American tourists can now visit Canada for the first time since the pandemic.
Canada opened its borders to fully vaccinated U.S. citizens and permanent residents at 12:01 a.m. Monday.
The moment couldn’t arrive any sooner for loved ones who’ve been apart for more than a year.
“We were all so eagerly waiting for that day,” Asawari Kaur of Indiana told the Detroit Free Press, part of the USA TODAY Network, while waiting in Detroit’s duty-free shop minutes before midnight.
Many Canadian business owners are excited for vaccinated American visitors.
“Let’s get this thing going,” said Joel Villanueva, owner of Primo’s Mexican Grill in White Rock, British Columbia. “A lot of our customers are from the United States, and we are literally minutes from across the border. We welcome our Americans, and we depend on their foot traffic.”
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Can we visit Canada now?
While Canadian borders have reopened, Americans can’t just hop in a car or on a plane. Travelers will need to submit proof of vaccination and other travel details to the Canadian government’s ArriveCAN platform at least 72 hours before arriving in the country, whether traveling by land or air.
Donna Deerkoski of Jersey City, New Jersey, learned that the hard way after she and her friends waited an hour at Rainbow Bridge in Niagara Falls, New York. Canadian border patrol turned them away Monday because they hadn’t known to upload all their information.
“We tried to do everything right,” Deerkoski told The Democrat & Chronicle, part of the USA TODAY Network. She said they were handed a piece of paper and told to go back the way they came in.
“We’re sitting there baffled,” she said. “We didn’t realize we were being rejected.”
Wait times to enter Canada by land varied widely by location on Monday. There was no delay at the Cornwall entry near Rooseveltown, New York, and Douglas Peace Arch near Blaine, Washington. However the wait was two hours long at St. Stephen 3rd Bridge near Calais, Maine, and seven hours long at the Fort Frances Bridge near International Falls, Minnesota. Travelers can check the latest wait times by clicking here.
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What do I need to travel to Canada?
Most Americans will need to be fully vaccinated to visit Canada, having received their last shot at least 14 days before entering the country.
Unvaccinated children who are under age 12 or dependent due to a mental or physical condition can enter Canada with a fully vaccinated parent or guardian who is eligible to enter the county.
People with health conditions that prevent them from becoming fully vaccinated can qualify for eased quarantine and testing requirements but must follow a modified quarantine.
Vaccinated travelers don’t need to quarantine unless they show COVID-19 symptoms. However, all visitors must prepare quarantine plans.
Regardless of vaccination status, everyone will also need to provide negative COVID-19 test results and upload all their travel information to the ArriveCAN platform.
“At this point, we’ll just do whatever we have to do,” Lisa Docherty said before getting a nasal swab at a pharmacy clinic offering same-day COVID-19 test results in Buffalo, New York. She and her husband, who are both from Buffalo but now live in South Carolina, were hoping to visit their cottage in Ridgeway, Ontario, for the first time since 2019.
Travelers are advised to keep their test results, proof of vaccination and a list of close contacts and locations visited on hand.
Do Americans need a passport to go to Canada?
U.S. travelers need a valid passport to visit Canada. However, a tourist visa is not required for stays under 180 days.
Passport appointments have been scarce for months as hopeful travelers flood passport offices with applications. Pent-up demand has ballooned wait times to 12-to-18 weeks, according the State Department.
The State Department has advised Americans to “reconsider travel” to Canada, among other countries, due to the ongoing pandemic.
When can Canadians visit America?
It’s not yet clear when the U.S. will reopen to Canadian tourists. Last month, the U.S. extended travel restrictions on nonessential travel from Canada and Mexico through Aug. 21 amid growing COVID-19 cases across the country. U.S. borders were first closed in March 2020 and restrictions have been extended monthly since then.
On Monday, U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow urged the Biden Administration to reopen the U.S. border to Canadian travelers “without further delay.”
“Canada is America’s largest international travel market source and accounted for 26 percent of all inbound traffic in 2019,” Dow said in a statement.
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“Reopening the U.S. land border to fully vaccinated Canadians would mark a good starting point towards rebuilding our own travel economy, and the Biden administration should reciprocate this policy decision,” he added.
Last week, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said: “Any decisions about resuming travel will be guided by our public health and medical experts. … I wouldn’t look at it through a reciprocal intention.”
Contributing: Bailey Schulz, USA TODAY; Associated Press