- since march 2020, americans have not been able to travel to canada for tourism or other nonessential reasons. that changed this week, but getting across the border is still a bit tricky.
- drivers who want to cross will need to show that they're fully vaccinated and have tested negative for covid-19 within 72 hours, with some exemptions for children under 12.
- more than 112 million vehicles crossed from canada to the u.s. in 2019, but the number dropped to 68.5 million in 2020. the drop was mostly due to lower numbers of personal vehicles and buses, as the number of trucks crossing remained relatively steady.
correction 8/14/21, 10:00 a.m.: we added a digit that was missing in the amount of a government fine canada threatens to charge people who falsify documents about their covid-19 status. that number truly is $600,000 u.s.
the u.s.-canada border could see its traditional long lines again soon. the canadian government lifted its ban on americans making nonessential border crossings this week, but news reports from around the country, from washington state to vermont, suggest that massive amounts of americans are in no great rush to head north. on-the-ground reporting from the new york times suggests the long lines seen at some border crossings are due to people not using the necessary app correctly, or simply not having the required documents, and not caused by a massive number of people trying to cross.
the border-crossing prohibition has been in place since march 21, 2020. the u.s. government is keeping similar restrictions on canadians coming to the u.s. until at least august 21. canada said it will tentatively open its borders to other foreign nationals who are fully vaccinated on september 7. anyone with covid symptoms will, unsurprisingly, not be able to enter.
just because the border is open again doesn't mean you can drive across the way you could before covid-19 was a thing. before u.s. citizens and legal residents can enter canada, they have to be fully vaccinated and show a negative covid-19 test that was taken within the past three days. children under 12 years old, who are not yet eligible for the vaccine, can travel with a fully vaccinated parent or guardian.
the vaccination and test result documents need to be uploaded alongside a filled-out digital visitor application in the arrivecan smartphone app or website to assist canadian officials with determining if an individual is able to enter canada. submitting false information could result in a fine of up to $750,000 (canadian), the equivalent of about $600,000 u.s., or a six-month prison term.
statistics from the u.s. department of transportation show that there were over 112 million vehicle crossings into the u.s. from canada in 2019, compared to 68.5 million in 2020. most of that drop came from fewer bus and personal vehicle crossings, which were both down around 50 percent. cross-border truck traffic barely dropped during the first year of the pandemic, going from just over 12 million crossings in 2019 to 11.5 million in 2020. the border was never closed to essential truck cargo traffic.
while not everyone is eager to cross the border, overall traffic numbers are climbing. the federal highway administration announced this week that motorists in the u.s. drove 282.5 billion miles in june 2021. that's 35.7 billion more miles than they drove in june 2020 and almost as many as the 284.5 billion miles driven in june 2019.