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As of yesterday, all non-U.S. citizens entering the United States at land or ferry crossings now need to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, even if their trip purposes are considered “essential”.
The shift in border policy was initially announced back in October, according to USA Today. It brings the U.S.’ rules for entry by land and water in closer alignment with the current rules for international arrivals by air, which were also announced in October and took effect on November 8, 2021.
Previously, non-U.S. citizens could enter the country at land crossings or ferry ports without being fully vaccinated if traveling for “essential” reasons, including for work, trade, educational or medical purposes.
“These updated travel requirements reflect the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to protecting public health while safely facilitating the cross-border trade and travel that is critical to our economy,” U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DH) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a January 20 statement.
Non-citizens seeking to enter the U.S. by land or ferry need to verbally attest that they’re fully vaccinated and be able to prove they’ve received a CDC-approved vaccination, as may be requested by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers.
They’ll also need to provide any other relevant travel documentation, including a valid Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI)-compliant document, “such as a valid passport, Trusted Traveler Program card or Enhanced Tribal Card,” according to the DHS announcement.
The DHS website also states that no COVID-19 testing is required for fully-vaccinated foreign travelers arriving via land port or ferry terminal.
However, even U.S. citizens and residents coming into the country by air are required to submit a negative viral test taken no more than one day prior to boarding their flight. Those who’ve come down with COVID-19 within the past 90 days can provide documentation of recovery in lieu of test results, along with, “a letter from a licensed healthcare provider or a public health official stating that you were cleared to travel,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) website explains.
The new entry regulations don’t affect U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals and lawful permanent residents, who retain the ability to enter the country at land or ferry crossings whether vaccinated or not. However, such travelers are still required to provide a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than one day prior to travel in order to cross the border.