Canada-U.S. reach temporary border agreement

COVID-19 Featured Online First

OTTAWA – The latest in measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on March 18 that Canada and the United States have agreed to temporarily restrict all non-essential travel across the Canada-U.S. border, which took effect at midnight yesterday.

This collaborative and reciprocal measure between Canada and the United States will restrict non-essential travel across the border, including for tourism and recreation. Canadian and American citizens and permanent residents who are currently visiting each other’s country can still return home.

All essential and business travel will continue unimpeded. Both governments recognize the importance of preserving vital supply chains between the two countries which ensure that food, fuel, and life-saving medicines continue to reach people on both sides of the border.

“With COVID-19 continuing to spread, the health and safety of Canadians is our top priority. Canada and the United States have agreed to work together for the protection of our people and our economies,” said Trudeau.               

Quick Facts

  • Canada and the United States are also announcing collaborative and reciprocal measures where they will be returning irregular migrants who attempt to cross anywhere at the Canada-U.S. border.
  • The new measures will end at 12:00 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, April 21, 2020. At that time, Canada and the United States will review the measures.
  • All travel of an optional or discretionary nature, including but not limited to tourism and recreation, is covered by these measures. Travel by healthy people who have to cross the border to go to work or for essential services, such as medical care, will continue.
  • Canada and the United States are encouraging people to stay home. This prudent approach is in line with these new collaborative measures.
  • American travellers arriving in Canada in transit to a third country, diplomats, and travellers with family care, educational or compassionate reasons will continue to be allowed to cross. Supply chains, including trucking, will not be impacted by these new measures.
  • The Government of Canada is asking all travellers entering Canada to self-isolate for 14 days upon entry. For those travelling by air, the request to self-isolate will be clearly communicated at multiple points, for example when purchasing a plane ticket, before boarding the plane, and again upon arrival in Canada.
  • Exemptions to self-isolation for 14 days will be provided to healthy workers who provide essential services. This includes workers in the trade and transportation sector who are important for the movement of goods and people across the border, such as truck drivers and crew on any aircraft, train or marine vessel crossing the border. It also includes healthy people who have to cross the border to go to work, including health care providers and critical infrastructure workers.
  • Regardless of how they seek to enter Canada, all travellers arriving in the country, including healthy workers who provide essential services, are subject to new, more broad-based questioning about their health. Canada Border Services Agency officers will query travellers on the state of their health, observe visible signs of illness, and refer any traveller suspected of being ill for a further medical assessment, regardless of how the traveller responded to the health screening question.
  • Additionally, under the Aeronautics Act, the Minister of Transport will require airlines to deny boarding of a traveller who is symptomatic, regardless of citizenship status. This applies to international and trans-border flights, including those from the United States. The pre-boarding health assessment will include the operator asking simple health questions, looking for visible signs of illness before boarding.
  • In the event the traveller presents COVID-19 symptoms, the airline will be required to refuse to board the passenger for travel for a period of 14 days, or until a medical certificate is presented that confirms the patient does not carry the virus.
  • For crossings by air, marine and rail modes, the transportation operator will be asked to clearly advise their customers of the restrictions when they buy a ticket and again before they commence the journey. If the operator carries a passenger to the port of entry despite the legal restriction, the passenger would be refused entry by the Canada Border Services Agency or United States Customs and Border Protection officers at the port of entry, and the operator would have to return the passenger, with the cost of the return trip borne by the operator.
  • Measures implemented by governments throughout the world in their efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 have had significant impacts on Canadians abroad. Cross-border transit and movement within countries is being restricted, and Canadian travellers are recommended to return to Canada via commercial means while they remain available.
  • Global Affairs Canada is providing 24/7 consular support to Canadians abroad affected by COVID-19 through the Emergency Watch and Response Centre and through consular staff at its network of missions.