Earlier this month, the Biden administration made an announcement many in the travel industry were elated to hear: the US would finally be lifting land travel restrictions with Canada and Mexico come November 8, 2021.
Following guidance from the CDC and other public health experts, Secretary of Homeland (DHS) Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas announced the amendment to Title 19 regulations to allow non-essential travelers who have been fully vaccinated for COVID-19 and have appropriate documentation to enter the US via land and ferry ports of entry (POEs) across the US border.
"In alignment with the new international air travel system that will be implemented in November, we will begin allowing travelers from Mexico and Canada who are fully vaccinated for COVID-19 to enter the United States for non-essential purposes, including to visit friends and family or for tourism, via land and ferry border crossings," Secretary Mayorkas said in a statement. "Cross-border travel creates significant economic activity in our border communities and benefits our broader economy. We are pleased to be taking steps to resume regular travel in a safe and sustainable manner."
According to the DHS, the modifications to the Title 19 regulations will occur in two phases over the next few months:
In November, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will begin allowing fully vaccinated travelers from Mexico or Canada to enter the US at land and ferry POEs for non-essential reasons. Travelers will be required to have appropriate paperwork that provides proof of vaccination. Individuals who have not been fully vaccinated for COVID-19 will not be allowed to travel for non-essential purposes from Canada and Mexico into the United States via land and ferry POEs.
Beginning in early January 2022, DHS will require that all inbound foreign national travelers crossing U.S. land or ferry POEs—whether for essential or non-essential reasons—be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 and provide related proof of vaccination. DHS says this approach will provide ample time for essential travelers such as truckers, students and healthcare workers to get vaccinated.
The U.S. Travel Association applauded the announcement.
"U.S. Travel has long urged a reopening of the U.S. land borders, and we applaud the Biden administration's plan to ease entry restrictions for vaccinated visitors," said U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow. "This action will bring a welcome surge in travel from our two top source markets of inbound travel."
Dow went on to say that declines in international visitation since the start of the pandemic have resulted in more than $250 billion in lost export income and more than a million U.S. jobs.
"The closed Canadian and Mexican land borders alone costs the U.S. economy nearly $700 million per month," Dow said. "The full reopening of international travel to the United States to fully vaccinated individuals is overdue and will provide a jolt to the U.S. economy, travel businesses large and small, and to destinations across America."
The CDC has also made available a list of approved COVID-19 vaccines that will allow entry into the US for international travelers, including: Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer-BioNTech, Oxford-AstraZeneca/Covishield, Sinopharm and Sinovac.
Written by Sarah Suydam, Managing Editor for Groups Today.