This is a moment many Canadians have been waiting for impatiently (even if flying to the US has been allowed all along for any non-essential trip): The US will reopen their land border to Canadians on Monday, November 8.
Here is what we know now, but since not many details have been confirmed, we will update this post as more information emerges.
And I added bonus sections about the very basics to understand if you want to travel (it’s really not as complicated as it looks… and many seem to have a hard time with this—and we want to help).
The US land border announcement
Here is what the White House announced:
- Land border reopening
- On November 8
- For fully vaccinated travelers only
- Mixed vaccines will be accepted
Here’s what we still don’t know:
- Whether a pre-entry test will be required by land
- Rules for children
The U.S. vaccination requirement for entry by air will also begin on November 8, so if you are not vaccinated and want to go to the U.S., you must really enter the country before that date.
The US land border reopening details
If you prefer, just check out Flytrippers’ handy guide about how to travel to the USA.
But Flytrippers told you in September that the land border would very likely reopen in November. That’s exactly what is happening.
As a reminder, the US had announced that vaccination would be mandatory for all international arrivals by plane in November, so it was logical to expect the land border rules would change too.
(Not that there was any logic in allowing unvaccinated Canadians in by plane during the entire pandemic but not letting vaccinated Canadians in by land—at least no scientific logic—but hey, it’s certainly not the first time The Science™ is puzzling.)
So make sure to sign up for our free newsletter to get all the coronavirus updates for Canadian travelers in addition to valuable pro tips, like how to easily get free PCR tests in the USA, as I’ve done twice myself (instead of paying $200 per person as many sadly do).
Also, the US currently does not require tests at the land border (which has obviously always been open to Americans) even if they do require tests by plane (and will continue to require tests by plane once the upcoming vaccination requirement takes effect).
So that is something we’ll keep an eye out for as well. All signs point to no testing requirement by land, but it has not been confirmed 100% officially.
Logically, they would add that requirement in order to not go from being much stricter with foreigners by land (compared to by plane) for 19 months… to suddenly being less strict.
But again, it’s impossible to make predictions when, just like here in Canada, science is not always what guides decisions around travel rules.
A US Congressman from the President’s own political party said the border closure was “absurd and unjustifiable” (previously he said it was “bullshit”) but some will really blindly trust that governments always follow the science…
Finally, for children, those who cannot be vaccinated will obviously be exempted. The precise details are yet to be confirmed.
How to travel to the USA with the current rules
I want to summarize how to travel by plane to the USA as a Canadian, it’s really easy:
Before October 30th:
- Vaccination is not required at all
- Rapid antigen test in the 3 full days before the day of your flight to enter the USA (as cheap as $40 in some provinces)
- NAAT or PCR test to enter Canada (free in almost every State)
- ONLY if you are not fully vaccinated: 14-day quarantine and free arrival tests (in Canada)
- Note that to enter the US, you must not have been to certain countries in the past 14 days
You can read Flytrippers’ detailed guide about how Canadians can travel to the USA.
Quick side note.
Flytrippers spots cheap flight deals to the US almost every day.
Even better: If you have Aeroplan points, the US is often a good destination to maximize them. And if you don’t have any, act now to get some for later, or else next time you’ll once again tell yourself you can’t travel for less… because you still won’t have any.
It’s a great time to start: There’s currently the best offer ever in Canada on a non-premium card.
A welcome bonus of ≈ $1157 is just crazy. Earning 5X the points on almost all purchases is just crazy. There are other great Aeroplan offers if you don’t want to have to spend as much as the record offer requires (which still isn’t that much either).
In short, if you want to join the Flytrippers readers who have already earned over a million dollars in travel rewards with our welcome bonus recommendations, there are really some very good offers out there right now.
How to travel to the USA with the upcoming rule changes
First, the changes to US entry rules start on November 8.
But there is another change coming.
Starting October 30th, Canada is adding its first-ever requirements to board a plane in a Canadian airport.
(No, there has never been anything whatsoever required to board a plane or leave Canada, unlike what so many people seem to—wrongly—think: Only the destinations’ entry rules apply, and 52 countries are open to Canadians with no test requirements at all.)
To be very clear: This new requirement CHANGES ABSOLUTELY NOTHING ABOUT ANY OTHER RULE.
Hope that there is no ambiguity haha. NOTHING. These are all separate rules. The new requirement is an addition, that’s it. NOTHING about any country’s entry rules is affected by the new requirement, not even Canada’s entry rules.
This is a requirement to board a flight from a Canadian airport. Nothing to do with entry rules at all.
So on October 30th, if you are not vaccinated, you will need to show proof of a negative 72-hour PCR test (obviously the same test can be used to enter the USA, so the additional cost is really just the ≈ $50 cost difference between a cheaper rapid antigen test the US would accept and a more expensive PCR test).
For the US, this will only be possible until the US requires vaccination, so until November 7.
For other countries, that temporary exemption for the unvaccinated is only until November 29th.
Then, Canadians who are not vaccinated will no longer be allowed to even leave the country (if the government really goes forward with this), a measure that frankly might be absolutely unique in the entire world (or at least extremely rare).
Misinformation about pandemic travel rules
It is still a bit mind-boggling to us how many people have a hard time understanding how to travel, so we are working hard to help you better understand.
It’s really not as complicated as it looks, at least if you ignore all the misinformation you might hear or read from everyone online (people think they understand the rules and probably don’t have any bad intentions… but they really don’t understand the rules at all, so stop relying on anything you read anywhere please: rely on travel experts).
Seriously, as travel experts, we spend our entire weeks focused on travel and we can confidently say that 90% of everything everyone says about travel rules is just plain false.
Misinformation you might have heard:
- You need to be vaccinated to fly (no)
- You need a test to fly (plenty of destinations do not require one and no airlines do either)
- You need a PCR test to enter the US (they accept rapid antigen tests)
- You have 72 hours to do your pre-entry test for the US (they give you the 3 full days before the day of your flight)
- You don’t need a PCR test to enter Canada if you are vaccinated (you do)
- The new vaccination requirement will eliminate Canada’s entry requirements (it does not)
I could go on for hours, but my point is, beware of what you read.
Or look at the official sources. But stop believing anything you read from strangers (or even people you might know: chances are they aren’t travel experts).
Basics of how to travel during the pandemic
To summarize in 3 bullets, traveling during the pandemic is really just 3 very simple steps:
- Check the rules to board a plane in a Canadian airport and comply
- Check the entry rules for where you are going and comply
- Check the entry rules for your return to Canada and comply
It’s not that complicated.
Do that step by step and you’ll be on your way.
Step #1 and #3 are super easy if you are vaccinated.
Nothing else is required to board a plane, and all you need to enter Canada is a pre-entry test. They are also easy to find anywhere (I found one in 10 seconds on Google in Kyrgyzstan, so you can definitely find one in a slightly more touristy place, AKA pretty much literally anywhere in the world). And they aren’t necessarily expensive: I paid C$55 TOTAL for my 4 PCRs abroad…
So all that is left is Step #2 and as I said, 52 countries are open without even so much as a test requirement (and we’ll be updating that list this weekend, it’s probably even more than 52 now).
Again, I can’t stress this enough: It’s really not as complicated as it looks!
Want to get all coronavirus updates for Canadian travelers?
The US is reopening its land border on November 8, finally.
What would you like to know about pandemic travel? Tell us in the comments below.
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