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 44 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 1.5 million cases in Canada and 3.7 million cases in Mexico. The border restrictions for Canada and Mexico are set to be lifted in November for vaccinated travelers.

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 by July 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 India, China, most of Europe, Iran, Brazil, and South Africa are banned from entering the U.S. Any traveler entering the United States from abroad, including returning U.S. citizens, will need to show proof of a negative test taken within 72 hours of departure and must quarantine on arrival. Starting November 8, the U.S. will lift its ban on foreign nationals arriving from the European Union and other countries, as long as each individual can show proof of vaccination and a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours.


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. 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.

After October 30, all travelers in Canada will need to show proof of vaccination to travel by air, rail, or passenger vessel. A negative test can be shown as an alternative up until November 30, 2021.


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 states entering each colored phase on their own timeline. As of September 23, four states are orange and no states are red, which means only essential activities are allowed. Under the orange phase, restaurants, parks, gyms, and hotels are limited to 50 percent capacity while malls, churches, theaters, museums, and other cultural activities can operate at 25 percent capacity. 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. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Travelers Prohibited From Entry to the US." April 30, 2021.

  2. Government of Canada. "Find Out If You Can Enter Canada." October 4, 2021.

  3. U.S. Embassy & Consulates in Canada. "COVID-19 Information." October 12, 2021.

  4. U.S. Embassy & Consulates in Mexico. "COVID-19 Information for U.S. Citizens in Mexico." September 23, 2021.

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