May 24th, 2024

ArriveCan app makes for a smooth re-entry after first pandemic cross-border trip

By Al Beeber - Lethbridge Herald on December 9, 2021.


Having border anxiety before heading south to do some shopping in Great Falls for the first time since the pandemic hit?
If so, there’s no need to worry if you have filled out the ArriveCan app properly. The new app, required for most travellers, is available for Android and Apple devices and filling out the required information only takes minutes.
When travelling abroad travel information is submitted via ArriveCan within 72 hours prior to your arrival back in Canada.
The idea of the app may seem daunting but it’s well-designed and takes travellers through a series of questions. Travellers must submit photos of your vaccine certificates – one if both are on it, and two if they are separate. The app also requires a scan of your passport. When all the information is filled out, and submitted, travellers are sent a receipt with a confirmation QR code.
Even with the ArriveCan app, travellers may be required to show proof of vaccination in person at the border so carrying an electronic or printed copy is recommended. But because the passport and confirmation code are linked, Customs already knows if you’ve filled out the ArriveCan app properly.
Certain information submitted to ArriveCan, including passport photo and vaccine information, is saved on the app for future visits. When travelling with someone else, that person’s information can be added to the ArriveCan app.
It is worth noting that earlier this week federal Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said he had instructed the Canadian Border Services Agency to give travellers the opportunity to give their information in person at the border if they’ve forgotten or haven’t been able to use the ArriveCan app.
Previous to that, failure to fill out the ArriveCan could result in denied entry for foreign nationals or cost Canadians and permanent residents a 14-day quarantine upon arriving home, as a friend’s parents in Ontario discovered on the weekend when they made a short jaunt to a neighbouring town in Minnesota, costing them a delay in flying to Florida for the winter. Ensuring you have the confirmation code should be Priority No. 1 along with bringing along your passport.
On a weekend family trip to Great Falls, we filled out the ArriveCan app before leaving Lethbridge, making sure we had the confirmation code.
At the Sweetgrass Customs in Montana, we were asked if we were double vaccinated as well as the usual questions. Entering took less than two minutes after a short wait in line Friday afternoon.
In Montana, be prepared to see most people not wearing masks. In Great Falls, signs at various stores recommend non-vaccinated customers wear them and at one grocery store, made it a requirement.
We chose to wear ours everywhere out of safety sake. But to their credit, Montanans didn’t mask-shame anyone and were friendly everywhere. It was uncomfortable, given our pandemic mandates, to see hordes of people crowding aisles and check-out lines without masks. One server said Montana is split between Democrats and Republicans and in the Great Falls area, there is a large population of people who don’t believe in masking or vaccinations. But we never encountered any hostility. In fact, our southern neighbours were enormously welcoming of Canadian shopping centre invaders.
Before heading back to Canada, it’s wise to check in advance for the wait time at Coutts, but as we discovered that can be inaccurate.
Crossing the border Sunday took nearly 40 minutes although there were only a handful of vehicles in front of us in both open lanes. Neighbours who arrived just as we got back on the road experienced the same delay.
With everything in order, including all our receipts and a detailed listing of every dime spent, we were on the road again in less than three minutes after talking to an officer.
It should be noted, if you aren’t already aware, you may be asked by Customs if you’re bringing gifts back for others. If you are, be prepared to pay duty because gifts are not allowed under your personal exemption.
While travel to the U.S. is certainly different now, with the ArriveCan app properly filled out, a traveller should experience a stress-free getaway.
– with files from The Canadian Press

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