Travelling by car from Canada to US for tourism

If you want to go to New York by car or ferry just for fun, now you can do it. The new rules ease long-standing restrictions on non-essential travel. However, in this article we not only provide you with the updated official information about non-essential travelling by land or ferry to US but also explain why you need to buy travel insurance.

Requirements to enter US

When arriving at a US Point of Entry (POE) or ferry terminal, travelers who are non-US persons or lawful US immigrants must be fully vaccinated and should be prepared to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination and verbally attest to their non-essential travel and COVID-19 vaccination status.

Fully vaccinated Canadian citizens and permanent residents

On November 8, 202, for the first time since March 2020, the United States reopened its land borders to fully vaccinated foreign nationals travelling for non-essential reasons. Now, fully vaccinated Canadian citizens and permanent residents are permitted to enter the United States through a land point of entry or ferry terminal for a non-essential reason (e.g., tourism). The proof of vaccination must be provided.

Unvaccinated travelers

Unvaccinated travelers may continue to enter the United States for essential travel, including lawful trade, emergency response, and public health purposes.

Travel by land or ferry

As per the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), Canadian citizens aged 16 years and older must present one of the following documents when entering the United States by land or water:

  • a valid passport
  • a Trusted Traveler Program card
  • an enhanced driver’s licence (EDL) or enhanced identification card(EIC) from a province or territory where a U.S. approved EDL/EIC program has been implemented
  • a Secure Certificate of Indian Status

The WHTI-compliant document you choose to use must be valid for the duration of your stay.

Canadian citizens aged 15 years and under entering the United States by land or water require one of the following documents:

  • a passport
  • an original or a copy of a birth certificate
  • an original Canadian citizenship certificate

Requirements to return to Canada

To return to Canada you have to do two things, which are mandatory:

  1. make a PCR COVID-19 test
  2. submit your contact and travel information in the ArriveCAN system

Negative PCR test

Travelers by land or air must provide negative laboratory COVID-19 molecular polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test results taken within 72 hours of their arrival at a land border or their scheduled air departure to Canada. There are no exceptions for travelers who are partially or fully vaccinated.

Keep in mind that PCR test could be quite expensive – up to $200 per person.

If you were tested positive

If your PCR test is positive, you will be either denied boarding or entry into Canada.

You must have a quarantine plan for 14 days before travelling to Canada if you are tested COVID-19 positive, even if you are a fully vaccinated traveller. Your plan has to be within your own means.

You also must demonstrate that you have a suitable plan for quarantine.

The ArriveCAN website

All travelers, with limited exceptions, eligible to enter Canada must submit contact and travel information before and after your entry into Canada in the ArriveCAN system within 72 hours before arrival to Canada.

The system is available for iOS, Android and online. It’s free to use and is available in English, French and Spanish (displayed in the language of your device). It also can save your contact and travel document information for travel at a later date.

Once you submit your information through ArriveCAN, a receipt will be displayed and emailed to you.

Please note that you have to reserve at least 30 minutes for filing your information.

If you don’t submit your information through ArriveCAN

Canadian citizens, permanent residents or persons registered under the Indian Act and foreign nationals eligible to enter Canada under another entry exemption (such as foreign work, study, compassionate grounds) will not be denied boarding or entry, but you:

  • won’t be eligible for the fully vaccinated traveller exemption
  • may face additional delays at the border for public health questioning
  • may be subject to fines or enforcement action

If your travel information has changed

If you need to edit your information and have an ArriveCAN receipt, you need to start over and create a new submission. ArriveCAN will clear your previous information.

Please remember that even if you leave Canada for a day, always buy travel insurance. Just in case.


  • Guidance for Travelers to Enter the U.S. at Land Ports of Entry and Ferry Terminals – United States Department of Homeland Security
  • Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) – U.S. Customs and Border Protection
  • Trusted Traveler Programs – U.S. Customs and Border Protection
  • Enhanced Driver’s Licenses: What Are They? S. Department of Homeland Security
  • Apply for a Secure Certificate of Indian Status – Indigenous Services Canada
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