Cross Border Travel Tips

by admin on May 13, 2013


There are many reasons for Canadians to visit the US, including to visit friends or family and to take a vacation. While the two countries continue to share a friendly relationship, making travel between the two relatively easy, there are some things Canadians planning a trip to the US should keep in mind.

Cross Border Travel Tips

Tips for crossing the US border

Being prepared will help alleviate any problems or delays for Canadians trying to visit the United States.

  • Documentation – As of 2009, Canadians can no longer cross the border with the US by providing only a birth certificate and driver’s license. Adult Canadians will now need to present a passport, an enhanced driver’s license or a NEXUS/FAST card. Canadian children 15 or younger will be required to show one of the documents required of an adult, a Canadian birth certificate or a certificate of Canadian citizenship. For Canadians engaging in typical business or leisure trips to the US, no advance paperwork is required. Border agents often are on the lookout for stolen cars or those that are being driven back to Canada and trying to avoid duty payments. Be sure to have documents showing ownership of the vehicle if driving across the border either way.
  • Wait times – Travelers should expect wait times of at least 30 minutes at the border crossing. During busy travel times, such as holidays, the wait can be even longer. It is possible to check border wait times online before leaving.
  • Children – Due to concerns regarding child abductions, border officials may require additional information from those Canadian citizens who are traveling with children if both parents are not present. Having the correct documents readily available can help reduce difficulties.
  • Food – Travelers are not permitted to bring meat, fruits, vegetables, plants, soil or products made from plant or animal materials into the US in their baggage.
  • Duty-free rules – For those who want to cross the border and do some shopping, the duty-free regulations have changed some. When staying 24 hours or more, the new exemption rate is up to $200. For those staying 48 hours or more, the duty-free exemption has now doubled to $800. Limits for stays of less than 24 hours remain at $0, while the limit for seven days or more has stayed at $800.
  • Security checks – Border authorities may perform additional checks when certain electronic equipment is found, such as laptop computers, digital cameras and portable media players. This can also prolong the time to check through customs.
  • Additional information – There are a number of additional pieces of information border agents may request, such as the address where the traveler will be staying in the US and proof that the trip is for a legitimate reason.

Delays at the U.S. border cannot be completely avoided, but with the proper preparation and documentation at hand the delays can be reduced. Gone are the days when crossing only required a driver’s license, but the process is still fairly simple, especially for those who know what they need. Picking the right time for a visit may be the best way to avoid a lengthy crossing delay.

About the Author: Claire Atkinson writes for a Canadian financial website that has more information on new rules regarding cross border travel.

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