Travelers by Land Should Ready Documents, U.S. Officials Say

The reopening comes just ahead of the holiday season, clearing the way for tourists and other nonessential travelers after about 19 months of border closures,


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U.S. officials urge travelers arriving by land to have travel and vaccine documents ready.

Traffic at the San Ysidro, Calif., border crossing into Tijuana, one of the busy ports of entry that will reopen to vaccinated travelers from outside the United States on Monday.Credit…Meghan Dhaliwal for The New York Times

Nov. 2, 2021, 3:02 p.m. ET

American officials on Tuesday warned that the reopening of international land borders next week could lead to longer wait times at ports of entry and asked that travelers have their travel and vaccine documents readily available for border officials.

On Monday, U.S. land borders will reopen to authorized adults who can show proof that they are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. Unvaccinated children under 18 will be allowed in if they are traveling with a fully vaccinated adult, officials said on Tuesday.

This applies to travelers crossing at official ports of entry, as well as those arriving by passenger train. Officials said it did not matter if the proof of vaccination was in a language other than English.

The long-awaited reopening on Nov. 8 comes just ahead of the holiday season, clearing the way for tourists and other nonessential travelers after about 19 months of border closures during the pandemic. It follows a recent decision by the Biden administration to reopen the country to vaccinated foreigners traveling by air. While a negative coronavirus test is required to enter the country by air, that will not be the case for crossing land borders. The border has been open to essential travel for legal trade, emergency response and medical reasons.

The United States saw a record number of illegal border crossings in the past 12 months, which officials blame, in part, on misinformation spread by smuggling networks to vulnerable migrants, telling them incorrectly that American borders were open.

Border officials reiterated on Tuesday that authorities continue to expel migrants who cross the border illegally, authorized under the public health rule that was put in place at the beginning of the pandemic.

“Any foreign national attempting to enter the United States other than at a lawful port of entry or without proper documents will be subject to border restrictions, including expulsions,” said Matthew Davies, the executive director of admissibility and passenger programs at Customs and Border Protection.

The proof of vaccination can be electronic or on paper, officials said, but the vaccine has to be one cleared by U.S. regulators or for emergency use by the World Health Organization.

A fair number of Mexican people have been vaccinated with drugs that do not have W.H.O. authorization, like Sputnik V, developed in Russia, or the CanSino vaccine from China.

Reopening the country to vaccinated air and land travelers has been a welcome development for businesses, many of which have suffered because of the pandemic-driven closures.

In 2019, more than half of the 20.7 million people who visited the United States from Canada traveled across land borders, according to the U.S. Travel Association, a trade group. And more than 15 million people traveled to the United States across the land border with Mexico.

Canada reopened its land borders in August, and Mexico’s never closed.

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