DHS to implement 1st phase of land border vaccination requirement on November 8, 2021
In an effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the U.S. has banned non-essential land border and ferry terminal travel (for purposes such as tourism and personal visits) from Canada and Mexico since March 2020. However, essential travel (for purposes such as work, school, and medical visits) has been permitted. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) has announced that it will reopen the Canadian and Mexican land borders and ferry terminals to foreign travelers in two phases.
Beginning November 8, 2021, DHS will permit fully-vaccinated non-essential travelers from Canada and Mexico to enter the U.S., provided they are eligible for admission (which includes obtaining the proper travel documents and visas, as needed). When arriving at a U.S. land border or ferry terminal, non-citizen travelers will be required to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination, and verbally attest to their reason for travel and COVID-19 vaccination status during a border inspection. A non-essential traveler will be deemed to be “fully vaccinated” if they received the proper full dosage of an accepted vaccine at least fourteen (14) days prior to the date of application for admission to the U.S. The full list of accepted vaccines is available on the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website here. Acceptable evidence of full vaccination includes several forms of verifiable and non-verifiable records, a list of which also available from the CDC here.
U.S. citizens, Lawful Permanent Residents (green card holders), and children under eighteen (18) years of age are exempt from the vaccination requirement.
Unvaccinated essential travelers will continue to be able to travel across the border via land or ferry. However, in January 2022, DHS is expected to expand the vaccination requirement to essential travelers - including for work and business travel - in the second phase of its land border reopening plan. We will provide additional guidance about the second phase of the DHS vaccination requirement, and any applicable exemptions, as it becomes available.
Travelers should anticipate a rise in land border and ferry travel to the U.S. in coming months due to the easing of existing COVID travel restrictions and should plan for longer than normal wait times and long lines at U.S. land border and ferry crossings.