Nomad Life September 2021, Montreal: Getting Into Canada from the U.S. by Car!

Bonjour, Montreal!

In August, Canada opened the border between the U.S. and Canada for non-essential travel after what seemed like ages of closure. So naturally, given that I was in the northeast in early fall, I decided to venture into my neighbor of the north in month #13 of nomad life!

But all the rules and restrictions were… a little overwhelming, especially when it came to the complicated timing. Let me break it down for you! 

What I provided to get into Canada by car:

  1. Proof of COVID-19 vaccination

Firstly, I’ve been fully vaccinated since March. But anyone wanting to enter Canada must have both doses (if applicable), and wait for the “protection period” to pass. 

  1. Proof of negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours of arrival into Canada

You guys, I had so much anxiety around the timing of the COVID-19 test… ayyiyi! Canada requires a PCR test, which (I assume) is more accurate. Since I was coming from Vermont, I signed up for free testing with the city of Burlington. Luckily, there were tons of openings and convenient testing sites — fun fact, Vermont has one of the highest vaccination rates in the U.S. — the tricky part is… you’re relying on the test results to not only come back within the 72 hours, but to come back even earlier so you can be ready to go, update your arrival time in ArriveCan, and to coordinate your hotel booking. Needless to say, I took 3 tests in Burlington (all negative) — just to ensure I would be able to get into Canada when I wanted to. 

One test operator told me my result would take 3-4 days (ummm…) and the other told me my test would take 2 business days (again, what about weekends?) BUT… all my tests came back in just under 48 hours. Whew! (But before you feel totally at ease, I personally know someone else in the Burlington area whose test did not come back within 72 hours. Sigh.)

  1. Pre-registered entry into Canada using ArriveCan

Not only do you need the above to show at the border, you need to pre-register and submit documentation through the ArriveCan app and receive a code. You’ll also have to notate what time you plan to cross and at which entry (just check Google maps for the route number). They WILL turn you away if you haven’t submitted your documents in advance through ArriveCan! 

  1. U.S. passport, of course

This one hasn’t changed! A valid passport is required.

  1. Vaccination history for Penny, my dog

I’ve taken Penny across the border in Mexico, but never Canada. In those times, I printed out her vaccination history and was ready for the Mexican border patrol to ask… but they never did. Penny and I have Banfield Pet Insurance so I can just log in, retrieve, and print much like my health records. They didn’t ask me for them, but I handed them over to the Canadian agent just to be safe and to check all the boxes.

  1. Answer a questionnaire by border patrol!

I don’t know why, but I always get a little nervous at this part! The agent asked me questions about where I’m coming from, and my plans, and what I had in my car. Note, you can’t bring mace, cannabis products, or more than two bottles of wine across the border. (He let me go through with my bear spray, though. Must’ve been in a good mood.)

Important note, because I traveled into Canada by car, I was not required to quarantine. Travelers from “abroad” by air are required to quarantine for two weeks. As far as defining “abroad,” I’m not totally sure that applies to North America, so… check the website! Rules change often.

Ok, but what is it like in Canada, specifically Montreal, Quebec right now?

Places are open, there is no curfew, and things are relatively lively. In just the few days I’ve been here, I’ve been to an art exhibition, I took a walking tour, and went out to eat a few times. I don’t know Montreal pre-COVID, but people are out and about and I get the sense life is moving on.

At the time of this writing, masks are required at all indoor areas in Montreal, despite vaccination status, unless seated or consuming food or drink. Masks are not required in outdoor areas.

Some businesses are asking for proof of vaccination and ID in order for entry (a photo of my CDC card and picture ID has been sufficient). In some places, they ask you to submit contact information in case of an outbreak.

What about Montreal with a dog? I don’t think Montreal is the most-dog-friendliest place we’ve ever been, but it’s only been a few days! I also don’t feel like I’ve seen as many dogs around as in other cities. We’ll let you know!

And getting back in the U.S.? What’s required?

Even though the U.S. side of the border is closed to Canadians, Americans returning home is considered essential travel. Testing prior to crossing is not required. 

Know somebody who wants to drive into Canada from the U.S.? Share this post!

In the meantime, to see more of my Montreal and nomad life experience… subscribe or visit @juliebrose on Instagram. Au revoir!

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