US–Canada Border Could Open This Fall

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is hinting that the Canada-US border could open up more fully in the coming weeks. Currently, only Canadian citizens and permanent residents, as well as those entering for essential reasons, are able to enter the country. Known as the longest, undefended border in the world, transborder travel is a critical part of the economy for the United States, but more so for Canada. Let’s take a look at what might be on the horizon.

Air Canada A220
For Air Canada, transborder flights are a significant part of the carrier’s revenues. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Hints from Canada’s federal government

During a press conference on Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was asked about his government’s plans to reopen the border for Canadians and Americans to travel more freely between the two nations.

“We will proceed in a responsible, step-by-step fashion, at reopening, at allowing larger numbers of people to come to Canada…” Trudeau said. He then went on to say “we are very hopeful that we will see new steps announced in the coming weeks.”

A few days later, Market Watch reports Trudeau saying that Canada could start allowing fully vaccinated Americans into Canada as of mid-August for non-essential travel, potentially opening up to other parts of the world in September. A readout of the Prime Minister’s Thursday meeting with Provincial leaders says the following of Trudeau:

He noted the ongoing discussions with the United States on reopening plans, and indicated that we could expect to start allowing fully vaccinated U.S. citizens and permanent residents into Canada as of mid-August for non-essential travel.” 

At this time, the Canada Border Services Agency is exempting fully-vaccinated Canadian citizens and permanent residents from a 14-day quarantine requirement. Thus, while fully-vaccinated Canadian citizens and residents may be free to leave the country for non-essential travel, it’s not the case for those wanting to come to Canada.

Flair Airlines 737 MAX
Canadian budget carrier Flair Airlines recently announced an aggressive expansion into the US leisure market- flying Canadians to warmer US destinations during the cooler Fall and Winter seasons. Photo: Flair Airlines

It has been well over a year since a ban on non-essential travel from the United States to Canada was first imposed. On the Canadian side, the government has been renewing this strict policy several weeks at a time, with the most recent extension covering travel through to July 21st. With this date fast approaching, many are hoping that a specific timeline will be provided in the days to come.

Stay informed: Sign up for our daily and weekly aviation news digests.

Concerns remain over easing restrictions

While there are many who strongly support a full reopening of the Canada-US border to non-essential travel, concerns over the coronavirus persist- especially when it comes to new and more contagious variants of concern.

Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister had the following to say during a press conference of her own:

“We all want to reopen the country, but we have sacrificed a lot to get to where we are. Our approach is going to be gradual. It will be prudent, it will be based on science, and we are very aware of the additional dangers that the delta variant and other new variants of concern are posing,” -Chrystia Freeland, Canadian Deputy Prime Minister via CTV News

American Airbus
Reopening non-essential transborder travel would also be huge for US carriers. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

In addition to the evolving health situation, proof of vaccination may be another concern for cross-border travel.

In April, it was reported by the BBC that the White House was ruling out the idea of vaccine passports. At the time, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that there would not be a “federal vaccinations database” or a “federal mandate requiring everyone to obtain a single vaccination credential.”

Psaki stated that the White House is focused on protecting the privacy and rights of Americans.

Should the Canada-US border be reopened for non-essential travel, but only for fully-vaccinated travelers? Or should a vaccination requirement be dropped? Let us know what you think by leaving a comment.