Gov. Hochul Announces Acceptance of Canadian Vaccination Credentials for Business Entry in NY

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent talks to travelers as travelers from Canada cross the border in Blaine, Washington, Nov. 8. (REUTERS/Jason Redmond)

Governor Kathy Hochul announced Wednesday that digital COVID-19 vaccination credentials issued from Canadian provinces and territories that adhere to SMART Health Cards specifications will immediately be accepted through the state’s Excelsior Pass Scanner application. Following the reopening of the U.S.- Canadian border, this means fully vaccinated Canadians can use their compatible vaccination credentials for business entry in New York. As of Nov. 9, seven provinces and territories in Canada issue vaccine certificates that meet the state’s criteria. This includes Québec, Manitoba, Yukon, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, Northwest Territories, Newfoundland and Labrador. Additional Canadian provinces and territories are expected to follow and will be announced soon.

“New York State is proud to work with our Canadian neighbors to ensure compatibility with our Excelsior Pass Scanner application,” Hochul said. “With the border reopened, this important partnership will accelerate the return of critical business, commerce and economic development activity. This is significant news for so many Canadians — and the New York businesses and corporations who employ and stand ready to welcome them — who can now do so safely. Because of the constant innovation of our Excelsior Pass platform, New York State continues to build tools that meet the needs of today as well as the emerging needs of tomorrow for individuals and businesses alike.”

As announced by Governor Hochul on Oct. 5, New York State’s Excelsior Pass Scanner application was updated to enable the validation of other passes that meet the state’s standards of issuance. These standards include the definition of fully vaccinated based on federal and state COVID-19 public health guidance, which include both CDC- and WHO-approved COVID-19 vaccines. Advancing the acceptance of vaccination credentials with non-U.S. entities, Canadian residents who received the AstraZeneca/Oxford COVID-19 vaccine and hold a compatible credential will be able to use their digital certificate statewide.

Khawar Nasim, Acting Consul General of Canada in New York, said, “As my fellow Canadians make their way back to New York to visit its many attractions, reconnect with family and friends, and bolster our business ties, I’m pleased and grateful that their provincial and territorial vaccine credentials will be recognized using the Excelsior Pass scanner.”

Martine Hébert, Québec Delegate General in New York, said, “We are very pleased that the many discussions between the Government of Québec and the State of New York have led to a successful collaboration that allows for Québec’s VaxiCode to be recognized by the Excelsior Pass, and vice versa. This is another great example of the fruitful Québec-Canada-New York relationship, and we are committed to continue working on solidifying our strong and prosperous ties.”

To date, over 163,000 downloads of the Excelsior Pass Scanner application have been made – representing integration across thousands of New York businesses who continue to leverage the Excelsior Pass to easily and seamlessly verify an individual’s vaccination status. The expansion of the Scanner application’s capabilities helps businesses accept more patrons coming from outside of New York State. Following today’s announcement, in addition to the seven Canadian provinces and territories, this also includes Passes issued by other U.S. states such as California, Colorado, Delaware, Louisiana, Virginia and Washington State.

New York State was the first in the nation to launch a proof of COVID-19 vaccination and negative test credential system in March 2021. To date, over 6.6 million Excelsior Passes, including over one million Excelsior Passes Plus, have been issued. As part of today’s update, New Yorkers who received their booster or additional COVID-19 vaccine dose can now retrieve their Excelsior Vaccination Pass Plus — which, as a secure copy of an individual’s vaccination record, does not expire. New Yorkers who previously received their Excelsior Vaccination Pass Plus can simply visit at any time to retrieve their new Pass Plus. Individuals may hold as many Passes as they may be eligible for.

As the state continues to evolve and expand the Excelsior Pass solution architecture to meet new needs of New Yorkers and businesses, more support is being offered to other states and entities to accelerate the development of interoperable solutions. On Oct. 27, Governor Hochul announced the availability of New York State’s Excelsior Pass Blueprint – the nation’s first framework to assist other states and governments in the development of digital health credentials, based on the Excelsior Pass platform. Following on the Blueprint’s release, New York State will be hosting a series of virtual events and webinars to provide those interested with additional resources and technical support.