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Customs and Border Protection issues guidance for border reopening

Posted at 6:02 AM, Nov 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-03 15:01:01-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — On Nov. 8, the U.S.-Mexico border will once again open for all non-essential travelers, and Customs and Border Protection officials say they're ready.

On Tuesday, CBP officials outlined the requirements for anyone hoping to come in through the ports of entry.

“Travelers should be prepared for the correct information and documentation to improve and expedite their travel experience,” said Matthew Davies, the CBP Executive Director for Admissibility and Passenger Programs.

Aside from having a valid passport or visa, travelers need to have their vaccine proof ready as they approach the officers at the booth.

“During the inspection, travels will verbally attest to their travel intent and COVID-19 vaccination status,” Davies explained during a virtual call with reporters across the country.

CBP said after a verbal confirmation of vaccine status, the officer can ask for the vaccine proof. If it's in another language, the officers will translate it.

“Not everyone is going to be asked for proof of vaccination but you will be required to have it with you during the time of crossing," said Moises Castillo, officer in charge of the San Ysidro Port of Entry. "It’s a case-by-case basis depending on the inspection.”

The U.S. is accepting any vaccine authorized by the World Health Organization and they will accept a physical or digital vaccine card. Children under the age of 18 are exempt from the requirements and can enter the country, as long as they are traveling with a fully vaccinated adult.

Jason Wells, San Ysidro's Chamber of Commerce executive director, says the guidance was welcome news, but hopes wait times won’t be too long.

“A 15-30 minute max wait time for pedestrians during this holiday season, we can actually stabilize our businesses by January,” says Wells.

Border Patrol Officers say extra staffing has also been reassigned to help with the reopening on Monday to help travelers navigate through the new requirements and help move traffic through the checkpoints. But, they add it will be important to factor border wait times in your commute.

"We ask that travelers be patient with our officers and assist us with speeding up the process," Castillo said.

The vaccine requirements don’t apply to U.S. citizens or permanent residents.