22 Aug 2021

United States

U.S. Extends Nonessential Travel Restrictions at Northern and Southern Borders

On August 21, 2021, the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) extended the temporary travel restrictions at the northern and southern borders, to reduce the spread of COVID-19. 

In March 2020, U.S. officials reached mutual agreements with the governments of Mexico and Canada that nonessential travel across the land borders would lead to increased risk of COVID-19 transmission. The three countries agreed to limit travel through land ports of entry (including passenger ferries) to only “essential travel,” for a period of 30 days, at which time the measures would be reviewed and extended if appropriate. Each month thereafter, the restrictions on nonessential border travel were extended due to the ongoing threat posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.      

In July 2021, Canada determined that conditions had sufficiently improved to allow vaccinated individuals to enter the country for nonessential purposes. The border was opened to U.S. residents on August 9, 2021, and will be opened to all fully vaccinated individuals on September 7, 2021. In the U.S., however, the recent increases caused by the Delta variant led DHS to extend the land border restrictions at the northern and southern border another 30 days, through September 21, 2021. As a result, individuals are not permitted to travel to the U.S. through border ports of entry and ferry terminals if traveling for recreation or tourism purposes, such as sightseeing, shopping, or cultural events.  These restrictions do not apply to air, freight rail, or sea travel, but do apply to pedestrian, passenger rail, passenger ferry, and pleasure boat travel across the border.    

Essential travel remains permitted, and includes returning citizens and lawful permanent residents, emergency responders, those traveling to work or study in the United States, those seeking medical treatment, military servicemembers and their families, individuals engaged in governmental, military, or diplomatic travel, and individuals engaged in lawful cross-border trade. U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) officers have discretion to make the determination of whether a particular journey qualifies as essential travel. 

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