What to know before travelling internationally this summer 

More Canadians have plans to scratch their travel itch as pandemic restrictions lift at international destinations, but snarls at airports and long passport waits have gotten in the way. Airports across the world including in the United States, home to the most popular tourist destinations for Canadians, are experiencing delays and low staffing levels are to blame as travel ramps up to pre-pandemic levels.

Additionally, vacationers should be aware of COVID-19 travel requirements for the country they plan to visit this summer. As of June 20, 2022, vaccination was no longer a requirement for flights within Canada. But all unvaccinated travellers entering the country, including Canadians returning from overseas, must follow a list of requirements to enter the country by air, or at land border crossings. If you plan on heading to the U.S., keep in mind that all non-U.S. citizens must show proof of current vaccination before entering the country.

Here are practical tips and things to add to your summer travel checklist before leaving Canada.

Know before you go can’t be emphasized enough while there are still COVID-19 hotspots. Check area health statistics and mask mandates before you travel. For example, within the U.S., rules often vary by locality, and often shift depending on COVID-19 transmission levels. It’s a good idea to keep masks and proof of vaccination handy if you plan to go to public indoor areas. Hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes are a wise precaution, particularly while flying and taking public transportation at your destination. In addition, it’s always a good idea to check travel advisories and find out more information regarding the entry, exit and transit restrictions and requirements for the destination you are travelling to.

As COVID-19 restrictions ease around the world, passport applications have increased four times over last year. And while most Canadians are ready to get back to normal, the Service Canada passport office is struggling to keep up – there are reports of people camping out in long lines, waiting to receive their documents at passport offices. Between April 2020 and March 2021, 363,000 passports were issued, and over the same period from 2021 to 2022 almost four times as many passports – nearly 1.3 million – were issued, according to CTV news. And many people who requested passports by mail are waiting months. During normal times, passports are generally received in 10 business days when requests are submitted in person, and 20 business days by mail.

To avoid the stress of passport delays, be sure to fill out your paperwork far in advance. Canadian authorities advise travellers to book appointments online before going to a passport office. Travellers can also request expedited, in-person services. Authorities say that a payment of $110 for urgent pick-up guarantees a passport in hand the following business day, $50 for express pick-up gets you your passport within two to nine business days.

Airport delays, particularly for travellers flying internationally, are continuing to worsen. The issue has even received a high-profile complaint from former NHL player Ryan Whitney, who shared his experience on Twitter at Pearson Airport. Whitney posted a photo of a labyrinthine customs line for re entry to Canada, in which he waited after going through U.S. customs seven hours prior. Flyers are experiencing similar delays at Pearson and airports across the world, amid the post pandemic surge in travel. If you plan to fly out of Pearson, the nation’s busiest hub, new electronic gates being tested at the airport may reduce wait times. Starting this month, international travellers aged 16 and older arriving at terminal one will be able to use the electronic gates to verify their identity and submit their customs and immigration declaration.

It could be a while before the gates are seen in other places, and time will tell if the measure will help. Consider arriving at the airport far earlier than the standard four hours prior to an international flight. Check to see if your airport or airline has an app, many of these tools share live security checkpoint waiting times, so that you may better plan your arrival time. A wise way to help protect yourself in the event of a delay that threatens to put a stop to your vacation plans is to purchase travel insurance. If your flight is delayed for a covered reason, trip cancellation and interruption benefits offered by Allianz Global Assistance may reimburse eligible expenses for meals, accommodations and transportation. If your airport setback causes you to miss a tour or cruise, our benefits may pay reasonable expenses to help you rejoin your cruise or tour, or reach your destination. Your benefits may also reimburse the unused part of your prepaid expenses, minus any refund you receive.

Get a quote today and find out how Allianz Global Assistance can help ease your international travels.

Travel insurance is underwritten by CUMIS General Insurance Company, a member of The Co-operators Group of Companies, administered by Allianz Global Assistance, which is a registered business name of AZGA Service Canada Inc.
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