Crossing the US / Canada border during the pandemic

I am wondering if anyone has experience with crossing the US / Canada border during the current pandemic. There are two situations that I am particularly wondering about.

The first involves someone with dual US and Canadian citizenship, who currently resides in Canada. They have a family member (not me, one generation older) residing in the US who was recently found to be terminally ill. They want to visit the US in order to visit the family member, then return to Canada. As a US citizen who resides in Canada, will they be permitted to enter the US? I am assuming that as a Canadian citizen who currently resides in Canada they almost have to be allowed back into Canada, with the restriction that they will need to self-isolate for two weeks after returning.

The second involves someone living in the US with dual US and Canadian citizenship, and their spouse with only US citizenship, who want to visit their daughter who currently resides in Canada. Will they be allowed into Canada? Will the father with Canadian citizenship but not Canadian residency be allowed into Canada and will they be allowed to bring their American spouse for a visit?

To me the first situation seems more compelling than the second. However, I do not know what will happen when attempting to drive across the border and am hoping that someone has some experience with this. Thanks!

Global News Canada has an article from this morning regarding travel into Canada. Search “coronavirus travel Canada international increase” and you’ll see recent info.

We have ties to both countries and had planned to spend time up North during the summer. That has been put on hold indefinitely. It’s surprising to see how much travel is still happening across borders that are supposedly shut.

We have a second property in Canada that we have not been allowed to visit this year and honestly I am doubtful we will get to in 2020 - so being a property owner is not a free pass at the border even for a remote area.

I’ve done quite a bit of reading. Your first situation sounds likely ok, the 2nd MAYBE ok. I think they are going to have to try and call customs and ask. Also to be sure they have appropriate verifying information of their situation in addition to passport, etc.

I have read that they have turned away thousands since quarantine at the border - people think they will get there and be allowed in.

Definitely visiting family especially those with health situations is in the language somewhere but I really, really think you better verify.

I just looked into this yesterday for a friend in a different situation. The Canadian rules are quite complex, but this page is very helpful:

My niece (American) and her husband (Canadian with a US Green Card) live in Washington State. His family lives in Vancouver, and i think it is about a 2 hour drive. They have all the ‘fast passes’ needed for the border.

So far they haven’t been able to go to Canada this year. They could go if they needed to but would have to quarantine for 14 days at his parents’ home. She said the RCMP come and check on those quarantining.

A neighbor was able to go visit an ailing parent in Canada. She has dual citizenship. She did need to quarantine for 14 days and had a check on day 13.

Very interesting to hear about the checks occurring. Good for them. Have to admit if we COULD get to our remote cottage that it would be very funny to have someone show up to check on us - they might be about the only outside person we’d see while there!! :slight_smile:

Weird fact:
There is a section of Minnesota that can only be reached by road through Canada. The only other option is a 30+ mile boat ride. Needless to say, the visitors aren’t getting in to the fishing resorts.

There is a similar place in WA state:

If you are a citizen of Canada, they can’t stop you from entering Canada. Similarly if you’re a citizen of the USA, they can’t stop you from entering the USA.

If you are not a citizen of the country you’re trying to enter, it comes down to the reason why you are trying to enter. Visiting a relative? Nope. Vacation? Nope. Returning to your primary residence or your job? Probably ok, but be ready to show proof.

“If you are a citizen of Canada, they can’t stop you from entering Canada. Similarly if you’re a citizen of the USA, they can’t stop you from entering the USA.”

This is what I was hoping. :slight_smile:

My son, a Canadian citizen will be attending a college in USA as a freshman. We (4 of us in family)planned to drive him to the campus together. I think we have a good reason to enter the USA but worried that probably only one parent is allowed to cross the border. My husband will be going with him for sure, but I don’t know if I should try to go.

^^^^ You need to clarify ahead of time. That would be a very terrible damper on the “driving to college drop off” to have a fiasco at the border. It is very real that they are turning away - like 10K worth since the beginning of the pandemic. There are also fines if you get caught.

Those of course are numbers for US to Canada. :slight_smile:

@Dream20school The restriction on non-essential travel was just extended yesterday. I doubt they would let any of you into the US, except for the student who holds the visa. If the student is under 18, they might let one adult across.

Even if all of you were allowed across the border, you would all have to quarantine for 14 days upon your return to Canada. Some states are requiring that you quarantine for 14 days when you arrive.

I understand how difficult it is to switch plans. I will be sending my rising 10th grader to his new school on a plane by himself next month. I will be in a classroom a few days later and I wouldn’t be able to quarantine upon return as my state requires. His older brother will be flying in and meeting him at the airport instead and dropping him off at the dorm quickly the next morning. His school is only allowing 2 people per student at dropoff.

“We (4 of us in family)planned to drive him to the campus together”

One thing that has occurred to me: What happens if you all go in one car, and they let him or him and one parent through, but do not let the rest of you through? Which way does the car go, and what happens to the people who do not have a car?

Would they always either let you all through or let none of you through? I suppose that they could send you all home, and tell you to try again the next day with a smaller group.

A similar problem could occur if you show up at the border after a long drive with the destination close on the other side of the border, and are too tired to make it all the way back home. I could see someone having to find a hotel in a hurry on their side of the border.

If we try this I am wondering if we should show up at the border with a “plan B” ready in case they do not let us through.

@DadTwoGirls, plan A should be to call the border and get the correct information on who would be allowed to enter BEFORE going on the trip. Don’t take any chances.

Does the border take phone call? Is there phone # listed on the website? We did discuss if blocked by the border for only one parent go through, what plan B would be ? My husband said he would drive us home and then go again. We need 2.5 hours driving to the border. Also there is a public bus service near the border, I probbaly can just take it to go home. I felt I shouldn’t go with them at all to avoid hassle.

@bouders We need quarantine for sure if traveling back from outside of Canada. The school is in NYC but I couldn’t find any info about quarantine requirement for Canadian. I read article that there is no problem at all if flying to USA.

@Dream20school today there are no restrictions flying from Canada to NY. BUT understand, NY is taking this virus very seriously. Every week, the are looking at %age of positive Covid cases and are adding to their mandatory quarantine list…which includes folks flying. Those on the no no list who fly here, will be given a form to complete on the plane which asks where they will be doing their quarantine for 14 days (and that means not leaving the quarantine location). Not turning in the form results in a fine.

I think you need to have a plan A that you know will be doable. Check with the college again as well. Some are allowing only one family member to move in students. This varies by college.

And keep checking because this is a moving target and restrictions and loosening of restrictions happen frequently.

@DadTwoGirls this applies to you too. Some colleges won’t allow four of you in your sons dorm.

@Dream20school US Customs and Border Control can be contacted using the info on this page -

@thumper1 There are restrictions on flying to the US from Canada: Travelers who have visited China, Iron, the UK, European Schengen area, Ireland or Brazil in the preceding 14 days, are not allowed across the border, unless you are a citizen.