Travel Advisory: COVID-19 Update - Important information - Last updated January 11, 2021 View ×

BC Ferries remains committed to ensuring coastal communities have reliable access to essential goods and supplies. Our priority is the health and safety of our customers and employees, and the company will strictly adhere to provincial and federal guidelines.

We encourage our customers to continue to heed Dr. Bonnie Henry’s advice to be calm, be kind, and be safe. Our vessel and terminal staff are working hard to adjust to changing circumstances and to implement protocols and procedures that keep everyone safe and healthy. BC Ferries does not tolerate any abuse, including verbal abuse, towards its employees. A customer who abuses an employee will be denied service.

On January 7, 2021 Dr. Bonnie Henry announced an update to the COVID-19 restrictions (in effect November 7 - February 5, 2021), for more information click here. BC Ferries advises customers to avoid non-essential travel at this time – this includes travel into and out of B.C. and between regions of the province. If this new Provincial Health Officer restriction affects your travel plans please contact us to change or cancel your booking. Reservations fees for existing bookings will be refunded if travel must be cancelled as a result of Provincial Health Order (PHO) travel restrictions, please contact us in advance of travel. This applies to travel occurring during the PHO travel restriction period. 


Masks are mandatory

All passengers must wear non-medical masks or face coverings when at terminals and on board ferries except:

  • When inside a vehicle
  • When consuming food or drinks, provided physical distancing is maintained
  • Children under 2 years of age
  • Medical condition or disability that inhibits the ability to wear a mask
  • Persons unable to place or remove a mask without assistance
  • BC Ferries employees working behind a physical barrier or within employee only areas provided physical distancing is maintained


* In the event that a passenger cannot wear a mask or face covering due to medical reasons, BC Ferries may require passengers to present documentation from a healthcare professional. This is a new Transport Canada requirement for ferry operators across Canada.

Passengers are reminded to continue to maintain physical distance while wearing a mask.
As defined by the Public Health Agency of Canada, a mask should fit securely to the head with ties or ear loops, be made of at least two layers of tightly woven material fabric (such as cotton or linen) and be large enough to completely and comfortably cover the nose and mouth without gaping.


Transport Canada - Closed deck regulation - reinstatement on September 30th

The temporary flexibility Transport Canada granted ferry operators that allows passengers to remain in their vehicle on enclosed vehicle decks is being rescinded by the regulator on September 30th, 2020. Transport Canada allowed this temporary flexibility earlier this summer in response to COVID-19. BC Ferries must comply with Transport Canada regulations. Starting on September 30th, passengers loaded on enclosed lower decks will be required to leave their vehicles.

Learn more about the reinstatement of the Transport Canada regulation

View frequently asked questions


Transport Canada - COVID-19 screening

For any route longer than 30 minutes, BC Ferries will screen all customers for COVID-19 symptoms and restrict travel to any customer that does not meet the screening requirements, as per the federal guidelines.

Prior to entering a BC Ferries’ terminal, 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? Note: A provincial/territorial or local public health order is typically a quarantine order issued to a person who has tested positive or is presumed positive to COVID-19
  5. Are you in possession of a face covering that covers your mouth and nose, and do you agree to wear this covering when outside your vehicle at terminals and while on board ferries?

If you answer yes to any of questions 1 to 4 and/or no to question 5 above, or refuse to answer any of the questions, 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 will be required to maintain physical distance by remaining in their vehicle.

BC Ferries has implemented measures in order to ensure that customers with serious medical conditions and a need for time sensitive treatments are able to continue to travel. Customers can communicate their travel needs to the ticket agent when they arrive at the terminal. Reservations are recommended, but non-reserved travel will be prioritized based on the essential travel needs.

View more details on Transport Canada’s announcement

Book in advance to avoid lengthy waits as sailings are limited. Check-in processing takes longer due to screening protocols in place.

Malahat Nation

Malahat Nation is currently under a Shelter in Place order that took effect January 8, 2021.

We ask that all Mill Bay ferry customers please wear a mask when on, or transiting to BC Ferries Mill Bay terminal outside of a vehicle. Commuting customers please see the request below from Malahat Nation regarding parking on Mill Bay Road.

For further information, please see


Northern routes

For more information on our current Northern schedules, visit

Many communities served by BC Ferries have issued advisories to travelers notifying them of limited supplies, healthcare equipment and resources. These communities include Haida Gwaii, Bella Bella, Klemtu, and Bella Coola. Customers should inform themselves of local situations and remain committed to essential travel only.
For more information about travel and restrictions in these northern communities, see:

Foot passengers

When travelling, we require customers wear a face covering onboard or in our terminals. Reservations for foot passengers are available for travel between Tsawwassen - Southern Gulf Islands and our North Coast routes, and can now be made online.  On all other routes, foot passengers will be accommodated on a first come, first served basis until passenger capacity has been reached, and tickets may be purchased at the terminal.


BC Ferries Vacations

Customers with BC Ferries Vacation bookings affected by the COVID-19 restrictions (in effect November 7 - February 5, 2021) can contact us to change or cancel their booking. If you require immediate assistance, please contact BC Ferries Vacations at 1-888-223-3779 Ext. 3, or email Vacations Call Centre business hours are:

  • Monday – Friday: 8:30 am – 5 pm
  • Weekends and statutory holidays: 9 am – 5 pm


Additional information

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

  • For more information on travelling with BC Ferries during the COVID-19 Pandemic click here
  • Updates from our President and CEO Mark Collins

Vehicles with U.S. license plates travelling on the Ferries

Canada Border Services Agency is screening people entering Canada at the borders. BC Ferries does not have a mandate to restrict travel.


We’re in this together

We are proud of the work our dedicated employees continue to provide during this situation. Crews have been taking, and will continue to take, extra measures to ensure continued safe transport of critical goods and supplies to coastal B.C. communities. If you have a chance to relay a ‘thank-you’ to our teams online, please do.

BC Ferries provides a lifeline to remote and to coastal communities in British Columbia, and will continue to provide vital services, such as delivering medical supplies and groceries to support communities.

For more information on all the steps BC Ferries is taking during COVID-19, visit our COVID-19 response page. For more information on schedules visit BC Ferries hopes to resume the levels of service customers have come to expect soon.

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Swartz Bay terminal

Terminal development plan for Victoria (Swartz Bay)


In the spring of 2018, we launched an engagement process to gather community input to help shape future plans for Swartz Bay terminal, including improved passenger buildings, amenities, and operational facilities. Learn more about our engagement process.
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Phase 3: Approved terminal development plan released

We are now ready to share the approved terminal development plan for Swartz Bay Terminal.
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In addition to meeting with key stakeholders, we'll be presenting the plan to the community and customers through pop-up events at the Swartz Bay terminal this spring.

Community and customer feedback has influenced the terminal development plan in the following ways:

  • Support for an improved pick-up and drop- off area and foot passenger building
  • Development of proposed bicycle routes for cyclists entering and leaving the terminal
  • Highlighting the preference and needs for a centralized vehicle passenger retail building (in the same location as the Lands End building today) versus a building on the waterfront
  • Strong support for a waterfront park

Next steps

Implementing the terminal development plan will occur in phases, with the first phase focusing on improving road access, parking and pick-up/drop-off areas. We will be looking to the public for input on the detailed designs for each phase, and will involve the community in identifying potential construction impacts and mitigation measures. Subject to funding approvals, our timeline for phased implementation looks like this:

Project updates

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Phase 1 and Phase 2 summaries

In Phase 1, we gathered input on key issues and opportunities related to the terminal. We heard from over 1,000 people through pop-up events at the terminal, an online engagement, and stakeholder and employee workshops.

The key themes we heard in Phase 1 were:
  • Better food services
  • Improved outdoor spaces
  • Improved waiting areas
  • Interpretive and cultural features
  • Wayfinding, mobility and accessibility
  • Waste management
  • Thru-fare connections
In Phase 2, we created draft concepts for the future of the terminal using the key themes we identified in Phase 1. We asked about several 'Big Moves', or potential options for the terminal and heard from more than 500 people through pop-up events at the terminal, an online engagement, and stakeholder and employee workshops.

Participants identified most concepts as meeting their needs well or very well, and noted a preference for a park in the waterfront area of the terminal, rather than a concession in that area. Preference for the concession was that it be included closer to the vehicle waiting area, as it is today.
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Frequently asked questions

Q. How will the public input gathered in this engagement be used?
A. Your input is important to us and will shape the concept(s) that go into the Swartz Bay Terminal Development Plan, which will in turn shape future phases of redevelopment, including detailed design. Local communities and customers will continue to be engaged as future phases are undertaken.

Q. Why is BC Ferries planning improvements to Swartz Bay terminal?
A. The previous master plan (2004) led to a number of terminal upgrades but is no longer up-to-date. Several key issues need to be addressed, including [a] the foot passenger terminal is at capacity and too small for expected growth; [b] the vehicular passenger building is at the end of its service life, and [c] the warehouse facility is at capacity. Additionally, with expected passenger growth, technology evolving, and transportation trends shifting, we need to keep pace with and plan for these changes.
Project Description Completed
Highway 17 widening Widening highway and improved approach to terminal 2006
Berth 2 marine structures Complete rebuild of berth 2 2006
Reconfigure the Southern Gulf Islands holding compound / construct East exit road Expanded the Southern Gulf Islands holding compound and created East exit road for second exit for off-loading vehicles during peak times 2007
Relocate ticket booths Ticket booths moved back to create more space in holding lanes within terminal 2008
Upper lot public washrooms Added a washroom for vehicle passengers waiting up near toll booths 2009
Short term parking reconfiguration Made improvements to pick-up / drop-off area 2010
Upper level parking reconfiguration and bus platform Improved pick-up / drop-off flow and created designated bus parking 2011
Berths 4 and 5 rebuild Complete rebuild of berths 4 and 5 including waiting shelters 2012
PA system upgrades Improved passenger notification through PA system 2012
Traffic calming Installed traffic calming measures outside terminal to slow down traffic on the approach to the ticket booths 2017

Q. What is the timeline for improvements?
A. Planned improvements will be implemented over a period of time and in phases. This engagement effort is a visioning and planning exercise and is the first of three key phases associated with terminal improvements.

Q. Will the Terminal Development Plan address routes, service levels, and scheduling?
A. No. The Terminal Development Plan addresses the future site planning and design of the terminal, but does not address service levels, routes, frequency of service, scheduling, and fares.

If you have other questions, want to provide feedback, or require further information about the Swartz Bay terminal development engagement process, contact or write to us at British Columbia Ferry Services Inc., Terminal Development, Suite 500 - 1321 Blanshard Street, Victoria, BC, V8W 0B7. Your email, address information and any other information about you is being collected under section 26 of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act for the terminal development engagement process. If you have any questions about the collection of your information, contact the Manager, Terminal Development by calling 250-978-1479, or write to us at this email or at the address above.