In the past 18 months, international business travel has been impacted by measures introduced by local governments in order to contain the coronavirus. Full vaccination is becoming a requirement to travel in Canada and the United States. This bulletin will summarize the new measures introduced by Canada and the United States that will impact international travellers.

US Finally Reopening Land Border to Fully Vaccinated Canadian Tourists

Canada recently opened up its land border with the US to fully vaccinated US citizens and permanent resident tourists. The US has not yet reciprocated, but is expected to do so shortly. On October 12, 2021, the Biden administration announced that the US will lift travel restrictions at the land borders with Canada and Mexico on November 8, 2021 for fully vaccinated travellers. Details such as who will be exempt from the vaccination requirement have not been confirmed. Unlike Canada, fully vaccinated travellers entering the US by land will not be required to show proof of a negative COVID-19 molecular test taken within 72 hours before arrival.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention consider someone to be fully vaccinated two weeks after they have received their second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or a single dose of Johnson & Johnson. Further, travellers who received vaccines listed for emergency use by the World Health Organization would also be considered as fully vaccinated. This means travellers who have taken the AstraZeneca, Sinopharm or Sinovac vaccines would be able to travel to the US. The US has not confirmed whether or not they would accept mixed vaccines, even though many Canadians have received mixed doses.

Furthermore, beginning January 2022, the US will require that all inbound international travellers crossing the US land and ferry port of entries to be fully vaccinated. This means as of January 2022 all travellers (whether essential or non-essential) must be vaccinated in order to travel to the US via the land and ferry port of entries.

Vaccination Required for Travel by Air, Train and Sea Effective October 30, 2021

Effective October 30, 2021, the following travellers must be fully vaccinated, if they are 12 years of age or older:

  • Air passengers flying on domestic, transborder or international flights departing from airports in Canada;
  • Rail passengers on VIA Rail and Rocky Mountaineer trains; and
  • Marine passengers on non-essential passenger vessels, such as cruise ships, on voyages of 24 hours or more.

Those who are in the process of being vaccinated will be permitted to travel until November 30, 2021 if they can show a valid COVID-19 molecular test taken within 72 hours of travel.

This new policy has consequences for unvaccinated individuals in Canada as they may be unable to leave or travel within the country. Details on who is exempt and how to obtain an exemption have not been announced.

Vaccination Required for Air Travellers Entering the US Starting November 8, 2021

Currently, those who have been in the Schengen Area, Britain, Ireland, China, India, South Africa, Iran and Brazil in the last 14 days cannot fly to the United States. Those present in other countries may fly to the US without proof of vaccination. However, this is changing on November 8, 2021, as all air travellers will need to be fully vaccinated. Details on exemptions are not yet available.


Vaccination is becoming a requirement to travel globally, including in the US and Canada, and those who are not fully vaccinated may find themselves unable to enter or even leave certain countries. The US will soon allow Canadians to enter by land and ferry for a non-essential purpose, but they must be vaccinated. There are still numerous unresolved questions, such as whether mixed doses are acceptable. As we have seen over the last 18 months, new immigration policies and requirements are often introduced with little notice given the ever-changing COVID-19 situation in Canada and abroad. 

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.