By Rodrigo Manterola
Table of Contents
Who said Canadians can’t drive to Baja!
Transport companies drive Canadian snowbirds vehicles across the Canada-U.S. border and meet them with at U.S. airports
We all know about the Canada-U.S. land border closure to non-essential traffic, yet, many Canadian snowbirds are on their way south.
A Quebec company flies these snowbirds on private chartered planes from an airport outside Montreal to a nearby airport in Plattsburgh, N.Y.
A company named KMC transport also drives the snowbirds’ vehicles to the Plattsburgh airport, so, right after landing, the passengers and their beloved vehicles and RV’s can continue their journey down south.
The U.S. and Canada’s advisory is not to travel abroad but many snowbirds are determined to head south this winter some to sunny Florida but some further south to Mexico.
Although Canadians can’t drive to the U.S. due to the land border closure, they sure can fly to the country. Canadian air passengers can still enter the country as long as they haven’t visited Brazil, China, Iran, Ireland, the U.K. or 26 European countries in the Schengen Area 14 days prior.
KMC ships vehicles to the U.S. Although the fee to transport an RV can easily hover $4,300 or more.
Customers pay around $500 per seat on the plane and about $1,000 for the vehicle transport. As a commercial transport company, KMC can bring vehicles into the U.S., despite the border restrictions as every commercial transaction at the border is considered essential
There are no restrictions on Canadians importing vehicles to the United States during the land border closure according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
The added business has been a big boost for the company, which normally focuses on transporting RVs to dealers anyways.
As that side of the business has slowed during the pandemic, but catering to snowbirds has allowed him to keep all his 35 workers employed.
However, the federal government continues to warn Canadians to avoid non-essential travel abroad during the pandemic.
Canadian snowbirds can fly to the USA on a helicopter
Great Lakes Helicopter in Cambridge, Ont. also offers exactly that, five flights a day, five days a week from Thursday to Monday.
The company picks up snowbirds at Hamilton, Ont. airport and fly them just across the border to Buffalo, N.Y. Then, a transport company — transports the passengers’ vehicles, typically on a flatbed truck, to the Buffalo airport.
Since starting the service in late October, Great Lakes Helicopter has flown at least 30 passengers and has hundreds more booked. The cost for a couple to fly in their own private helicopter and transport their car is $1,900. And guess what, pets are welcome onboard.
Flying snowbirds on the west coast
Bidbuy Importers based in Blaine, Washington is a company that normally imports vehicles to private buyers and dealers in the US, this year this company has branched out to also transport snowbirds vehicles from the Vancouver area to the U.S. such as the Seattle airport amongst other locations.
So far, Bidbuy Importers has transported more than 40 cars and the company has hundreds more booked over the next couple of months.
Costs range from around $500 and up to $3,000, depending on the type and size of vehicle and the distance it’s travelling.
The permission to fly it’s not a two way street: Canada prohibits U.S. visitors from entering the country by any means of transportation — including by plane.
But that was until recently when the Canadian government loosened its travel restrictions to allow U.S. citizens with immediate family in Canada to enter the country.
Proceed with caution
The Canadian government is currently advising its citizens to avoid any travelling abroad because of COVID-19. But it won’t prevent them from visiting the U.S. or other countries and will allow travellers to return to Canada — as long as they self-isolate for 14 days after their arrival.
However, it’s important to know that because of the government’s travel advisory, Canadians will likely find difficulty getting travel insurance that provides medical coverage if they fall ill with COVID-19 while abroad.
Starting on January 7, 2021, all air passengers five years of age or older, including Canadians, will be required to show a negative PCR test result taken within 72 hours prior to boarding their scheduled departure to Canada. Contact local health authorities to find out where you can get a PCR test
All air passengers five years of age or older will be required to test negative for COVID-19 before travelling from another country to Canada. This implementation date provides all airlines, both foreign and domestic, adequate time to comply with the new requirements.
Documentation of a negative laboratory test result must be presented to the airline prior to boarding a flight to Canada. The test must be performed using a COVID-19 molecular polymerase chain reaction (or PCR) test and must be taken within 72 hours prior to the traveller’s scheduled departure to Canada.
Anyone who receives a negative test result and is authorized to enter Canada must still complete the full, mandatory 14-day quarantine.
Traveling to Canada protocol
- Asked if you have a cough, fever or difficulty breathing
- Required to acknowledge that you must:
- Quarantine for 14 days if you don’t have symptoms or isolate for 14 days if you have symptoms
- Asked if you have a suitable place to isolate or quarantine, where:
- You’ll have access to basic necessities, including water, food, medication and heat during the winter months
You won’t have contact with people who:
- Are 65 years or older
- Have underlying medical conditions
- Have compromised immune systems
You won’t be in a group or community living arrangement such as:
- Industrial camps
- Student residences
- Construction trailers
- Residential or long-term care facilities
- Sharing a small apartment
- Living in the same household with large families or many people
- Having roommates who haven’t travelled with you that you can’t avoid
- Given instructions about the actions you must take under the emergency order and the penalties for non-compliance
Travellers entering Canada must provide traveller contact information through:
- The ArriveCAN mobile app or
- The ArriveCAN website or
- A paper form
- Undergo screening by a border official
You must answer any relevant questions when you arrive in Canada
During your 14-day period while in quarantine or isolation Government of Canada representatives at Canadian ports of entry will:
- Administer the emergency orders on behalf of the Public Health Agency of Canada
- Assess your potential risks to public health under the Quarantine Act
Determine if you:
- Have suitable plans for quarantine or isolation
- Need to be transferred to a designated quarantine facility, if no other suitable options are available
- Have no symptoms of COVID-19 and can continue domestic travel to your place of quarantine
The information border officials collect helps the Public Health Agency of Canada with its compliance and enforcement efforts. Providing false or misleading information is an offence under the Quarantine Act and can result in fines and potentially prison time.
ArriveCAN app and website
Use the ArriveCAN app or website to speed up your arrival process in Canada and spend less time with border and public health officers. Submit your information easily and securely before arriving in Canada.
Travellers entering Canada through Alberta
You may be eligible for reduced quarantine time if you’re a traveller arriving in Canada at:
- Calgary International Airport or
- Coutts land border
- Check your eligibility with the Alberta Border Testing Pilot Program.
If you’re a foreign national (not a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada), you won’t be able to enter Canada if you have COVID-19 symptoms. The exception is if you’re a protected person under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
There are currently border restrictions for discretionary (optional) travel to Canada:
- At the Canada-U.S. border
- From any country other than the U.S.
Discretionary travel includes, but is not limited to, tourism, recreation and entertainment.
If a traveller’s entry is permitted, they’ll be subject to mandatory quarantine for 14 days.
Exemptions to border restrictions
You’ll only be considered for an exemption to border restrictions at Canada’s ports of entry if your reason for travel is:
- Included in the conditions outlined in the emergency orders or
- On the list of group exemptions from entry prohibitions or
- On the list of group exemptions quarantine requirements
There are exemptions that will allow visiting immediate family members and extended family members to enter Canada. Your family member must be a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident in order to enter Canada.
For immediate family members, you’ll be required to demonstrate that you plan on entering Canada for a period of at least 15 days.
For extended family members, you’ll be required to:
- Demonstrate you intend to enter for a period of at least 15 days
- Have a declaration signed by the Canadian citizen or permanent resident that confirms your relationship
- Be authorized in writing by Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada to enter Canada to Be with your extended family member
You don’t require an interpretive letter from the Public Health Agency of Canada in order to be exempted from the prohibition to enter Canada as an immediate or extended family member.
There are exemptions that will allow family and friends to enter Canada. These are in limited situations for compassionate reasons to visit a:
- Canadian citizen
- Permanent resident
- Temporary resident-
- Protected person
- A person registered as an Indian under the Indian Act
You’ll only be considered for an exemption to border restrictions for compassionate reasons at Canada’s ports of entry if:
You don’t have symptoms of COVID-19, with the exception of a protected person
Your reason for travel is:
- To be present during the final moments of life for a loved one or provide support to a loved one who has a critical illness or
- To provide care for a person who has a medical reason for needing support or
- To attend a funeral and you have applied for a limited release from mandatory quarantine before arriving in Canada
The exemption from the prohibition to enter Canada for compassionate reasons can apply to anyone, not just extended family of Canadians.
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