The US land border crossing ban has had enormous financial, social and cultural impact―on both sides of the border. Starting in November, the US will open its land borders with Canada and Mexico after 18 months of lockdown. The reopening is a big deal for those on both sides of the border.
Since early August, vaccinated Americans have been able to cross into Canada, but the reverse has not been true. Nonessential travel from Canada to the US has been closed since March 2020.
A specific date has not been set and the rules apply only to those entering the US legally. All travelers must be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 and have the necessary documentation to cross. A negative COVID-19 test will not be required. The new rule applies to those entering the US by vehicle, rail or ferry.
If you’re planning to cross into or back from Canada or Mexico after October, here’s what you need to know.
Essential travelers now need proof of vaccination
Up to now, US citizens and those crossing the border for essential purposes have not had to show proof of vaccination. That means that people who regularly cross the land borders will now need to show proof of vaccination, including:
- Students and teachers
- Commercial drivers
- Healthcare workers
If you, or someone you know, regularly crosses a US land border as an essential worker, they’ll need to get vaccinated quickly if they are to continue crossing after this month.
Bring a book – border wait times will be longer
Wait times at land borders can be long: 2-3 hours is normal but the wait can be as high as 8 hours in some cases. The time it takes to cross either border will likely get even longer as people start crossing the border for work, to see family and friends, and shop again.
Pro tip: Check the US Customs and Border Protection site wait times website to see how long it will take to cross into the US on foot, in a commercial vehicle, or in a passenger vehicle by point of entry.
Vaccination rates could go up
We seem to be moving closer to the point where it will be difficult, and in some places impossible, to travel if you’re unvaccinated.
Reuters’ COVID-19 tracker reports the vaccination rates in both countries as:
- 61% of US citizens are vaccinated,
- 42% of Mexican citizens are vaccinated, and
- 76% of Canadian citizens are vaccinated.
Earlier in the summer, when New York Mayor Bill de Blasio banned unvaccinated people from indoor dining and other activities, the daily rate of vaccinations doubled the next day. It’s clear that travelers are willing to accept rules and regulations if it means they can start traveling again.
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