Document Type

Border Policy Brief

Publication Date



border security, comparative analyses, economic relationships, governance, human mobility, COVID 19 economic impact


The restrictions on ‘non-essential’ travel at land and ferry crossings enacted by Canada and the United States in March 2020 remained largely unchanged for over a year. During the first fifteen months of the restrictions, Canada implemented some exemptions for family members and compassionate reasons and changed some entry requirements, while the US restrictions remained intact. After an unprecedented period of a heavily restricted land border, Canada began to ease restrictions for fully vaccinated US travelers in August 2021, with the US following in November. However, much like the restrictions themselves, definitions and requirements vary by country (and for the US, by mode).

Because so many travelers crossing the border are doing so in both directions, the discrepancy between Canadian and US requirements will cause confusion and delays at the border, unless travelers are well educated about what is required by both countries. Canadian entry requirements have already resulted in confusion for travelers, and this situation is likely to worsen when US land border restrictions ease and cross-border travel volumes increase. This Border Brief is intended to provide clarity and guidance on the land border requirements for travelers crossing the Canada–US border, in both directions.

Subjects - Topical (LCSH)

Epidemics--Canada; Epidemics--United States; COVID-19 (Disease)--Canada; COVID-19 (Disease)--United States; Border crossing--Government policy--Canada; Border crossing--Government policy--United States; Ferry terminals--Government policy--Canada; Ferry terminals--Government policy--United States

Geographic Coverage

Canada; United States






Copying of this document in whole or in part is allowable only for scholarly purposes. It is understood, however, that any copying or publication of this document for commercial purposes, or for financial gain, shall not be allowed without the author’s written permission.







To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.