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On August 9, Canada will finally reopen its borders, allowing vaccinated travelers who are citizens or permanent residents of the United States to enter for the first time since the country put a Covid-motivated closure in place almost 16 months ago. For those who live along the world’s largest international border—not to mention hikers who have postponed trips over the past year—it’s a step towards normalcy. But if you’re planning on taking advantage of the newly-opening border, there are a few things you’ll need to know.
First off the bat, you’ll need to be vaccinated. Anyone entering Canada from the US needs to be at least 14 days out from either the second dose of their 2-shot vaccine or Johnson & Johnson’s one-and-done shot. Besides J&J, the Canadian government will accept Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca; other varieties won’t get you in. You can upload proof of vaccination in ArriveCan, the system that Canadian immigration is using to manage visitors.
No vax? No visit. The only exceptions are kids under 12 years old traveling with a fully-vaccinated adult and travelers who qualify for an exemption because they’re medically unable to get the vaccine; the latter will have to undergo a quarantine upon entering the country. Regardless of vaccination status, all travelers will have to present a pre-departure negative Covid test and a quarantine plan in case they become symptomatic.
Plan a Last-Minute Trip
If you’re planning an impromptu hiking trip from the US to Canada, you could do worse than Vancouver Island. The West Coast Trail is a weeklong, 47-mile route passing waterfalls and tidal flats. August is prime season for the trail, and while it’s too late to reserve permits, lucky hikers may be able to score a walk-up. Also on the island: Sooke Potholes Provincial Park and Sooke Mountain Provincial Park, where hikers can enjoy a 9-mile trek through coastal rainforest and cap it off with a visit to Sooke Potholes’ deep pools.
Complication: With the Canada-US marine border still closed, getting to Vancouver Island is tougher than usual. Your best bet is to either fly direct to Victoria or drive the three hours from Seattle to Vancouver and catch a ferry there.