EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – U.S. authorities beginning this Saturday will require proof of COVID-19 vaccination from all foreign nationals coming across ports of entry from Mexico or Canada.

Previously, only non-essential travelers were subject to this requirement. Truckers, businesspeople, students and other essential travelers were often exempt. The Department of Homeland Security says the change brings border land travel closer in line with international flight policies and is being done to protect the health of American communities during the pandemic.

Returning American citizens and lawful permanent residents of the United States will remain exempt from the border land travel proof-of-vaccination mandate.

“Starting on January 22, 2022, the Department of Homeland Security will require those non-U.S. individuals entering the United States via land ports of entry or ferry terminals along our Northern and Southern borders be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and be prepared to show related proof of vaccination,” said DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. “These updated travel requirements reflect the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to protecting public health while safely facilitating the cross-border trade and travel that is critical to our economy.”

To speed up the process and not unnecessarily hold up commuters, U.S. authorities will accept a verbal declaration of compliance from land travelers. However, travelers must carry proof of full COVID-19 vaccination status and be ready to present it to U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials promptly upon request.

COVID-19 testing is not yet required for entry via a land port of entry or ferry terminal.

Although these new vaccination requirements do not apply to U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, or U.S. nationals, all travelers are required to present a Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative compliant identity document when re-entering the United States. These include a U.S. passport, passport card, enhanced driver’s license, or Trusted Traveler Program card, among others.

Foreigners who attempt to enter the U.S. without valid immigration documents are subject to immediate expulsion consistent with the Title 42 public health rule, DHS said.