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Traveling in the COVID era comes with all sorts of questions, logistics and concerns that travelers didn't think about before 2020. Traveling to Canada, despite its proximity to the U.S., is no different.
In March 2020, the U.S. and Canada both closed their land borders to nonessential travel due to COVID-19. What started as a monthlong closure was extended 18 times.
So, if you gave up following the news or tracking border rules, you might be wondering: Can Americans travel to Canada? Currently, the short answer is yes — if you have proper identification and depending on your vaccination status, though you’ll have some hoops to jump through.
While not an official decision, you can take an online quiz hosted by the Canadian government to assess your eligibility to enter the country. Then, you’ll use the ArriveCAN app/system to prepare to cross the border. Use of the app or website is free, and it’s mandatory to submit the required information before your arrival.
Here's what Americans need to know about traveling to Canada.
What do Americans need to enter Canada?
As a U.S. citizen, you will need to provide proof of citizenship and identity to enter Canada. This can include a U.S. passport, passport card or a NEXUS card. No visa is required as long as your stay is under 180 days.
While the border between the U.S. and Canada reopened for nonessential travel in both directions in November 2021, there still remain several COVID-related protocols in place for entry.
Do you need to be vaccinated to enter Canada?
According to the Canadian government travel website, foreign nationals older than 18 must be fully vaccinated to enter the country for travel.
It doesn't matter whether you're driving across a land border or flying; the same checklist applies when you use the ArriveCAN system for your trip:
Make sure you have your ArriveCAN receipt (with the letter A, I or V beside your name).
Upload proof of vaccination into the ArriveCAN system.
Have a valid entry document (e.g., passport), which you’ll also add to ArriveCAN.
While pre-entry COVID-19 tests are no longer required for fully vaccinated travelers, you must submit all required materials into the ArriveCAN system and get your receipt within 72 hours of your arrival into Canada.
Travelers should also be prepared to be randomly tested for COVID-19 upon arrival. If you’re fully vaccinated, you can continue to your final destination without waiting for the results.
» Learn more: How to travel to Toronto on points and miles
Can unvaccinated people travel to Canada?
You can travel to Canada unvaccinated, but the process is more complicated.
There are three ways to get into the country if you cannot provide COVID vaccination proof.
Provide proof of a professionally administered or observed negative antigen test: Within one calendar day of your arrival, you can take a COVID-19 test and produce a negative test result that is “observed by a pharmacy, laboratory, healthcare entity or telehealth service.” This test must be taken outside of Canada.
Provide proof of a valid negative molecular test: This test must also be taken outside of Canada, and it must be within 72 hours of your flight’s departure time (or your entry time if coming by land or sea).
Provide proof of a previously-positive molecular test result: Assuming you no longer have symptoms, you can provide proof of a positive molecular test result at least 10 calendar days (but no more than 180 calendar days) before entry. Antigen test results don't qualify.
Children younger than 5 and some specific groups are exempt from these pre-entry test requirements.
» Learn more: TSA PreCheck or Global Entry — Which is right for you?
If you’re planning to travel to Canada
When can Americans travel to Canada? Immediately, assuming you meet the required rules for entering based on your vaccination status.
Americans visiting Canada should make sure to have their digital paperwork in order and uploaded to the ArriveCAN system within 72 hours of arrival. Fully-vaccinated U.S. citizens with valid documentation (passport, passport card, NEXUS card) will have the easiest time getting in.
Keep in mind that you’ll still need to provide a negative COVID-19 test result to fly back into the U.S. from Canada within one day of your return (or proof of recovery).
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2022, including those best for:
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Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card