U.S.-Canada border officially opens to vaccinated Americans

The U.S.-Canada border is officially open, allowing Americans into the country after shutting down the border for more than a year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

At one point Monday morning, the wait time at the International Falls border crossing was seven hours.

For residents in northern Minnesota, it has been a long time coming. They say reopening the border will have a big impact on the economy.

International Falls, Minnesota Mayor Harley Droba said the reopening of the border is a big moment for small business owners in his community who are feeling the financial impact without their northern neighbors.

"I actually just came from getting a haircut and my hairdresser said she lost all of her Canadian clients, which was about half of her clientele over the course of two years," he said.

The border has been closed since March 2020, causing a ripple effect on the International Falls economy.  

"The Canadians use a lot of our businesses on our side of the border for gas, going to the hardware store, grocery shopping so those businesses have really been hurt," Droba said.

Officials say the benefits of the border go both ways.

"It’s nice to know that we can start resuming our travel over there to get service or even to shop," said Grand Marais Mayor Jay DeCoux. "The folks in Grand Portage, it’s much closer for them to go Thunder Bay than it is to go to Duluth."

American citizens and permanent residents who are have received the COVID-19 vaccine and are at least two weeks out from their final shot can enter Canada beginning Monday, Aug. 9. All travelers, regardless of vaccination status, need a negative COVID-19 test taken in the last 72 hours.

Travelers must enter their vaccination information on the ArriveCAN app or website, as well as bring their vaccine card or other vaccine documentation with them to the border to show officials.

Officials are also urging people to pack some patience.  

"The border people are working really hard right now with minimal staff so they can get as many people legally across the border so there will probably be some hiccups across the border," DeCoux said.  

The U.S. plans to keep its side of the border closed to Canadians until at least Aug. 21. The same closure also applies to the U.S.-Mexico border.

What to have ready at the border

Here are the following items Canadian officials say you should have with you when you arrive at the Canadian border: 

  • ArriveCAN receipt
  • Proof of vaccination
  • Pre-entry test results
  • Other travel documents