Canadians hold two different kinds of vaccine passports, federal and provincial, so let’s have a look at each one’s purpose.
BC Vaccine Passport
For British Columbians, the passport was mandated in September 2021. To everyone’s surprise, it’s nothing more than a screenshot of a QR code. Most people keep the photo in a folder that’s easy to access, while others print out and laminate a small piece of paper. Not long after, you had to show this QR code at restaurants and entertainments in order to access their services. BC isn’t the only province to have this; every other province in Canada has its own mandated proof of vaccination.
An important note: do not forget your government-issued ID. This could be your driver’s license, your health card, or even your passport if you don’t have any of the previous things. It has to be an ID with your face on it. Even if you do carry your proof of vaccination with you, the staff cannot let you pass unless you also provide ID.
Federal Vaccine Passport
The Canadian federal vaccine passport was implemented in October 2021. It provides more information than a provincial one. Right away, you might be thinking why we even need a vaccine passport on a federal level. To answer that question, its main purpose is for travel.
Before the federal vaccine passport, provincial QR code readers didn’t recognize the vaccine proof from outside of it. Now, like your passport, you’ll need to take it with you to the airport, cruise ship dock, or train station. In addition, a federal vaccine passport is more reliable than a provincial one when it comes to foreign travel. That being said, it doesn’t guarantee access to other countries. Make sure to double check the entry requirements before you start planning your trip.
As of November 9, 2021, the only provinces where the federal vaccine passport is not available are Alberta and New Brunswick. Residents will eventually have access, but in the meantime, they are allowed to use their provincial vaccine passports.
Provincial Vaccine Passports
Each province in Canada issues its own unique vaccine passport. Some provinces, like Ontario and Quebec, have developed an app for their residents whereas British Columbia just requires you to take a screenshot of your unique QR code.
When you want to enter a restaurant or an attraction, like a museum, you might be asked to show your proof of vaccination. In these cases, you just need to show your provincial QR code. You’re free to use your federal passport, but it’s not as easy to carry around since it’s a legal, printed document.
Stay Safe and Healthy
Even though the majority of people are vaccinated, we must continue to be vigilant. Be considerate of others; wash your hands often and keep wearing your mask. Furthermore, do not try to negotiate entry. Only children under 18 are able to bypass the ID check. If you do not have your ID or passport with you, it’s best to find a different solution rather than forcing your way in.