Canadian border reopening; how soon will international railrestored?

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zephyr17

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Perhaps because the requirements are different for fliers than ground crossings? Victoria Clipper is returning 4 days a week, Fr-Mo, probably to “test it out”.
The published requirements for entry to Canada are the same for both ground and air travel, the only difference is timing requirements for the COVID PCR test. For air travel it is 72 hours prior to departure of the flight to Canada. For land entry it is 72 hours prior to presenting yourself for inspection at a port of entry.

That is different from current US entry requirements. Air travelers must have a negative COVID test within 3 days of flight departure. Land entry requires nothing, except being a US Citizen or permanent resident.

The following is pure speculation. I can see CBSA having an issue with the fact that Immigration inspection doesn't take place until you are well into Canada. Some people won't meet requirements. There inevitably will be people who don't bother researching what the requirements are or think they can finesse it, or just didn't get their test results on time. CBSA can't just say "turn around" and send them back across the line, they are already well into Canada. All things being equal there will probably more of them now than pre-pandemic since requirements are higher and are more involved. They have to do something with those people and they may not have the same levels of facilities to deal with them that they do at YVR. They need to figure out ways they can deal with it. I can think of several ways, including requiring Amtrak inspection of the ArriveCan information on or shortly after boarding much like airlines must verify documents at check in, reducing the number of ineligible people reaching Canada. Moving the Immigration inspection to the border until the heightened pandemic requirements are lifted, which would be a really crappy option. They need to negotiate with Amtrak but they'll be pretty much one sided. CBSA had the full force of Canadian law and the Canadian government on its side.

Remember, too, this is the agency that delayed and nearly derailed the second train because they didn't want to staff the station for it. It took Vancouver and the BC provincial government howling to Ottawa to get them to do it. Hopefully restoring service won't require that kind of escalation. Especially because my understanding is a lot of Canadians are unhappy with the border being reopened and the Canadian government is really unhappy that the US did not reciprocate opening the land border.
 
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Triley

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The published requirements for entry to Canada are the same for both ground and air travel, the only difference is timing requirements for the COVID PCR test. For air travel it is 72 hours prior to departure of the flight to Canada. For land entry it is 72 hours prior to presenting yourself for inspection at a port of entry.

That is different from current US entry requirements. Air travelers must have a negative COVID test within 3 days of flight departure. Land entry requires nothing, except being a US Citizen or permanent resident.

The following is pure speculation. I can see CBSA having an issue with the fact that Immigration inspection doesn't take place until you are well into Canada. Some people won't meet requirements. There inevitably will be people who don't bother researching what the requirements are or think they can finesse it, or just didn't get their test results on time. CBSA can't just say "turn around" and send them back across the line, they are already well into Canada. All things being equal there will probably more of them now than pre-pandemic since requirements are higher and are more involved. They have to do something with those people and they may not have the same levels of facilities to deal with them that they do at YVR. They need to figure out ways they can deal with it. I can think of several ways, including requiring Amtrak inspection of the ArriveCan information on or shortly after boarding much like airlines must verify documents at check in, reducing the number of ineligible people reaching Canada. Moving the Immigration inspection to the border until the heightened pandemic requirements are lifted, which would be a really crappy option. They need to negotiate with Amtrak but they'll be pretty much one sided. CBSA had the full force of Canadian law and the Canadian government on its side.

Remember, too, this is the agency that delayed and nearly derailed the second train because they didn't want to staff the station for it. It took Vancouver and the BC provincial government howling to Ottawa to get them to do it. Hopefully restoring service won't require that kind of escalation. Especially because my understanding is a lot of Canadians are unhappy with the border being reopened and the Canadian government is really unhappy that the US did not reciprocate opening the land border.
I'm pretty sure what they're referring to in regards to entry requirements is that Americans can enter Canada for leisure by ground or air, however, Canadians can only enter for leisure travel by air, not by ground. So as you said, the US land border is still closed.

However, you are correct on the CBSA issues. They've been talking about hashing out a way to stop at the Peace Arch and have them board to do some sort of inspection. The big issue I see though, is that there's not a lot of room at Pacific Central to set up any additional facilities. As such, I don't know how they would be able to process random arrival Covid tests. Perhaps they could do random tests at the Peace Arch, and then send the train on the way. By the time the train arrives in VAC, they would have the results.

Also, CBSA does detain people at the station to send them back on the next train if need be. Or, if they really want to get rid of them in a rush, they will send them to the US border via bonded courier. However, it rarely comes to this, and I don't think it would change once service to Canada resumes either. Just as the airlines are required to check for all documents necessary for entry to Canada (including a non-expired negative Covid test), I'm sure Amtrak will be required to as well. The airlines are being very strict about following the policies, as they should be. All personnel on the Amtrak Cascades who were responsible for trains to Canada were just as thorough. There are very hefty fines for carriers allowing someone entry in to Canada who doesn't have the proper documentation.
 

Willbridge

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I'm pretty sure what they're referring to in regards to entry requirements is that Americans can enter Canada for leisure by ground or air, however, Canadians can only enter for leisure travel by air, not by ground. So as you said, the US land border is still closed.

However, you are correct on the CBSA issues. They've been talking about hashing out a way to stop at the Peace Arch and have them board to do some sort of inspection. The big issue I see though, is that there's not a lot of room at Pacific Central to set up any additional facilities. As such, I don't know how they would be able to process random arrival Covid tests. Perhaps they could do random tests at the Peace Arch, and then send the train on the way. By the time the train arrives in VAC, they would have the results.

Also, CBSA does detain people at the station to send them back on the next train if need be. Or, if they really want to get rid of them in a rush, they will send them to the US border via bonded courier. However, it rarely comes to this, and I don't think it would change once service to Canada resumes either. Just as the airlines are required to check for all documents necessary for entry to Canada (including a non-expired negative Covid test), I'm sure Amtrak will be required to as well. The airlines are being very strict about following the policies, as they should be. All personnel on the Amtrak Cascades who were responsible for trains to Canada were just as thorough. There are very hefty fines for carriers allowing someone entry in to Canada who doesn't have the proper documentation.
When I rode the GN Internationals Canadian border personnel boarded northbound at Mt. Vernon. I think they would have to do that if they wanted to have enough time to turn someone back without entering Canada. As their contemporary views of rail passengers are well-known I can't imagine them doing it.
 

zephyr17

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Thanks Triley. I know there have always been people whom CBSA has turned around, I think my point was, all things being equal, there would probably more entry denials now simply because there is more required and it is more involved now. For instance, I can't help but think quite a few people will screw up on the test alone, either wrong timing or wrong test.

I know Amtrak personnel have always been scrupulous about making sure passengers have the proper documentation. I've ridden thest train many, many times. There is more now, not just vaccination cards, but timely COVID tests and right kind of test, PCR, not antigen. Plus a completed ArriveCan application. I would almost think CBSA would want Amtrak to check the ArriveCan app on the passengers' phones, which should have everything in it.

Either way, I realize there is quite a more involved than rolling the train and CBSA staffing Pacific Central. I just hope CBSA has a goal of trying to get the service safely resumed. I am just a bit fearful they'll try to block it through excessive demands. That fear is based on nothing more than CBSA's history with the continuation of the second train past the Olympics.

I am not booked to Vancouver until March 25, 2022 and that is on the morning train. Hopefully everything will be worked long before then.
 

Triley

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There is more now, not just vaccination cards, but timely COVID tests and right kind of test, PCR, not antigen. Plus a completed ArriveCan application. I would almost think CBSA would want Amtrak to check the ArriveCan app on the passengers' phones, which should have everything in it.

Either way, I realize there is quite a more involved than rolling the train and CBSA staffing Pacific Central. I just hope CBSA has a goal of trying to get the service safely resumed. I am just a bit fearful they'll try to block it through excessive demands. That fear is based on nothing more than CBSA's history with the continuation of the second train past the Olympics.

I am not booked to Vancouver until March 25, 2022 and that is on the morning train. Hopefully everything will be worked long before then.
There will be no need to show their vaccine card, as that will be uploaded on to the ArriveCan app, which once the form is filled out, (for most travellers) displays a letter code that says if the vaccine card has been uploaded or not.

I will report that unless it's the upper decision makers at the CBSA who are trying to block it, that it's likely not happening. As I commute mostly in full uniform, I have had both CBP and CBSA agents excitedly ask if I was on-duty/if we were running across the border, then ask if there was any news on when service should resume. The local agents are all anxiously waiting!

Also, without saying too much, stay booked on the morning northbound, How are you getting back?
 

OBS

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There will be no need to show their vaccine card, as that will be uploaded on to the ArriveCan app, which once the form is filled out, (for most travellers) displays a letter code that says if the vaccine card has been uploaded or not.

I will report that unless it's the upper decision makers at the CBSA who are trying to block it, that it's likely not happening. As I commute mostly in full uniform, I have had both CBP and CBSA agents excitedly ask if I was on-duty/if we were running across the border, then ask if there was any news on when service should resume. The local agents are all anxiously waiting!

Also, without saying too much, stay booked on the morning northbound, How are you getting back?
After visiting Canada, do we need negative Covid test to return to USA as well?
 

zephyr17

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Also, without saying too much, stay booked on the morning northbound, How are you getting back?
I am planning to take the Cascades back, but have not made the return reservation yet.

I suspect that the US may change the land entry requirements once they open up to non-citizens/permanent residents and will start to require a negative test, as they do for air travel. I am holding off making the return reservation until they announce the policies for land crossing once the US opens land borders more fully, so I know whether I have to build in a layover for getting test results.

The trip is taking the Canadian to Toronto and back. Usually my ultimate destination is New York, taking the Maple Leaf the morning after the Canadian's arrival. I decided against that this time because I didn't want to cross the border another 2 times under current conditions and my uncertainty as to whether the would implement US testing requirements and needing lto build in more extra days to get that done. Plus the Maple Leaf isn't running. I am pretty confident about the Cascades returning to service by March, much less so about the Maple Leaf. BTW, both the Cascades and the Adirondack are bookable starting in January, but the Maple Leaf cross-border service isn't back in Arrow at all. I know it has to be coordinated with VIA, and also with the much improved Metrolynx rail service to Niagara Falls, ON, there is speculation that VIA may not be much interested in it any more

As it stands, I built in a 3 day layover in Vancouver to allow for test results to be returned in case I am selected for random testing and also have something to show for the nebulous quarantine plan requirement ("plan" being to just stay put in Vancouver if I become symptomatic). I normally just arrive on the morning Cascades and connect directly to that afternoon's Canadian. I am doubtful that pushing off in a roomette for 4 nights immediately on arrival would pass muster as a quarantine plan. That quarantine plan requirement is causing a lot of confusion on boards like Trip Advisor, no one knows what it is supposed to entail. Consensus seems to be coalescing around just having a hotel booked for the first nights after arrival.
 

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After visiting Canada, do we need negative Covid test to return to USA as well?
You do not - at least if you are entering by land. I can not speak from personal experience in regard to air travel.
 

zephyr17

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You do not - at least if you are entering by land. I can not speak from personal experience in regard to air travel.
A negative test is required for arrival by air for everyone, per current published policy.

While I have no inside knowledge, I suspect that not requiring tests for land arrivals may well change once the land borders are opened to non-citizens/permanent residents.
 

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After visiting Canada, do we need negative Covid test to return to USA as well?
Americans returning by land do not require a test. Americans returning by air will need a recent test (3 days before arrival) and without one I believe they block you from boarding the aircraft to avoid being fined on arrival. Or at least that was my understanding the last time I looked into it. Travel beyond North America gets a lot more complicated. Rules and interpretations keep changing so I would advise bookmarking each country's travel restrictions.
 

zephyr17

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Americans returning by land do not require a test. Americans returning by air will need a recent test (3 days before arrival) and without one I believe they block you from boarding the aircraft to avoid being fined on arrival. Or at least that was my understanding the last time I looked into it. Travel beyond North America gets a lot more complicated. Rules and interpretations keep changing so I would advise bookmarking each country's travel restrictions.
Yeah, the test requirement is in TIMATIC, which is what the airlines use to verify entry documentation requirements, so they will deny boarding.
 

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Just a reminder that Covid tests in Canada are not free for travel. The going rate is around $250 and up. That adds quite a premium to what might appear a good deal for airfare - especially for a couple or family.
 

zephyr17

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Just a reminder that Covid tests in Canada are not free for travel. The going rate is around $250 and up. That adds quite a premium to what might appear a good deal for airfare - especially for a couple or family.
That's a real shame. I know that in researching for upcoming trips to Canada I found I can get a free PCR test down in City of Seattle with pretty quick results for any reason. People who are being tested because of exposure or being symptomatic get priority, but it's free for everyone. You don't even have to be a Seattle or King County resident.
 

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Just a reminder that Covid tests in Canada are not free for travel. The going rate is around $250 and up. That adds quite a premium to what might appear a good deal for airfare - especially for a couple or family.
Wow, the Canadian Government must think people who want to visit will think this is OK!

Even here in the Third World, aka Texas, Tests are available for $40 from Private firms and Self Tests go for around $20.
 

jiml

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That's a real shame. I know that in researching for upcoming trips to Canada I found I can get a free PCR test down in City of Seattle with pretty quick results for any reason. People who are being tested because of exposure or being symptomatic get priority, but it's free for everyone. You don't even have to be a Seattle or King County resident.
Yes, I agree. I could go and get a test for any reason but travel immediately at no cost. Unfortunately the travel ones are unique in order to be accepted by the airlines. It's a result of the government trying to discourage Canadians from travelling and those who think taxpayers shouldn't be funding tests for people who can afford to travel.
 

Bob Dylan

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Yes, I agree. I could go and get a test for any reason but travel immediately at no cost. Unfortunately the travel ones are unique in order to be accepted by the airlines. It's a result of the government trying to discourage Canadians from travelling and those who think taxpayers shouldn't be funding tests for people who can afford to travel.
That's sort of a strange policy for a Society that has Universal Health Care, but then I know Canada doesn't have True Universal Health Care, but a mix of Public and Private Systems which is still better than the Profit driven System here!
 

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Just a reminder that Covid tests in Canada are not free for travel. The going rate is around $250 and up. That adds quite a premium to what might appear a good deal for airfare - especially for a couple or family.
Just talked to the local Shoppers Drug mart, by my in-laws in Mississauga, it is $40 and walk in anytime....
 

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That sounds a little low for a lab run PCR. Make sure that whatever test they are offering is one that is acceptable for travel/border. Some testing requirements call for RT-PCR, and a rapid may not be acceptable. I don't know what the rules are for this case.
 

zephyr17

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That sounds a little low for a lab run PCR. Make sure that whatever test they are offering is one that is acceptable for travel/border. Some testing requirements call for RT-PCR, and a rapid may not be acceptable. I don't know what the rules are for this case.
The US accepts the much cheaper antigen tests for entry. Canada requires the RT-PCR.
 

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Yeah, the test requirement is in TIMATIC, which is what the airlines use to verify entry documentation requirements, so they will deny boarding.
Yup....The same reason why I have to fight to be able to board a plane back home to Canada. I have exemption status, and I have to argue it almost every time. I have been denied boarding with Delta twice, and Air Canada once, due to their refusals to research the updated policies and exemptions. The AC agent in SEA (by far the rudest person I've ever encountered in transportation) refused to even look at my phone (trying to show the exemption list from the Government of Canada website), and told me he knew what the policies were.

Don't worry, I have received $200 in compensation from Air Canada, and over $1300 in refunds/goodwill from Delta due to the incurred expenses of the Covid test I didn't need, and hotel rooms when I should've been at home.

Just a reminder that Covid tests in Canada are not free for travel. The going rate is around $250 and up. That adds quite a premium to what might appear a good deal for airfare - especially for a couple or family.
I'm paying $129+tax for rapid antigen tests at YVR. The same company charges $99+tax for the rapid antigen tests at YYC. It definitely doesn't hurt to shop around.

Wow, the Canadian Government must think people who want to visit will think this is OK!

Even here in the Third World, aka Texas, Tests are available for $40 from Private firms and Self Tests go for around $20.
And yet....here the Seattle airport I paid $200 for a rapid PCR test, and that place is always still super busy.
 
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Triley

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That's odd. For a PCR test for travel, my local Shoppers charges $199 + $30 tax + $20 fee if you need results on short notice. That's supported on their website here:
That's correct. The PCR test is $199+tax. The rapid antigen screen (which is accepted for travel to most of the US) is only $40+tax. I just wish it was available in BC....but it's only in Ontario and Alberta.

 

PVD

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We do them at JFK and LGA for no charge if you live or work in NY, rapid and regular at one time, rapid back in about 20 mins, PCR usually the next day. I don't know if the NYC results are accepted for all travel, but i know the PCR is run by the NYC HHC PRL which is CLIA so it should be (not that "should be" matters)
 
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