On Saturday, the Department of Homeland Security announced non-citizen travelers who are fully vaccinated for COVID-19 and have appropriate documentation will be permitted to enter the U.S. via land ports of entry (POE) and ferry terminals starting on Nov. 8.
DHS said, “This shift eases long-standing restrictions on nonessential travel, consistent with public health guidance. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will soon share additional information about the steps eligible travelers will need to take to enter the United States under the new rules.”
Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas said, “We are pleased to take another step toward easing travel restrictions at our borders in a manner that strengthens our economy and protects the health and safety of the American public. We continue working closely with our international partners to sustainably implement new rules for resuming travel.”
Starting Nov. 8, when arriving at a U.S. land POE or ferry terminal, non-citizen travelers should be prepared to (1) provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination, as outlined on the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website; and (2) verbally attest to their reason for travel and COVID-19 vaccination status during a border inspection.
Any non-citizen attempting to enter the U.S. through illegal means or without appropriate documentation may be subject to expulsion or removal. Travelers arriving at a U.S. land POE or ferry terminal should be prepared to present any other relevant documents as requested by a CBP officer.
U.S. citizens are reminded to bring a Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) document, such as a valid U.S. passport, Trusted Traveler Program card, enhanced driver’s license, or enhanced tribal card, when reentering the country, and be prepared to present a WHTI-compliant document if requested by a CBP officer during a border inspection. To learn more about the updated requirements for travelers, click here.
To prevent the spread of COVID-19, CBP implemented temporary travel restrictions on March 20, 2020, which limited travel at land POEs along the U.S. northern and southern borders to essential travel, including travel for lawful trade, emergency response, and public health purposes.
Individuals engaged in essential travel will not be required to be vaccinated for COVID-19 at this time. Starting in January 2022, however, all inbound foreign national travelers seeking to enter the U.S. via land POEs or ferry terminals – whether for essential or nonessential reasons – must be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 and provide related proof of vaccination.
DHS stated, “As travel begins to resume, travel volumes and wait times are expected to increase. Travelers should plan for longer-than-normal wait times and long lines at U.S. land border crossings when planning their trip, and are reminded to exercise patience.
“To help reduce wait times and long lines, travelers can take advantage of innovative technology, such as facial biometrics and the CBP One mobile application, which serves as a single portal for individuals to access CBP mobile applications and services.”
Higgins Welcomes Release of Details on Process for Crossing Northern Border, Urges Further Clarity
After calling on the U.S. government to deliver a plan since January, Congressman Brian Higgins welcomed what his team called “the long-overdue release of some details” providing the public with guidance on the requirements and process related to the northern border.
Higgins, who serves as co-chair of the Canada-U.S. interparliamentary group and the northern border caucus, said, “There has been a slow, painful drip of information detailing the reopening of the northern border rather than clear and concise directives the public needs and deserves. This is contributing to frustration and confusion. Initial details are welcome and, with just a week to go, explicit information is needed to allow people to comfortably and confidently cross the border.”
CBP confirmed for Higgins’ office that, unlike the new air travel rules, vaccinated travelers entering the U.S. by land beginning Nov. 8 will not be required to also produce a negative coronavirus test.
Higgins also advocated for and the CDC agreed to accept mixed-vaccine doses and World Health Organization-authorized vaccines verification of fully vaccinated status, a measure that will open the door for nearly 4 million Canadians who received the AstraZeneca vaccine or a combination of doses to be eligible to cross the U.S. border.
Details have not yet been released on the time when the land ports of entry will open on Nov. 8.
Higgins is cautioning against any addition of “excessive or redundant requirements, such as testing or preregistration, which would obstruct the free-flow of people across the U.S.-Canada border.”
His Western New York district, which encompasses the cities of Buffalo and Niagara Falls, includes three land border crossings.
Links to FAQs and DHS press releases: