U.S. land border opens to Canada: Long line-ups at crossings as Americans 'thrilled' to have Canadian travellers return

·6 min read

Fully vaccinated Canadians who were used to regularly visiting the U.S. pre-pandemic, moving between both countries relatively freely, can do so more easily after the U.S. halted non-essential travel by Canadians through land crossings for almost 20 month. 

“I personally and all of us here in the United States are thrilled to see the reopening of our borders to vaccinated travellers from around the world,” Aaron Wodin-Schwartz, vice president of public affairs with Brand USA told Yahoo Canada. “It's been a long 20 or so months and obviously our Canadian visitors are our neighbours, our friends, our longtime visitors and we're so thrilled to be welcoming them back with open arms to communities of all shapes and sizes in all parts of this country.”

As we look at images from early morning on Monday alone, lineups of cars, roads and highways filled with Canadians trying to cross the land border into the U.S., Wodin-Schwartz said that Americans are “absolutely” ready to take on this influx of travellers from Canada.

“The short answer is yes, absolutely,” he said. 

I can tell you, on behalf of our travel industry here in the United States and on behalf of really communities of all shapes and sizes and all geographies, we are ready and thrilled to be welcoming our Canadian visitors back.Aaron Wodin-Schwartz, VP of Public Affairs, Brand USA

“One of the things we've seen in the last six months or so, here domestically, is really the return of our own domestic travel in a way that's been a lot more, I think, robust and quick than people might have anticipated. That's been really good news and people have been able to travel confidently, to have those travel experiences that they want to have, and it's really, I think, proven that we're ready to receive our international guests, including our longtime friends from Canada.”

Cars line up at a checkpoint after crossing the Peace Bridge from Canada to the United States on Monday, Nov. 8, 2021, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/Joshua Bessex)
Cars line up at a checkpoint after crossing the Peace Bridge from Canada to the United States on Monday, Nov. 8, 2021, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/Joshua Bessex)

It’s certainly no surprise that Canadians are clearly itching to get back to the U.S., when travel between the two countries has historically been incredibly fluid.

“Canada is the number one source of inbound travellers to the United States, historically,” Wodin-Schwartz said. “So there's a high level of familiarity, including things like day trips and drive market.”

“I do think that, that long standing affinity and familiarity is going to be a big asset as we look to welcome Canadians back. We believe that there's tremendous demand for travel to the United States and that now that people feel confident, and are able to travel more freely, again, that we're going to see people really making up for the lost time over the last year and a half.”

What do you need to know before travelling from Canada to the U.S.?

COVID-19 rules have loosened but measures are still very much in place, so it is critically important for travellers to plan in advance, make sure they know exactly what they need to travel to the U.S. and return to Canada.

“I recommend, of course, that as Canadians are looking to make their trip arrangements that they do their research about what might be necessary in the particular destinations that they're going to,” Wodin-Schwartz advised.

A site like VisitTheUSA.ca can be a helpful tool to not only give travellers some ideas for things to do and see in the U.S., but also a resource to read about the guidelines for travel to the country as a whole and COVID-19 measures in the particular state they are travelling to.

International visitors entering the U.S. by land or water need to be prepared to:

  • Present proof of COVID-19 vaccination as outlined on the CDC website

  • Verbally attest to their nonessential travel and COVID-19 vaccination status

Despite some initial questions and confusion, the U.S. does consider people with mixed vaccine doses, with all the vaccines administered in Canada, as fully vaccinated after it has been at least two weeks since their full course of vaccination.

Children under 18 do not need to be vaccinated to enter the U.S. but they do need to take a COVID-19 test. Kids two and younger are exempt from testing requirements.

TOPSHOT - A pedestrian walks past a line of Canadian travelers in their passenger cars or motor homes on the Rainbow Bridge between Niagara Falls, Ontario and Niagara Falls, New York in the early hours of November 8, 2021. - The United States reopens its land and air borders Monday November 8 to foreign visitors fully vaccinated against Covid-19, ending 20 months of restrictions on travel from around the globe that separated families, hobbled tourism and strained diplomatic ties.
The ban, imposed by former president Donald Trump in early 2020 and upheld by his successor Joe Biden, has been widely criticized and become emblematic of the upheavals caused by the pandemic. 
The restrictions were particularly unpopular in Europe and US neighbors Canada and Mexico. (Photo by Geoff Robins / AFP) (Photo by GEOFF ROBINS/AFP via Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - A pedestrian walks past a line of Canadian travelers in their passenger cars or motor homes on the Rainbow Bridge between Niagara Falls, Ontario and Niagara Falls, New York in the early hours of November 8, 2021. - The United States reopens its land and air borders Monday November 8 to foreign visitors fully vaccinated against Covid-19, ending 20 months of restrictions on travel from around the globe that separated families, hobbled tourism and strained diplomatic ties. (Photo by Geoff Robins / AFP) (Photo by GEOFF ROBINS/AFP via Getty Images)

When you return to Canada

When Canadians return from travel, all travellers five years of age or older, regardless of vaccination status, must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 molecular test result, which includes a polymerase chain reaction test (PCR), nucleic acid test (NAT) or nucleic acid amplification test (NAATs), reverse transcription loop-mediated isothermal amplification (RT-LAMP) test. Rapid antigen tests are not accepted.

The molecular test needs to be taken in the U.S. within 72 hours of entry into Canada. For anyone travelling to the U.S. for less than 72 hours, Canadian citizens, people registered under the Indian Act, permanent residents and protected persons travelling to the United States are allowed to do their pre-entry molecular test before they leave Canada, but still within that 72 hours timeframe. This information can be submitted through the ArriveCAN app or website.

While the testing requirement to re-enter Canada hasn’t been particularly popular with travel lovers eager to leave the country, Wodin-Schwartz doesn’t believe it will significantly impact people’s desire to travel, but rather something individuals will get used to as part of the travel process.

“Certainly I understand that, that additional step is something that people are going to have to adjust to and contend with,” he said. “I think that it's simply going to be part of the process that people will be able to adjust to.”

“I think that the desire to roam and to explore and discover is an innate human desire.”

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