Canada eases border restrictions for vaccinated travelers, starting with Americans on Aug. 9; U.S. extends closure

Canada’s federal government announced Monday, July 19, that fully vaccinated U.S. citizens and permanent residents who currently reside in the U.S. can travel to Canada for non-essential purposes without quarantining as of Aug. 9.

Additionally, Canada announced that it will open its borders to fully vaccinated travelers from any country for non-essential purposes, with proof of vaccination, on Sept. 7, 2021.

The news of the partial opening of the border was released by the Public Health Agency of Canada in a background statement that explained: “With the advent of increased vaccination rates in Canada, declining COVID-19 cases and reduced pressure on health care capacity, the government intends to bring a number of changes into effect, provided that Canada’s COVID-19 epidemiology remains favorable.”

To be eligible for entry as of Aug. 9, American citizens and permanent residents will need to show proof of vaccination with an authorized COVID-19 vaccine, uploading the information onto the

Canadian government app or website at least 14 days prior to their trip. Travelers will also be required to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than 72 hours prior to their arrival.

The new measures also eliminate the three-night government-authorized hotel stay requirement for all travelers arriving by air as of 12:01 a.m. EDT on Aug. 9.

Air travel will also be expanded on Aug. 9, when five additional Canadian airports will be permitted to receive international flights. In addition to Montréal-Trudeau International Airport, Toronto Pearson International Airport, Calgary International Airport, and Vancouver International Airport – which have been open to international flights– Halifax Stanfield International Airport; Québec City Jean Lesage International Airport; Ottawa Macdonald–Cartier International Airport; Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport; and Edmonton International Airport will also join the roster.

FDFA responds

Barbara Barrett

The Frontier Duty Free Association has been one of the groups petitioning the government to open the border as most of the land border duty free stores have been closed for the past 16+ months. The few stores open to serve essential traffic are seeing only 5% of their normal business, at best.

Commenting on the news of the August 9 border opening, Barbara Barrett, Executive Director of the Frontier Duty Free Association told TMI that this is “a step in the right direction, a crack of light that we have been waiting for nearly 17 months now. So that is positive and we are absolutely happy to see things moving in this direction.”

But Barrett said that there is still a lot to work on.

“The border is open to eligible Americans who are fully vaccinated but then there is the complication of the PCR testing prior to arrival that is a barrier to coming and disincentive to travel. And we don’t yet have word from the White House about Canadians [coming into the U.S.] So we are not there yet.”

[The U.S. has extended the land border closure for non-essential travel with Canada and Mexico for another month, at least until Aug. 21, DHS announced on Twitter on Wednesday.]

It is too early to tell how the opening will affect the Canadian land border stores. Barrett says that some shops are not sure if they will have enough traffic to warrant opening immediately.

Ultimately, the FDFA would like to see the PCR test requirement eliminated, as well as the U.S. side of the border opened to Canadians, which is expected soon.

“We have been working in close contact with U.S. Congressional offices to this end,” she noted.