Effective November 8, international visitors may enter the U.S. by land, ferry, or private vessel for non-essential travel. Only those who are fully vaccinated will be allowed to enter. Proof of vaccination will be required if selected for random screening. It has been reported that Covid-19 testing will not be required to enter the U.S. by land or sea, provided visitors are fully vaccinated. Children under 18 years are exempt from the vaccination requirement, provided they are travelling with a fully vaccinated adult. A negative Covid-19 test is still required to board a flight to the U.S. (2 years and up), along with proof of vaccination for adults. Essential workers that were previously allowed to cross into the U.S. border without having been inoculated, must now be fully vaccinated by January 2022. To be considered “fully vaccinated,” two weeks must have elapsed after receiving the last vaccine dose.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that mixed-dose coronavirus vaccines will be accepted from international travelers from Canada and other countries. Vaccines approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as well as those authorized by the World Health Organization (WHO) will be accepted for entry. Acceptable vaccines include Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson’s, AstraZeneca, and Covishield.

For Boaters: So what does this mean for boaters from Canada arriving by pleasure craft into the United States? When using the ROAM app to enter U.S. waters and clear customs, international boaters will likely be asked during the video chat to verify they have been fully vaccinated and may be asked to show proof of vaccination during the video chat. If it seems prudent, the agent may ask the boater to appear in person at a designated marine U.S. Customs location for inspection. Procedures for customs clearance and declaration of goods remain, along with the addition of Covid safe requirements. Have your ID, Passport, and proof of vaccination ready. For more information about U.S. Customs, see the Compendium (chapter 1) in the Waggoner Cruising Guide, or go to the CBP website.

Returning to Canada: The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) reminds travelers that border measures remain in place for all travelers entering or returning to Canada. All travelers 5 years of age or older, regardless of citizenship or vaccination status, must provide proof of a Covid-19 negative molecular test result to enter Canada. Rapid antigen tests are NOT accepted. Accepted types of molecular tests include PCR (polymerase chain reaction), NAT (nucleic acid test), and RT-LAMP (reverse transcription loop-medicated isothemal amplification).

Covid-19 tests must have been taken within 72 hours before arriving in Canada. This timeframe adds an additional challenge for boaters from Canada visiting the San Juan Islands. Currently, there are no Covid-19 testing facilities in the San Juan Islands. San Juan Island residents, as well as international visitors to the Islands, must travel to mainland Washington to receive a Covid-19 test. The closest locations from the San Juan’s include Anacortes, Washington and Bellingham, Washington. Appointments are normally required for testing and can be expensive, ranging from $150 to $300 per person. Some drug stores in Washington State are providing testing without charge. Appointments should be made well in advance of travel plans due to demand.

At-Home Covid Test Kits that qualify as PCR tests can be purchased at some drug stores, but may add to the wait time for results. Results are sent to recipients electronically via email, usually within 48-72 hours, which would allow boaters to motor/sail towards the Canada border, while awaiting their results.

The requirement to get a negative Covid-19 test and get results within 72 hours is definitely an inconvenience for boaters on both sides of the border. More testing sites may open up in the future. Canadians and U.S. citizens alike are urging officials to accept rapid antigen testing. Waggoner continues to research the requirements imposed on both sides of the border; we will be posting updates on the Waggoner website as we learn more.

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