The US Border Is Finally Open Again & Here's What You Need To Know Before Your Road Trip

The time has finally come — we can road trip to the states again! The U.S. border officially reopened to fully vaxxed Canadians as of November 8 and between vaccinations, testing and quarantines, you're probably got a lot of questions floating around in your head.

So here's everything you need to know before you hit the road.

Do I need to be vaccinated to cross the land border?

Yes, you must be fully vaccinated.

According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, "foreign nationals who have been fully vaccinated for COVID-19 and have appropriate documentation will be permitted to enter the United States via land ports of entry (POEs) and ferry terminals for non-essential reasons such as tourism."

The only exception is that vaccination is not currently required for essential travel, such as for work, yet. Essential travellers will need to be double vaccinated starting in January 2022.

Essential travel across the land border has been permitted since the beginning of the pandemic.

Which vaccines are accepted?

The U.S. recognizes the following World Health Organization (WHO) validated vaccines: Pfizer/BioNTech, AstraZeneca/Oxford, Janssen, Moderna, Sinopharm and Sinovac.

When am I considered fully vaccinated?

In the U.S., as stated by the Department of Homeland Security, people are considered fully vaccinated:

    • 2 weeks (14 days) after your dose of an accepted single-dose COVID-19 vaccine;
    • 2 weeks (14 days) after your second dose of an accepted 2-dose series COVID-19 vaccine;
    • 2 weeks (14 days) after you received the full series of an "active" (not placebo) COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S.-based AstraZeneca or Novavax COVID-19 vaccine trials; or
    • 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.

What proof of vaccination do I need to present to customs?

Your Quebec QR code won't do any good in the U.S.

Instead, you must present your federal vaccination passport at customs. It is available for download from the Quebec government's self-service portal. It will be delivered in PDF format directly to your cell phone or by mail.

The Government of Canada recommends that you download this proof of immunization at the earliest possible date of your travel to the United States.

Note that upon your return to Canada, this same federal vaccination passport is what you'll need to add to the ArriveCan application.

Do I need to have a negative screening test to enter the United States by car?

"There is not a COVID-19 testing requirement for travelers at land border ports of entry, however valid COVID-19 vaccination is required for documented non-citizens traveling for non-essential purposes," the U.S. Department of Homeland Security website explained in its frequently asked questions.

A negative COVID-19 test is only required for travellers arriving by air.

Will I have to wait hours at the border?

Homeland security warns that we should expect "longer wait times."

To speed up the process, the U.S. government invites you to download ArriveCan's cousin, CBP One. This mobile app serves as your vaccine passport as it adds all the necessary documents to present to customs.

Do I need to quarantine when I arrive in the United States?

Nope — there's no quarantine for travellers arriving in the U.S. via the land border.

Do I need to test negative when I return to Canada?

You must have a negative test upon your return to Canada whether you're vaccinated or not.

Note that the Canadian government doesn't recognize rapid antigenic tests.

You must do a molecular test, a PCR test, within 72 hours before your return to Canada.

Can I take the PCR test in Canada before leaving for the United States?

Yes, but only if your trip to the U.S. is less than 72 hours.

"Canadian citizens (including dual citizens), people registered under the Indian Act, permanent residents of Canada, or protected persons (refugee status) are allowed to enter Canada," the government confirms.

Health Canada has a robust website with all the latest information on COVID-19 vaccines and can answer any questions you may have.

This article’s cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.