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Air Travel to the U.S. Remain Available to Canadians

Due to the raging COVID-19 pandemic, the Canada-U.S. land border have been closed over a year since March 2020. While vaccination rates are escalating in both countries, the reopening of the border has been postponed several times. As Canadians and Americans eagerly expect to reunite with their loved ones across the border, a full-reopening of the border still requires time. On July 19, the Government of Canada announced its plan to allow fully vaccinated American citizens and permanent residents can enter the country without mandatory quarantine – a measure that will take effect on August 9. While Canada welcomes the return of its neighbour, the U.S. has yet to devise any reciprocal border measures. However, despite the inability to enter the U.S. by vehicles or ferries, one means remain open to Canadians who wish to visit the U.S., and that is travelling by air.

Many assumed that the two countries will jointly announce a reopening of the border. Nevertheless, following Canada’s proposed travel adjustments, on July 21, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) extends restrictions on non-essential travel with Canada land borders to August 21. The decision was made out of the concern of the new Delta variant and its potential spread. Although driving across the border is far from reach under the current circumstances, Canadian citizens and permanent residents (PR) can enter the U.S. freely by air. Additionally, they can return to Canada via any means of transport.

When flying to the U.S., travellers must present the following documents:

  • A valid passport or travel document identifying Canadian citizenship or permanent residency;
  • A negative molecular or antigen COVID-19 test taken 72 hours before boarding; and
  • A proof of fully-vaccinated status (if applicable).

When returning to Canada from the U.S., travellers must provide the following to Canadian Border Service Agency (CBSA) officials:

  • A valid passport or travel document identifying Canadian citizenship or permanent residency;
  • A negative molecular COVID-19 test taken in the U.S. in the past 72 hours if entering by land;
  • A proof of fully-vaccinated status (if applicable); and
  • A 14-days quarantine plan.

Regarding the reason of the permission of travelling by air, no clear language was offered by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Despite the ambiguity, many Canadians experienced no complications flying to the U.S.. Meanwhile, some U.S. airlines continue to schedule flights between the two countries, and Air Canada has resumed its flights to U.S. since May 22, 2021.

Concerns ensue as both countries make efforts on an reopening, namely Canada’s mixing of COVID-19 vaccines. So far, the U.S. does not recognize such a mix due to a lack of comprehensive studies. Only under exceptional situations will the mix of Pfizer and Moderna, the two mRNA vaccines, be accepted. Given the uncertainties of the pandemic, new strains, and vaccine, every new measure operates tentatively. For the border to fully reopen, a high vaccination rate is necessitated. We will update our news column if any further changes are made to border restrictions.

If you have any comments or concerns on this post, please feel free to contact us.

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