US-Canada Borders Close for 30 Days to “Non-Essential Travel”

On March 20, 2020, the White House and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced a 30 day closure of its northern border with Canada and southern border with Mexico in an attempt to control the further spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). The closure became effective starting midnight on March 21, 2020. It only applies to those individuals seeking to cross the U.S.-Canada or U.S.-Mexico land border for “non-essential travel.” Travel for essential work or other urgent or essential purposes is still allowed. This closure may be extended further beyond the initial 30 days.

“Non-essential travel” has been defined as tourism or related recreational travel.

“Essential travel” applies to anyone who needs to travel across the U.S.-Canada or U.S.- Mexico border for essential work or other urgent purposes including truckdrivers who need to transport items needed for the maintenance of supply chains. Aircrews, diplomats, and healthcare workers are also considered to be traveling for essential work. Other essential travel will be reviewed by U.S. Customs and Border Enforcement (CBP) on a case-by-case basis.

U.S. citizens, U.S. lawful permanent residents, and individuals with valid U.S. travel documents are exempt from this travel ban into the United States. Everyone seeking entry to the United States from Canada or Mexico will be subject to additional screening.

Please note that Canada implemented a ban on travelers to Canada on March 18, 2020 for everyone except for Canadian citizens, Canadian permanent residents, immediate family members of Canadian citizens and Canadian permanent residents, transiting passengers, members of the Canadian military, visiting forces, and their family members, diplomats, air crews, members of the First Nation, and certain individuals identified by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship, the Ministry of Public Safety, and Consular officers. U.S. citizens who seek to enter Canada for essential work or other urgent reasons are also exempt from the travel ban. The Canadian government issued additional exemptions to this travel ban on March 20, 2020.