Crossing the border just got a lot more complicated! Travel restrictions between Canada and the U.S. are ramping up this week and travellers will need at least two negative COVID-19 tests to return home.

Since the start of 2021, both countries have committed to cracking down on incoming travellers in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19.

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Now, both countries require all incoming travellers to provide a negative COVID-19 test before arrival, in addition to quarantine rules.

While the Canadian government continues to urge against all non-essential travel abroad, here’s what you need to know if you’re considering heading across the border:

What are Canada's travel rules?

While there is no outright travel ban in place, Canada’s federal officials have urged Canadians to avoid non-essential trips abroad since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

More recently, this advice has been updated to include vacations within Canada, too.

In fact, Justin Trudeau has even urged travellers to cancel any upcoming vacations, both domestic and international.

If you do decide to take a discretionary trip, you will be required to show a negative COVID-19 test prior to returning home.

You’ll also have to quarantine for two weeks upon your return.

The same applies to visitors coming from outside the country, although international travel restrictions remain in place.

In the last few days, the prime minister has suggested that even more restrictions are coming to Canada and an announcement is expected this week.

What about the United States?

In the United States, the rules are also stepping up a notch.

As of January 21, all passengers flying into the U.S. are required to test negative for COVID-19 before boarding. 

Similarly, incoming travellers (including those from Canada) will be required to quarantine upon arrival in the country.

This means somebody making a journey between the two countries will be required to take at least two COVID-19 tests to fly, if not more.

On January 25, President Joe Biden also reinstated a ban on all non-U.S. travellers who have recently visited countries like the U.K., Ireland, Brazil, South Africa and 26 countries in Europe.

But aren't the borders closed anyway?

On January 12, officials confirmed that the Canada-U.S. border closure had been extended for the tenth consecutive time.

While land borders between the two countries have been closed to non-essential travel for months, travel is still permitted via plane.

Until recently, people flying between Canada and the United States were not required to show negative COVID-19 tests prior to taking-off.

However, this is no longer the case.

While eligible Canadians are still technically allowed to head to the States for discretionary purposes, Trudeau’s government continues to warn of the risks.

Per their advice, Canadians abroad could end up stranded or stuck outside of Canada if either country’s rules were to be updated without notice.