Canada is launching a standard federal proof of COVID-19 vaccination system, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Thursday.
The vaccine passport will show your name, date of birth, and COVID-19 vaccine history — including which doses you got, and when you got them.
“I’m happy to confirm that all provinces and territories have confirmed that they will be moving forward with a standardized national proof of vaccination,” Prime Minister Trudeau said, speaking to reporters.
He added that Saskatchewan, Ontario, Québec, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador and all three territories have put this national standard into use.
That’s because the new national standard uses the provincial vaccine certificate as its framework. If you’ve already downloaded that provincial proof of vaccination document and it has the federal seal of approval in the top right corner, the government says you should be all set.
“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, and all other provinces have agreed and are working hard to come online,” he said.
The vaccine passport will have a common look and feel across the country, according to officials, including a “Canada” wordmark in the top corner.
Canadians will be able to use the proof of vaccination system both within Canada and for international travel, the officials said.
While the Canadian government’s webpage about the passport system reminds Canadians to “avoid non-essential travel,” should you choose to, this certificate should be uploaded into the ArriveCAN app for your return to Canada.
However, “this proof does not guarantee you entry to another country,” the webpage reads.
“Before you travel, you must check the rules of your destination country and the countries you transit through,” it explains.
“Provinces and territories may also ask you to use this proof to access non-essential services.”
If you’ve already downloaded the proof of vaccination certificate with the “Canada” wordmark on the top right corner and your vaccination status hasn’t changed, you won’t need to download anything new, according to the website.
Regardless, Canadians should “be sure to bring a digital and paper copy with you when you travel.”
Officials said the proof of vaccination system also complies with the SMART Health Card standard, which uses technology that will allow officials to verify and authenticate the information without giving access to any other health or identity information.
The system is also supposed to be tamper-proof, the officials added, as it detects any changes to the document after it has been issued.
The government worked “very closely” with airlines to ensure the certificate will also be “seamless” to verify, Prime Minister Trudeau said.
“It will be a step, for the vast majority of people, at the virtual check-in where they simply have to scan their QR code, and they will get a boarding pass that is clearly marked upon it ‘vaccination approved’ So there is no actual slowdown,” he said.
“It’s a single extra step on check-in, in a digital way, but it will not be overly onerous for anyone in the process.
He added that when airline employees check the name and the gate number on the boarding pass, there will also be a “green checkmark or whatever it is” that will tell them the vaccination requirements have been met.
Canadians who are travelling will have to show ID alongside their proof of vaccination certificate, according to the government’s website.
“Your name and date of birth will be checked against your other ids, such as your passport or status card,” it said.
“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.”
Whether businesses choose to request ID alongside the vaccine certificates is up to them and the provinces where they’re located, according to Alexander Cohen, the press secretary for Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino.
“That’s entirely up to either the provinces or the individual business…because our role in this is creating something for international (use),” Mr. Cohen said.
Mr. Cohen added that he doesn’t foresee Canadian travellers running into any issues using these certificates on the global stage.
“We expect that it’s going to be accepted by all countries,” he said. “Right now, every country that is accepting generally for travellers or visitors is accepting all proof of vaccination.”
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