canada us border

Toronto woman fined $6,250 when she tried to get back into Canada at Niagara Falls

A Toronto woman plans to put up a fight after she was slapped with a $6,250 fine when crossing the U.S. border with a negative COVID-19 test in hand.

The woman, who has asked not to be named for this article, tells blogTO she was crossing the U.S. border with a friend at the Rainbow Bridge crossing from Niagara Falls around midnight on June 9.

She had been away in Mexico for about four months to escape pandemic restrictions in Canada, and decided to fly back to the U.S. to avoid the cost of staying in a Toronto quarantine hotel.

"Who is paying $2,000 to come back into their own country — that is my argument."

She and her friend flew from Puerto Vallarta to Dallas, had a three-hour layover, then flew to Buffalo. They then took an Uber to the Rainbow Bridge where they walked across.

Ironically, she ended up with a higher fine trying to avoid the $2,000 or more cost of quarantining by the airport.

However, she argues the ticket is not legal because she had a negative COVID-19 test, issued within 50 hours of arriving at the border.

But her test was from Mexico. A Canadian border services officer told her that it wasn't in compliance with pandemic travel regulations, and that she could either go back to the U.S. and get a COVID-19 test there or pay a fine.

The woman says the COVID-19 travel restrictions on the Government of Canada website were confusing and that she thought a Mexican test would be sufficient.

"We figured that because we were going to the U.S. for literally a few hours that the Mexican COVID test would have been enough."

The Public Health Agency of Canada did not immediately respond for comment, but the rules posted online for those driving from the U.S. specify that you must "take a test before you leave the United States within 72 hours of your entry into Canada (your test must be performed in the United States)."

canada us border

A Toronto woman faces a $6,250 fine after crossing the border into Canada from the U.S.

At the border, they were told they needed a test done in the U.S. The Toronto woman argues that COVID-19 would not show up so quickly if they were exposed while in Dallas or Buffalo.

"The test isn't going to show anything anyway," she says. "It's ridiculous, I was very angry."

But she decided to just take the ticket because she was tired from travel and a friend was waiting to pick her up on the Canadian side.

They were led away by customs officers, passports taken away, then wait for regional police to arrive to issue tickets.

"We were treated like criminals," she told blogTO.

The fine came to $6,250. She has already filled out the form to fight the ticket in court.

"I don't know where they come up with that number," she said. "I am fighting this."

Lead photo by

Catrina Carrigan

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