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U.S. to Open Canada and Mexico Land Borders to Vaccinated Travelers

By Michelle Baran

Oct 13, 2021

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Canada’s snowbirds often flock to warmer weather U.S. destinations such as California.

Photo by TierneyMJ/Shutterstock

Canada’s snowbirds often flock to warmer weather U.S. destinations such as California.

The new policy comes as the Biden administration prepares to lift the international travel ban for vaccinated visitors starting in November.

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After the Biden administration announced last month that it will lift the ban on international air travel for visitors who are vaccinated starting in November, the Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday said the new policy will also apply to the United States’ land borders.

“In alignment with the new international air travel system that will be implemented in November, we will begin allowing travelers from Mexico and Canada who are fully vaccinated for COVID-19 to enter the United States for nonessential purposes, including to visit friends and family or for tourism, via land and ferry border crossings,” Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas said in an October 12 statement.

Travelers from Canada and Mexico can currently enter the United States by air, but have been awaiting the freedom to travel to the U.S. by land since the land borders were closed to nonessential travel in March 2020—only essential workers have been allowed to cross.

But starting in November, fully vaccinated leisure travelers with proof of vaccination will be able to enter the United States by land or ferry from Mexico and Canada and will not need to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test as is required for international air arrivals into the United States.

Throughout the pandemic, U.S. citizens and residents have been able to fly to Mexico for leisure travel purposes, with no testing or quarantine requirement. And fully vaccinated Americans can travel to Canada (either by land or air) as of August 9, 2021.

Also starting in November (an exact date has yet to be provided), foreign leisure travelers flying from previously banned countries—the 26-nation European Schengen area, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Brazil, China, Iran, and South Africa—who can provide proof of vaccination and present a negative COVID-19 test will be allowed to enter the United States.  

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) considers someone to be fully vaccinated as long as they have received the required single- or double-dose of vaccines approved either by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or the World Health Organization (WHO), which includes the FDA-approved Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson vaccines and the WHO-authorized Oxford-AstraZeneca/Covishield, Sinopharm, and Sinovac vaccines.

In January 2022, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will expand its vaccine requirement for entering the U.S. by land or ferry to all travelers, including transportation workers and those crossing the border for trade or business purposes (not just leisure travelers).

“This approach will provide ample time for essential travelers such as truckers, students, and healthcare workers to get vaccinated,” DHS stated.

>> Next: Canada Has Reopened to U.S. Travelers—Here’s Everything You Need to Know About Visiting

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