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US border vaccine rules remain as Biden ends COVID national emergency

Thousands of unvaccinated Canadian truckers still barred from US until at least May 11

Officials for the Canadian Trucking Alliance said up to 15% of truck drivers across Canada are unvaccinated and are being affected by the U.S. border mandate. (Photo: Grace Sharkey/FreightWaves)

President Joe Biden signed legislation Monday to immediately end the U.S. national emergency response for COVID-19, weeks before it was set to expire alongside a separate public health emergency.

However, the public health emergency — which does not allow unvaccinated non-U.S. citizens to enter the country — remains in place until May 11. 

It’s unclear if the border vaccine requirements for non-U.S. citizens will end in May. The bill Biden signed Monday did not mention ending the vaccine mandate for non-U.S. citizens at the border, and White House officials have not commented on when the requirements will be lifted.

The U.S. border vaccine mandate for foreign drivers began in January 2022.

Over the past several months, trucking associations in the U.S. and Canada have been calling on the Biden administration to end the requirements.

The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) said the mandate has barred thousands of unvaccinated truck drivers in Canada from entering the U.S. 

Canada ended its border vaccine requirement Oct. 3, and the CTA was hopeful the U.S. would immediately follow suit.

“We are optimistic that the removal of these emergency measures means the border vaccine mandate will also be removed very soon, but we have not received any confirmation regarding timelines,” Lak Shoan, director of CTA’s policy and industry awareness programs, told FreightWaves.

CTA said it has been working with officials on both sides of the border and “remains optimistic that the border vaccine mandate will also be removed in the coming weeks.”

“CTA continues to actively engage with U.S. officials and diplomats on the removal of the vaccine mandate,” CTA said in a news release Tuesday. “Other industry representatives, including the American Trucking Associations, tourism advocates, governors and northern mayors have also been vocal about the removal of the mandate and the need to unify border requirements to the benefit of our sector and cross-border economy.”

The vaccine mandate has had mixed effects on U.S.-Mexico cross-border trucking, with some operators saying it has affected the available number of drivers.

Some truck drivers at both the Canadian and Mexican borders have also said they have never been asked by U.S. officials to show proof of vaccination status.

The national emergency Biden ended on Monday had allowed the U.S. government to take steps to respond to COVID-19 and support the country’s economic, health and welfare systems. Some emergency measures have already ended, while others are still being phased out.

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  1. Expat UK

    I’m an independent, but I have to say that Trump’s initial ban on travel made lots of exemptions, most importantly for me being the spousal exemption in addition to US citizen exemptions. This meant that me and my European wife could take our two kids to go visit my family in Fall of 2021 after nearly 2 years of being apart (Kinda makes sense, right?) One of the many things that I’ve seen NO media coverage on in relation to Biden’s updated vaccine-based travel ban is that he removed the spousal exemption. I agree with Democrats wholeheartedly on making every effort to keep families together along the southern border and to never make a xenophobic travel ban like Trumps ban on muslims ever again. Both of which have received unbelievable media coverage. So where, I ask, is the coverage on this xenophobic travel ban that is splitting up families by design? Particularly troubling is the ever clearer picture that this is about making money, and very little to do with science. I fear I will never see my family again, but what truly terrifies me is that nobody seems to care.

  2. Ana

    Thank you very much for this article Noi! Much appreciated. Please continue to keep us up to date.

    ~Another Canadian family separated for too long by these rules (obsolete by now).

  3. RC

    Same here (southern US border states) many fellow Mexicans who are unvax are not able to cross the border by land, families are separarated and the impact on small bussiness and local economies have been brutal. Lets hope this restriction ends soon, to help our comunities recover fully.

  4. James

    If you study deeply enough, you start to see that the destruction of the “Western” economy may be the actual goal of all the seemingly insane decisions.
    Not to sound too nutcase, but this is all leading directly to the WEF and UN Agenda 2030 whereby they bring “Equity” (in this case financial parity) to the world.
    None of this was ever about: Black Lives Mattering, Terrorists, DSLGBQTP+, Ukraine or Covid. I suspect all of these “insane” issues are the weapons used to break The West and remove us from our position of global dominance. The Petro-Dollar – the very foundation of our economy – has been intentionally scuttled.

    Sorry. Had to say it. We may be losing WWIII without firing a shot in defence.


    This is crazy these vax mandates need to be lifted to cross into the USA, I work in the transportation industry and we have drivers that still cannot cross the border into the USA, but the non vaxed USA truck drivers can come into Canada and go back into the USA no problem, so this makes no sense, other than to punish the non-vaxed!! We all know this Vax is BS! I haven’t seen my family in over 3 years now, as they live in the USA and my brother is not well enought to travel to Canada as his health has declined in those 3 years, I already lost my younger brother at age 57 to these dangerous jabs and now I still cannot see my only other older brother, soon I will have no family left to see,I don’t know how much time I have left to see my brother and I am not getting any younger either they have taken 3 years of my life away from me, I am 63 and my older brother is 73 so who knows how much time I have left to see him, this has gone on too long!! Famlies are being separated for years and it is totally disgusting!! I will never take any of these dangerous jabs and neither will my older brother, but unfortunately my younger brother took them and it cost him is life!!!

  6. Wilfred Cushnie

    We used to spend a lot of money in the towns and communities in Washington and Oregon States and then the Covid restrictions were mandated and we decided to not get the vaccines. So, we got excluded from entering the USA and are still legally excluded. Some of our friends in Washington and Oregon lost their businesses. They went broke. We are sorry for that. Others continue to struggle. We are not the only Canadians who are forbidden by the American President Joe Biden from crossing the border. So, we travel elsewhere. All of Europe is completely open to travellers with no restrictions as well as all of middle and south America and all of Asia. Only the United Stated under the Democrats continues to be shut down. So, we take our money and our time elsewhere. So very sorry to all our friends in Washington and Oregon.

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Noi Mahoney

Noi Mahoney is a Texas-based journalist who covers cross-border trade, logistics and supply chains for FreightWaves. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in English in 1998. Mahoney has more than 20 years experience as a journalist, working for newspapers in Florida, Maryland and Texas. Contact [email protected]