Home Travel How People Travel Between The US & Canada When The Border Remains Closed

How People Travel Between The US & Canada When The Border Remains Closed

by SharonKurheg

It’s not surprising to hear that the border between the United States and Canada will remain closed for another 30 days, through October 21.

Not only that, according to the CBC, “A source with direct knowledge of the situation, who spoke to CBC on the condition they not be named, said Canadians should expect the possibility the border will remain closed for longer.”

Apparently the Canadian government wants to see evidence that the U.S. is managing the COVID-19 pandemic efficiently before they’ll green light allowing non-essential travel between the two countries.

The border has been shut since March 21 and although the neighboring countries discuss the possibility of reopening on a monthly basis, it has yet to happen. Quite frankly, although the number of Canadians with COVID has waxed and waned, the number of cases in the United States has always been entirely too high for Canada to even make such a consideration.

Despite the border closure, there are a few exceptions for travel:

U.S. Citizens

  • Because the only way to drive to Alaska is through Canada, U.S. citizens can drive through Canada to get to Alaska (and vice versa). But because some people were using that as an excuse to stop off at Canadian tourist spots, Canada has set up some rules that can land you with some hefty fines and/or jail time if you don’t follow them.
  • If you have immediate family members (parent(s), child(ren) or spouse) in Canada, you can visit them. However you’ll have to quarantine for 14 days once you arrive.
  • If you’re an essential worker who lives in the U.S. and works in Canada. The same goes for trade and commerce workers.

Canadian Citizens

In general, Canadians have an easier time entering the U.S. because we have never prohibited Canadians from coming here. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection says that Canadians can still enter the country as long as they haven’t visited Brazil, China, Iran, Ireland, the U.K. or countries in the Schengen Area for 14 days prior to their arrival. Depending on what state Canadians fly into, they may not even have to quarantine upon arrival (but when they go back to Canada, they’ll have to, unless they have permission to go back and forth due to work).

Canadians living in the United States are also free to enter Canada, provided they quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.

But what about all those flights?

When there’s news about the borders being closed, they usually mean land crossings. The primary reason for the border crossings has been to stop non-essential travel, and that’s easier to do by land. However, flights have never stopped between the U.S. and Canada. This isn’t to say a U.S. citizen can just hop on an Air Canada flight and go to the Great White North ;-). Because they’ll be crossing a border, albeit at 35,000 feet, they’ll be questioned about why they’re trying to enter Canada and if their answer isn’t good enough, they’ll be denied and sent back.

The flights are there for those who are allowed to enter the country in question. A Floridian who is visiting their parents who live in Edmonton, for example. A Canadian who was working in Arizona and is now going home to Ontario. A traveling nurse who just got a new 6-month gig in Montreal. But if you want to fly to see the leaves changing color in Banff, you’re out of luck (try here instead).

Between March 22 and September 2, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) has had to turn away over 18,000 travelers who wanted to cross the border for non-essential reasons. Until the border re-opens, whenever that may be, they’ll continue to be turned away, regardless if it’s by land or air (or even sea!).

Feature photo: pikrepo

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary


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