rules to crossing the USA land border

USA Landborder Opening to Canada and Mexico Vaccinated Citizens

For everyone's information, Canada began accepting fully vaccinated US travellers for non-essential purposes on Aug. 9. On the other hand, Mexico's border has remained open throughout the pandemic.

In the United States, they have seen 44.5 million coronavirus cases and over 716,000 deaths since the outbreak began. That is why as of March 2020, the United States has closed its land borders with Canada and Mexico.

However, beginning Nov. 8, the US will finally lift its restrictions on fully vaccinated foreign nationals crossing the land borders from Canada and Mexico. COVID-19-vaccinated passengers from the mentioned countries can now enter the United States for non-essential purposes via land and ferry crossings.

The new requirements are similar, but not identical, to the planned rules for international flight travellers released last month. Foreign tourists entering the United States by land or ferry need to be vaccinated, but they are not required to show proof of one upon entering unless the US Customs and Border Patrol refer to them.

Unlike non-US air travellers who will be required to show proof of full vaccination and a recent negative COVID-19 test before boarding their flight, those crossing a land border do not have to show proof of COVID-19 test.

To put it simply, travellers who are not vaccinated will still be denied entry to the United States by land from Mexico and Canada, even if they are not required to show proof of one. But the questions are, what vaccines are approved by the US? Who is considered fully vaccinated?

Read more about it below.

COVID-19 Vaccines for International Travelers

The FDA has approved the following COVID-19 vaccines for emergency use in the United States:

BioNTech, Pfizer vaccine Johnson & Johnson vaccine Moderna, NIAID vaccine

The CDC considers people fully vaccinated if they are already:

  • Two (2) weeks after getting the second dosage of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine's two-dose series, or;
  • Two (2) weeks after the single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine

According to the CDC, six vaccines that the WHO and FDA approved for emergency use will meet the requirements for travel to the United States. Beginning Nov. 8, fully vaccinated international travellers, including Canadians with mixed dosages, will be able to enter the United States again.

While the CDC did not favour mixing and matching vaccines, they admitted that mixed dosages are typical in many countries outside the US, such as Canada. Nearly four million Canadians have received mixed doses of the available mRNA COVID-19 vaccinations, including the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Therefore, for the new interpretation of vaccination records, people can be considered fully vaccinated if they are already:

  • Two weeks after receiving any single dose of an FDA or WHO-approved single-dose series (i.e., Janssen) or;
  • Two weeks after receiving any combination of two doses listed by WHO for emergency use or FDA-approved two-dose series.

Before, only those who had received two identical doses of an authorized vaccine were considered fully vaccinated in the United States. Fortunately, travellers who have received any combination of two doses of vaccines recommended by the WHO or FDA are now considered fully vaccinated.

You can read more about the fully vaccinated guidance here. Officials said that the new regulation would have exceptions, such as children who are not eligible for vaccinations.

What's needed to get back to Canada?

As per the land border reopening to fully vaccinated travellers in Nov. 8 announcement, Canadians will still need to take a molecular test, such as the PCR test, to return to Canada.

While the United States will not need Canadians to show a test to cross the border, returning to Canada will require a negative PCR test taken at least 72 hours before crossing the border.

Returning to Canada can be pricey. Rapid antigen testing, which costs around $40 only, is not accepted by the Canadian government. Some PCR tests, which travellers often use, can cost up to $200 in the United States. However, other molecular tests, such as the NAAT test, are accepted.

Lastly, all travellers entering Canada by air, land, train, or sea must use ArriveCAN. Those who will return to Canada must submit their information 72 hours before their arrival. If you don't submit your information through ArriveCAN, you risk being denied boarding and entry to Canada or expected to quarantine.

How to use ArriveCan before your travel?

Step 1: First, download the ArriveCan app and create your file.

On the app, you may access your file up to 90 days before your departure, and on the website, you can access it for up to 14 days. Applicants who cannot submit their documents through mobile phone may do so using a laptop or tablet.

Step 2: After you've finished creating your file, enter the following information:

  • Your personal information
  • Your travel information
  • Your proof of vaccination
  • Your COVID-19 test results
  • Your quarantine plan

Step 3: Once you submit your information through ArriveCAN, a receipt will be displayed and emailed to you.

ArriveCan will not confirm exemptions from public health requirements. It does not verify your entry eligibility, vaccination status, or essential travel status to Canada. Instead, the border services officer will determine your exemptions from public health regulations.

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