As of Jan. 22, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security requires that all foreign travelers, including Canadians, must be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 to enter the country via land ports of entry and ferry terminals. The rule applies at land ports of entry and ferry terminals at the U.S.-Mexico and U.S.-Canada borders.
The United States had already required that travelers entering the country via air transport had to be fully vaccinated but has now extended that requirement to land borders. The new restrictions apply to both essential and non-essential travel but don’t apply to U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, or U.S. nationals.
In a press release, Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas announced that “Starting on January 22, 2022, the Department of Homeland Security will require that non-U.S. individuals entering the United States via land ports of entry or ferry terminals along our Northern and Southern borders be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 and be prepared to show related proof of vaccination. These updated travel requirements reflect the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to protecting public health while safely facilitating the cross-border trade and travel that is critical to our economy.”
These changes were first announced in October 2021 and were made in consultation with the White House and several federal agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) website states that non-U.S. individuals traveling to the United States via land ports of entry or ferry terminals, whether for essential or non-essential reasons, must:
- verbally attest to their Covid-19 vaccination status;
- provide proof of a CDC-approved Covid-19 vaccination, as outlined on the CDC website;
- present a valid Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI)-compliant document, such as a valid passport, Trusted Traveler Program card, or Enhanced Tribal Card; and,
- be prepared to present any other relevant documents requested by a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer during a border inspection.
Covid-19 testing is not required for entry via a land port of entry or ferry terminal.
According to the CDC website, a person is considered fully vaccinated:
- 2 weeks (14 days) after your dose of an accepted single-dose vaccine
- 2 weeks (14 days) after your second dose of an accepted 2-dose series
- 2 weeks (14 days) after you received the full series of an accepted COVID-19 vaccine (not placebo) in a clinical trial
- 2 weeks (14 days) after you received 2 doses of any “mix-and-match” combination of accepted COVID-19 vaccines administered at least 17 days apart*
If you don’t meet these requirements, you will not be considered fully vaccinated.
These new rules for U.S. land borders come just a month after Canada reinstated the requirement for a negative PCR Covid test even for trips of less than 72 hours across the border into the U.S. The rule applies even to fully vaccinated travelers and the test can’t be taken in Canada before you leave. “There is still a lot we don’t know about the Omicron variant, but we do know it is spreading fast. Because we can never be too vigilant when it comes to the safety and health of Canadians, we are updating our travel and border measures and are also working hand in hand with provinces and territories to help slow down the spread of the variant in communities across the country,” said Canada’s Minister of Health, Jean-Yves Duclos.