Cross-border travel restricted to essential travel only

Chamber of Shipping > Blog > Blog > Cross-border travel restricted to essential travel only

Today Prime Minister Trudeau announced a temporary closure of the Canada-US border to non-essential traffic as the next step in the federal government’s effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus, COVID-19. The movement of goods and the people that support this important supply chain will be considered essential and exempt from the travel restrictions. Transport Canada confirmed verbally this afternoon that this includes travellers that are joining a ship, aircraft or train for work.

Transport Canada has confirmed that crew changes will continue to be supported provided that the crew members are healthy, able and willing to self-monitor and self-isolate should symptoms develop.  Transport Canada and Canada Border Services Agency are working together to develop the specific text and guidelines for US and international crew.  In the meantime, we are aware of crew being denied boarding at airports overseas and are urging for a clear directive from the federal government to be published as soon as possible.

Transport Canada has released Ship Safety Bulletin 04/2020 on Shore Leave requesting that all ports, terminal and marine facilities in Canada continue to grant shore leave to seafarers if they have no symptoms of COVID-19.  Again, we remind agents that if a crew member does become sick during its stay in a Canadian port or at an anchorage, that this be reported to MCTS or the Public Health Agency immediately.

With respect to port calls, there is currently no requirement for vessels to be held offshore for a 14-day period prior to arriving alongside.

We remind you that the federal departments are following the protocols on COVID-19 and as a result have limited resources available.  Transport Canada has requested that any issues related to COVID-19 be routed through the industry associations to help manage the number of inquiries.

Port Pass Update

On a marine security related matter, all designated publishers of the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority’s Port Pass will suspend operations effective tomorrow, March 19th at noon.  Port Passes expiring over the next six (6) weeks will be extended for 30 days beyond the expiry date in the CAMS system to enable continuation of port operations – this ‘system override’ action will only be performed by VFPA Security.  The VFPA Security Office at Canada Place will continue to operate limited hours to facilitate Marine Transportation Security Clearance appointments on Wednesdays from 08:00 to 17:00 until further notice.   Note that the VFPA cannot extend the MTSC expiry dates.  Sponsorship for MTSC will be done by VFPA during this period.  Questions regarding Port Pass procedures can be sent by email to

To access any previous circulars, visit our COVID-19 website page at

or for more information visit the Public Health Agency website at:


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