The Biden administration will allow the fully vaccinated travelers from Canada and Mexico to enter the United States at land borders and ferry crossings from November, which will end a 19-month suspension due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced this week that it would amend Title 19 regulations to allow non-essential travelers who have been fully vaccinated for COVID-19 and have appropriate documentation to enter the country via land and ferry ports of entry across the U.S. border.
“In alignment with the new international air travel system that will be implemented in November, we will begin allowing travelers from Mexico and Canada who are fully vaccinated for COVID-19 to enter the United States for non-essential purposes, including to visit friends and family or for tourism, via land and ferry border crossings,” DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a press release on Tuesday, Oct. 12.
“Cross-border travel creates significant economic activity in our border communities and benefits our broader economy. We are pleased to be taking steps to resume regular travel in a safe and sustainable manner,” he said.
Accordingly, the department plans to modify the regulations to reopen the land border in two phases.
First, in November, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will begin allowing travelers from Mexico or Canada to enter the United States at land and ferry ports of entry for non-essential reasons. Travelers will be required to have appropriate paperwork that provides proof of their full vaccination.
The department stressed that the Canadians and Mexicans who have not been fully vaccinated for COVID-19 would not be allowed to travel for non-essential purposes.
Second, from January 2022, the DHS will require that all inbound foreign national travelers crossing U.S. land or ferry ports of entry—whether for essential or non-essential reasons—be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 and provide related proof of vaccination.
The department said this approach would provide ample time for essential travelers such as truckers, students, and healthcare workers to get vaccinated.
“This new travel system will create consistent, stringent protocols for all foreign nationals traveling to the United States – whether by air, land, or ferry—and accounts for the wide availability of COVID-19 vaccinations,” the department said.
Since the early days of the pandemic, the United States has restricted vehicle, rail, and ferry travel from Canada and Mexico to essential travel, such as trade.
Both Mexico and Canada have urged the U.S. for months to ease the travel restrictions.
The decision to reopen land borders to nonessential travel follows an announcement last month that the United States will end country-based travel bans for air travel and instead require vaccination for foreign nationals seeking to enter by plane, according to The Associated Press.
Both policies will take effect in early November, the AP citing the officials said but did not specify a particular date.
Under regulations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the United States will accept fully vaccinated travelers who have been inoculated with any of the vaccines approved for emergency use by the World Health Organization, not just those in use in the U.S, meaning the AstraZeneca vaccine, widely used in Canada, will be accepted.