You can be fined up to $750,000 in Canada for fake COVID-19 documents

·3 min read
Fake covid vaccination record card. Forgery of health certificate confirming vaccinations against covid-19. Printed blank cards, pen, scissors, paper knife and laminator on old dirty wood table.

As the Delta variant continues to soar worldwide, there are concerns of unvaccinated Americans crossing the border starting Monday who may present fake vaccine documentation as many travel measures will be reduced.

There is an upward trend in fake COVID-19 documentation since the pandemic from people who want to be exempt from quarantine requirements or simply do not want to get the vaccine. 

Last week, two American travellers were fined $16,000 USD each after presenting fake COVID-19 vaccine cards and proof of testing at Toronto Pearson International Airport. 

In Ontario, people receive a paper or emailed receipt as proof of vaccination with no security features such as a QR code, unlike Manitoba which has one. This increases the chances of people creating fake documents in Canada and cross-border.

E-commerce websites such as Amazon, Etsy, and eBay are selling packs of blank vaccination cards and covers.

A pack of 10 blank vaccination record cards with protectors is available for $22 on Amazon.

A fake mask "exemption" card is also on the list of fraudulent documents people are creating to evade important COVID-19 measures in place.

Individuals have also openly communicated with journalists who covered the increasing fake vaccine cards trend to enquire about receiving them for themselves and their families.

Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) is aware that some travellers may attempt to use fraudulent documentation when seeking entry to Canada.

CBSA confirmed that someone who submits false information on vaccination status could be liable to a fine of up to $750,000 or 6-months imprisonment or both under the Quarantine Act, or prosecution under the Criminal Code for forgery. 

Furthermore, foreign nationals who provide false information may also be denied entry and/or banned from returning to Canada. 

The border agency said they are working closely with the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), and other domestic and international partners to ensure only valid proof of vaccine documents are accepted.

“The CBSA is specialized in the detection of fraudulent documents with a well-developed global intelligence network that helps to identify and interdict suspected fraud,” said Rebecca Purdy, Senior Spokesperson for Canada Border Services Agency.

Canada has a multi-step approach and advanced technology to determine if documents submitted are legitimate. 

"What we can tell you is that every vaccination document is reviewed and verified by a BSO [border services officer] and any document that is suspect is referred for further investigations by PHAC," added Purdy. 

Canada has made it clear that submitting fraudulent information or documentation is a serious offence and may result in penalties and/or criminal charges.

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