Leading indicator of cross-border traveller volume, July 2020
July 2020 marked the fourth consecutive full month of restrictions on non-essential travel at the Canada-US border and crossings by automobiles remained flat.
The number of Canadian residents returning from the United States in Canadian-licensed automobiles was nearly 95% below July 2019.
Similarly, automobile arrivals to Canada by US residents were 97% lower at the same land ports compared with a year before.
Travel restrictions continue
Since the enactment of the first 30-day restriction on all non-essential travel across the Canada-US border on March 21, 2020, the closure has been extended for 30 days on four occasions.
The most recent, on July 16, 2020, extended the border closure until August 21 to contain the further spread of COVID-19.
Arrivals from the United States down significantly
In July, US residents took 70,500 trips to Canada in US-licensed automobiles through 111 land ports equipped with the automated Integrated Primary Inspection Line (IPIL), compared with 2.0 million trips in July 2019.
The usual spike of American residents entering Canada by automobile around the United States 4th of July holiday did not occur in 2020. However, the highest daily car arrivals from the United States for the month was on July 2, when 3,022 US-licensed automobiles crossed into Canada.
The lowest daily arrivals by car was on July 19, when 1,436 US residents crossed the border into Canada.
The largest year-over-year percentage decline in US arrivals by automobile was recorded at IPIL ports in Quebec (-97.4%).
Significant decline in the number of Canadians making return trips from the United States
Canadian residents made 144,500 return trips from the United States in Canadian-licensed automobiles through the 111 IPIL ports in July, down 95% from 2.8 million trips in July 2019.
The lowest daily arrivals by car was registered on July 26, when 2,574 Canadian residents returned to Canada from the United States.
The number of returning Canadian residents then climbed later that same week, reaching a high on July 30 when 5,910 Canadians returned to Canada.
The largest year-over-year percentage declines in the number of Canadians in Canadian-licensed automobiles returning from the United States by car were recorded in Yukon (-99.5%), Quebec (-98.1%) and British Columbia (-97.8%).
Note to readers
Data indicating cross-border travel by automobile through 111 land ports equipped with the automated Integrated Primary Inspection Line (IPIL) system are now available by the traveller's state or province of residence and by the province of entry into Canada. A traveller's state or province of residence is based on the licence plate of the automobile used to enter Canada.
The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) uses various data sources to collect information on travellers entering the country. One of the CBSA's sources, the IPIL system, yields data in an electronic format that requires less processing. These data account for the largest share of travellers entering Canada by automobile.
The IPIL data exclude automobile travellers who cross the Canada-US border using a NEXUS card and at ports that are not equipped with the IPIL system. These counts also exclude US travellers entering Canada in automobiles with Canadian licence plates and Canadian travellers returning to the country in automobiles with US licence plates.
As such, the IPIL data only represent a subset of Canadian and US residents entering Canada by automobile. In 2019, for example, the 111 IPIL ports covered by this indicator captured approximately 80% of cross-border automobile traffic between Canada and the United States.
For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300; STATCAN.infostats-infostats.STATCAN@canada.ca) or Media Relations (613-951-4636; STATCAN.mediahotline-ligneinfomedias.STATCAN@canada.ca).