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U.S. land border reopens to vaccinated Canadian travelers: Here's what you need to know

Ambassador Bridge
Posted at 12:15 PM, Nov 05, 2021

(WXYZ) — After being closed for nearly 20 months, the U.S. land border is reopening to vaccinated Canadian travelers on Monday, Nov. 8.

The border closed in March 2020 to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but President Joe Biden announced last month that it would reopen through land points of entry and ferry terminals.

Canada's border reopened to vaccinated U.S. citizens on Aug. 9, but the U.S. decided to keep its border closed.

Beginning Nov. 8, non-U.S. travelers should be prepared to present proof of their COVID-19 vaccine and attest to their non-essential travel and COVID-19 vaccination status.

Below you'll find answers to frequently asked questions from the Department of Homeland Security.

Q: How and where will travelers be able to find answers to their questions about this new policy?

A: CDC and the interagency have developed the orders and guidance to implement this new travel policy for the airlines, and for airline passengers. Approved vaccinations and required documentation outlined for air travel will be mirrored for land border travelers. Those details are available on the CDC website.

Q. What types of vaccinations will be accepted?

A. CDC has determined that all FDA approved and authorized vaccines, as well as all vaccines that have an Emergency Use Listing (EUL) from the World Health Organization will be accepted for air travel. Land border travel will mirror the same guidelines.

Accepted Vaccines:

  • CDC has determined that for purposes of travel to the United States, vaccines accepted will include current FDA approved or authorized vaccines and World Health Organization (WHO) emergency use listed (EUL) vaccines.
  • Individuals are considered fully vaccinated:
    • 2 weeks (14 days) after your dose of an accepted single-dose COVID-19 vaccine;
    • 2 weeks (14 days) after your second dose of an accepted 2-dose series COVID-19 vaccine;
    • 2 weeks (14 days) after you received the full series of an “active” (not placebo) COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S.-based AstraZeneca or Novavax COVID-19 vaccine trials; or
    • 2 weeks (14 days) after you received 2 doses of any “mix-and-match” combination of accepted COVID-19 vaccines administered at least 17 days apart.
  • More details are available in CDC guidance here.

 Q. What are the requirements for travelers entering the United States through land borders?

A. Before embarking on your trip to the U.S., travelers should be prepared for the following:

  • Possess proof of an approved COVID-19 vaccination as outlined on the CDC website. 
  • During border inspection, verbally attest to their travel intent and COVID-19 vaccination status.
  • U.S. citizens are reminded to bring a Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative document, such as a valid U.S. passport, Trusted Traveler Program card, Enhanced Driver’s License or Enhanced Tribal Card when re-entering the country. Citizens should be prepared to present the WHTI-compliant document and any other documents requested by the CBP officer.

 Q. What are the requirements to enter the United States for children under the age of 18 who can't be vaccinated?

A. Children under 18 years of age will be excepted from the vaccination requirement at land and ferry POEs when it goes into effect on November 8.

 Q. Do you expect border wait times to increase?

A. CBP’s Office of Field Operations (OFO) expects an increase in border wait times, especially at our busiest crossing locations. Trade and travel facilitation remain a priority, however, we cannot compromise national security which is our primary mission. Trade, which is vital to the American economy and post pandemic recovery, has seen an increase of over 8%. Narcotics seizures continue to rise with fentanyl and methamphetamines seeing dramatic increases in FY 2021. OFO will continue to delicately balance its finite resources with an emphasis on ensuring our borders are secure.

Q: What can travelers do to mitigate the anticipated increased wait times at the ports of entry?

A: To help reduce wait times and long lines, travelers can take advantage of innovative technology, such as the CBP OneTM mobile application. Launched on October 28, 2020, CBP OneTM is a mobile application that serves as a single portal for travelers and stakeholders to access CBP mobile applications and services. Through a series of intuitive questions, it will guide each user to the appropriate services based on their needs, including applying for an electronic I-94 up to seven days in advance of travel. The application can be downloaded for free from the Apple App Store or Google Play. The cost of applying for an I-94 using the mobile application is $6 USD, which is the same cost as applying on the I-94 website or upon arrival at a land port of entry. Although having an approved ESTA is not a requirement to enter the United States via the land border, citizens and nationals of Visa Waiver Program countries must have an active ESTA to use the CBP OneTM I-94 Apply feature. All individuals in specified locations/conveyance types may use the CBP One™ app on their smart devices. However, admissibility policies have not changed; if travelers must currently report in person for any reason (i.e., requiring an I-94, paying customs duties, etc.), they will continue to be required to do so.

Q: How will the Title 19 modifications affect U.S. citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents?

A: U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents and those traveling for essential reasons are exempt from the non-essential travel restrictions on entry at U.S. land borders. U.S. Citizens returning to the United States at a land border port of entry need to present themselves for inspection by presenting a WHTI-compliant document to ensure the inspection process is streamlined.

The CBP One I-94 features are not intended for use by U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, foreign travelers with immigrant visas, or most Canadian citizens visiting the United States, as these particular travelers do not need I-94s.