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COVID-19 Resource Centre





Below is a compendium of measures for international vessels operating in Canadian waters that have been implemented in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Please scroll down this webpage to access the following information:

1.  Federal border restrictions and entry requirements

2.  Quarantine requirements for travellers entering Canada

3.  Documentation for crew and marine transportation workers

4.  Crew change processes

5.  Shore leave measures

6.  Cruise ship restrictions  


Due to space constraints, the following measures are outlined in separate webpages, which can be accessed by selecting the highlighted links:

7.  Provincial border restrictions - click HERE

8.  Ship reporting requirements and guidance (TC, Seaway, USCG) - click HERE

1. federal Border Restrictions and entry requirements


  • Rule: Canadian border remains closed to international travellers for all non-essential (discretionary) travel. Current closure in effect until at least January 21, 2021 (normally extended on a monthly basis).

  • Exemption:  Border closure not applicable to healthy crew members and other individuals providing essential services to vessels. For a list of essential workers, see federal guidelines on Services and Functions Deemed Essential.

  • Documentation:  Individuals travelling to join ship in Canada should have a copy of TC Ship Safety Bulletin (SSB) 28/2020 along with Guidance to airlines at international airports. Travelers must also have a non-medical mask covering mouth and nose or might be refused boarding- Click HERE.

  • NEW   Additional Requirements:  Effective January 7, 2021, air travellers must present proof of negative COVID test prior to boarding flight overseas - applicable to all travellers, including crew members and other essential transportation workers. Click HERE for additional information.   


  • Rule:  Canadian border with US remains closed for all non-essential (discretionary) travel.  Most recent order extended until at least February 21, 2021.

    Closure not applicable to individuals engaged in non-discretionary travel, including healthy trade and transportation workers crossing the border for work (eg: crew and other individuals providing essential services to ships), as well as workers involved in economic services, supply chains, and critical infrastruture support.

    Individuals travelling should have a copy of TC SSB 2020/28, along with CBSA bulletin and Canadian guidance to airlines at transborder US airports (if arriving by air).

      Travellers arriving from U.S.by air  are subject to same COVID test requirements as above.


  • Above border restrictions should be read in combination with federal quarantine requirements (as per item 2 below), as well as relevant provincial restrictions.

2. quarantine requirements for travellers ENTERING CANADA


  • Rule: All individuals entering Canada must self-quarantine for 14 days upon entry - applicable nationally as per Order-in-Council 18 under section 58 of the federal Quarantine Act (

    Exemption: The Public Health Officer of Canada has deemed the following individuals  exempt from the 14-day quarantine requirement:

  • Healthy persons in the trade or transportation sector who are important for the movement of goods or people (including crew members on a shipping vessel) who must cross the border while performing their duties or for the purpose of performing their duties.

  • Healthy persons who must cross the border regularly to go to their normal place of employment, incuding critical infrastructure workers.

  • Technicians or specialists who enter Canada for the purpose of maintaining, repairing, installing or inspecting equipment necessary to support critical infrastructure, and are required to provide their services within 14 days of their entry to Canada and have reasonable rationales for the immediacy of the work and the inability to plan for a 14 day quarantine.

  • For additional information on exemptions, click HERE (scroll down to "Group Exemptions under 6e of the federal emergency order").

  • Individuals who are exempted must still maintain a distance of two-metres from others to the best of their ability, closely self-monitor, and self-isolate if exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms (PHAC directives). These requirements apply at federal and provincial levels.

3. documentation  for crew and MARINE TRANSPORTATION WORKERS 


  • Asymptomatic individuals travelling to Canada to join a ship are exempted from prohibition of entry into Canada for foreign nationals, as per Transport Canada Ship Safety Bulletin 28/2020.

  • Documentation at airport for crew members joining a ship:
  • Seafarer identity document issued in accordance with ILO
  • Certificate of competency
  • Proof of employment
  • Passport
  • Visa (if from a visa-required country)
  • Transport Canada Ship Safety Bulletin 28/2020
  • Canadian guidance to airlines at international airports
  • Canadian guidance to airlines at transborder airports (if relevant)
  • NEW: Proof of negative COVID test - Click HERE for additional information.   

  • Documentation at airport for other essential marine workers joining a ship:
  • Proof of employment on board the ship
  • Passport
  • Visa (if from a visa-required country)
  • Transport Canada Ship Safety Bulletin 28/2020
  • Canadian guidance to airlines at international airports
  • Canadian guidance to airlines at transborder airports (if relevant)
  • NEW: Proof of negative COVID test - Click HERE for additional information.    

  • Additional note:
  • All air passengers to have a non medical mask covering their mouth and nose during travel (including at airport) or will be refused boarding - click HERE.

4. crew changes 


  • All joining crew members from visa-required countries must apply on-line for a temporary resident visa.

  • In order for a visa application to be processed on an expedited basis, applicants must do the following when filling out the on-line form: 

    - In the field entitled "reason for travel," select "Other" from the dropdown menu
    - Enter COVID-19 (exactly as written here)

  • Although applicants will receive an automatically-generated "Biometrics Instruction Letter" following submission of their application, IRCC has provided the following additional guidance:

    • If a crew member resides in an area where the Visa Application Centre (VAC) is open, they should schedule an appointment to enrol their biometrics as per the instructions in the letter.
    • If a crew member resides in an area where the VAC is closed as a result of COVID-19, they should wait to hear from IRCC with respect to next steps, as the biometrics requirement will likely be waived in such cases (assuming no "red flags" in the applicant's file).
    • A worldwide listing of VACs that are open/closed can be found on this Government of Canada WEBPAGE. 

  • If an applicant has not received any communication about their application after 5 business days, they should contact IRCC's Travel Exemptions inbox to request an update (IRCC.COVID-TravelExemptions-Exemptionsdevoyage-COVID.IRCC@cic.gc.ca - Inquiries must be made by the individual who submitted the initial application

  • Please click HERE for Transport Canada's guidance document on this issue.


  • CBSA officers will grant extensions to the requirement that discharged crew members leave Canada within 72 hours on a case-by-case basis, based on the exit plans presented and in consideration of COVID-related challenges of booking outbound flights, etc.

  • Crew members who expect to remain in Canada well beyond 72 hours after being discharged can apply to extend their stay in Canada by obtaining a visitor record.

5. shore leave for crew members


  • "Controlled shore leave" permitted to asymptomatic, presumed non-COVID-19 carrying  crew members for a period of no more than 4 hours. 

  • Shore leave must occur at: 1) a shore-based welfare facility (such as a seafarer mission) located either on marine facility grounds or in a nearby location; 2) a designated area on marine facility grounds (if such an area has been identified for that purpose); 3) a medical facility, a pharmacy, or a store containing a pharmacy.

  • NEW: For additional information, see updated Ship Safety Bulletin 28/2020.


  • In cases where PPE is not already required and social distancing is not consistently possible, marine transportaiton workers should have in their possesion (or have access to) a non-medical mask or face covering.

  • Use face covering on risk-based approach according to workplace circumstances or when required by local authorities.

  • See TC Ship Safety Bulletin 15/2020 for additional information.



NEW Rule:  Vessels with overnight accommodations allowed to carry more than 100 persons (passengers and crew) prohibited from operating in Canadian waters until February 28, 2021.

  • Exception:  A foreign vessel that is in the territorial seas of Canada exercising the "right of innocent passage" (transiting without stopping) in accordance with international law.
  • Exception: A foreign vessel that is transiting the Great Lakes, Inside Passage, St. Lawrence River, St. Lawrence Gulf or St. Lawrence Seaway (and does not moor, anchor or berth beyond what is necessary for ordinary navigation).
  • NEW Additional exceptions (all subject to 60 days notice before expected arrival date in Canadian waters): A vessel navigating in Canadian waters for purpose of repair; a vessel requiring the exemption in order to allow for viable, effective and economical marine transportation or commerce; a vessel for which it is not practical to comply with the prohibition under the circumstances. For additional details, click HERE.


NEW Rule:  Vessels that are certified to carry more than 12 passengers prohibited from entering Canadian Arctic waters (waters north of the 60th parallel and the territorial sea in the vicinity of Nunatsiavut, Nunavik and the Labrador coast) until February 28, 2021.

  • Exception:  A vessel exercising its right of innocent passage, provided such vessel has submitted written notice to the Minister of Transport 60 days before its expected date of arrival in the above waters.
  • NEW Additional exceptions:  Same as for vessels operating south of 60th parallel, as per above.


Rule: Other vessels (e.g. small cruise ships under 100 person capacity and tour boats) are permitted to operate subject to restrictions from their provincial, territorial, or local health authority. 

  • Above vessels are still subject to border restrictions prohibiting all foreign nationals (including from US) from entering Canada for leisure purposes.  This includes entries into Canadian territorial and inland waters which do not include landing on Canadian soil(touring, sightseeing, whale w atching, etc.).
  • Please see this CBSA Fact-Sheet for additional information

Rule:  Essential passenger vessels and ferry vessels can continue to operate, provided they have mitigation measures in place to reduce to the spread of COVID-19.


Please see the following for additional information:


NEW Rule US Centre for Disease Control's  "No Sail Order" for cruise ships expired on October 31 and has been replaced with a "Framework for Conditional Sailing Order for Cruise Ships," which introduces a phased approach for resuming cruise ship activity. Key elements of the framework,which remains in effect until November 1, 2021, are as per below:

  • In the initial phase of the framework, cruise ship operators must demonstrate adherence to testing, quarantine, isolation and social distancing requirements to protect crew members before passenger travel will be allowed to resume in later phases.  Cruise ship operators must also build onboard laboratory capacity needed to test crew and future passengers. 
  • Subsequent phases include simulated (mock voyages) with volunteers playing the role of passengers to test cruise ship operators' ability to mitigate COVID-19 risk, certification for ships that meet specific requirements, and return to passenger voyages in a manner that mitigates COVID-19 risk among passenger, crew members and communities.
  • These phases are subject to change based on public health considerations and cruise ship operators' ability to mitigate COVID-19 risk. 
  • For additional information, click HERE.


 The Shipping Federation of Canada is working diligently to provide marine stakeholders with information specific to their sector in response to the rapidly evolving COVID-19 situation.  We are liaising with key authorities to ensure the delivery of streamlined information and timely updates on protocols and practices.


We urge members to take the appropriate steps to contain the spread of COVID-19, preserve the health of their teams and take practical protective measures against the virus. 


DISCLAIMER: Although we will endeavour to update this webpage as often as possible, information issued directly by Canadian authorities and other entities interacting with vessels remains the official source to ensure compliance.