Guidance for marine operators: Reporting illness on board

This page provides information to marine operators entering and exiting Canada about their obligation to report diseases on board their vessels. It also outlines how to report diseases to the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC).

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PHAC works with the marine industry and other government partners to prevent the introduction and spread of communicable diseases. There are reporting processes for marine operators so that PHAC can respond to ill travellers entering or exiting Canada with signs and symptoms of:

Reports submitted to PHAC help protect the health and safety of people in Canada. They assist in monitoring illness on board marine vessels and allow PHAC to provide recommendations to marine operators on how to manage illness on board.

Reporting communicable diseases of quarantine concern

Communicable disease of quarantine concern

A communicable disease of quarantine concern is a human disease that is caused by an infectious agent or a biological toxin, and is a:

Reporting a suspected or confirmed communicable disease prior to entering or exiting Canada is required under 34(2) and 34(3) of the Quarantine Act. Under the Quarantine Act, an operator means any person in charge of a conveyance, including the conveyance's crew.

In addition, vessel operators entering or exiting Canada must also report if:

Learn more about:

Who should report

All vessel operators entering or exiting Canada must report illness, human remains or death on board.

Reporting must happen as soon as possible before the vessel:

How to report communicable diseases of quarantine concern

Vessel operators must inform a quarantine officer of any reasonable grounds to suspect:

Vessel operators must answer any relevant questions asked by:

They must provide the officer with any information or record in their possession that the officer may reasonably require in the performance of a duty under the Quarantine Act.

Signs and symptoms

Operators must report passengers or crew to PHAC who:

  1. meet the syndromal case definition:
    • traveller has a fever of 38°C or greater or 2 or more signs of fever, such as:
      • shivering
      • flushed skin
      • excessive sweating
      • complaints of feeling feverish
    • and has 1 or more of the following symptoms:
      • difficulty breathing
      • repeated cough
      • diarrhea
      • headache
      • recent confusion
      • skin rash
      • bruising or bleeding without previous injury
  2. appear obviously unwell or cough with blood

Death on board or human remains

Every marine operator entering Canada carrying a cadaver, a body part or other human remains into Canada must provide a copy of the death certificate to the screening officer at the point of entry. If no death certificate is provided, the screening officer will inform a quarantine officer. Marine operators must follow the quarantine officer's directives regarding the human remains.

How to report

Vessel operators report communicable diseases of quarantine concern to PHAC through the Maritime Declaration of Health (MDH). The declaration:

Reporting should be completed:

Additionally, vessel operators must call the PHAC Quarantine Central Notification System (CNS) if the Maritime Declaration of Health is submitted within 24 hours of arrival. Call 1-833-615-2384 (toll-free).

Report using the Maritime Declaration of Health

For cruise ships

In addition to the Maritime Declaration of Health, the operator is required to complete either Annex A and/or Annex B.

Annex A must currently be used for confirmed cases of COVID-19 or as directed by PHAC. Instructions on changes to reporting requirements will be issued by the Government of Canada.

Submit Annex A: Cruise ship reporting form

Annex B must be completed if there are signs and symptoms of a communicable disease other than COVID-19 on board.

Submit Annex B: Cruise ship communicable disease reporting form

There may be situations where the operator will be required to submit both Annex A and B. For example, if one or more travellers on the same vessel tests positive for COVID-19, you must submit Annex A. If another traveller displays signs and symptoms of a communicable disease listed in the syndromal case definition, but doesn't test positive for COVID-19, the operator is required to submit Annex B.

If you need to request a copy of the forms, please contact the PHAC Notification Line at

Learn more about:

For cargo vessels

Cargo vessels should follow the guidance and time parameters outlined in 'Quarantine Messages' of the Radio Aids to Marine Navigation 2023.

If it is not possible for cargo operators to submit a Maritime Declaration of Health due to issues with infrastructure, they can also report by:

Learn more about:

For all other vessel operators

Other vessel operators (such as pleasure craft, fishing vessels and ferries) report by informing a border services officer when entering Canada.

Reporting gastrointestinal illness

Gastrointestinal illness

Reporting of gastrointestinal illness is based on signs and symptoms outlined below. These reports are monitored. An environmental health officer will follow up directly with the vessel should levels of illness exceed 2% among passengers and crew. This type of reporting applies exclusively to cruise ships.

Who should report

Gastrointestinal illness reporting should be completed by all cruise ships 24 to 36 hours prior to the first expected port of arrival into Canada. This process does not apply to cargo vessels.

PHAC operates a gastrointestinal illness surveillance system for cruise ships entering Canadian waters. If gastrointestinal illness on board is widespread and above public health thresholds, PHAC will:

  1. respond
  2. investigate the outbreak
  3. work to provide the vessel owner and operator with guidance to bring the outbreak under control

Signs and symptoms

A reportable case of gastrointestinal illness is defined as:

How to report

Gastrointestinal reporting should be submitted electronically through PHAC's Gastrointestinal Illness Surveillance System. You can access the reporting forms, including additional information on when to report, through this system.

Report using the Gastrointestinal Illness Surveillance System

Any questions regarding gastrointestinal illness reporting can be sent by email to the Travelling Public Program at Cruise ship operators can also contact the 24/7 PHAC Notification Line if they encounter difficulties with submitting the forms electronically. Call 1-833-615-2384 (extension 7 to reach an environment health officer).

Reporting both types of illness

In some instances, an operator may have travellers or crew on board with signs and symptoms of both gastrointestinal illness and a communicable disease of quarantine concern.

To properly process these cases, the operator should meet the requirements for both gastrointestinal illness reporting and communicable disease of quarantine concern reporting.

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