The US-Canada border is open…kind of.

Boy leaping in joy.

They’ve done it! The border is open again!

So, as I’m sure you’ve heard, the US-Canada border has finally reopened to non-essential foreign travelers. This easing of restrictions began on November 8, 2021.

Like many of you, I haven’t been down to the states in a long time. In fact, the last time I crossed was in August…of 2019!

So also, like many of you, I’ve been eager to travel back down (and maybe fill up on some of that wonderfully cheap gas).

Fantastic! But is there a catch?

Woman lying nervously awaiting bad news.

Ha-ha, of course there is! Nothing’s easy when the government is involved! So, for those of you planning on making that trip to the US, here are the essential things you need to know before you go.

1. You’ll need to get fully vaccinated.

If you’re not a US citizen or Legal Permanent Resident, you’ll need to be fully vaccinated if you want to cross the US-Canada border. If you got your shots in Canada, the U.S. will recognize your vaccine. However, if you got vaccinated somewhere else or want to be safe, here is the list of accepted COVID-19 vaccines.

2. For air travelers, you’ll also need proof of a negative COVID-19 test.

Even us fancy American citizens won’t be able to escape this requirement. But do note that this ONLY applies to air travelers.

3. Make sure you have ACCEPTABLE proof of vaccination.

Not all proofs of vaccination are created equal. According to the website cdc.gov, the U.S. government only accepts the following forms of proof:

Table showing acceptable forms of proof of vaccination in order to cross U.S. border

4. The hardest part might be getting back into Canada.

If you want to avoid the dreaded quarantine upon your return, you’re going to need to qualify as a “fully vaccinated traveler.” Sounds simple, but it’s not. According to the travel.gc.ca website, these are the requirements to qualify:

List showing the requirements to become fully vaccinated traveler allowed to enter Canada.

But wait, there’s more. Again, from the same website:

List showing additional requirements in order to become fully vaccinated traveler and cross U.S./Canadian border.

Simple, right? The government makes sure to point out that you can use ArriveCAN for free. However, they are conspicuously silent on how much that pre-entry test costs. This brings me to my final point.

5. Pre-entry tests are NOT cheap.

If you choose to get tested before you leave, you’ll pay at least $150 to $200 dollars. Why? Unfortunately, the Canadian government does not accept rapid antigen tests. Instead, they need the more expensive molecular test. Also, since testing for travel falls outside of B.C. public health recommendations, you pay the cost yourself. The BC Centre for Disease Control has a list of private clinics who will give you a molecular test.

I have to admit, nothing says ‘Murica like making someone spend their own money on issues related to healthcare.

Statue of frustrated man.

On a personal note: While I’m a U.S. citizen and have always been allowed to travel down, the requirements for returning to Canada have made that impractical. After reading these guidelines, very little has changed.

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