NW Angle: New Relaxed Requirements on Return Travel
Removal of pre arrival testing from the NW Angle. We are grateful land travel through the 4o miles of Canada up to Minnesota’s Northwest Angle is now possible. We are also grateful new OIC (Orders In Council) orders came out and explains officially as of November 21, 2021, travelers up to the NW Angle do not have to have a new COVID test to travel from the Angle back to the U.S.
This information was shared verbally up until now, but until it comes out in actual orders, it often makes travelers a bit uneasy. Now, rest assured, you simply have to get your credentials for entering Canada and you will be good to go for this winter’s ice fishing and snowmobiling (assuming you trailer your sleds up and not take the lake) when traveling by land up to Minnesota’s NW Angle.
The link provides the information about the removal of pre arrival testing when leaving the Northwest Angle. Refer to Table 2, #18. Orders In Council – Search (canada.ca)
What is needed to enter Canada from the U.S. by land. There are some criteria travelers must have in order before traveling however. First, a traveler must download the ArriveCan App. Second, a traveler must be double vaccinated and upload their vaccination card into the app. Finally, a traveler must have a PCR or molecular COVID test showing a negative test result within the past 72 hours of taking the test.
With a fun season of ice fishing and snowmobiling on the horizon, the testing options listed below become more handy than ever. Ideally, a traveler would get a PCR or Molecular COVID test near their home before they cross the border. Usually, this takes 27-36 hours to get results. This cuts it close and makes some nervous. Rest assured, if for some reason test results were not received on your smartphone in time or even while you are traveling up, there are a couple of rapid test options near the border. These solutions are super easy and although there is a fee, the convenience and opportunity to turn in the receipt to your insurance company for possible reimbursement make them attractive.
Thankfully, there are options available as long as you know where to find them. Here are a few…
PCR COVID Test in 30 minutes, Thrifty White, Baudette, MN. How convenient. For $100 (which you can turn your receipt into insurance for a possible reimbursement), you can have a result in 25 minutes. This testing option provides a PCR test result which satisfies the Canadian qualification for entering the country.
Thrifty White is open for testing Monday – Friday from 9am – 4pm.
Quick Results, LLC in Warroad, MN. This is a new private testing company that was created out of need. It has grown to six different locations throughout Minnesota including Warroad, Bemidji, Becker, Brainerd, St. Cloud and International Falls. If you are near or traveling through one of these locations, this could work out great.
With test results less than 30 minutes for a COVID PCR test that works to travel through Canada, this is an easy solution. The tests are $125 but you will receive an itemized receipt that most are turning into their insurance companies for reimbursement. The testing facilities are open 7 days a week.
Amazon. Yep, this isn’t a typo. Amazon offers COVID test that meets the requirements for Canada. This is a PCR test that you order through Amazon to your home. It is a nasal test with no supervision, such as a Zoom call, necessary. Includes prepaid UPS next-day shipping to lab at no additional cost. Drop off your sample at UPS within 24 hours from collection. Receive results within 24 hours of your sample arriving at the lab.
MN Department of Health Walk In Testing. MDH has many walk in testing options available throughout the state of Minnesota. Both residents and non residents are allowed to use walk in testing locations. You will be asked for your insurance info and but if insurance does not cover it, there is still no cost to you. These are normally a saliva test and results are received 24 – 48 hours after you take the test. This can make things a bit tight with a 72 hour window but certainly doable.
MN Department of Health No Cost Test at Home Program. Minnesota and various other states offer no cost COVID test at home options. Basically, you order a COVID test kit and do a Zoom call with someone who oversees your saliva testing process. Results are emailed typically in 48 hours or less. The brand name of this test is Vault and there is a question when signing up that asks if you are using this test for travel. If you reply yes, the cost is $119. If you reply no, the test is at no cost.
Driving back through Canada on your return trip. As mentioned earlier, there is no requirement for a new COVID test when leaving the NW Angle to travel south back to the U.S. Travelers still need to check by contacting CBSA (Canada Border Services Agency) as they always had to do. This can be done at Jim’s Corner or by calling the 1-888-CAN-PASS number and updating your ArriveCan App as CBSA will ask for that info.
Ice anglers wanting to ice fish in Canada waters. Most ice fishing up at the NW Angle through resorts takes place on the Minnesota side of the border. There are some, however, that like to venture over into Ontario waters.
During the open water season, as long as you don’t touch land, a dock, anchor up or exchange goods or services, you do not have to report in to CBSA for your trip. During the winter season with ice is entirely different. By definition, ice = land. This means ice anglers fishing Ontario waters need to check in just like they are entering Canada via land. It will be the same process as if crossing on the road and using the TRC phone. Travelers will require to be double vaccinated, submit their trip on ArriveCAN (will probably have to use Rainy River or Fort Frances as the port of entry) as it requires a Canadian Port of Entry to be listed. Travelers who are snowmobiling into Canada from the U.S. would follow the same procedure of contacting the TRC for authorization.
No Live Bait, dead bait or frozen bait allowed from the U.S. into Canada. October, 2020, CFIA (Canada Food Inspection Agency) made changes to bait being able to be brought across the border. In a nutshell, night crawlers in a non-soil bedding, frozen or dead minnows and other dead bait used to be allowed. That is no longer the case.
Prevention of the spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS) and not having to put border agents in a position of identifying varying kinds of bait were cited as the reasons. This fall, anglers fishing the open water of Ontario reported excellent fishing using a variety of plastics. Many plastics are available that are extremely effective in today’s fishing world. Various size, shapes, action, colors, and scents are available and have worked very well. If you would like to review the official language for no bait across the border, here are a couple of links. First, Be aware and declare. Second, Bait for recreational fishing.
Travel to the Angle and avoid the border. There are three viable ways to travel up to the NW Angle and avoid the border all together.
- Snowmobile up. There a couple of different snowmobile trails that are groomed and staked that keep you in Minnesota by going across Lake of the Woods.
- Lake of the Woods Passenger Service. This is a service that transports you up to your favorite NW Angle resort via bombardier across Lake of the Woods. Sit back and enjoy the scenery!
- Lake Country Air. This fly in service will fly from a few different locations on the south end of Lake of the Woods across the lake up to the NW Angle. The plane lands on the ice runway. This 15 minute flight is scenic, easy and quick.
The NW Angle is an absolute premier ice fishing and snowmobiling destination. In today’s age of COVID, it might take a bit more effort to get there, but for most, it is well worth the effort!