Last updated: January 22, 2020
COVID-19 Related Travel Restrictions across the U.S. Borders with Canada and Mexico
- The United States will temporarily limit inbound land border crossings from Canada and Mexico to “essential travel”.
- This action does not prevent U.S. citizens from returning home.
- These restrictions are temporary and went into effect on March 21, 2020. They will remain in effect through 11:59 pm on February 21, 2021. This decision has been coordinated with the Governments of Mexico and Canada.
- 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: What will this mean for airline travel and other travel across the border?
A: This action does not apply to 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.