Industry News

CBP Requires Proof of Covid-19 Vaccination at Canada and Mexico Ports

Feb. 1, 2022
By: Chaney A. Finn

A Department of Homeland Security mandate went into effect at midnight on January 22, 2022 requiring non-citizens and non-permanent residents coming into the U.S. through land ports of entry from Canada and Mexico to provide proof of Covid-19 vaccination. This includes truck drivers and rail operators, but U.S. citizens, Lawful Permanent Residents, or U.S. nationals are exempt. The mandate comes as Covid-19 cases rise throughout the country. The DHS notice states, “These updated travel requirements reflect the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to protecting public health while safely facilitating the cross-border trade and travel that is critical to our economy.”

The mandate has received pushback from the freight industry as it adds pressure to carriers that are already faced with capacity constraints due to equipment and driver shortages. Canadian cross-border drivers are expected to decrease 10-15% due to the mandate, further increasing high transportation rates for international trade. Some Canadian drivers have protested COVID 19 mandates, driving in a convoy across western Canada to Ottawa.

U.S. drivers are expected to follow their Canadian counterparts in protesting against a similar mandate for entering Canada. The American Trucking Associations estimates that U.S. cross-border drivers will be reduced by 37% between retirement and mandate refusal. Over the road carriers are already experiencing a shortage of 80,000 drivers nationwide and additional turnover will lead to even further constraints and increased transportation rates. Mexico appears likely to experience a similar impact for U.S. border crossings.

With the current mandate in place, North American shippers are adapting to the new regulations to keep costs down. One way North American transportation costs are being mitigated is changing modes of transportation from truck to rail. During a Q4 webinar with investors, Canadian National (CN) executives expressed expectations for increased volume due to the driver vaccine mandate and are set to hire additional operators in preparation for the increase. However, not every shipper can change modes due to product constraints as transit times for rail are significantly longer than by truck.

If you have any questions about your imports and import operations do not hesitate to contact any attorney at Barnes, Richardson & Colburn, LLP.