clear.

Will it still be that way when the rule comes into effect on October 30? That’s another topic (I’ll come back to that in a second, it’s worth it).

But the announcement was very clear. From the beginning.

Excerpt from the official government website (image credit: Government of Canada)


At Flytrippers, we are working full time to inform you of the facts and rules since the beginning of the pandemic and it’s important to beware of all the misinformation about travel rules, it’s terrible how much of it is out there (remember that everything you read on the internet is likely to be wrong, no one really understands the rules and a lot of people are saying stuff that is just 100% false…)

So anyway, Canada is going to imprison the non-vaccinated in their own country, except maybe not…


Details of Canada’s mandatory vaccination rule

First, here are a few more details.

You only had 2 steps to travel since the beginning of the pandemic, as explained in the ultimate guide to pandemic travel:

  • Check the entry rules for the places you are going to and follow them
  • Check the entry rules for your return to Canada and follow them

It was simple. There were only the destination’s entry rules and no other requirements, contrary to what many people seemed to think. It will continue to be that way until October 29.

Now, from October 30th, it’s just one more step, it’s not that complicated to understand either (and even if it was complicated to understand or plan a trip, it would still be worth it compared to not traveling if you’re really a traveler who likes to travel, or even compared to traveling within your province in my humble opinion…) and it’s this in bold:

  • Check the rules to board a plane in a Canadian airport and follow them
  • Check the entry rules for the places you are going to and follow them
  • Check the entry rules for your return to Canada and follow them

So, now you’ll need to be vaccinated to fly. 

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Just to be clear again, this does not change Canada’s entry rules at all, there has never been any mention of changing the entry rules by the government since this new measure was announced, so it has absolutely nothing to do with the entry rules. They are not changing at all at this time.

We are talking about a new rule for flying from a Canadian airport, so it has nothing to do with the entry rules. Many people seem to be confused about this too.

So if you are considered fully vaccinated by Canada (be careful because Canada’s definition is not the same as Quebec’s for example), absolutely nothing changes for you.


Children can’t be vaccinated, so of course, they are exempt. There was never any question of changing any rules for children either. On the other hand, when Health Canada will determine that children are eligible for a vaccine (the United States may start very soon), it may become a requirement for them too very quickly, but nothing has been announced on the subject.

For the non-vaccinated, during the one-month grace period, you will be able to travel as long as you present a negative PCR test done within 72 hours before the flight. But starting November 30, it will no longer be possible to fly (and therefore leave Canada), according to what the government has announced.

So to be clear, even if 142 countries are open to non-vaccinated Canadians, if you are not vaccinated, you will not even be able to go to those countries since you will not be allowed to fly.

The website specifies the exemption is for “those in the process of being vaccinated” but they did not ever specify that you would have to show proof of anything in order to take advantage of the temporary exemption.

So we interpret the website’s wording more as yet another form of political marketing to appear to be giving an exemption to the “good guys” who are in the process of getting vaccinated and not to the “bad guys” who are not the process of getting vaccinated. There should be no verification, but it remains to be confirmed; Flytrippers reached out to the Government to check, we are awaiting a response.

Another thing that remains to be confirmed is whether private flights will be exempted from the measure. That is not clear. If so, there may be a new offer of private flights for the non-vaccinated. If there is demand, the market always provides as they say (unless of course government regulation disrupts market forces).

However, what seems certain is that Canadians could continue to have the right to enter Canada without being vaccinated. Of course, you’ll have to leave before this comes into effect.

And let’s say you come back unvaccinated and you have a Mexico-Toronto-Timmins flight because you live outside the major hubs, there is a very good chance that you will have to make your way home with another means of transportation, since on the domestic flight there they might apply the new rule to everyone.

Unless they add an exemption for those arriving from abroad, which will allow them to take a domestic flight while unvaccinated, but which will put everyone on those flights at risk according to their “logic”.


Exemptions from Canada’s mandatory vaccination rule

Let’s talk about exemptions.

Very few details have been given at this point. We know that just not wanting to be vaccinated will not be considered a valid exemption.

They have talked about exemptions for:

  • “Limited” medical reasons
  • Religious reasons (The Science™)
  • Remote communities
  • “Emergency” travel

This last point is the one that could perhaps allow the government to say they are not curtailing freedom and allow them to give some exemptions, since the word “emergency” is very subjective and broad.

Because otherwise, it means that a non-vaccinated foreigner (who entered Canada with an exemption, since foreigners who come for tourism are not allowed to enter without being vaccinated) would be imprisoned in Canada.

Because otherwise, it means that a Canadian with dual citizenship who wants to go to his second country would be imprisoned in Canada.

This seems unlikely.

Maybe an exemption for them? On the other hand, that would give more rights to foreigners and Canadians with dual citizenship, compared to ordinary non-religious non-dual citizen Canadians who do not live in a remote community. A bit strange.

So, it may very well be that leaving Canada will become an exemption…


Why the mandatory vaccination rule could end up not being so strict after all

Many seem to believe that the government will not limit the constitutional right to leave the country. Let’s just say that, to date, it seems they are on track to do just that.

Objectively, it’s not like it would be the first exception to our freedoms in response to the pandemic. Whether you’re for it or against it, that’s an undeniable fact.

But what we also know is that this government has a history of announcing rules that are stricter than the ones it ends up implementing.

Here are 2 examples.

First, when the hotel quarantine was announced, the government repeatedly talked about a cost of $2,000 per person. In reality, when the measure went into effect, there were hotels for as “little” as ≈ $600 in some cities. You will tell me that a 70% difference is not much for a government that has never really given the impression of knowing how to do the math and I would say “touché“…

But still, there is a pattern.

Because secondly, this summer they did the same thing again: They announced a stricter rule to scare people away from booking travel, and then they relaxed it when it was time to implement it.

When they announced the end of the 14-day quarantine, they said it was going to be mandatory to go into quarantine at home for 24 to 48 hours while you got the results from the test that was done upon arrival at the time. They never publicly talked about changing that and yet when the rule came into effect… there was absolutely no quarantine at all.

It was much less stringent than originally announced.

Anyway… are they again making it seem worse than it really is by telling the non-vaccinated that they will be stuck in Canada (which is indeed a very scary thing, especially for travelers) just to encourage vaccination? And then on October 30th, they will announce surprise exemptions? Or even on November 30th?

Who knows!

We’ll continue to follow this closely.


Outlook for future travel rules

Trudeau liked to make political points with this measure during the campaign, saying that it was absolutely vital to implement this.

So vital that he didn’t do it before the election (inaction that has put us all at risk by his logic) and so vital they took over a month after the election to implement it… That means that either everyone is at grave risk until then and he won’t do anything about it, or that he might have exaggerated a bit…

But that’s the legendary slowness of this government, we’ve seen it from the start (they took 6 months to set up something as simple as temperature checks in airports and over a year to force airlines to refund customers, when the EU and US did that in a month).

We’ll have to get used to it, because enough people in precisely the right arbitrary imaginary lines voted for them.

Expect the travel rules decision process not to change too much: It’s just not true that science is what guides this government on the travel file. Anyone who knows anything about travel and has been following this closely for the last year knows that’s factually wrong.

If they really wanted to protect everyone on board their flights, they would also impose mandatory testing since the science seems to say that even vaccinated people can transmit the virus…

The positive side of this is that maybe with the election out of the way, they’ll stop making travel rules based on media headlines and base them on facts instead. Maybe that’s too optimistic though.

It took a while, but they finally followed their own committee of scientific experts’ recommendation of abolishing the ineffective quarantine hotels. Maybe they’ll continue with their announced plan to further loosen travel restrictions. Who knows.

In any case, Flytrippers will continue to keep you informed of all the details as soon as they are announced.

The next logical step would be to eliminate the pre-entry test (since it is the only rule left to enter Canada for those who are vaccinated) or to eliminate the global advisory against non-essential travel (which is only a recommendation and obviously does not prevent travel in any way).

Speaking of science, how to explain that the government encourages foreign travelers to come to Canada for tourism (we have reopened our borders to them since September 7) but recommends that Canadians avoid traveling for tourism to the same countries from which foreign travelers are arriving from?

Do Canadians have less effective vaccines or weaker genetics and more likely to return with COVID-19 than foreigners? Same countries, same entry requirements… one is encouraged, the other is not recommended.

The answer is that it is the same logic as not recommending travel to countries where the epidemiological situation is much better than here (most countries had lower infection rates than Canada throughout the pandemic) but allowing inter-Canada travel where infection rates were worse and where variants already accounted for the majority of cases…


Background of the mandatory vaccination rule

For those who are interested by this rule’s history, this new measure had been announced just before a useless election was called in the middle of a pandemic.

(That day we had said it was a useless election, but with the results being almost identical to the previous parliament, our apologies: It was extremely useless is what we should have said instead.)

That’s really all the government said on the topic: Mandatory vaccination for all flights before the end of October.

On October 1, Health Minister Patty Hajdu reconfirmed in a press conference that the end of October timeline still stood.

And finally, on October 6, all the details about this measure were officially announced.


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The requirement to be vaccinated to fly in Canada will come into effect on October 30, with a one-month grace period.

What would you like to know about this measure? Tell us in the comments below.


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Andrew D'Amours

Andrew is the co-founder of Flytrippers. He is passionate about traveling the world but also, as a former management consultant, about the travel industry itself. He shares his experiences to help you save money on travel. As a very cost-conscious traveler, he loves finding deals and getting free travel thanks to travel rewards points... to help him visit every country in the world (current count: 62/193 Countries, 46/50 US States & 9/10 Canadian Provinces).

This Post Has 20 Comments

  1. lise theroux

    Bonjour je quitte le 28 octobre pour les Etat – Unis destination Las -Végas avez vous une clinique a me référé sans que cela me coute la peau des fesse j’ai communiqué avex la clinique Lacroix mais hélas plus de place merci

  2. Toru

    (I rewrote it, because previous one was bit too long, sorry.) Hello. I am a Japanese. I am seriously wondering whether the exemption will be granted to a foreigner who needs to go back to his or her home country.
    According to the recent Canadian government website, the exception will be applied to “the emergency situation”.
    If I need to go back to Japan permanently by a Japanese airline in the future due to the expiry of a student visa. Will it be an emergency exception in the future?
    In the recent Canadian government update, it says the vaccine is required to “all travelers including those who are heading for the foreign destination.
    I would like to know the possibility of the future if possible. As I have a family and property in Japan, I would like to grasp what will happen after October 30.
    Also, if the vaccine is requited even for my boarding, will I still be allowed to return to Japan without being partially vaccinated during the grace period between October 30 to November 30?
    I appreciate if you give me a reply.

    1. Andrew D'Amours

      Hi Toru, it would be logical to let dual citizens out, but they haven’t given any details about this yet, unfortunately. Not sure there are ANY other countries in the entire world that keep the unvaccinated from even leaving, so it seems extreme. We’ll see.
      As for the grace period, all you need is a test, there is no need to be partially vaccinated, Transport Canada just confirmed it to Flytrippers.

      1. Toru

        Thank you so much for your answer, Andrew. I am so glad to hear that the test remains an option at least until the end of November! I would like to know whether the government really intends to keep the foreigners from returning to their nation or not. It is not normal in light of democratic values, especially human rights. It is very extreme. I contacted with Transport Canada yesterday. However, they don’t give me any reply. I suspect they did not realize the presence of foreigners heading back to their home country. Please let me know if there is any government update .

      2. Andrew D'Amours

        Will do for sure, let’s hope they backtrack!

  3. Jenifer

    I was also thinking the mandate wouldn’t apply to private planes (it does say ‘commercial’), but I have heard a lot of people mention they called a bunch of private jet companies and they all said they would follow the mandate. That makes little sense to me, how can a country like Canada prevent people from leaving, especially if they are paying for a private plane?

    1. Andrew D'Amours

      The market always provides. I am confident that IF private planes aren’t obligated to require vaccination, someone will offer this for those who aren’t vaccinated. Whether this will last long or be even remotely affordable depends on the demand of course.
      But if the government does impose this requirement to any flight, then no one will offer this of course.

  4. Julien

    I love how this article makes you realize how these laws are passed based on politics rather than science. I wonder if someone flying it’s own private seaplane would be able to fly from a lake since it is not an airport. I wonder if someone would be able to sail its own sailboat since it is not a commercial passenger boat. It seems completely crazy to me that non vaccinated people will be stuck in Canada even if they were to take a pcr test before and after their travels and accept to do a mandatory 14 day quarantine…

    1. Andrew D'Amours

      While I did NOT check thoroughly (since there’s no real added value for our readers and it’s not worth spending hours on that research), I don’t think there is a single country that bans the unvaccinated to leave the country. In the entire world.

      Whether someone is for or against the measure is subjective. But objectively, few (if not zero) other countries in the world feel it’s reasonable to keep unvaccinated people from even leaving. That alone should be enough to be allowed to question this measure.

      But anyway, restricting travel has been popular in public opinion polls since the start, and now restricting the unvaccinated in general is equally popular. So combining both sure makes for a popular measure from a politician’s perspective, and all they will ever care about is politics. Even if indeed, scientifically, having a recent proof of negative test might be as safe in terms of transmission as being vaccinated.

      In all cases, I don’t know if you were serious but the answer is that in theory, private planes will be exempt. Sailboats as well. We’ll await the precise details though.

  5. Rose

    Hello! When you put Exemption option with a 72-hour PCR test until November 29
    Does that mean only PCR test or I have to be in process of being fully vaccinated, one vaccine? I’m not vaccinated and not interested to be. Want to travel to Cubs for two months.

    1. Andrew D'Amours

      Hi, they did not ever specify that you would have to show proof of anything in order to take advantage of the temporary exemption.
      So we interpret the website’s wording more as yet another form of political marketing to appear to be giving an exemption to the “good guys” who are in the process of getting vaccinated and not to the “bad guys” who are not the process of getting vaccinated.
      There should be no verification, but it remains to be confirmed; Flytrippers reached out to the Government to check, we are awaiting a response.

  6. Ronni

    Question, Can a Canadian get on a flight in the US to fly to Mexico or Puerto Rico in November without a jab? Thanks in advance for a response,

    1. Andrew D'Amours

      Hi, if you are already in the US before “early November” (when the US will require vaccination to enter) you can do whatever you want from there, they are certainly not the type of country to accept preventing people from leaving as it seems Canada will do soon. That said, if you leave the US, you won’t be allowed to get back into the US once their vaccination requirement will take effect (so Puerto Rico would be fine).

  7. Tracy

    Hello, I just listened to Health Minister Patty Hajdu press conerence and around the 11 min mark she speaks about vaccination passports being implemented for “domestic” travel.
    I’m just unsure if that is going to be relevant for international flights that first take you to another domestic airport. I’m double vaxxed but I’m not keen on vaccinating my 12 year old yet. We have flights to Mexico from Vancouver via Calgary in December. So I’m really paying attention to this.

    1. Andrew D'Amours

      Hi, the initial announcement explicitly mentioned for “all commercial flights in Canada” so until we hear otherwise, I doubt international flights will be exempt. But that said, until vaccines are approved for kids, they will not be required to be vaccinated, so that may still be true in December.

  8. Wendy

    Hi Andrew.. thank you for sharing your thoughts 💭
    Yes… I am frustrated with that too..Canada is inviting people from other countries to come to Canada but we are advised not to travel outside of Canada? It doesn’t make sense. Hopefully the world travel situation will get sorted out soon and have a more clear understanding for everyone to understand and for people to travel ( with whatever is needed.. fully vaccinated, pre testing etc) and hope Canada will lift that travel advisories on their website (soon?) oh also hope the USA land border opens too .. lol I just want to travel 🧳 (with out all the uncertainty hassle)

    1. Andrew D'Amours

      We are all looking forward to the advisory being lifted, if only to make credit card travel insurance valid again haha, since that’s the only real impact the advisory has.

  9. Wendy

    Question: when do you think Canada will lift the travel advisories? On their website the advisory is a problem for me to travel because of work, one of the daily question i need to answer is have you travel outside of Canada in the past 14 days? So that means I can not go back to work for 14 days, if I travel. Do you think they will lift it soon or will this be a thing for years to come?

    1. Andrew D'Amours

      Hi, not for years for sure, but nobody knows when it will be lifted. If travel-related decisions were made with a logical reasoning—which to be very clear, they are most definitely not—the advisory would be lifted soon, because the government now encourages foreigners to travel to Canada for leisure. Why encourage them to come from those countries but discourage Canadians from going to those same countries? But we’ll keep a close eye on this, hopefully it’s coming soon.

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