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Author Topic: Crossing the U.S. Border in an RV  (Read 26862 times)

katievan

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Crossing the U.S. Border in an RV
« on: January 15, 2010, 07:59:25 PM »
Hi again,...another first timers question.  We have rented RV's in Canada but this time will rent in Niagara Falls, Ont then cross the border to tour in the States, then back across the border again.   We do have permission and paperwork to take the rented RV into the States.
But I was just wondering....do RV's get any different scrutiny or search or anything?    Just want to be prepared. 
Thanks.
Katie

Marsha/CA

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Re: Crossing the U.S. Border in an RV
« Reply #1 on: January 16, 2010, 01:11:43 AM »
Hi Katie,

I do think the border agents look a little more closely at a motor home than a car.

We've crossed the Canadian border from the US a few times.  It's more difficult coming into the States that going into Canada. 

WE (US) are more strict regarding certain food stuffs.  What has worked really well for us, when we are in Canada, is to call the Point of Entry of the US where we plan to cross the border to get the list of restrictions.  The number one thing you'll need to do is make sure you don't bring certain foods into the US.  That restriction changes daily it seems.  So we call, get the list of foods that are not permitted into the States and begin to "clean the fridge".  You'll also need current health papers for any animals you bring across and a passport. 

Although we felt we didn't get a lot of info from web sites, if you goggle "entering the US", you'll find websites that list restrictions.

One thing you might check is to see if your health insurance is valid in the US.  Most Canadians have to buy coverage for the US.  And you might want to check to see if you need special insurance for the RV.  It is probably covered by the RV rental company; but I would at least see if you have the paperwork necessary.  When we cross into Canada, we always have an insurance card provided by our RV carrier to prove we have coverage.

One thought.  We have been in the Niagara FAlls areas on a couple of occasions.  It is VERY busy and not conducive to any size RV.  Parking is very tight and restrictive.  Both times, we parked the RV outside and drove our tow car into Niagara FAlls.   So if you are planning on actually visiting the Falls area in an RV, beware.

Marsha~
2017 Heartland Mallard IDM231 Travel Trailer....Small but mighty.

hpykmpr

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Re: Crossing the U.S. Border in an RV
« Reply #2 on: January 16, 2010, 05:28:12 AM »
Hi again,...another first timers question.  We have rented RV's in Canada but this time will rent in Niagara Falls, Ont then cross the border to tour in the States, then back across the border again.   We do have permission and paperwork to take the rented RV into the States.
But I was just wondering....do RV's get any different scrutiny or search or anything?    Just want to be prepared. 
Thanks.
Katie

Chet18013

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Re: Crossing the U.S. Border in an RV
« Reply #3 on: January 16, 2010, 07:41:18 AM »
We have relatives in Toronto and have never had a problem crossing the Us Canadian boarder at Niagara. We usually visit Canada twice a year and have been doing so for the last 15 years.

Correction: The only problem we have encountered is the long wait times occasionally encountered went coming back to the US. 

Just have your passports ready, the license numbers of both your RV and towed vehicle written down and hand it all to the agent as you stop to answer their questions.
Chet18013
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katievan

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Re: Crossing the U.S. Border in an RV
« Reply #4 on: January 16, 2010, 06:15:10 PM »
Hi everyone:  Thanks for the input.    We definitely will not be visiting Niagara Falls itself....we don't live too far away.  We will be picking up our rented RV in Niagara Falls and probably driving over into Buffalo.  I realize it will be very busy (especially since we will be leaving on a long weekend....out of my control!).
Hopefully we husband's RV driving skills will quickly come back to him and he will be able to navigate our unit without incident. 
Re comments about food...I did google that item....I will probably not bring in alot and do a big shopping  once we get over the border.
But since we are bringing our dog, we will be needing to bring her special dog food...I just checked and it IS made in the U.S.A.  which seems to be ok?
Has anyone ever had the customs officers actually come into the RV to look things over?  We do drive into the States quite frequently with our car but this is the first time with an RV. 
Thanks again.

ArdraF

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Re: Crossing the U.S. Border in an RV
« Reply #5 on: January 16, 2010, 10:26:14 PM »
Katie, it really depends on the agent.  I think if you act businesslike and hand them your passports immediately and act like you know what you're doing, you're less likely to encounter hassles.  That said, yes, they may enter your RV and look around.  They also might want to look in the underbays where large things can be hidden.  For example, when we recently crossed Hoover Dam, the security person came inside the RV and looked around briefly just to make sure we were two people like we said and then asked for all the underbays to be opened.  Jerry walked around with him and he looked inside every one.  But we were friendly and so was he so it wasn't a disagreeable experience.  We've had custom agents look inside but not often.  Your side always asks about whether we have guns or mace, while our side wants to know what we're carrying such as the prohibited items Marsha mentioned (meat, ivory, etc.).  Years ago when we entered into Maine the U.S. agent asked all his questions and told us we were free to go but could he please see inside our motorhome because he'd never seen one like it and was curious.  We said sure and he wanted to know how everything worked.  Obviously it was a slow day!  ;)  And I'm not so sure the same thing would happen these days.

ArdraF
ArdraF
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Marsha/CA

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Re: Crossing the U.S. Border in an RV
« Reply #6 on: January 16, 2010, 11:59:12 PM »
Katie,

The last time we crossed back into the US, the agent came into the coach.  He asked what vegetables we had and we invited him into look in the fridge.  We had bought rutabagas from Newfoundland and he didn't know what they were; so he invited all the other agents to come into the coach.  However by the time they all left they had made great friends with the dog and our 2 cats and were interested in the inside of the coach.....Like Ardra, it must have been a slow day.  Oh, they also came back in and gave Charlie (the dog) a couple of dog biscuits.

However, the 5th wheel in front of us was from Canada and they had to open all their bay doors underneath; and the agents inspected their entire coach.

I don't think you'll have any problems!  However since we had the Christmas Day incident on one of our planes, the border may be a bit more intense.

Marsha~
2017 Heartland Mallard IDM231 Travel Trailer....Small but mighty.

Jammer

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Re: Crossing the U.S. Border in an RV
« Reply #7 on: January 17, 2010, 05:32:14 PM »
The thing to bear in mind is that it's unpredictable.

I crossed into Canada once and received a great deal of hassle from Canadian customs culminating in a complete "secondary" search of my pickup.  It was time consuming and they made a mess of the luggage.  In retrospect I really believe he was grouchy and looking for a dog to kick.  I've crossed many other times without incident, usually for work.

It was upsetting enough that I really don't plan to vacation in Canada again.
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Ken & Sheila

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Re: Crossing the U.S. Border in an RV
« Reply #8 on: January 18, 2010, 10:01:56 AM »
I have heard of stories of complete searches by both Canadian Customs and US Customs but it is not common.

When we lived in Vermont we crossed frequently into Canada both with and without the MH.

About once a year (for 5 or 6 years) we traveled using the MH to Chicago from Vermont via Canada. Later we traveled to Alaska and in doing so were in and out of Canada.

That said, the agent you talk to when crossing has a great deal to discretion about who to "pass" and who to search.

ken

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Chet18013

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Re: Crossing the U.S. Border in an RV
« Reply #9 on: January 19, 2010, 07:24:19 AM »
We got stopped by Canadian Customs at the Top of The World border crossing in Alaska. The agent ask if he could come inside to talk to us. Naturally I said yes. ( it was in July and the outside temp was near 100 F) When he came in, his first comment was, "I've always wanted to see the inside of one of these big RVs." He just looked around, asked his st'd questions and wanted to chat for 15-20 minutes. He didn't search anything and was just sitting there enjoying the cool air--both ACs were going full blast. We learned he was there on temporary assignment and normally was a drug dog handler, among other things. It was a very friendly visit.

This crossing is not the busiest, but when he finally did say "Enjoy Cananda" and left, there were about 6-7 RVs backed up behind us.
Chet18013
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1275gtsport

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Re: Crossing the U.S. Border in an RV
« Reply #10 on: January 19, 2010, 10:29:39 AM »
Our First crossing into the us last summer, the agent asked the standard questions on weapons and drugs but kept asking if I had weapons in different ways, then asked for my keys. advised me that he was coming in. and asked again if he was going to find any weapons. I almost asked him to define weapon. after all it is an RV and I do carry a hatchet (possible weapon) and a very large carving knife, several steak knifes. and various hammers and other tools all which could be used as a weapon. two agents came in and checked in the wash room and a couple of cupboards and the fridge. we bought ALL our food after crossing. I really think he just wanted to see inside. after all it is a 1973!
just answer their questions as they are asked.
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Joezeppy

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Re: Crossing the U.S. Border in an RV
« Reply #11 on: January 19, 2010, 11:23:48 AM »
Katie, this is from a US Citizen's point of view but I would think it's about the same either way...

We have crossed several times with our TT without any additional trouble. We've been asked a few additional questions but never been "boarded" as others have. Others have mentioned additional time at the border which I can confirm as well - lately, all RVs seem to be routed to the truck lanes coming back to the US which slows things down a bit. At our last crossing (1000 Islands/Kingston), we went through the normal series of questions and were then routed through a building which contained a large scanner/x-ray machine. They scanned the trailer only and assured us that as long as no people/pets were in there, the scan was not harmful to anything.

We used the Peace Bridge when we stayed at the Niagara Falls Ontario KOA a few years back and I found it to be very manageable for large vehicles.

Joe
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gypsy-jim

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Re: Crossing the U.S. Border in an RV
« Reply #12 on: January 19, 2010, 03:46:34 PM »
Last summer we crossed at the 1000 islands into Canada.  The US side was not a problem but Canada was a real hassle.  They asked all the normal questions but when they came to weapons they repeatedly asked the question different ways.  Finally in frustration  I told them I don't own any guns.  I guess that was the wrong answer as they pulled me over had wife, daughter and myself leave the MH and they (3 agents) went through the whole thing while a 4th agent kept asking me "that it was not to late to tell them what I had on board".  They did not find anything but after that I answered the question and nothing extra.  Only problem crossing is very lengthy lines and in Calais very tight entry.  But after traveling 2 months in Canada it is worth it
Jim & Viv

Tom

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Re: Crossing the U.S. Border in an RV
« Reply #13 on: January 19, 2010, 04:19:46 PM »
As we were driving from Yuma, AZ to Quartzsite on Hwy 95 today, we had to stop at the Border Patrol checkpoint, approx 40-50 miles from the border. Chris opened the window and, in a great Mexican accent, the guy said "buenos dias Senorita, welcome to Mexico". It took Chris about a second to get the joke, and she burst out laughing. The other BP agent was also cracking up.
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workingtorv

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Re: Crossing the U.S. Border in an RV
« Reply #14 on: January 19, 2010, 09:27:36 PM »
We are Canadians and frequent the US on many weekends over the summer and have encountered the guards entereing the RV on either the US or Canadian side.  They also ask on the US side for the food items of the week that are banned (it changes frequently), one time my husband told me the beef ban was off and I brought the best looking two steaks I could find at the butcher shop and sure enough got to the US border the first question was "Do you have any beef on board", well low and behold they took the 2 steaks  a couple of pounds of sirloin burger patties but were kind enough to leave me with the All Beef weiners...I told him to enjoy the steaks..and practically begged him to leave them with me - no go.

We have also been asked to leave the coach while they give it the scan, they ask if there are weapons, over limits of alcohol or tobacco and exactly where these items are in the coach..They can see the extras if you don't tell them.

The most important thing to remember is that all these steps all for our safety and if you have nothing to hide let them do their jobs and have a safe trip .
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Jammer

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Re: Crossing the U.S. Border in an RV
« Reply #15 on: January 19, 2010, 09:56:50 PM »
The most important thing to remember is that all these steps all for our safety and if you have nothing to hide let them do their jobs and have a safe trip .

**cough COUGH mumble mumble... different ... forum... must .. .behave.. .  must ... not ... post .. reply . . .. . ****
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Chet18013

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Re: Crossing the U.S. Border in an RV
« Reply #16 on: January 21, 2010, 09:42:06 AM »
If they take meat, it makes sense to comply with the "spirit of the regulation" by contaminating the meat before you let them have it. ie, unwrap it and throw it on the ground and step on it. That way you insure that it won't cause any harm<<GGG>>.
Chet18013
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mphy98

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Re: Crossing the U.S. Border in an RV
« Reply #17 on: January 21, 2010, 11:45:23 AM »
Wow, we go across by International Falls 2 times a year with our 35' class a, and never even had a second look for anything.  I take my dad, my son and one of my son's friends all the time.  I ALWAYS remove my sunglasses, have passports ready.  I have never been boarded by the Canadians.  I have always been boarded by the US side, but only for about 30 seconds.  We never have guns with us, and do not smoke.  We do bring across one quart of Canada's finest product, Seagrams VO.   :)   By the way if you have a larger motorhome we, on the way back into the US via International have been told to and do use the truck lane.  Never a long line and it saves hours at times from the long line to get back in.  So just enjoy and be truthfull when asked the questions.

DonTom

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Re: Crossing the U.S. Border in an RV
« Reply #18 on: January 21, 2010, 12:48:12 PM »
Last summer we crossed at the 1000 islands into Canada.  The US side was not a problem but Canada was a real hassle.  They asked all the normal questions but when they came to weapons they repeatedly asked the question different ways.  Finally in frustration  I told them I don't own any guns.  I guess that was the wrong answer as they pulled me over had wife, daughter and myself leave the MH and they (3 agents) went through the whole thing while a 4th agent kept asking me "that it was not to late to tell them what I had on board".  They did not find anything but after that I answered the question and nothing extra.  Only problem crossing is very lengthy lines and in Calais very tight entry.  But after traveling 2 months in Canada it is worth it
Jim & Viv

The last time we went to Canada, I was asked if I own any guys.   My exact words were "many, around 50, I collect guns". Then I was asked when the last time any of them were in the RV. My answer was "Never, they are locked up in a gun safe at my house and I never had any of them inside this RV".  All were honest answers.  Then they let me proceed with no further questions. We've never been searched going into Canada.

We always have a lot more trouble getting back into the USA. We get searched every time, no exceptions. And last time they made a real big deal out of an orange they found that was not declared (we thought we ate them all, but one was hidden).  They almost fined us $300.00 for that one undeclared orange.

-Don- (in Guangzhou, China)
-Don-   AA6GA

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Original owner of:
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1984 Yamaha Venture
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Mick & Pat

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Re: Crossing the U.S. Border in an RV
« Reply #19 on: January 21, 2010, 01:23:58 PM »
When we crossed at Peace Arch at the Washington - British Columbia border our RV wasn't checked at all, on our return to the US at the Niagara Falls crossing an official climbed on board and just looked in a few cupboards.

Mick
Regards Mick & Pat Podmore.

UK couple who toured USA / Canada. Oct 2007 - Aug 2009

2005 Fleetwood Discovery 39S,Cat C7, Freightliner XC Chassis  2008 Jeep Liberty Ltd 3.7 .

Kamikaze

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Re: Crossing the U.S. Border in an RV
« Reply #20 on: January 21, 2010, 01:45:44 PM »
good info!

i'm bookmarking this as I plan a trip out south this summer (baja racing)..


Anyone have info on how they search RVs coming in to the US from mexico?

DonTom

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Re: Crossing the U.S. Border in an RV
« Reply #21 on: January 24, 2010, 01:15:38 PM »
When we crossed at Peace Arch at the Washington - British Columbia border our RV wasn't checked at all, on our return to the US at the Niagara Falls crossing an official climbed on board and just looked in a few cupboards.
Mick

I think the reason we get searched each and every time is because they get suspicious about things when it's two guys traveling together in a RV.

-Don- Sha Tin, Hong Kong
-Don-   AA6GA

2000 Fleetwood Tioga 24D, 7.4L

Eight motorcycles:
Original owner of:
1971 BMW R75/5
1984 Yamaha Venture
2002 Suzuki DR200SE
2013 Triumph Trophy SE
2016 Versys 650 LT
2016 Moto Guzzi Stelvio
2017 Zero DS ZF6.5
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k9cop

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Re: Crossing the U.S. Border in an RV
« Reply #22 on: January 26, 2010, 10:10:42 AM »
Hi Katie;

I retired as a Senior Customs Inspector. The recommendation that I would give to anyone crossing the border, give clear concise answers to the Inspector. Whatever you do don't lie, give evasive answers or get hostile. That will only lead to unpleasant experience. The Inspector may or may not want to check your RV, your answers will determine whether they want to do a physical inspection of your RV. I would recommend going to Customs & Border Protection web site  http://www.cbp.gov/ to get up to date information.

Jeff

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Re: Crossing the U.S. Border in an RV
« Reply #23 on: January 26, 2010, 10:40:40 AM »
We have also made many crossings and 9 out of 10 times they amount to a few questions and "Have a nice trip". The two that weren't were one US by Dept of Agriculture (Annoying but they didn't find anything) and one by Canadian Customs when they asked if we lived on our RV. (Also didn't find anything)

We stopped worrying about what we have and try to answer all questions with short, truthful answers. In a couple of cases we have admitted to having more wine than allowed and were asked if it was for personal consumption. When we responded that it was the matter was dropped without paying any duty.

Even the annoying officer didn't really take more than 20-30 minutes of our time-a small price to pay for another wonderful trip.

Tom

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Re: Crossing the U.S. Border in an RV
« Reply #24 on: January 26, 2010, 10:59:43 AM »
During a career of flying around the world on business, I learned long ago to prepare a list of "stuff" I was carrying across a border. I'd hand it to the agent/inspector, answer all questions factually and politely, and never had a problem. The same has worked just fine when we've crossed a border with the coach.

I did get asked by a US agent a few years ago what I previously did for a living. My response met with "oh, that explains all the visits to the middle east". I quickly, but politely explained that the numerous Asian countries that had stamps &/or visas in my passport were in the far east, not the middle east. That received a "ah yes, have a nice day" response.
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DonTom

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Re: Crossing the U.S. Border in an RV
« Reply #25 on: January 26, 2010, 01:05:53 PM »
Hi Katie;

I retired as a Senior Customs Inspector. The recommendation that I would give to anyone crossing the border, give clear concise answers to the Inspector. Whatever you do don't lie, give evasive answers or get hostile. That will only lead to unpleasant experience. The Inspector may or may not want to check your RV, your answers will determine whether they want to do a physical inspection of your RV. I would recommend going to Customs & Border Protection web site  http://www.cbp.gov/ to get up to date information.

The Presario B1900 notebook computer I am using right now, I purchased in Shenzhen, China in 2007 for around 10,000  Renminbi (~US $1280.00) When we got back to SFO, I declared it and the following happened:

I was asked a couple of times, by the US Customs Inspector  if I purchased this computer in China (which I even had in writing) or in the USA. It was as if  he wanted me to say I brought it from home in the USA. I was expecting to pay the tax on it and was all ready to do so. But I made it real clear to him that  I purchased this in Shenzhen, China. Then he said "oh, I guess that's okay" and he let me go without paying a cent.

Can you explain what happened there? Just too much paperwork for him to do or what?

-Don- Sha Tin, Hong Kong
-Don-   AA6GA

2000 Fleetwood Tioga 24D, 7.4L

Eight motorcycles:
Original owner of:
1971 BMW R75/5
1984 Yamaha Venture
2002 Suzuki DR200SE
2013 Triumph Trophy SE
2016 Versys 650 LT
2016 Moto Guzzi Stelvio
2017 Zero DS ZF6.5
2017 Zero SR 13 w/pwr tank

RoyM

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Re: Crossing the U.S. Border in an RV
« Reply #26 on: January 26, 2010, 11:16:36 PM »
We have crossed into the U.S. numerous times, we live 20 minutes from thew Peace Arch crossing, and have not had any problems. They didn't even ask to see the medical records for the furbutt.
I did get delayed once while I was traveling alone. The overly officious American officer with a brush cut and obligatory tattoos gave me his best Clint Eastwood glare, demanded my keys, then climbed into the bed of my pickup. There were some alfalfa leaves I hadn't gotten around to sweeping out. He seemed suspicious about anyone driving to Bellingham for something to do on a Sunday, made me park and go inside. The other guy seemed bored by the whole procedure.
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DonTom

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Re: Crossing the U.S. Border in an RV
« Reply #27 on: January 27, 2010, 09:16:38 AM »
We have crossed into the U.S. numerous times, we live 20 minutes from thew Peace Arch crossing, and have not had any problems. They didn't even ask to see the medical records for the furbutt.

BTW, did you know about the truck route that's much faster than the main Peach Arch? They let cars and RV's go that way too.

But I noticed the last couple of times into Canada and back, they saw our two doggies and never asked for any papers. But we have them just in case they do.

I cannot say I ever had a real "problem", but I do get searched every time back into the USA. It doesn't take long. The closet thing to a "problem" was getting chewed out about an orange they found in the RV. And that orange came from the USA! You can bring oranges into Canada, but you cannot take them back into the USA.

-Don- Sha Tin, Hong Kong

-Don-   AA6GA

2000 Fleetwood Tioga 24D, 7.4L

Eight motorcycles:
Original owner of:
1971 BMW R75/5
1984 Yamaha Venture
2002 Suzuki DR200SE
2013 Triumph Trophy SE
2016 Versys 650 LT
2016 Moto Guzzi Stelvio
2017 Zero DS ZF6.5
2017 Zero SR 13 w/pwr tank

Mick & Pat

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Re: Crossing the U.S. Border in an RV
« Reply #28 on: January 27, 2010, 09:37:32 AM »
We were touring at the time from the UK and had travelled up the US west coast via the I-5 hence our Peace Arch crossing.

Several months later after crossing Canada we choose Niagara Falls as we had American friends in Niagara Falls who we met up with before travelling south down the East coast to Florida.

Mick
Regards Mick & Pat Podmore.

UK couple who toured USA / Canada. Oct 2007 - Aug 2009

2005 Fleetwood Discovery 39S,Cat C7, Freightliner XC Chassis  2008 Jeep Liberty Ltd 3.7 .

RoyM

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Re: Crossing the U.S. Border in an RV
« Reply #29 on: January 27, 2010, 07:52:58 PM »
BTW, did you know about the truck route that's much faster than the main Peach Arch? They let cars and RV's go that way too.


-Don- Sha Tin, Hong Kong
We do use it but prefer the Aldergrove/Lynden crossing. The road leads directly to the I-5 at the Bellis Fair mall. It is not open 24 hours though. The last time we crossed at Peace Arch, I got in the Nexus lane by mistake due to the construction mess and couldn't turn around. The Canadian agent was not amused.
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