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Leading indicator of cross-border traveller volume, November 2020

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Released: 2020-12-10

Highlights

The number of American residents and returning Canadians crossing the border from the United States by automobile remained low in November as restrictions on non-essential travel continued throughout the month.

In November, 53,300 US travellers entered Canada by automobile through land ports with electronic sensors, down 93.7% compared with November 2019.

Similarly, the number of Canadians returning from the United States by automobile through these ports dropped 92.5% year over year to 136,900 in November.

Travel restrictions continue

Restrictions on non-essential travel across the Canada–US border, which initially took effect in March, have been renewed until at least December 21, 2020.

Arrivals from the United States remain low

In November, US residents made 53,300 trips to Canada in US-licensed automobiles through 111 land ports equipped with the automated Integrated Primary Inspection Line (IPIL), down 93.7% from the 846,400 trips taken in November 2019.

The largest year-over-year percentage declines were recorded at IPIL ports in Yukon (-95.6%), Quebec (-95.4%) and Ontario (-94.8%).

In 2019, an upsurge in crossings occurred in the three days preceding the US Thanksgiving holiday (November 28) when over 150,000 US residents crossed into Canada. No such upsurge occurred this year. November 13 was the busiest day, with just under 2,300 US residents crossing the border.

Infographic 1  Thumbnail for Infographic 1: US residents entering Canada in US-licensed automobiles, November 2019 and November 2020
US residents entering Canada in US-licensed automobiles, November 2019 and November 2020

The number of returning Canadians continues to be flat

In November, 92.5% fewer Canadian residents returned from the United States in Canadian-licensed automobiles via 111 IPIL ports compared with November 2019. The number of returning Canadians fell to 136,900 in November from 1.8 million in November 2019.

Yukon (-97.4%), British Columbia (-97.2%) and Manitoba (-95.7%) recorded the largest year-over-year percentage declines in the number of returning Canadians.

In 2019, during the three days coinciding with the Remembrance Day weekend, more than a quarter million Canadian residents returned from the United States. This year, no such movement occurred around any weekend because of the restrictions on non-essential travel.

Infographic 2  Thumbnail for Infographic 2: Canadian residents returning from the United States in Canadian-licensed automobiles, November 2019 and November 2020
Canadian residents returning from the United States in Canadian-licensed automobiles, November 2019 and November 2020



  Note to readers

Counts of cross-border travel by automobile through 111 land ports equipped with the Integrated Primary Inspection Line (IPIL) system are available by the traveller's state or province of residence and by the province of entry into Canada, 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. The IPIL system accounts 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 represent only 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.

Contact information

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).

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