About BC Ferries

Keeping Vital Goods and Services Moving

BC Ferries COVID-19 response

Aerial photo of a BC Ferries Terminal

BC Ferries is dedicated to providing a safe and healthy travel experience for our passengers and employees. We are asking customers to follow the advice of the Public Health Agency of Canada to avoid any non-essential travel. Crews have been taking, and will continue to take, extra measures to ensure the safe transport of vital goods, services, supplies and workers to coastal BC communities.

On June 3, service resumes between:
Vancouver (Horseshoe Bay) and Nanaimo (Departure Bay)

As traffic begins to return to the ferry system and the Province of BC slowly begins to relax COVID-19 restrictions, we are resuming service on the Vancouver (Horseshoe Bay) – Nanaimo (Departure Bay) route to support the movement of goods and people to coastal communities.

We continue to work on plans to resume service gradually over time to meet demand with a focus on customers’ and employees’ health and safety. 

Vancouver (Horseshoe Bay) – Nanaimo (Departure Bay):

  • Four daily round trips per day as of June 3.
  • Booking in advance is strongly recommended as passenger capacity on board is limited to 50% per Transport Canada regulations.
  • We recommend all customers, including customers with reservations, arrive at least an hour before their sailing. Processing times are longer right now because we continue to screen customers prior to travel. Fully pre-paid bookings will also to help ensure a quick check in time at the terminal.
  • Travel on an alternative route if possible to avoid waits, such as the Tsawwassen – Duke Point or Tsawwassen – Swartz Bay routes.​
  • Check the sailing schedule here. Some sailings are earlier or later than previous schedules.

Read the full news release here.

Avoid all non-essential travel

In keeping with direction provided by the Province of British Columbia last week, we continue to advise customers to avoid non-essential travel at this time.

Many communities served by BC Ferries have issued advisories to travellers notifying them of limited supplies, healthcare equipment and resources. These communities include Haida Gwaii, Southern Gulf Islands, Northern Gulf Islands and the Sunshine Coast. Customers should inform themselves of local situations and remain committed to essential travel only.  

We are dedicated to providing a safe and healthy travel experience for passengers and employees. For those that need to travel, additional measures have been put in place to keep customers and crew healthy and safe including limiting passenger capacity by 50 per cent to support physical distancing, allowing customers to remain in their vehicles during the sailing and enhanced cleaning. Please note all food and retail outlets at terminals and on board our ships are closed until further notice. This includes vending machines.

Updates from our President and CEO Mark Collins

April 17, 2020 

“Now more than ever, we know you are depending on us. We understand we are a lifeline to island and coastal communities, and I could not be prouder of the way our employees have risen to the occasion and are showing up and making a real difference.”

Watch the full video »

April 3: Watch the full video »

March 27: Watch the full video »

March 18: Read the full message »

March 12: Read the full message »

Reduced service levels

Traffic across all of BC Ferries' routes is down approximately 80% due to COVID-19. The Coastal Ferry Services Contract with the Province of British Columbia has been amended to permit these service reductions. These measures are being taken to protect the health and safety of communities and our crew, ensure the resiliency of our service, and match service levels to current demand.

Service reductions are in effect from April 4, for a period of 60 days on major routes and until further notice on other routes. During this time, BC Ferries will monitor service levels in conjunction with the Province to ensure essential service levels are maintained and to determine when services should resume to normal levels.

View the travel advisory including sailing specific information.
View the latest sailing schedules »

Travelling with us soon? What you need to know

Quick links

Current Conditions button-link Service Notices button-link Travel Advisory button-link BCF Twitter button-link

Transport Canada screening requirements

For any route longer than 30 minutes, we will be screening all customers for COVID-19 symptoms and we will restrict travel to any customer that does not meet the screening requirements, as per the federal guidelines. Prior to boarding a BC Ferries ship, customers need to answer the following questions:​

  1. Do you have a fever and a cough?
  2. Do you have a fever and breathing difficulty?
  3. Have you been refused boarding in the past 14 days due to a medical reason related to COVID-19?
  4. Are you the subject of a provincial/territorial or local public health order?

If you answer 'yes' to any of the questions above, or refuse to answer, BC Ferries will deny you boarding.

Customers not displaying symptoms and under a directive to self-isolate at home may be permitted on board but should maintain physical distance by remaining in their vehicle.

For more details on Transport Canada's announcement, click here.

View the screening questions as posted at our terminals here

Bus/Coach passenger screening

As per Transport Canada requirements, all customers, including coach and bus passengers, who travel with BC Ferries on sailings that are 30 minutes or longer, must be screened for COVID-19 symptoms and their travel will be restricted if they do not meet the screening requirements. Coach and bus operators are required to screen passengers prior to allowing them to board. All passengers must answer the following questions:

  1. Do you have a fever and a cough?
  2. Do you have a fever and breathing difficulty?
  3. Have you been refused boarding in the past 14 days due to a medical reason related to COVID-19?
  4. Are you the subject of a provincial/territorial or local public health order?  

If a passenger answers 'yes' to any of the questions above, or refuses to answer, they will be denied boarding.  

While we continue to maintain physical distancing measures on board, passengers are encouraged to remain on the bus for the duration of the trip.

Transport Canada face coverings

Transport Canada encourages customers to wear face coverings to cover their mouth and nose during travel if they cannot maintain physical distance from others while on board. For more information, read Transport Canada’s news release here.

To support physical distancing and self-isolation and to reduce the risk of spreading infectious disease including COVID-19, please note the following for your travels.

  • Customers can remain in their vehicles on enclosed lower decks
    We are strongly advising passengers to stay in their vehicles, regardless of their car deck, during the sailing. If you must come up to the passenger decks, please maintain physical distancing and stay at least two metres away from employees.

    This change applies to all routes with the exception of travel on the north coast between Port Hardy and Prince Rupert, and Prince Rupert and Skidegate.

    The decision is the result of collaboration between Transport Canada and the Canadian Ferry Association to provide ferry operators with important flexibility to help protect passengers and their families from COVID-19 related risks, while also ensuring additional measures are taken to ensure passenger safety. 
  • Pay with a card and use 'Tap' where possible
    Please use electronic payment (Debit, Credit or Experience™ Card) only during this time.  
  • All food and retail outlets are closed until further notice

  • Baggage service suspended on south coast routes only until further notice

  • Customers requiring wheelchair assistance
    We are unable to provide wheelchair assistance at terminals or on board ferries. If you require a wheelchair, please request one at the terminal. We ask that you travel with your own wheelchair assistant if required. 

BC Ferries Vacations™ customers
All customers with a confirmed BC Ferries Vacations booking that has been impacted by the service level adjustments will be contacted directly by a BC Ferries Vacations agent. We will work with you to adjust your travel plans. We will be contacting guests in order of departure date. If you require immediate assistance, please contact us at 1-888-223-3779 Ext. 3, or email vacations@bcferries.com. Vacations Call Centre business hours are 8:30am - 5:00pm from Monday – Friday, and 9:00am – 5:00pm on weekends and statutory holidays.

All customers with a confirmed booking for travel up until May 30th should contact BC Ferries Vacations for updates prior to travelling.

Our team is handling requests and customer inquiries over the phone or by email. We're here to help you and we'll do our best to respond to you as quickly as possible.

For general visitor information, please visit Destination BC

We're in this together
We are proud of the work our dedicated and courageous employees continue to provide during this situation. Our front line teams are committed to continuing to safely transport critical supplies to BC's coastal communities. If you have a chance to relay a ‘thank-you' to our teams online or during your travels, please do.

Information and Resources

Doing business with BC Ferries during the COVID-19 situation
Please read this letter containing information that will be helpful to you and your staff as you continue to service our business. Information and resources are also available via the Business Opportunities section of our website.

Recently returned to Canada? Follow the direction of the BC Centre for Disease Control:
Those returning from travel outside of Canada should stay at home and self-isolate for 14 days after they have returned. Monitor yourself daily for symptoms like fever, cough or difficulty breathing for these 14 days. If you develop symptoms, call HealthLinkBC (8-1-1) at any time or speak with your health care provider to discuss any need for testing and follow up.

BC Centre for Disease Control Information Page
Answers to many common questions surrounding COVID-19.

The Public Health Agency of Canada - Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Information and updates including travel advice, prevention, risk, response.

Healthlink BC COVID-19 Latest Updates
News, prevention tips and information on self-monitoring/self-isolation. The 8-1-1 number allows anyone with COVID-19 concerns to speak to a health service navigator at any time.

Province of British Columbia Pandemic Preparedness Plan
COVID-19 preparedness and planning material.

Office of the BC Provincial Health Officer – COVID-19 Updates
To support BC's health care providers, an evidence-based source of information about COVID-19 in BC.

Think you might have symptoms?
Do a self-assessment with this online tool provided by Health Canada.

Mental Health and Coping during COVID-19
Information from Health Canada on what you can do to support yourself and your family.

HelloBC - Destination BC Traveller and Tourist Information
Do your part now, so we can all explore BC again later.

Connecting businesses with the resources and guidance necessary to navigate the challenges from COVID-19.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is BC Ferries doing to reduce the risk of spreading infectious disease including COVID-19?
When we learned of the outbreak, we took proactive measures to mitigate the spread of infectious disease including COVID-19 on our ferries and at our terminals. Crews have been taking, and will continue to take, extra measures to clean and disinfect all touch points. Touch point cleaning focuses on common areas and locations that are touched frequently by people throughout the day. They include hard surfaces such as tables, handrails, payment pin pads, door handles, and elevator buttons. We have also stepped up our cleaning protocols in all washroom facilities.

We are asking customers to follow the advice of health agencies to avoid all non-essential travel.

Is BC Ferries screening passengers for COVID-19?
Yes. Transport Canada has issued health screening guidelines to ferry operators to assess all passengers before boarding to better protect employees and passengers. These guidelines from Transport Canada are based on advice from the Public Health Agency of Canada. Visit this Transport Canada webpage for more information.

What routes does the COVID-19 screening apply to?
All sailings that have an expected duration of 30 minutes or longer and will be in effect until June 30th or further notice.

What's involved in COVID-19 screening?
Prior to boarding a BC Ferries' vessel, all passengers will be asked to answer four questions as part of health screening compliance. If a passenger answers 'yes' to any of these questions, or fails to answer, they will be refused travel for 14 days and should self-isolate.

  1. Do you have a fever and a cough?
  2. Do you have a fever and breathing difficulty?
  3. Have you been refused boarding in the past 14 days due to a medical reason related to COVID-19?
  4. Are you the subject of a provincial/territorial or local public health order?

Is BC Ferries implementing temperature screening as part of the health screening process?
No. Transport Canada guidelines do not include taking travellers' temperature.

What if I cough and need to travel, will I fail the screening?
As per the federal guidelines, if you have a cough and a fever, you will be denied travel and instructed to self-isolate for 14 days. If you have a cough and no other symptoms, you will be permitted to travel.

Why is BC Ferries reducing service?
These measures are being taken to protect the health and safety of communities and our crew, ensure the resiliency of our service, and match service levels to current demand. The changes are designed to ensure BC Ferries has sufficient capacity to allow the flow of essential goods, services, supplies and workers to their destinations. Most service reductions took effect on April 4, for a period of 60 days on major routes and until further notice on other routes.

I had a booking on a sailing that has been cancelled due to service reductions, what happens next?
Customers with bookings on cancelled sailings will be automatically refunded. Those who wish to book on a new sailing should contact BC Ferries directly to do so. We are encouraging customers to avoid non-essential travel at this time.

B.C. health officials have announced a ban on gatherings of over 50 people, does this apply to ferries?
No. This ban applies to events and does not apply to transportation services.

What advice does BC Ferries have for passengers?
We're asking customers to follow the advice of the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) to avoid all non-essential travel. BC Ferries regularly monitors information from the BC Centre for Disease Control and the PHAC. Right now, the advice from health authorities is to follow some simple tips:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Cough or sneeze into your sleeve and not your hand
  • Stay home if you are sick to avoid spreading illness to others

Is it possible to self-isolate in my vehicle on board?
Yes. BC Ferries will allow customers to remain in their vehicles on the enclosed car deck during the COVID-19 situation, to help support physical distancing and self-isolation. This change applies to all routes with the exception of travel on the north coast between Port Hardy and Prince Rupert, and Prince Rupert and Skidegate.

The decision is the result of collaboration between Transport Canada and the Canadian Ferry Association to provide ferry operators with important flexibility to help protect passengers and their families from COVID-19 related risks, while also ensuring additional measures are taken to ensure passenger safety.

The purpose of keeping passengers off closed car decks is to ensure their safety in the case of an emergency. BC Ferries will increase patrols on the enclosed car deck to ensure safety in the rare event of an emergency. Passengers will not be allowed on closed car decks once the COVID-19 situation ends.

What's the difference between travelling on BC Ferries versus a cruise ship?
With the exception of our north coast routes, passengers are on our ferries from between 10 minutes to two hours. Cruise ship passengers are on board for one or two weeks on average, or longer. Depending on the vessel, our ferries carry between 150 to 2,100 passengers and crew. Cruise ships carry up to 6,000 passengers. Our entire service area is within a "low risk" region. We sail along coastal British Columbia and do not travel to any foreign ports.

Who qualifies for “cargo only” sailings?
These sailings are reserved for the movement of commercial goods and essential service workers. Commercial vehicles carrying goods are reserved customers and will be loaded with priority, followed by essential service workers. If remaining deck space is available, other traffic may be loaded at the discretion of the terminal.

Who qualifies as an essential service worker?
The Province of British Columbia describes essential services as those daily services essential to preserving life, health, public safety and basic societal functioning. For more information, please see the full list of essential services.