Travelling has always been a struggle, from paying for your round-trip ticket and renewing your passport to checking your bags and arranging your rental vehicle at your travel destination. However, ever since the 2020 pandemic, travelling requirements seem to change every few months, making it necessary for anyone travelling to the U.S. from Canada to understand new developments for crossing the border successfully.
Our team at Insurdinary keeps up-to-date with all potential risks and current restrictions to help you better plan and prepare for your upcoming trip. Below are factors to consider as of late 2022 and into 2023.
Current COVID-19 Restrictions for Entering the USA
COVID-19 restrictions vary between locations. While some places may require travellers to perform additional steps like wearing masks and providing negative test results, Canadians and non-U.S. citizens need only show proof of vaccination when entering the United States.
Returning U.S. citizens do not need to show proof of vaccination. They don’t have to provide negative test results at this time, either, a change from earlier in 2022 when it was mandatory not only to take the COVID-19 test but provide documentation of recovery if previously sick.
Current COVID-19 Restrictions for Entering Canada
However, if you’re a Canadian citizen travelling back home, the same rules don't apply anymore as when travelling to the U.S. from Canada. All COVID restrictions have been lifted to enter Canada. This includes, proof of vaccination, testing and mandatory quarantine when crossing the border, whether by car, boat, or plane. Canada is a country that is beautiful to visit all year round, so this is great news for those who were not able to visit due to unvaccinated status or other reasons.
What Are the Vaccination Requirements?
Anyone who claims to be fully vaccinated should have proof of two acceptable vaccine dosages, whether mRNA, Pfizer, or Viral Vector, or a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. You may also mix two proper vaccines to achieve proof of vaccination. The booster shot is optional for travel regulations.
However, if you’re planning on receiving the vaccine in time to fulfill your travel plans, don’t wait until the last minute. The CDC recommends waiting three to four weeks between the first and second shot, depending on the vaccine type, and you must wait 14 days between your second shot and entry into the country.
Since vaccinated individuals can still obtain the virus, it’s also vital that you're symptom-free before boarding the plane or boat or driving past the border. Officials in the United States may conduct a quick health check that comprises contactless temperature scans as a precautionary method.
The information you submit before travelling to the U.S. from Canada and back will include your alternative plans for travel and quarantine in case you show a high fever or other symptoms of the COVID-19 virus. It also comprises contact information for reaching out to your family or loved ones while you stay put until recovery. Without the completed forms, officials will deny your boarding.
What Are Other Requirements for Crossing the Border?
Alongside new COVID-19 measures set in recent years, other more longstanding requirements continue to impact boarding eligibility.
Whether you’re going to or from Canada, you need proper identification that shows officials at the border that you have the legal right to be where you are or where you’re going. Most important of all is a valid passport. That may mean you’ll have to renew your existing one or apply for one ahead of travel time if you’ve never left the country. If your passport expired during the pandemic along with millions of other Canadians, you'll want to ensure that you renew it well ahead of time as processing times are heavily delayed.
While a Canadian passport is a universal form of identification that officials of all countries accept, it’s not your only choice since a Canadian birth certificate, citizenship certificate, or Canadian Permanent Resident Card will suffice. However, they may not work with every entry mode, so plan before heading to the border.
All U.S. and Canadian citizens, alongside legal residents in either country, are also allowed to take part in the FAST or NEXUS programs to travel effortlessly between countries. The NEXUS program by U.S. Customs and Border Protection allows expedited clearance for any low-risk and pre-approved Canadian travellers. FAST does the same for commercial drivers travelling between Canada, Mexico, and the U.S.
Upon entering Canada, you must answer all the border service officer’s questions and accurately report all animal, food, and plant products, whether as a visitor or a Canadian citizen. You must show receipts outlining all purchases you made while visiting the U.S. and the amount of Canadian or American dollars you have on hand.
If you have $10,000 when arriving or departing from Canada or any monetary equivalent to that amount, you must report it to border officials. That includes all amounts on your person and in your vehicle and luggage.
However, despite what you bring with you, ensure your goods aren’t illegal in the country before entering with them. Any of the following earns you a penalty or prosecution and the seizing of the product when travelling to the U.S. from Canada and back:
- Weapons, including firearms and explosives
- Unsafe consumer products
- Food, animal, and plant products, which carry disease, bacteria, or alien species
Although primarily for air travellers, some locations allow train, automobile, bus, and boat-goers to fill out CBSA Declaration Cards that take care of this process beforehand. Use the attached instructions to fill out the card for you and up to three others living at your residence. This card, alongside your passport and other travel papers, permits you to pass through customs effortlessly.
The Potential for Secondary Services
Even if you satisfy all entry requirements, sometimes a random secondary inspection is necessary for you to pass the border. During this process, an official may ask you to verify or elaborate on your declaration, conduct personal or vehicle inspections, or further examine your pets or guardianship of children. They may also ask you to:
- Count the money on your person
- Reexamine the receipts you have from your trip
- Process tax payments
- To provide notarized letter for permission to be travelling alone with a child
Officials may insist that you undergo secondary services for further inspecting or questioning or may require you to verify or complete any documentation. Also, anything you bring into the country that isn’t clearly labelled requires further examination to determine admissibility. There’s also the concern of unpaid taxes or duties, which officials must take care of immediately.
Taxes and Duties
If you bring any sort of goods into Canada, you’ll most likely have to pay a tariff or duty on the products before the officials can clear them. The officials determine the Provincial Sales Tax (PST), Federal Goods and Services Tax (GST), and (depending on the location of your residence) the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) according to the Duties and Taxes Estimator.
As you can assume from the name, the Duties and Taxes Estimator simply provides an estimate of taxes for imported goods for all Canadian residents and citizens and is subject to change according to border services. While the estimator sets the tax estimate at the highest available rate for each product, the rate also varies according to policies, regulations, tariff classifications, and exemptions.
The longevity of your time away from Canada also affects exemptions since you must be gone for a minimum of seven days before you receive an exemption of $800. While you must bring alcoholic and tobacco products through customs, you may ship other purchases to your home before your trip home.
However, although you’ll also receive an exemption of $800 after a 48-hour absence, you must bring all your out-of-country purchases with you through customs. Unfortunately, you only receive an exemption of $200 if you’re gone 24 hours, and you won’t receive any exemptions if you’re gone for less. Other exemptions for products purchased while travelling to the U.S. from Canada and back include the following:
- You’re a current, former, or temporary Canadian resident returning to a home in Canada.
- The overall costs of products don’t surpass a set value, allowing you to clear most or all of your goods without paying taxes.
- You have childrens’ goods that are for their use alone.
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Packing the Most Important Accessory - Travel Insurance
Travelling is not an easy feat, especially if you’re not used to the bustle of crossing the border while travelling to the U.S. from Canada and back. Anything can happen on your trip, either at the airport, mid-flight or at your destination. Your Canadian or US Healthcare program definitely does not cover out of country so making the small investment in travel insurance is worth the peace of mind.
At Insurdinary, we stay on top of all leading insurance companies and financial services, enabling you to compare the best rates available for your next excursion. Whether you need the best credit cards available in Canada to make out-of-country purchases or travel insurance for your family and pets, contact us or fill out our quote form to get travel-ready today!