El Paso CBP Officials Discuss Upcoming Travel Restriction Changes

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EL PASO, Texas – U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials are asking for preparedness and patience as travelers are able to take advantage of the first stage of re-opening following pandemic travel restrictions. 

Beginning in March 2020, to prevent the further spread of COVID-19, travel across the land border into the U.S. has been restricted to essential travel only.  While U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents of the U.S. were able to cross the border, travel by visa holders from other nations was not permitted for non-essential reasons, such as tourism or family visits.

On November 8, fully vaccinated foreign nationals with appropriate documents for entry will be permitted to cross into the U.S. from Mexico at land border crossings for non-essential reasons again. These travelers are required to be prepared to attest to vaccination status and to present proof of vaccination to a CBP officer upon request.

By January, foreign nationals traveling across the land border for both essential and non-essential reasons will be required to be fully vaccinated.  This includes individuals who have previously been crossing the border for essential travel, such as work or medical appointments.  U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents of the U.S. will not be required to provide proof of vaccination when crossing into the U.S. The requirements also do not apply to those ages 17 and under.

Information about what is acceptable as proof of vaccination, including which vaccines are permissible, is available on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website: Requirement for Proof of COVID-19 Vaccination for Air Passengers | CDC.  Please note that to be considered fully vaccinated, 14 days must have passed since your final shot for your vaccine. 

“Traffic volumes were down at the beginning of the pandemic but since then they have grown consistently approaching pre-pandemic levels in some instances,” said Ray Provencio, acting El Paso Port Director. “We will be monitoring traffic and adjusting some staffing to meet the anticipated added demand. We are predicting longer wait times, and are asking for travelers to help us speed the process as much as possible by being prepared for the process.”

For the ports of entry along the U.S/Mexico border, CBP officials are suggesting the following steps that travelers can take to try and help speed processing for entry into the U.S.:

“We do anticipate more travelers, especially as we head into the holiday season.  Everybody should expect longer wait times. That’s the reality of what we’re going to see,” said Provencio. “By being prepared to the point where every traveler can save just a few seconds in the process will add up into real time savings for all travelers at our local border crossings.”

Additional information about these changes to the travel restrictions are available from the DHS press release and Fact Sheet.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation’s borders at and between official ports of entry. CBP is charged with securing the borders of the United States while enforcing hundreds of laws and facilitating lawful trade and travel.