The United States will reopen for non-essential travel starting November 8th, 2021. Unvaccinated travelers still must be travelling for an essential purpose to enter the country.
Canada already allows vaccinated American and international travelers across the border but still has their essential service requirements in place for anybody who is unvaccinated. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Canadian Border Services Agency have turned away tens of thousands of travelers who they felt did not meet the Covid-19 travel restrictions. Airlines have also refused to let travelers board their flight if they felt they did not meet all Covid requirements.
What is “Essential Travel”?
The list of essential travel reasons is very lengthy, difficult to read, and may change. The full list of allowed travel can be found at the U.S. and Canadian government websites we include at the end of this post. Despite the length of the lists, it is not always clear what falls under the essential travel definition. The government orders are intended to be a guideline, and border officials will use their own discretion to interpret your trip and decide whether to allow you to enter the country. Border officers make their decisions on a case-by-case basis. Below is a general summary of items considered essential travel:
- Work related travel. A cross-border worker must cross the border regularly to go to their normal place of employment and demonstrate a regular pattern of travel, which is generally defined as daily or weekly.
- Trade and Commerce including truck drivers
- Medical purposes such as shopping for essential goods such as medication or goods necessary to preserve the health and safety of an individual or family
- Emergency response and public health purposes
- Cross-border trade
- Individuals engaged in military-related travel or operations
- Alaskans may travel through Canada to return to their home in Alaska. You should be ready to make a convincing case so bring supporting documentation such as your passport, Alaska driver’s license, utility bills etc. You will be asked to limit stops along the way. Note that you will have 24 hours to get through the Yukon territory. Make sure you read the covid-19 restrictions for every province you will pass through as the penalties for violating restrictions can be significant. Province police are handing out $1,000+ fines for sightseeing along the way.