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U.S.-Canada land borders are finally open and here's what you need to know

The U.S. land border finally reopened to Canadians this morning as of 12:01 a.m., ending the last of the extended closures that restricted "non-essential" travel between the two countries since March 21, 2020.

Restrictions have been easing since the summer, starting with partial border openings for fully vaccinated travellers into Canada and ramping up with additional restrictions lifted in August and September.

The August easing of non-essential travel by the Canadian government has allowed Americans to enter the country by car or rail for the last two months, though the U.S. government is only now following suit.

Today marks the first day since the pandemic struck that you can cross to and from the United States for non-essential travel using the 119 Canada-U.S. land border crossings, but there are still plenty of rules and restrictions in place that you should be aware of before you leave for that long-delayed road trip.

Vaccination status

Not just anyone can waltz on into the U.S. or Canada right now, as both countries only accept vaccinated travellers.

American border agents will be admitting anyone who can prove (in digital or print version) that they were administered U.S. FDA-approved vaccines, which includes the vaccines that were approved for use in Canada from Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca.

Even if you mixed-and-matched your vaccines, the States will allow entry if the mixed doses are from approved manufacturers and were taken a minimum of 17 days apart.

Border wait times

After 20 months of not being able to cross into the U.S. using land borders, there are plenty of Canadians itching to get back in on those missed cross-border deals, visit family and friends, or just to enjoy a little travel.

Naturally, you can expect lines and longer-than-normal wait times at some border crossings, with current waits as long as 120 minutes.

Travellers are advised to check in on border wait times and alerts well ahead of crossing and to plan out alternative border crossings if available.

Coming back to Canada

Every trip must come to an end, but returning to Canada isn't quite as easy as entering the U.S.

You'll not only have to provide proof of vaccination and other mandatory travel information using the ArriveCAN app before returning to Canada, but you'll also have to test negative for COVID within 72 hours of entry.

Kids under 12 who are still unvaccinated will have to quarantine for two weeks, even with a negative test result. Anyone five or under is exempt from testing, which includes a variety of approved methods.

Lead photo by

Hermes Rivera

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