President Joe Biden’s administration is lifting land border travel restrictions for fully vaccinated foreign nationals beginning in early November, according to senior administration officials.
The administration previously announced updated guidelines for international travel in September as part of an effort to begin reopening the country to foreign nationals, but offered no new information on changing the guidelines for land border travel. Back in March 2020, the U.S. closed the land border with Canada and Mexico to non-essential travel because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As of early November, fully vaccinated foreign nationals wishing to travel across the land border for Canada and Mexico for non-essential purposes will be able to do so, a senior administration official said. Non-vaccinated individuals will still be prohibited from traveling to the U.S. for non-essential purposes and vaccinated foreign national travelers will need “appropriate paperwork.”
The roll-out coincides with the administration’s updated guidelines for international travel, which also starts up in early November. Foreign nationals traveling by air will need to be fully vaccinated and provide a proof of vaccination, officials previously noted. (RELATED: Biden Admin Says It Will Require Private Companies With 100+ Employees To Mandate Vaccine Or Test Weekly)
For land travel, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents will enforce the vaccine requirement via methods such as spot-checking passengers for proof of vaccination.
“The new travel system will create consistent and stringent protocols for all foreign nationals traveling to the United States, whether by air, land or ferry,” an official noted.
The land border travel re-opening has two phases, according to officials. Following the initial phase in early November, the administration will begin enforcing its phase two requirement beginning January 2022. This phase requires all inbound foreign nationals traveling across the land border to be fully vaccinated, even if traveling for essential reasons.
“This phased approach will provide ample time for essential travelers such as truckers and others to get vaccinated, enabling a smooth transition to this new system,” according to a senior administration official.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is still sorting out details of the new guidance, such as whether foreign nationals who received mixed doses of the COVID-19 vaccine will be approved for travel. The CDC will also decide which vaccines qualify to travel.
One senior administration official noted that the CDC recently told airlines that vaccines authorized by the Food and Drug Administration and the World Health Organization would be accepted for air travel. The official said it’s anticipated that the same authorizations will be granted for land travel.
The Biden administration hasn’t yet announced an official date for the new air and land guidelines, but plan to announce it soon.