Page 1 of 1

US/Canadian border crossing issues

Posted: Wed Oct 15, 2014 12:25 pm
by Bob Lowe
Is anyone aware of any issues with crossing the US/Canadian border, traveling in either direction, by air,on land, or by boat?

Posted: Wed Oct 15, 2014 6:47 pm
by Sangraal
No issues but we use the Nexus system which fast tracks the process. I cross in the mid west at Detroit / Winsor or Buffalo.

Posted: Wed Oct 15, 2014 7:50 pm
by GB42-267
I spend a lot of time in Canada for work and cross frequently, no issues as long as you possess a valid passport or an enhanced DL.
I suggest to check up on the current custom regulations since they changes frequently. If you bring nothing but personal effects, it shouldn't be any issues.

Posted: Wed Oct 15, 2014 10:19 pm
by Bob Lowe
Thanks for the information & updates! :)

Posted: Thu Oct 16, 2014 9:47 am
by Noel
We checked in to Canada at Poets Cove on Sept 7. The only question they had for me was, they wanted the San Francisco 49er vs. Dallas Cowboys score and asked why I wasn't watching the game, then suggested I get back to it. Fortunately I knew the score.

Crossing into the USA

Posted: Fri Oct 17, 2014 8:44 pm
by dblades
We regular travel across Haro Strait to Roche Harbour, Washington. In our many travels we've always been treated with respect and courtesy.

A cute related story....

Posted: Fri Oct 17, 2014 8:49 pm
by dblades
We travel to Roche Harbour with our three oldest grandchildren. On our first trip there with them, the youngest was 3 years old. Once docked, I helped him onto the dock and said, "Well, Noam, welcome to the United States!" He looked around and said, seriously, "It's not very big...and it doesn't have roads!" He then turned to his Grandmother and, in a surprised voice, whispered, "Hey, they're all speaking English"

Makes you wonder what he was imagining! :)

Posted: Fri Oct 17, 2014 10:33 pm
by Don Prior

I Regularly go between Oak Harbor and Vancouver, BC by car with a nexus pass. I barely stop at the border. I have never had any problems but you do have to keep all your supporting documents up to date, eg driver's license, passport, etc.

In conjunction with my Nexus card I have a "BR" number. This is obtained at a customs/border patrol office and is based on your Nexus card. The BR number (Boaters Registration No.) allows you to phone in before arriving into USA or into Canada for a clearance number which means you do not have to stop or even go to a customs port going either way. The only thing negative about it is that everyone on board must have a BR number or you have to go back to the normal customs check in. The number is for the individual, not the boat.

It means that returning to USA from Sidney on July 4th weekend you do not have to get into the Roche Harbor Custom's Dance. You can phone in and then proceed to your home port. The same going into Canada. When going to Canada by boat I usually phone in just after leaving Anacortes giving them an estimated ETA in Sidney and then just go to my assigned slip in Sidney.

I am sure I am being checked somehow but then we all are anyway.

Fair winds.

GB 42-139

Posted: Fri Oct 17, 2014 11:51 pm
by JoMeKe
My experience mirrors Don's, with one exception, perhaps because he is Canadian and I am not—we still have to touch down at a customs dock in Canada when going north and wait 15 minutes. If no officer shows, and they never have, we are free to go along our way. Returning to the US, it is just as Don stated—we phone in as we cross the boundary, provide all our info and are welcomed back home with no further check-in requirements. Always courteous and polite both ways.

I will say that it helps to make sure you have a good cell signal and idle there during the process so as not to loose that signal. If the call fails, you have to start all over again.

Posted: Sat Oct 18, 2014 8:18 am
by Bob Lowe
So it appears not much has changed since we cruised back and forth between Oak Harbor and the BC waters and beyond. That's good to hear.

We haven't been in the area for a while and I was not clear on what changes were in force, if any.

I want to thank each and every one that has provided input on their experiences. It helps us to understand things much better now. :)

Re: US/Canadian border crossing issues

Posted: Sat Oct 18, 2014 6:17 pm
by Marin Faure
Bob Lowe wrote:Is anyone aware of any issues with crossing the US/Canadian border, traveling in either direction, by air,on land, or by boat?

In our experience nothing has changed much in the sixteen years we've been running our boat back and forth across the border, and the last 35 years I've been driving across the border. By road, it can take a lot longer these days partly because of the vastly increased numbers of vehicles making the crossing, particularly cars and trucks from BC, and partly because of the generally more thorough questioning that can take place depending on what they're looking for on a particular day.

For phone clearances we used to use a CanPass for entering Canada and an ID number for entering the US. After these programs expired, we've so far not bothered to go through the Nexus pass process, mainly because we've usually had guests with us on the boat and a Nexus pass is issued to the individual, not the boat. So we would have had to go through a POE even if we'd had Nexus passes.

As always, the Canadian customs folks are generally friendlier and quicker. Perhaps this has been because we've been in "the system" for so many years.

The US customs folks are reasonably efficient, but they seem to be more nit-picky the last few years, particularly with vehicle traffic. For example, they made a big deal out of, and confiscated, our dog's special food when we returned from Canada (by car) because it wasn't in its original packaging. They did offer to let us feed the dog before they destroyed the food, though.....

The only specific policy change I've observed over all the years we've been entering Canada by boat, vehicle, and floatplane (our own, not commercial) is that taking a firearm into Canada now requires a form to be filled out and presented at the border. This is for ANY firearm be it a rifle or shotgun. We keep forms on the boat and at home. Handguns are not permitted. Many years ago you could carry a handgun though Canada (say coming from Alaska to Washington via the Alcan), but the gun would be sealed in a heavy plastic bag on entering Canada and could only be removed from the bag by Canadian customs cutting the seal when you left Canada. I don't believe you can even do this anymore.

Most vessel clearances into Canada, even at the POEs we've used, is by phone. In the case of Bedwell on South Pender, the phone bank is outside the customs office at the head of the dock.

You need a valid passport or enhanced drivers license. In the case of a boat, they'll want either the documentation or the state registration number. And it might be a good idea to review the what-and-how-much list of things you can't bring in going in either direction as these change from time to time.

But I think, Bob, that you'll find that other than some of the wait times, the clearance process in either direction will be little or no different than when you last made the crossing.

Posted: Sun Oct 19, 2014 9:27 pm
by Bob Lowe
Thanks for that good information, Marin. Very helpful, as usual. It's also good to know that the consensus is that very little has changed. Except you have me scratching my head over our TSA fellows offering to let your dog eat unlabeled dog food they were going to confiscate, probably even if your dog ate it. They must be hiring the cream of the crop....or something. Maybe they were hungry. :)

Posted: Mon Oct 20, 2014 1:00 pm
by GB42-267
you have me scratching my head over our TSA fellows offering to let your dog eat unlabeled dog food they were going to confiscate, probably even if your dog ate it. They must be hiring the cream of the crop....or something.

It's the same logic as letting you drink your bottled water at the screening station and not letting you bring the remaining water past the screening. It's safe in your belly, but not in the bottle. Even if you drank it all but a few oz. in front of everybody: :?