Planning starts for 2026 World Cup cross-border tourism needs

Is it too early to think about the impact of the 2026 FIFA World Cup on Whatcom County and lower mainland British Columbia? 

If you’re an individual retailer whose business is touched by tourism, maybe. But if you’re responsible for ensuring smooth border crossings to get visitors to the games and businesses, the match clock has started ticking.

For those not immersed in sport, international football’s championship competition —  the FIFA World Cup — is coming to 16 cities including Vancouver, British Columbia, and Seattle, with the 48-team soccer tournament culminating in a July 19, 2026 final. Games are expected to begin in the host countries of Canada, the United States and Mexico in early June 2026. 

“Many of these travelers may not be fully informed about border-crossing requirements in both directions, which may ‘clog up the works’ for our already limited capacity to process travelers,” said Laurie Trautman, director of the Border Policy Research Institute at Western Washington University and a speaker at the meeting. “Have you ever been pulled into secondary (screening) at Peace Arch on a summer weekend?”