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Do COVID-19 border restrictions allow a Canadian enter the U.S. to sell property?

Last Updated Jun 29, 2020 at 9:18 am PDT

FILE -- U.S. Customs officers stand beside a sign saying that the U.S. border is closed at the U.S./Canada border in Lansdowne, Ont., on March 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Lars Hagberg
Summary

Selling property is not on the U.S. government's list of essential reasons for travel

U.S.-Canada border restrictions extended until at least July 21

U.S. allows Canadians to fly into the country despite land-border restrictions

NEWS 1130 is working hard to get you the information you need about the COVID-19 pandemic.

When you have questions, NEWS 1130 Gets Answers.

Question:

This question came from a couple different people: I’m selling my property in the U.S. Can I cross the border to sign papers and finalize the sale?

Answer:

The U.S.-Canada land border remains closed to non-essential travel and selling property is not on the list of scenarios the U.S. government considers essential.

But a spokesperson for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection said there are some grey areas in the restrictions and Canadians who think they have a good reason to cross the border can make their case to a border officer, who makes the final decision.

“The officer’s decision would be based on the facts and circumstances known to the officer at the time of inspection,” Jason Givens told NEWS 1130.

The border restrictions introduced in March are set to remain in place until at least July 21, but could be extended.

“This is an important decision that will keep people in both of our countries safe,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said when announcing the latest extension of the partial border closure.

Essential workers, transportation of food and other goods, and people requiring health care have been exempt from the restrictions. The two countries have also recently relaxed the rules to allow some family members to reunite.

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix has been dead set against reopening the land crossings due to rising case numbers in states close to B.C. and along the west coast.

“In Washington, in Oregon, in California, in Arizona, in Nevada –states where there are many reciprocal relationships, or where people from B.C. go frequently— there are significant upticks, actual upticks in the month of June,” he said earlier this month.

But there is what some have called a “loophole” in the border restrictions. 

Canadians unable to cross the land border can still enter the U.S. by plane.

While Canada’s restrictions apply to all ports of entry, the American rules apply only to the land border.

“It would be like having the front door of your house locked, but the back door wide open,” said Len Saunders, an immigration lawyer based in Blaine, Washington.

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With files from Hana Mae Nassar and Martin MacMahon