British Columbians who have been eagerly anticipating the reopening of the Canada-U.S. land border may drive down starting today.
Effective Monday, Nov. 8, fully vaccinated travellers may cross the Canada-U.S. border into the United States; the border has been closed to non-citizen travellers since March 2020.
But there are several things to consider before you pack your bags — even if you only plan on heading down for a quick shopping trip.
Requirements to enter the United States
Non-citizen travellers are now permitted to enter the U.S. through a land border or ferry terminal for a non-essential reason. They must provide proof that they received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine approved by either the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or the World Health Organization. This means Canadians who were immunized with the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine may travel south of the border, too.
Documentation accepted as proof of vaccination is outlined on the CDC website.
Unvaccinated travellers may continue to cross the border for essential travel, including lawful trade, emergency response, and public health purposes. Starting in January 2022, however, all inbound foreign national travellers – whether for essential or non-essential reasons – must be fully vaccinated.
Children under 18 years of age will be excepted from the vaccination requirement at land and ferry POEs.
U.S. border officials will ask you to:
- present proof of COVID-19 vaccination as outlined on the CDC website; and,
- verbally attest to your non-essential travel and COVID-19 vaccination status.
Find out more information about the requirements to enter the U.S. via the land border.
Expect long wait times
Non-citizen travellers to the U.S. are advised to expect longer wait times when they are crossing the border. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security states that as "travel begins to resume, travel volumes and wait times are expected to increase."
Travellers can assist the process by familiarizing themselves with the new guidelines and having appropriate documentation ready ahead of time.
Returning to Canada via the land border
All Canadians five years of age or older must provide proof of a negative molecular test to return home. Screening tests for work or travel are not covered by public health services.
The molecular test required to gain access back to the country takes a considerable amount of time to procure at most places (typically 24 to 48 hours). Depending on what state you travel to, some pharmacies offer COVID-19 testing free of charge. Walgreens is the most popular, but some people have reported that they were tested for free at CVS Pharmacy and Rite Aid locations.
That said, some B.C. residents say the hassle of finding a clinic south of the border isn't worth the trouble. Further, the turnaround time might not work for their trip.
For testing from the comfort of your home, a Canadian company sells portable self-administered COVID-19 molecular and antigen test kits to avoid the hassle of visiting clinics. Find out more information about the company and its self-testing process.
On Oct. 29, Canada's vaccine card was made available to B.C. residents looking to travel in Canada and internationally.
Find out how to get your federal proof of vaccination for travel.
International travel during the pandemic
Canadians who have been itching to travel outside of the country have been given the green light by the federal government, albeit with some cautionary guidance.
The Government of Canada quietly lifted the country's non-essential travel advisory on Oct. 22, which had been in place since March 13, 2020, at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
But while the advisory has been lifted, federal officials say Canadians may face challenges travelling during the pandemic. Find out everything you need to consider about travelling outside of the country.