The land border restrictions announced on on March 20, 2020 due to the Covid-19 event were extended in April and May, and have been extended again. The land border will now remain restricted to ‘essential’ crossings only until at least July 21, 2020.
US-Mexico Land Border Closed to All But “Essential Crossings”
The Mexico-US land border is closed to all but “essential crossings.” Non-essential crossings are prohibited until at least July 21, 2020.
What is defined as an “Essential Crossing”
According to legal document published as a Notice on the US Federal Register, “essential travel” (permitted crossings) are defined as:
- U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents returning to the United States;
- Individuals traveling for medical purposes (e.g., to receive medical treatment in the United States);
- Individuals traveling to attend educational institutions;
- Individuals traveling to work in the United States (e.g., individuals working in the farming or agriculture industry who must travel between the United States and Mexico in furtherance of such work);
- Individuals traveling for emergency response and public health purposes (e.g., government officials or emergency responders entering the United States to support Federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial government efforts to respond to Covid-19 or other emergencies);
- Individuals engaged in lawful cross-border trade (e.g., truck drivers supporting the movement of cargo between the United States and Mexico);
- Individuals engaged in official government travel or diplomatic travel;
- Members of the U.S. Armed Forces, and the spouses and children of members of the U.S.
- Armed Forces, returning to the United States; and
- Individuals engaged in military-related travel or operations.
What crossings are prohibited now
According to the Notice, the following activities do not fall under the definition of “essential travel” and are prohibited:
- Individuals traveling for tourism purposes (e.g., sightseeing, recreation, gambling, or attending cultural events);
- It has also been stated that shopping trips and routine family visits are prohibited;
- Mexicans and other foreign nationals with US tourist visas are not permitted to enter the United States by land, rail or sea ferry unless they can prove their trip falls under the definition of “essential travel” as described above.
Flights not affected, but…
According to the official Notice, the land border restrictions do not affect flights to and from Mexico “at this time,” but you should check with the airline you intend to travel with as restrictions may be in place depending on your destination(s). Countries in Europe and elsewhere are beginning to introduce quarantine periods for arriving passengers, including their own citizens/residents.
Freight rail and sea travel is not affected, but passenger rail and sea ferries between Mexico and the US are affected by these restrictions.
US and Canadian citizens returning home
US citizens and lawful permanent residents of the US returning home to the United States are not affected by these restrictions.
Canadian citizens who wish to drive home are probably able to cross into the US for onward passage to Canada, but we recommend you contact the Canadian or US Consulate for advice.
Traveling to Mexico from the United States
Mexico has not imposed any legal restrictions on passengers or vehicles entering Mexico by land from the United States; however we understand that tourists may be turned away and that several towns near the US land border have set-up road blocks to demand ID from people arriving; people are being turned back at these road blocks if they cannot prove they live locally.
If you’re a Mexican citizen, or you have a legal residency permit for Mexico (Residente Temporal or Residente Permanente), you can cross the border by road and return home to Mexico. See this article on expiring residency permits if your residency permit is near or past its expiry date.
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