Due to a variety of factors, including epidemiological, economic, and political considerations, many countries are dropping their COVID-19 pandemic-related travel restrictions. Some of the last remaining COVID-conservative countries are opening up, which is promising for the resumption of international travel and for allowing employers the flexibility to send their employees who may not be vaccinated on assignment to more destination countries.
Below is a non-exhaustive summary of the easing of COVID-19 restrictions in several areas.
As of October 1, 2022, Canada has lifted all COVID-19-related border requirements—including those related to vaccination, health checks, pre-board testing, mandatory use of ArriveCAN, reporting of symptoms, masking, and quarantine/isolation—for those entering Canada by land, air, or sea. Travelers still must follow any provincial or territorial COVID-19 requirements as applicable.
The government of Canada said that the cancellation of border measures was facilitated by a number of factors, including modeling that indicates that Canada has largely passed the peak of the Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 wave; Canada’s high vaccination rates, lower hospitalization and death rates; and the availability and use of vaccine boosters (including the new bivalent formulation), rapid tests, and treatments for COVID-19. Canada also reviewed operational considerations and the epidemiological situation internationally.
Although the masking requirement is lifted, Canada said that all travelers “are strongly recommended to wear high quality and well-fitting masks during their journeys. Jean-Yves Duclos, Canada’s Minister of Health, said COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses are expected to continue to circulate over the old months. “I encourage everyone to stay up-to-date with their COVID-19 vaccination, including booster doses, and exercise individual public health measures.”
The Canadian government noted that while travelers no longer must submit their quarantine and vaccination information through ArriveCAN, they can continue to use the optional Advance Declaration feature in ArriveCAN (which is available at no charge as a mobile app or on the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) website) “to save time at the airport by submitting their customs and immigration declaration in advance of arrival.” This feature is now available to travelers arriving at Toronto Pearson, Vancouver, or Montréal-Trudeau international airports, and will expand to the Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Billy Bishop Toronto City, Ottawa, Québec City, and Halifax international airports in the coming months, Canada said. Early data show that using the Advance CBSA Declaration in ArriveCAN cuts the amount of time a traveler spends at a kiosk by roughly one third, and over 30% of travelers arriving at the airports are already using it.
Most European countries have lifted COVID-19-related travel restrictions. Spain still maintains COVID-19 restrictions at the border for travelers coming from outside the EU/Schengen area, including either proof of vaccination, a COVID-19 recovery certificate, or a negative test (NAAT or antigen). However, it is no longer necessary to complete the health control form to travel to Spain or to present an SpTH QR code when boarding or at the arrival airport. Germany has introduced new COVID-19 measures inside the country, with mask-wearing mandatory on long-distance trains (FFP2 for those over the age of 14 and a surgical face mask for those between six and 13 years).
An EU Digital COVID Certificate, which digitally certifies that a person has either been vaccinated against COVID-19, received a negative test result, or recovered from COVID-19, is valid in all EU countries and available to all EU citizens and their family members, as well as non-EU nationals who are legally staying or residing in a Member State and have the right to travel to other Member States.
Japan is reopening for tourism and reinstating visa waiver privileges for many nationalities, including the United States, on October 11, 2022. As of that date, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, testing upon arrival, self-quarantine, and refraining from the use of public transportation are no longer required, except for returnees and entrants with symptoms of suspected COVID-19 infection. All returnees and entrants are still required to show either a valid COVID-19 vaccination certificate of three doses of vaccine as prescribed on the Emergency Use List of the World Health Organization, or a certificate of a negative test result from a pre-departure COVID-19 test conducted within 72 hours before departure from the country/region of origin.
Taiwan recently reinstated visa waiver privileges for many nationalities, including the United States. Quarantine rules are expected to ease on October 13, 2022, although a rapid antigen test for COVID-19 and self-monitoring for seven days after arrival will remain mandatory.
According to Taiwan’s Bureau of Consular Affairs, the visa-exempt entry scheme to Taiwan was fully reinstated as of September 29, 2022, for nationals of eligible countries to engage in activities that do not require a permit, such as business, exhibition visits, fact-finding missions, international exchanges, visiting relatives, tourism, and social events. For activities that require a permit according to the laws and regulations of relevant agencies, travelers must apply to the central competent authority of the Republic of China (Taiwan) for permission and obtain a special entry permit (visa) from an overseas mission of the R.O.C. (Taiwan).
The remaining COVID-19 regulations were repealed in June 2022. Travelers are no longer required to produce vaccination certificates or recent negative PCR tests. There are no health screening procedures at airports and other ports of entry, and no restrictions in intercity or interstate travel.
It is unclear whether the United States will drop land-border vaccine requirements. As of October 1, 2022, all nonimmigrant, non-U.S. citizen air travelers to the United States must be fully vaccinated and provide proof of vaccination status before boarding an airplane to the United States. Fully vaccinated foreign nationals may enter the United States at land ports of entry (POEs) and ferry terminals. Fully vaccinated travelers do not need to provide a pre-entry COVID-19 test result to enter the United States by air, land, or sea. Fully vaccinated foreign travelers can travel to the United States across the Northern and Southwest borders with Canada (and Mexico). U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents do not need to provide proof of vaccination status at land POEs and ferry terminals.
A group of Canadian legislators and border-area mayors from both countries published a letter on September 20, 2022, to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and President Joe Biden asking them to remove the border restrictions.
Contact your WR attorney for advice and help in specific situations.
- “CAN-US Border Crossing Updates (COVID-19),” Windsor Detroit Tunnel, https://www.windsortunnel.com/covid-19-updates
- “Measures for Resuming Cross-Border Travel,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, https://www.mofa.go.jp/ca/cp/page22e_000925.html
- “COVID-19: Current Japanese Border Measures,” Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, https://www.mhlw.go.jp/stf/covid-19/bordercontrol.html
- “Border Measures to Prevent the Spread of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, https://www.mofa.go.jp/ca/fna/page4e_001053.html
- “Germany to Impose New Nationwide COVID Rules From October 1,” SchengenVisaInfo, https://www.schengenvisainfo.com/news/germany-to-impose-new-nationwide-covid-rules-from-october-1/
- “Travel and COVID-19” (Spain), https://www.sanidad.gob.es/en/profesionales/saludPublica/ccayes/alertasActual/nCov/spth.htm
- “EU Digital COVID Certificate,” European Commission, https://ec.europa.eu/info/live-work-travel-eu/coronavirus-response/safe-covid-19-vaccines-europeans/eu-digital-covid-certificate_en#what-is-the-eu-digital-covid-certificate
- “COVID-19 Information,” U.S. Embassy & Consulates in South Africa, https://za.usembassy.gov/covid-19-information/
- “Taiwan Adds 44,665 Local COVID Cases as Country Set to Lift Border Restrictions,” Taiwan News, https://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/4672059
- “COVID-19 Country Specific Information,” U.S. Dept. of State, https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/COVID-19-Country-Specific-Information.html
- “Open Letter: President Joe Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau,” Sept. 20, 2022, https://twitter.com/jimdiodati/status/1572253493968408576/photo/1
- COVID-19 Information – Canada, U.S. Embassy & Consulates in Canada, Sept. 9, 2022, https://ca.usembassy.gov/covid-19-information-canada-3/
- COVID-19: Travel, Testing and Borders, https://travel.gc.ca/travel-covid