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Due to the enactment of a continuing resolution, U.S. federal government operations are re-opening after a 16 day shutdown. Employees are expected to return for work on their next regularly scheduled work day (Thursday, October 17th for most employees), absent other instructions from their employing agencies.

National parks are preparing to reopen but the process may not be complete on Thursday.   Although most should be operational to some extent, you may want to check before heading out to any U.S. national park or agency that they are ready for business.

Unfortunately, this may not be the last time a shutdown occurs.  The continuing resolution only extends the issue into next year and there is a chance this whole scenario could play out again if the U.S. Congress cannot begin to function like a governing body.  If you are making plans to travel to the U.S. in January, you should keep an eye on talk of repeating this debacle.  Potential for a new government shutdown comes around January 15th 2014.



What effect will the U.S. government shutdown have on border crossing operations between the U.S. and Canada?  For many people the impact will be minimal.  Travel into Canada shouldn’t be impacted.   Travel into the U.S. will be impacted in various aspects and the impact will grow the longer the shutdown goes.

U.S. government workers have been divided into 2 classifications – essential and non-essential.  Non-essential workers are being told to stay home and the operations they perform are being suspended.  The U.S. military and the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol are considered essential services so border officers are still on the job.  In general, border crossing delays should be normal.

However, the shutdown will impact some travelers substantially.  In addition, the longer the shutdown lasts the greater the impact – including effects on essential services.    The last U.S. government shutdown lasted 27 days.  We will update this post with any new developments so check back if you are crossing the border or need to deal with customs or border crossing officials.

Travel Services Impacted the U.S. Government Shutdown

Parks and Attractions – All 368 of the U.S. national parks were initially closed during the shutdown. So will all some attractions that receive some federal funding.  Some parks have reopened with state funding but make sure you confirm yours is one of them before heading into the attraction.  The National Park Service has threatened anyone entering any of the national parks or national wildlife refuges with a $5,000 fine and jail time of up to six months.  As of Oct. 7, it is reported that 21 people have been issued citations for entering Grand Canyon National Park.

Tourist areas in the U.S. that are closed include:

  • The Statue of Liberty
  • Yosemite National Park and all other national parks
  • World War II and other memorials, along with about 45 fountains maintained by the National Park Service
  • Alcatraz
  • Smithsonian Institution National Zoo
  • The U.S. Capitol
  • Government-run museums on the National Mall
  • Even some sites overseas are affected – 24 military cemeteries overseas, including the Normandy American Cemetery, are currently closed.

Hunters and Fishermen – Many hunting and fishing locations are on federal lands and will be closed.

U.S. Passports & Entry Visas –  Applications by foreigners for entry visas may go unprocessed.  It appears that U.S. passports and work visas or green card applications will continue to be processed but support staff will be strained by related service shutdowns.  For example, services housed in a building that has been shut down may have difficulty operating.

Websites and Other U.S. Government Information Sources – Many U.S. government websites will go dark or no longer be updated with current information.  For example, the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol website is not being maintained with any current information.  Tweets, Facebook pages, and other information sources are also likely to become out of date during the shutdown.

Guns –  Applications to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives will be delayed including gun permits.

Weather Reporting – Some non-essential NOAA and National Weather Service reporting channels will be shutdown or updated in a limited fashion.

By the way, trip cancellation insurance will not cover any losses caused by a government shutdown.