Travel Restrictions Fact Sheet

Last updated September 18, 2020 at 10:20am ET

NOTE: The following applies to border crossings only and not visa services. In response to the global pandemic COVID-19 and in line with the Canadian government’s call to increase social distancing, the U.S. Embassy and Consulates General in Canada are providing only limited immigrant and nonimmigrant visa services at this time.   For further information, see our consular operations status here: https://go.usa.gov/xfzxc

COVID-19 Related Travel Restrictions across the U.S. Borders with Canada

 

Borders with Canada

  • The United States and Canada have limited non-essential travel at our shared land ports of entry.
    • “Non-essential” travel includes travel that is considered tourism or recreational in nature. “Essential travel” still permitted includes: work and study, critical infrastructure support, economic services and supply chains, health, immediate medical care, and safety and security.
    • Trade and business travel will continue to operate across our borders, ensuring workers and goods are not impeded.
  • U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, and individuals with valid travel documents will be exempted.
  • Land borders are operating at reduced capacity and with limited hours. Visit CBP and CBSA for details on land border crossings.
  • In addition to restrictions on non-essential travel between the United States and Canada, a number of provinces and territories have put in place specific restrictions for travel across their borders, including for domestic travelers. Please see our most recent Message to U.S. Citizens on Domestic Travel Restrictions within Canada for more information.

The following categories do not fall within the definition of “essential travel:”

  • Individuals traveling for tourism purposes, such as sightseeing, recreation, gambling, or attending cultural events in the United States.

Who is considered an “essential” traveler? 

  • Citizens and lawful permanent residents returning to the United States.
  • Individuals traveling for medical purposes (e.g., to receive medical treatment in the United States).
  • Individuals traveling to attend educational institutions.
  • Individuals traveling to work in the United States (e.g., individuals working in the agriculture industry who must travel between the United States and Canada or Mexico in furtherance of such work).
  • Individuals traveling for emergency response and public health purposes (e.g., government officials or emergency responders entering the United States to support federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial government efforts to respond to COVID-19 or other emergencies).
  • Individuals engaged in lawful cross-border trade (e.g., truck drivers supporting the movement of cargo between the United States and Canada and Mexico).
  • Individuals engaged in official government travel or diplomatic travel.
  • Individuals engaged in military-related travel or operations.

The United States is coordinating closely with Canada and Mexico to protect our citizens while minimizing adverse economic impacts.

Q&A

 

Q:  What will this mean for airline travel and other travel across the border?

A:  This action does not apply to entry into the United States from Canada via air, rail, or sea travel at this time, but does apply to commuter rail and ferry travel.

Q:  What about businesses that rely on cross border traffic?

A:  In most cases, business travel and shipments are considered essential travel.  Please check Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) requirements.

Q:  How will this impact communities on the border that regularly travel across the border for essential supplies and services (especially more remote communities)?

A:  These actions are intended to help protect communities from the spread of COVID-19.  The CBP Commissioner may determine that other forms of travel, such as travel in furtherance of economic stability or social order, constitute “essential travel.”  At this time, the priority is to reduce opportunities for the virus to spread.

Q: How will you deal with migrants on the border?

A:  The Department of Homeland Security continues to enforce U.S. immigration laws at all U.S. borders, including between ports of entry.

Q: What about U.S. citizens and dual nationals who live abroad, will they be able to cross?

A:  Yes, this action does not prevent U.S. citizens from returning home.