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Will Proof of COVID-19 Vaccination Be Required to Travel in 2021?

March 16, 21
3 mins
A young girl travelling on a plane takes a photo out the plane's window

Canadian travellers may need to show proof they’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19 to travel abroad or domestically in the not-too-distant future.

The one-year anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic is here, and the discussion among many governments around the world and at home to establish some form of digital documentation verifying vaccination for incoming travellers is ratcheting up. However, there is no clear consensus in Canada or among other countries yet on how to do that.

Canadians were advised to postpone or cancel any March break or spring break plans they have this year, even though some insurers offer travel insurance packages that include different levels of coverage for COVID-19. The introduction of a so-called immunity or vaccination passport or certificate may be forthcoming, and with it comes the possibility for travel enthusiasts to hit the road or take to the skies for international travel once more.

Proof-of-vaccination for Canadians travelling domestically to other provinces may also become a requirement, much like carrying your driver’s licence or provincial health card with you. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is concerned vaccination documents may have divisive impacts. Nevertheless, the federal government’s chief science adviser said on March 11 she will release a report in the coming weeks with recommendations on how Canada should implement COVID-19 passports.

Meanwhile, some provinces are moving forward on their own. For example, Quebec provincial health minister Christian Dubé says la belle province is exploring the rollout of a digital immunity passport for its citizens who have been inoculated against COVID-19. Ontario and Manitoba are also looking into doing something similar.

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Will proof-of-vaccination reduce travel insurance premiums?

One of the challenges facing the introduction of digital immunity or vaccination passports is the virus. Although Health Canada approved the use of four COVID-19 vaccines to date, it is not known for how long a vaccine lasts or if those who get the shots can still spread the virus to others.

Nevertheless, travel insurance providers are discussing how to address the introduction of digital vaccination passports, but many obstacles remain, including:

  • Is a vaccination passport from Canada valid in the U.S., Europe, and elsewhere and vice-versa?
  • What are the different standards and regulations for each country?
  • What is or are the trusted source(s) to distribute vaccination passports?
  • What is the proper technology to use?
  • How to address privacy concerns and the prospect of fraud?
  • What about people who cannot be vaccinated for health reasons?
  • What if you don’t own a cellphone or don’t have internet access?

Until insurers can answer these questions (or are provided with direction from federal or provincial governments), it’s a matter of wait-and-see .

If you travel, protect yourself before leaving home with travel insurance

For the time being, should you decide to travel outside your home province, it’s best to err on the side of caution and get a travel insurance policy that suits your needs.

Though the world is consumed by figuring out how to reduce the risk of COVID-19 (and hopefully, control its spread), travel insurance still matters. It can spare you the expense of getting emergency medical treatment in another province or country if you’re injured or fall ill while away from home. However, be advised not all travel policies include coverage for COVID-19, and they do not cover the cost of mandatory quarantine once you re-enter Canada from abroad. Mandatory quarantine costs can run as high as $2,000.

Liam Lahey

Liam Lahey is a versatile, seasoned writer and editor. He worked as both a staff writer and freelance writer for many business and technology publications as well as for several newspapers. He writes about home, auto, and travel insurance, and is a media spokesperson for RATESDOTCA.

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