These days traveling between Canada and the US is complicated – now even more so due to Omicron. Many of our US guests are wondering how the heck do I cross the border? Our pat answer is check with the government of Canada website and contact your port of entry. We can’t give you a definitive answer because entry requirements evolve and advance testing requirements differ depending on where you are coming from and if you plan to fly or drive into Canada.
It is imperative you produce the correct documentation and following the advance testing requirements. We know of several instances where both Canadians and US citizens have been turned away at the border because they didn’t time their test correctly or they didn’t upload their documentation to the ArriveCan app.
Recently 2 of our long-time US guests crossed the border at Nelway (south of Nelson) en route to their vacation home in Revelstoke. They kindly shared their experience with us and we are passing it on to you.
We drove into Canada on Friday. It’s great to be back in Revelstoke, and we plan to be here until mid-April. The border crossing is a little convoluted, so we thought we should share some of our experience with you, as it may also apply to other guests you have coming up from the states this winter – and most will not have the extra time we have.
All visitors must fill out the ArriveCan form online prior to crossing the border – although multiple individuals in the same family can share one form with a listing for each individual. Proof of vaccination must be uploaded and attached to the form for each individual. Each person must have a PCR COVID test and negative results within 72 hours of crossing the border. And when filling out the online form, you must specify when and where you will cross the border (date, time and location). The border agent told us that a significant number of people hoping to drive across the border have not completed all of the steps, and consequently are denied entry to Canada, in other words, turned back at the border. The border agent was very pleased and impressed at how organized we were, and he was also friendly throughout the process.
After successfully providing all the required information, I was randomly selected by the computer to take another COVID test. The border agent gave me a self-test kit that I had to complete within 24 hours of crossing the border using a virtual video conference with a tech at a designated lab, followed by overnight shipment of the completed test to the lab. The border agent was apologetic, as he realized this could be challenging from Revelstoke on a Friday evening, but he had no choice but to require the test. The steps are:
1. Log-in to LifeLabs website, fill out and print an online form.
2. Once you get a confirmation email that the form has been received, schedule an appointment for the virtual video conference for the self-test observation. I was not able to do step 1 until Friday evening – so my first option for scheduling an appointment was Saturday morning at 7:45am. If someone did step 1 in the afternoon, they might be able to do the self-test appointment the same afternoon. I do not know.
3. After completing the self-test, the package must be sent via FedEx or dropped off at a Shoppers Drug Mart for overnight shipment to LifeLabs in Burnaby, BC. There is no FedEx pickup in Revelstoke and the nearest Shoppers Drug Mart is 2 hours away. I suspect overnight services in Meadow Creek are also slim.
We are grateful to our friends for the heads up! They are correct – there is no overnight shipment possible from Meadow Creek so we looked into Nelson options to help you navigate these challenges. Our advice is plan to cross the border at least one day before the start of your tour. If you are selected for random testing (and FYI – they have recently increased testing frequency so it is likely you or one of your group will be selected), fill out the form, submit it and schedule your virtual test appointment for that evening or the next morning. Every hotel we spoke to said they would be able to assist if you needed something printed. Package up your form and test according to the instructions and deliver it in person to Shoppers Drug Mart in Nelson. They are open 8am – 10pm 7 days a week. Fed Ex does daily pick ups and takes it overnight to the lab in Burnaby.
And since you have taken precautions, you will receive your negative test results within a day or 2.