U.S. border reopening: What pre-COVID regulations remain in effect for travelers


Alexandria Bay Port of Entry, Wellesley Island, New York (WWTI/ Isabella Colello)

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WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWTI) — U.S. land ports of entry reopened to non-essential travelers on Monday for the first time since early 2020.

With this reopening, new COVID-19 requirements were added for these travelers, including providing proof of COVID-19 vaccination. However, many pre-COVID regulations also remain in place at all land ports of entry and ferry terminals.

All travelers arriving at a U.S. port of entry are subject to inspection by officers. If an inspection is requested, BP officers will conduct the Immigration, Customs and Agriculture components of the Inspections process.

At the border, travelers must file a customs declaration for items acquire abroad, or items being brought into the country. If the travelers are defined as being in a “domestic relationship,” only one declaration is required upon arrival.

Live animals and birds are permitted to enter the United States under proper certification, certain permits, inspection, and quarantine rules. These vary depending on the type of animal and its origin. Animal hunting trophies, game animal carcasses and hides are severely restricted from being brought across the border.

Many agricultural products are also prohibited from entering the United States. These items may include meats, fresh fruits and vegetables, plants, seeds, soil and products made from animal or plant materials.All agriculture items must be declared at the border and are subject to inspection by a CBP Agriculture Specialist. Specifically from Canada, seed potatoes currently require a permit and fresh tomatoes and bell peppers are prohibited.

According to CBP, all declared agriculture items that are prohibited or restricted can be abandoned at the port of entry. Undeclared prohibited items will be confiscated and can result in a civil penalty.

CBP prohibits a list of additional items from entering the county. This includes Absinthe, alcoholic beverages, automobiles, biologicals, ceramic tableware, cultural artifacts and cultural property, weapons, drug paraphernalia, gold, Haitian animal hide drums, medication, merchandise from embargoed countries, photographic film, soil, some textiles and clothing and trademark and copyrighted articles.

Canadian travelers are also reminded that marijuana remains illegal in the United States. Federal law prohibits the importation and exportation of marijuana. Travelers are warned that crossing the international border or arriving at a U.S. port of entry with marijuana may result in seizure, fines, or arrest, and may impact admissibility.

Those who are determined to be inadmissible at the U.S. border, in certain circumstances could be placed into removal proceedings, can be permitted to withdraw an admission application and could have an impact on future admissibility.

Additional travel guidance and border wait times can be found on the United States Customs and Border Protection website.

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