British Columbians now have access to the federal COVID-19 vaccine passport that will soon be required for travelling by air, rail or cruise ship, the government announced Friday.
The Ministry of Health said residents can obtain their federal proof-of-vaccination card through the province’s online Health Gateway service, by calling 1-833-838-2323, or by visiting most Service B.C. offices.
“The federal card can be accessed in the same way as the B.C. Vaccine Card, which 3.7 million British Columbians have downloaded to enjoy non-essential activities throughout our province, such as dining in restaurants or attending a sporting event,” Health Minister Adrian Dix said in a statement. “By ensuring all of us are fully vaccinated, we can do more with the people we love, safely.”
Canada’s new vaccination requirement for travel comes into effect on Saturday, though there is a grace period during which B.C.’s provincial vaccine passport will be accepted in lieu of the federal one.
The provincial card will only be accepted until Nov. 30, officials said.
Both cards feature a scannable QR code, but the federal one holds much more information, including the traveller’s birth date and detailed information on their COVID-19 vaccination history, complete with the types of vaccine received for each dose.
B.C.’s card only includes the holder’s name and vaccination status. The Ministry of Health said it will continue to be used for non-essential activities in the province.
Canada’s standardized vaccine passport for travel was announced earlier this month by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and was immediately available in Ontario, Quebec, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut.
At the time, B.C. Premier John Horgan stressed that the provincial card served its intended purpose of putting residents more at ease when getting back to some of their pre-pandemic activities.
“I do not regret for a minute that we took immediate steps to give people confidence that they could travel … within their community,” he said.
The standardized national proof will feature verification measures and security features that prevent tampering and forgeries, according to the federal government.
Canadians will also have the option of boarding flights using proof of a negative COVID-19 test instead of a vaccine passport, but only until the end of November.
Adapted from CTV News