Canada's border opening in August will not include American boaters

Sailboats at Port Dalhousie, St. Catherines, Ontario
Sailboats at Port Dalhousie, St. Catharines, Ontario Photo credit Getty

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WBEN) - Not only has the land border between the U.S. and Canada been closed to non-essential travel since March of 2020, but Canadian waterways have been closed to American boaters as well.

When the land border reopens to fully vaccinated Americans August 9, the same cannot be said about Canadian waters. Travel restrictions will remain in place for U.S. citizens for non-essential reasons, regardless of boaters' vaccination status.

"It doesn't matter if the boater is fully vaccinated. It doesn't matter if you have the ArriveCAN app, or if the boater has been tested for Covid," said Immigration attorney Jamies Fiegel. The opening for visitor status on August 9 has not been extended to marine operations. You will not be able to cross international waters."

Fiegel said if anyone caught trying to enter Canada via water, can face severe penalties.

"They can impound your boat. You can also face a fine. I've heard that they usually provide a warning and that penalties occur against people who are continuous offenders," she said.

Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and its law enforcement partners are actively monitoring Canadian waterways. Read more HERE about water restrictions for boaters.

Fiegel, has been following border developments for her clients, as well as family members, who reside in both the U.S. and Canada. She is not expecting Canadian waterways to reopen anytime soon. "I haven't seen anything new for boaters. If anything, I think it would be next summer because we're coming up on the end of the boating season anyway."

Boaters on the Great Lakes particularly enjoy access to Canadian ports. Canada’s southern border lies on four of the five lakes. Many boaters take summer cruises to destinations such as Point Abino and Port Colborne on Lake Erie as well as Niagara-on-the-Lake and Toronto on Lake Ontario for example.

The border reopening is also threatened by a labor strike. Unions representing 8,500 staffers with the Canada Border Services Agency have voted “overwhelmingly” in favor of strike actions that could begin as early as August 6. It could result in delays at the border.