In this article, I will discuss what cross-border measures Americans travelling to Canada need to take in order to have a safe and successful trip to Canada. Just like Canadians travelling to the US, Americans travelling to Canada need to have proper identification when crossing the border. In order to enter Canada, American citizens are now required to show Canadian Border Security officials one of the following documents:
• an American Passport Card
• an Enhanced Driver’s License
• an American Passport
In the case of American citizens under the age of 16, they are allowed instead to present other proof of American citizenship, such as a copy of their birth certificate, a citizenship card, or a naturalization certificate. Different documents may apply for native Indians and for people crossing the border by boat.
Low-risk travellers can be issued NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST or Trusted Traveler Program Cards, which will make crossing the border with your entry into the U.S. and are issued only to pre-approved, low-risk travelers. Once granted, a NEXUS card can be used over land and sea, as well as at airports that have a NEXUS kiosk. A person should always make sure they have proper identification, in order to avoid a
Another issue to stay on top of is waiting times at the border. Inevitably, this varies. From Monday to Thursday, a roughly 10-minute wait at the Canadian Customs inspection point is standard. From Friday to Sunday and on holidays, this can take much longer, from 20 minutes up to a whole hour at peak times. A person should make sure their vehicle is ready for inspection by Canadian customs officers.
Regarding customs, when entering Canada, personal belingings such as clothing, camping and sports gear, and one’s vehicle, may be brought duty-free for personal use only (may not be used by any Canadian resident). The traveller may be asked to fill out a customs declaration card. On returning to the US, no duty will be charged on items of personal baggage, but Customs may request a security deposit on goods which will be returned upon leaving Canada.
Gifts that are valued at less than $60 CDN may be brought into Canada duty-free. Gifts over this value will be charged duty proportionately to the value amount in excess of $60. Alcohol and tobacco may be brought into Canada, provided the traveller is over the legal age that applies to smoking or drinking in the province they are entering, in the following amounts:
• Wine: 1.5 litres
• Liquor: 1.14 litres or
• Beer: 8.5 litres or 24 x 355ml bottles or cans
• Cigarettes: 200
• Cigars: 50
• 200 grams of manufactured tobacco or 200 tobacco sticks
It is not permitted to bring obscene or hate-mongering materials or items that harm the environment. Anyone planning to bring weapons, meat or dairy products, animals or plants, or to import a vehicle should contact the Canadian Border Security Agency and find out if what they are carrying can be legally imported.
What follows is a number of possible reasons for being detained at the border:
• If a person has a Canadian criminal record or a foreign conviction, they may be excluded from entering the country. Some countries share criminal records with Canadian border services, and in any case a Canadian criminal record will show up during a background check. If a person has a Canadian criminal record or a foreign criminal record, they can apply for rehabilitation at a Contact a Canadian embassy or Consulate to be allowed to travel. The nature of the Canadian criminal record or foreign conviction and the time that has passed since the conviction took place will be deciding factors as to whether a person will be allowed to travel.
• If a person travelling with children but both parents are not present. Grandparents or legal guardians travelling with children under the age of 18 must present proof of custody or letters from the child’s parents giving permission for the child to go on the trip, together with proof of the child’s citizenship.
• The traveller is a permanent resident of the USA, but not a citizen. They must present their green card or alien registration card.