What we know about the U.S. land border reopening to Canadians

Starting in early November, the United States will be opening its land and sea border to non-essential fully vaccinated Canadian travellers for the first time since March 2020.

While the Public Health Agency of Canadais still advising against non-essential international travel, the border reopening means that Canadians can drive into the U.S. to visit family, or take a day trip, something Canada has allowed fully vaccinated Americans to do since Aug. 9.

With the official date of the policy change yet to be announced, the details remain scarce.

But, here’s what we know so far.


Public Safety Minister Bill Blair has told CTV News that he expects the U.S. policy to be “harmonized” with Canada’s approach, but there are differences between what Canada is asking travellers to show before entry and what the Americans are expected to require.

While Canada requires any eligible American traveller who visits to show a negative test result at the border, the U.S. isn’t expected to ask Canadian citizens to show proof of a negative test before crossing at a land or sea port of entry.

This is different than the U.S.’ air travel rules, which do require proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than three days before departure.

Of course, all basic travel documents, such as a passport, remain requirements to cross the border.


The U.S. is expected to recognize travellers who have been fully vaccinated with AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, despite it not being approved for use in the U.S.

However, uncertainty remains over whether those who received one shot of this viral vector vaccine as part of a mixed dose regime with an mRNA Pfizer or Moderna shot will be recognized as fully vaccinated by the U.S.

While Canada and some other countries permitted mixing of doses for first and second shots, the United States has not.

Blair said the government has offered to provide the Americans with all evidence and studies that support the validity of the mixed-doses strategy, andsaid that discussions are “ongoing.”

“The World Health Organization recognizes the mixed doses, and that should be good enough,” said New York Democratic Rep. Brian Higgins, who has been pushing for this reopening for months, in an interview on CTV News Channel’s Power Play on Wednesday.


For now, the Government of Canada’s travel rules and restrictions remain unchanged for Canadians who are entering back into the country from the U.S.

That means that in order to get back into Canada—whether hours or days after entering the U.S.—travellers will need to negative PCR test within 72 hours of a planned entry into Canada.

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland was asked in Washington on Thursday whether Canada might remove the testing requirements for fully vaccinated travellers entering into Canada and seemed firm that the requirement is not changing.

“Canadians do need a valid PCR test to go back to Canada,” she said.

“I really believe that when it comes to finishing the fight against COVID, the Canadian approach – which has been to follow science, to follow the recommendations of public health authorities, and to err on the side of caution – has served us really, really well.”

For trips to the U.S. of less than 72 hours, travellers are allowed to conduct their pre-entry test in Canada before they leave the country. 

If fully vaccinated, travellers will not have to quarantine upon arrival into Canada, provided they have a negative test and are not symptomatic.


While the U.S. land border does not require a negative COVID-19 test, flying into the U.S. is a different story.

The U.S.’ air travel rules require proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than three days before the flight, or proof of that the traveller has recovered from a COVID-19 infection in the past three months.

Proof of a COVID-19 recovery would include documentation of a positive viral test and a letter from either a health-care provider or a public health official stating that the passenger has been cleared from isolation and can therefore travel, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

This documentation must be presented to the airline before boarding a flight to the U.S. and exemptions are only granted on “extremely limited” situations, such as an emergency evacuation, or someone in serious danger.

Of course, all basic travel documents, such as a passport, remain requirements to cross the border.


As of Oct. 30, Canada is requiring passengers and staff of the federally regulated air, rail and marine transportation sectors to be fully vaccinated.

There will be a grace period until the end of November, during proof of a negative COVID-19 test will be accepted.

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