Travel to North America: A Reopening Timeline, Country by Country

Mexico Ease Some Restrictions Amid Coronavirus Pandemic
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The United States has reached over 71 million positive cases of COVID-19, more than any other country in the world. However, case numbers have significantly slowed down in 2021 as more people are vaccinated. Its North American neighbors have seen outbreaks as well, with over 2.9 million cases in Canada and 4.6 million cases in Mexico. The border restrictions for Canada and Mexico are set to be lifted in November for vaccinated travelers.

The discovery of the Omicron variant in late November 2021 prompted many countries, including the U.S. and Canada, to announce new entry bans and adjust their entry requirements. Read on for more information about coronavirus-related travel restrictions in North America.

United States

The United States reopened gradually on a state-by-state basis with local governments calling the shots. Rules on occupancy limits and mask mandates have varied in regards to restaurants, attractions, and retail businesses, but as of 2021, all states have lifted business restrictions and most continue to suspend mask mandates. In April, the CDC condoned test- and quarantine-free travel across states for any fully-vaccinated traveler. Currently, there are no federal restrictions on domestic travel, but a few states are asking non-vaccinated tourists to get tested and self-isolate on arrival.

Foreign nationals from approved countries may enter the U.S. if they can show proof of vaccination and a negative test taken within 24 hours of arrival. Regardless of vaccination status, all U.S. citizens and residents over the age of 2 will also need to provide a negative test taken within 24 hours before departure, regardless of vaccination status. Travelers who can show proof of recovery, within the past 90 days, and a letter from a healthcare provider, may be exempt from testing requirements.


Canada is open for the entry of all foreigners who can show proof of vaccination. All travelers will also need to upload proof of vaccination and a negative test result, taken within 72 hours, on the ArriveCAN platform before entering, but there is no requirement to quarantine as long as the traveler is fully vaccinated. Any fully vaccinated traveler who has been in any country besides the U.S. and Canada may be selected for testing on arrival and will be asked to quarantine until the results return. All Canadian citizens returning from short trips abroad must also take a PCR test before entering Canada.

Proof of recovery from COVID-19 will not be accepted. Children under 12 traveling with fully vaccinated adults must follow all testing requirements. Unvaccinated children between the ages of 12 to 17 will also be subject to a 14-day quarantine.All travelers in Canada will also need to show proof of vaccination to travel by air, rail, or passenger vessel.


Mexico never officially closed its borders, but while the airports remain open, all arriving and departing passengers will be subject to health screenings. However, there are no restrictions in place on flights traveling between Mexico and the U.S. Upon arrival, travelers may be asked to submit to a temperature check and quarantine if they show symptoms.

Mexico's reopening plan is a stoplight system with each state's risk level classified by color. As of January 13, no states are classified as red, three states are orange, which means businesses are limited to 50 percent capacity, and 10 states are yellow, which means most businesses are operating normally, but public indoor spaces have some capacity limits. Mexican states and municipalities may issue additional restrictions. Some require residents to wear face masks, and may fine, arrest, or detain anyone who does not follow regulations.

Article Sources
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  1. CDC. "Non-U.S. Citizen, Non-U.S. Immigrants: Air Travel to the United States." January 4, 2022.

  2. CDC. "International Travel For U.S. Citizens, U.S. Nationals, Lawful Permanent Residents, and Immigrants." January 4, 2022.

  3. Government of Canada. "Find Out If You Can Enter Canada." January 20, 2022.

  4. U.S. Embassy & Consulates in Canada. "COVID-19 Information." January 20, 2022.

  5. U.S. Embassy & Consulates in Mexico. "COVID-19 Information for U.S. Citizens in Mexico." January 13, 2022.