Finally after 20 months the land border to the United States and Canada is open as of November 8 2021. Just for reference the US and Canada have the longest land border in the world. With 119 land borders over 8800 km (5525 miles) that is a lot of closer.
I have been crossing the border for well over 30 years and a lot has changed. I remember only needing a driver’s license or birth certificate to cross, not really worrying about what was in your car. Growing up in Niagara with three crossings to New York right there popping over the border was little thought. It’s a little different now.
I personally cannot wait to cross over. I have so many friends over in US as well as some bucket list items that I need to see before my time is done here. I dream of driving the Oregon trail that the pioneers took on their journey westward, standing on the Oregon coast as well as driving the Infamous Route 66. All along that drive hugging my friends I have made through the years and a few I have never hugged before. Knowing the rules before you get to the border is half the battle. A few tips that I have learned along the way.
Let’s get started!
You are required to have a valid passport to enter the US. Now with covid you are also required to have proof of both covid vaccines. They can be any or a combination of approved vaccines. To return to Canada you also have to have a PCR negative test which will cost you anywhere from $100 – $200. There is a fine for not having it. I am so hoping they drop that before I get back.
If you have a pet make sure they have all their papers too. All of their shots have to be up to date. They may ask you for this paperwork when you cross.
Food is a questionable thing. You cannot bring meat, fresh foods or vegetables or dairy into the US. You can bring it back though. I always just empty my fridge before I go over. They have everything I want and I love shopping at Tops.
Alcohol is something you can take over but only as much as you can consume. Marijuana is a definite no-no. Even though it is legal here and in some states you cannot cross with it.
Weapons of any kind should be left at home. If you want to bring one in you would have to go to their website and check out the requirements. In all the years of travelling I have never felt the need to own one so really I have no idea.
The questions and conversation may vary. Usually the first questions are citizenship and where you are going and how long you are going to be away. Have answers to all three of these questions. They do not like it if you have no destination or a return date. Sometimes when I go over I do not really have a plan, but I always give them a destination and a return date. One border guard asked me if I was planning to move to the US. I told him no. He then asked why, it is a beautiful country. I told him I am old and we have free health care. Lol. He told me to have a nice trip.
If it is a yes or no answer just give them that. No stories just yes or no. Only elaborate if they ask. I once told a border official I was going to watch a boat race. He asked me what kind of boats. I had no idea what kind of boats. He seemed a little annoyed or maybe suspicious and asked me why I was going to a boat race when it was obvious I knew nothing about boats. I told him a friend invited me to the Bay City Yacht Club to sit on a boat drinking margaritas and watch a boat race and I said yes. Lol! Again it was have a great trip.
The conversations with the US border officials can be a little fun or a little scary. They do not really need a reason to turn you around. They have the power to absolutely wreck your day. They can pull you in for a second review which is both time consuming and sometimes heart pounding even if you have nothing to hide. Sometimes a pre-inspection will be done at the booth. Make sure your doors are unlocked and there is nothing that can fall out when they open the doors. My back doors on my Roadtrek has styrofoam inserts in the windows. The one on the passenger side will fall out if you open the door without removing it first. I always remove it before I get there. I also make sure they can freely see everything with a quick glance. My 1969 Econoline is a little different as if it is a younger guard sometimes I have to instruct them on how to open the second barn doors. Lol! If it is a older guard the questions are mostly about the van.
Never get out of your vehicle at the booth unless instructed. I have only been instructed to get out twice. Once to show a border guard how to open the second barn door at the back of the 69 and once because he told me my van was purple and it was blue. I had just painted my 1974 Econoline (the van before I had my 69) a beautiful blue with a pearl clear coat. It was a beautiful color that waved colors in the sun and the shadows. My ex-husband and I were going to van show in Michigan I believe and pulled up to the booth. When the border guard asked where we were going I told him to a custom van show. To show your pretty purple van he said? Ummm it’s blue I replied! I had just paid a lot of money to paint it blue. Nope he said it’s purple. I giggled and said not when we left. He then told me to get out and look. Under the amber lights of the booth the pearl had turned the whole van purple. Hahaha! OMG! That is awesome. He then made me say he was right because his wife never would and we were free to go.
Sometimes they will ask the same question over and over. Like in the case of the border guard going across the Bluewater Bridge in Sarnia Ontario. She had asked if I had any food. I told her no. She then asked the same question two more times throughout the conversation. Each time my answer was no. She then asked what I was going to eat. I did not quite understand since we both knew there were grocery stores in the states. I told her first would be Cracker Barrel for Maple pancakes. Mmmmm Cracker Barrel is one of my favorites. A little country store to shop in before and after a good down home country meal. It will be my first stop this time too. Lol!
Crossing the border back and forth into the US and Canada can be a little scary but when you have the knowledge of some of the questions they will ask and the requirements, it makes it so much easier and enjoyable. The US has some beautiful country and some beautiful people and I hope I can see as much of it as I have of Canada. Knowing what I am driving into to enter certainly makes my trip more enjoyable and I hope by sharing my knowledge with you it helps you with yours.
Please make sure you check out the Canadian Border Services website to know the rules to get back in. There are spending and alcohol limits on what you can bring back. You can be charged duty on anything over the set amount.
Have a wonderful trip.
Make sure you check in next week when I am blogging from the otherside! 🙂 Yea!!!!