The closure of the U.S.-Canada border has cut off many families from loved ones on the other side, but a park between Washington state and British Columbia has provided some with a rare chance for in-person visits.

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If you intend to travel across the U.S.-Canada border any time soon, you may want to double-check what you need to do before planning your trip. 

The Canada Border Services Agency has recently issued a checklist to assist U.S. travelers in driving or flying into the country. Travel restrictions remain in place in Canada where any non-essential travel for tourism or recreation is prohibited.

Since March of last year, noncommercial cross-border travel has been halted by both countries in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The ban has been reimposed on a month-by-month basis since then — with current restrictions set to expire on June 21 unless they are extended.

Vermont’s congressional delegation on Monday urged the Biden administration to begin relaxing restrictions to travel, citing financial and emotional stress on both sides of the border.

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The following day, on Tuesday, the U.S. State Department issued a more relaxed stance toward travel to Canada, downgrading the country on its travel advisory list from Level 4 (“Do Not Travel”) to Level 3 (“Reconsider Travel”), according to reporting by the USA Today Network. 

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Travel is still restricted between the United States and Canada but that may be changing soon. The toll booths leading to the The Detroit-Windsor tunnel indicate on several LED signs “essential travel only” on Wednesday, June 9, 2021.  (Photo: Mandi Wright, Detroit Free Press)

What sorts of travel restrictions deter me from entering Canada?

Travel that is considered optional or discretionary, and is therefore prohibited by the Canadian government, includes:

  • Outdoor recreation (i.e. hiking, boating or camping across the border).
  • Social gatherings (i.e. birthday parties, wedding).
  • Picking up a pet.
  • Visiting or checking on a second home or seasonal residence.
  • Visiting friends.

Who can cross the border?

U.S. citizens looking to travel into Canada can only cross in extremely limited circumstances.

The government is allowing U.S. citizens to enter if they are visiting or reuniting with a family member who is a Canadian citizen, permanent resident or registered under the Indian Act. Under those rules, the person must be an immediate family member.

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As has been the case since the beginning of the pandemic-related border restrictions, U.S. citizens traveling to and from Canada for work, moving essential goods or people, attending a funeral or caring for an ailing person are eligible to pass through the border.

Other non-discretionary reasons could include receiving non-COVID related medical care or via invitation by the Canadian government.

What do I need to do in order to travel through the U.S.-Canada border?

If you’re eligible to travel, the Canada Border Services Agency is reminding people to adhere to their health & safety measures, which includes a 14-day mandatory quarantine, as well as pre- and post- arrival COVID-19 test screenings.

The quarantine requirement is, however, subject to end as of July. Instead, Canada will stick to its test screening mandate.

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Drivers or flight passengers are also required to provide their travel, contact and quarantine information with the ArriveCAN online and mobile application 72 hours prior to their arrival to Canada.

Additional information on travel and safety requirements in order to head into Canada can be found on the country’s website for both U.S. travelers driving or flying.

Contact Ethan Bakuli at (802) 556-1804 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @BakuliEthan.

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