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Our attorneys stay on top of changes in legislation, agency regulations, case law, and industry trends—then craft timely legal alerts to keep clients up to date on legal developments important to their business.

April 21, 2020

COVID-19: US-Canada Border Closing Extension

US and Canadian officials have extended the non-essential travel restrictions between the United States and Canada due to the COVID-19 pandemic until May 20, which is an additional 30 days from the initial end date set forth in the original March 20 announcement. These restrictions temporarily limit the travel of individuals from Canada into the United States at land ports of entry along the US-Canada border to “essential travel.”

For purposes of this restriction, “essential travel” includes but is not limited to:

  • US citizens and lawful permanent residents returning to the United States
  • Individuals traveling for medical purposes (e.g., to receive medical treatment in the United States)
  • Individuals traveling to attend educational institutions
  • Individuals traveling to work in the United States (e.g., individuals working in the farming or agriculture industry who must travel between the United States and Canada in furtherance of such work)
  • Individuals traveling for emergency response and public health purposes (e.g., government officials or emergency responders entering the United States to support federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial government efforts to respond to COVID-19 or other emergencies)
  • Individuals engaged in lawful cross-border trade (e.g., truck drivers supporting the movement of cargo between the United States and Canada)
  • Individuals engaged in official government travel or diplomatic travel
  • Members of the US Armed Forces and the spouses and children of members of the US Armed Forces returning to the United States
  • Individuals engaged in military-related travel or operations

The following travel does not fall within the definition of “essential travel”:

  • Individuals traveling for tourism purposes (e.g., sightseeing, recreation, gambling, or attending cultural events)

The restriction does not apply to air, freight rail, or sea travel between the United States and Canada, but does apply to passenger rail and ferry travel between the United States and Canada.

Significantly, the US Customs and Border Protection Commissioner may—on an individualized basis and for humanitarian reasons or for other purposes in the national interest—allow the processing of travelers to the United States not engaged in “essential travel” as defined above. Further, these restrictions are temporary in nature and may be amended or rescinded prior to May 20 based on circumstances associated with the specific threat.

Cross-border restrictions related to COVID-19 are an ongoing and fluid situation, and Barclay Damon LLP is available to assist and advise in matters related to the effect of COVID-19 on travel and business relations between the United States and Canada.

If you have any questions regarding the content of this alert, please contact Rich Day, co-team leader of the Canada-US Cross-Border Team, at rday@barclaydamon.com; Charlie Barth, associate, at pbarth@barclaydamon.com; or another member of the firm’s Canada-US Cross-Border Team.

We also have a specific team of Barclay Damon attorneys who are actively working on assessing regulatory, legislative, and other governmental updates related to COVID-19 and who are prepared to assist clients. You can reach our COVID-19 Response Team at COVID-19ResponseTeam@barclaydamon.com.

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