The Buffalo-Shuffle

How to walk across the Canadian border, complying with the rules and simply going home!

Yes, was rather simple doing the “buffalo-shuffle”! These rules would apply for any crossing in Canada.

Why did I walk across instead of a rental car? I couldn’t find a rental car agency that would allow drop off in Canada. Many agencies no longer allow cross border one way rentals as the border is essentially closed and getting the cars back to the US isn’t easy. I will write more on this topic.

Step by step

Before Departure

  • Take a PCR test within 72 hours of your arrival time at the border. Pay attention to the time, as when I arrived the immigration officer carefully scrutinized the report (on my phone). I got my test free in Florida courtesy of Miami-Dade county. Be sure to check around as there is no need to spend money on this test. Check out our page on testing
  • Download & complete the ArriveCan app or the website to provide your mandatory information, such as crossing location, quarantine plan. Eliminates time in Immigration.
  • Register for completing your PCR Covid-19 test. You will complete a test after leaving immigration, then another 10 days later. It’s only a nasal test, not a brain scrape!
  • Consider any state regulations upon entry.
  • Choose a border crossing that isn’t busy, if possible and close to a US airport you can arrive. I crossed at the Rainbow Bridge in Niagara Falls after flying into Buffalo.

Upon Arrival

  • Take a taxi or Uber to that location from the airport. Note Uber wouldn’t allow my drop off location to be the bridge, so I chose One Niagara Welcome Center (360 Rainbow Blvd, Niagara Falls, NY)
  • At immigration you will need to show your PCR test results in paper or on your smart device. You will likely be asked to confirm your quarantine plan & how you will get food among other questions.
  • You will be directed to now self-administer, under supervision, your first Covid-19 test.
  • Surprisingly, I was free to go. No one asked how I was getting home or anything. I was lucky to have a friend pick me up but I had a backup plan of using a car service to get home. They would have picked me up at a local Niagara Falls hotel. The government requires you do not take public transit to return home, but they didn’t ask.

Considerations before leaving Canada

If you are going to the US, you need a Covid-19 test PCR or antigen within 72 hours of arrival at the border. I chose antigen blood test and much cheaper than the PCR test. It’s available at most labs, including Dynacare or Lifelabs. I went to Dynacare and they required a doctor’s requisition, even though it’s not cover by OHIP at a cost of $70 vs. $199 for a PCR test at Shopper’s Drug Mart.

UPDATE: Pearson Airport is now offering free antigen tests. You can register upto 4 hours in advance of your departure or go in advance.

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