The United States-Canada border is not only the world’s longest international border, but it includes some of the busiest commercial crossings in North America. New travel restrictions have been implemented as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
Non-Essential Travel Ban
The land border has been closed to “non-essential” travel since March 2020 due to COVID-19. Restrictions include:
- Individuals are not admitted for tourism, sightseeing, recreation, gambling, attending cultural events, or other non-essential purposes. They are admitted for “essential” purposes, which include travel for work, medical reasons, to attend educational institutions, and diplomatic or military related travel.
- Citizens or permanent residents of the country they are entering are excepted from the ban.
- Testing Requirements
- Anyone entering Canada at a land port of entry must show a negative COVID-19 test that was taken within 72 hours of seeking entry.
- No parallel testing requirement for entering U.S. land ports of entry.
The “non-essential” travel ban does not apply to individuals entering the United States or Canada by air. However, testing requirements apply:
- To board a flight and enter the United States, anyone 2 years old or over must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 3 calendar days of entry or proof of recovery from COVID-19 within the past 90 days.
- To board a flight and enter Canada, all passengers five years old and over must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of flight departure. Canada is considering a testing-upon-arrival regime.
While the U.S. government has the authority to enforce quarantines upon entry, the current CDC guidelines have no specific penalties for failure to comply. Canada regulations, on the other hand, include penalties.
- The United States
- According to CDC guidance, those returning to the United States should get tested 3-5 days after returning and stay home and self-quarantine for a full 7 days after travel, even with a negative test result. Individuals who do not get tested after entry should stay home and self-quarantine for 10 days after travel. It does not specify an enforcement mechanism.
- Some U.S. states have specific quarantine requirements, but some are more aggressive in enforcement than others.
- Canada has mandatory quarantine requirements with specific enforcement.
- Penalties for failure to comply can include up to 6 months in prison or up to CN$750,000 in fines.
- Those who break quarantine and whose actions result in the death or serious bodily injury of another can face a fine for up to CN$1,000,000 or imprisonment for up to 3 years.
- Generally, there is a 14-day quarantine or isolation requirement (depending upon whether the individual is symptomatic or asymptomatic). Contact information and information regarding a suitable quarantine or isolation location must be provided upon entry. If no appropriate quarantine or isolation location is available, as a last resort, individuals will be assigned to a designated quarantine facility. Symptomatic individuals, except Canadian citizens and permanent residents, will not be allowed to enter Canada.
- Like the United States, there are specific provincial requirements.
- As a first step in determining whether you can enter Canada, the Canadian government provided a tool.
Jackson Lewis attorneys are available to assist with any questions regarding travel between Canada and the United States, as well as any other international travel.