U.S – Mexico borders reopen; what you need to know

After 19 months of closed borders due to the pandemic, the United States has detailed the requirements that citizens who seek to enter the country must meet as of November 8: The borders open just days before the celebration of the Black Friday commercial holiday and the end of the year celebrations.

This Friday, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has established that foreigners who have a visa must show their vaccination certificate at the time of the inspection and verbally endorse the reason for their trip, in accordance with the published parameters.

It is expected that the levels of traffic in ports and in the land checkpoints of the border with Mexico will register crossings of millions of people, reaching levels prior to the sanitary restrictions derived from the pandemic. However, the vaccination certificates that Mexico has issued to its citizens have clouded the relationship between the two countries.

“We have to see the types of [vaccination] certificates that Mexico has, there are many questions, different universes of people,” said Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard three weeks ago, when the US Secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, confirmed the reopening of the border.

The first stage of reactivation of non-essential travel to the country will take place in November, and in a second stage in January 2022, when the requirement that all travelers entering the United States be fully vaccinated and have a certificate will be enforced. Until now, essential workers and travelers have been able to enter the country without vaccination.

Until now, only travelers considered essential could cross borders, a category that includes residents, workers, people studying in the United States, citizens traveling for medical care, diplomats, and the military. The reopening now includes those who want to go sightseeing or shopping, a very common practice for Mexicans living on the border.

What vaccines are accepted to enter the United States?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has determined that vaccines approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are accepted, as well as those endorsed for emergency use by the World Health Organization (WHO). For travel by land, the same guidelines will be followed, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

The FDA has licensed the Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. For its part, the WHO also endorses AstraZeneca, Covishield, Sinopharm, and Sinovac. Sputnik and CanSino have not been accepted but have been widely used in Mexico.

Who is considered fully vaccinated?

All people who have passed 14 days after receiving the two-dose series of a COVID-19 vaccine, or a single dose in the case of Johnson & Johnson.

Also those 14 days after receiving the second dose of AstraZeneca or Novavax vaccine trials in the United States.

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Those who have 14 days after receiving two doses of any combination of accepted COVID-19 vaccines, administered with a minimum interval of 17 days between them.

What about minors?

Unvaccinated persons under the age of 18 may enter the United States if they are over 2 years old, traveling with a vaccinated adult, and have had a negative COVID-19 test three days before departure. If a minor is traveling alone or with an unvaccinated adult, they must submit a negative test carried out 24 hours before the trip.

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