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Borders:

Waits at the borders are currently lengthy due to current world conditions. The Aldergrove crossing is closed to truck traffic. It is not closed to regular vehicles & is probably a good choice to avoid congestion. Expect to spend up to a couple of hours to cross the border at times.

Note: You now require a passport or birth certificate plus picture ID to cross the border in either direction. On Jan 1, 2008 you will require a passport to re-enter the United States.

 

There are 4 main border crossings in the Vancouver area, Douglas, Pacific, Aldergrove and Sumas. During the week you can expect to be delayed at the border between 5 and 30 minutes. On weekends this can increase to one hour and even longer on holiday weekends. If you are not a Canadian or American citizen you will be required to report to immigration, which means even further delays. At the Douglas crossing, you will notice a lane (in both directions), where cars seem to be crossing without stopping. This lane is for holders of NEXUS stickers, a system whereby you are able to cross freely, only stopping if you have goods to declare. Do not try to use these lanes if you do not have one of these permits, you will be in big trouble. (see link below for application)

On another note, there is a big crackdown at the US border because of the flow of high grade Marijuana from BC into the United States. Even the discovery of a single seed could cause confiscation of your vehicle or could prevent you from ever entering the US again. Check out any rental car before crossing the border, to make sure the previous user has not left a roach lying around or something. Rental companies usually vacuum out cars first anyway, but it doesn't hurt to check.

Americans often need no more documentation than a drivers license, although a birth certificate may well be asked for. Make sure you have some sort of photo ID as well. Quite frequently, no documentation at all is required. If you look "foreign" (i.e. Hispanic, East Indian or Asian origin), you are more likely to be asked for documentation. You may be asked to produce your green card to prove you are a permanent US Resident. A passport is obviously the best ID to have, but it is not required. Officially, you can be required to provide proof of citizenship. Documentation requirements are more strict when you fly in, than when you drive in.

Do not try to bring undeclared firearms into Canada:

Handguns are illegal in Canada unless you are attending a recognized shooting competition, and a certificate from a Canadian Police Agency is required. Unlike the United States, the right to bear arms is not a part of the Canadian Constitution, and most of us like it that way. We feel it is one of reasons our rate of violence is much lower than that below the border. There are facilities in Blaine, Washington where you can store guns. Any attempt to smuggle a firearm into Canada will result in confiscation of the weapon and you could have your vehicle seized as well, so don't do it. Sporting guns, such as hunting rifles and shotguns are permitted, but they must be declared at the border and you will have to explain what you intend to do with them and obtain a temporary permit. Automatic weapons are prohibited. Here is the link to the government regulations concerning visitors bringing firearms into Canada: http://www.cfc-cafc.gc.ca/factsheets/visitin_e.asp

Alcohol:

You are permitted to bring 1 litre of booze per Adult into Canada with you. They tend to be slightly more lax if you are, say, in an RV and have a couple of bottles of wine and a few beers in your fridge. They are more concerned with returning Canadians exceeding their limit.

Importation of Pets:

This is not a big hassle from the United States. It can be a little more involved from elsewhere. Please note that heartworm is now a problem in dogs in some areas of BC. It is a good idea to have your dog given preventative treatment from this nasty disease before coming. Please look at the links in the table at the bottom of the page for regulations concerning importing your pet.

Duty Free:

Visitors to Canada may bring in free of duties a maximum of 40 oz. (1.14 litres) of liquor or wine or 24 x 12 oz. (355ml) bottles or cans of beer or ale (8.5 litres), up to 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars or cigarillos and 2.2 lbs. (1 kg.) of tobacco. Visitors importing such items must be over 18 years of age.

GST:

 Canada has a tax known as the Goods & Services Tax. Visitors are entitled to some rebate of this when they leave the country. Save your receipts. Details of this tax and the rebate can be found in my GST section.

Douglas Crossing:

This is the main crossing point at Blaine Washington/White Rock BC. If you stay on Interstate 5 (I-5) Northbound or Hwy 99 Southbound, this is the crossing you will hit. It also features the longest delays and line-ups. If you are travelling Northbound and want to purchase any Duty Free, you will be re-directed to the Pacific Crossing about 5 km Inland. This crossing is especially busy Northbound on weekends because of this. If you are familiar with the Crosby, Stills and Nash song "Immigration Man" from the 70's, you may be interested to know they wrote it after being hassled at this crossing.

 

Douglas Border Crossing (The sign says "Children of a Common Mother")

Pacific Crossing:

Also known as the Truck Crossing, as all large trucks must use this one. It is located just east of the Douglas Crossing. On the Canadian side, this corresponds to 176th St. Tends to be less crowded than Douglas on weekdays, but can be busier on weekends since you have to use this one if you buy duty free alcohol, heading north into Canada. Here is a link to a Web Cam on the Canadian side of this crossing. http://www.aacb.com/cams/bclive.htm

Aldergrove Crossing:

This small border crossing is not too well known except to locals. It crosses the border about 50 km east of the main Douglas Crossing. It is a good choice on weekends especially the holiday ones. To get there northbound, exit just north of Bellingham on Guide Meridian (exit 256 off Interstate 5) and follow Hwy 539 to the border. On the Canadian side, this becomes 264th St. You can follow this all the way to Hwy 1 and then into Vancouver. This border crossing does have a duty free, by the way. By the way, it is only open between 8AM and Midnight. Here is a link to a Web Cam on the Canadian side of this crossing. http://www.aacb.com/cams/bclive.htm

Sumas (Huntington) Crossing:

This crossing is located about 100 km east of Douglas. I would only use this one if you are intending on heading straight to the BC Interior, bypassing Vancouver, or if you are returning to the US from the BC Interior. It is accessed from Exit 255 off Interstate 5 just north of Bellingham. This becomes Highway 542. Take Highway 9 at Nugents Corner to get to the Border. You can also access Highway 9 from Highway 20 (The Spectacular North Cascades Highway) if you are coming from eastern Washington State. The junction is just east of Burlington. On the Canadian side you are only 3 km from the main Hwy 1 Freeway. Here is a link to a Web Cam on the Canadian side of this crossing. http://www.aacb.com/cams/bclive.htm

Pt. Roberts:

This one is hardly worth mentioning. It is located south of Tsawwassen. The Section of the US it accesses is a Peninsular and residents have to pass through Canada to get to other parts of the US. Most residents are actually Canadian. The crossing is quite relaxed, since there is no way into the Continental US, without crossing back into Canada anyway.

Customs Links
NEXUS Sticker Applications Online form
Importing a vehicle into Canada Info on importing a car into Canada
Importation of Animals Regulations for bringing Pets into Canada
Tips for Travelers to Canada Oriented to U.S. Visitors
Health Information about Canada Another page also oriented to U.S. visitors
Travel Away: Canada-US Customs Rules Basic Customs Regulations
Bringing Firearms into Canada Want to bring your Gun?

 

 

             
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