Since the beginning of the pandemic, only essential travel such as trade and commerce was allowed to be done by vehicle, rail, and ferry between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. The new rules announced Wednesday will allow foreigners who have been fully vaccinated to enter the U.S., regardless of their reason for travel. This change is expected to take effect in November when similar restrictions will be lifted for air travel. Even essential travelers, such as truck drivers, who wish to enter the U.S. will need to be fully immunized by mid-January.
Alejandro Mayorkas, Homeland Security Secretary, said that he was happy to take steps to resume regular travel in safe and sustainable ways and applauded its economic benefits.
Canada and Mexico have been pressing the U.S. for months to relax travel restrictions that have caused separation of families and reduced leisure trips since the outbreak of the pandemic. This latest move comes after the U.S. announced last month that it will no longer ban travel by country and require foreign nationals to get vaccination before they allow them to travel.
Late Tuesday, senior administration officials had seen the new policy on land borders. The officials confirmed that both policies will be in effect by early November.
The new rules will only be applicable to legal entry into the U.S. However, officials cautioned that illegal immigrants may still be expelled under Title 42 authority. This authority was first invoked by President Donald Trump. It has been criticized for removing migrants quickly before they can apply for asylum. One official stated that the U.S. is continuing this policy because of the COVID-19 threat posed by cramped conditions at border patrol facilities.
As part of U.S. Customs and Border Protection's standard admissions process, travelers arriving by rail, ferry or vehicle will need to provide proof of vaccination. Travelers may have their proof of vaccination checked in secondary screening at the discretion of officers.
Contrary to air travel, where proof of a negative COVID-19 is required before you board a flight to enter America, there will not be any testing required to enter the United States by land or water, provided that the travelers comply with the vaccination requirements.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has announced that travelers to the United States will be allowed to travel if they have been fully vaccinated using any vaccine approved for emergency use by World Health Organization. This includes the AstraZeneca vaccine which is widely used in Canada.