EPDM Coatings
rvupgradestore.com Composet Products PO Box Zone
Over The Network Custom Yacht Interiors

Author Topic: Border Crossing Procedure  (Read 11082 times)

UK-RV

  • ---
  • Posts: 815
Border Crossing Procedure
« on: May 01, 2006, 11:25:00 AM »

Hi Guys

We are about to enter Canada next week, and wondered about the actual procedure at the crossing :-

Do we simply drive-up to a window (like a toll booth) or do we need to go to a specific lane for trucks and/or RVs ?

Or, do we park-up and walk-up to the Customs/Immigration Staff ?

Thanks
Paul

PS I think we have 7 USA/Canada border crossings during our 50 or so night tour of Alaska. I do hope they are straight-forward for us foreigners.


Woody

  • ---
  • Posts: 917
Re: Border Crossing Procedure
« Reply #1 on: May 01, 2006, 01:15:51 PM »
Most border crossings will have a lane that is designated "Trucks, Buses, RV's" or something similar. Usually there is a little hut that the guard sits in but sometimes they come outside. I'm not sure what the protocol is for a citizen of the UK but I always have my Drivers License and a wallet sized photocopy of my Birth Certificate. I have heard that in a few years US citizens are going to have to have a passport to enter Canada or Mexico. I imagine a UK citizen would have to have them now.

Woody

UK-RV

  • ---
  • Posts: 815
Re: Border Crossing Procedure
« Reply #2 on: May 01, 2006, 01:24:51 PM »

Thanks Woody,

Yes, we have a LONG list of documents on standby - passport (with US Visa attachment), driving licence, vehicle title docs, insurance docs (and Canada card), proof of savings, even notarised copies of birth certificate and marriage license - hopefully THAT should be enough.

I was more interested in the physical procedure of designated lanes etc - which you have answered - great !

Hopefully, the designated lane/s will be a bit better than the lane signposted "Trucks OK", on a recent toll booth in San Francisco - I think we had a half-inch to spare on each side of the RV !

Tom

  • Administrator
  • ---
  • *
  • Posts: 44383
    • RV Forum web site
Re: Border Crossing Procedure
« Reply #3 on: May 01, 2006, 05:16:13 PM »
Paul,

Since you've had the "lane" issue answered, you might want to check the RVing in Canada category in our library (click the Library button above).

One caveat - don't be a smart-Alec or get frustrated with the border folks in either direction; Just smile, be polite and answer the questions you're asked if you want a smooth crossing. Your passports will be required in both directions.

Don't expect the lanes to be any larger than most toll booths. Maybe you should practice in a parking lot before crossing  ;D
Tom.  Need help? Click the Help button in the toolbar above.

Gary RV_Wizard

  • Forum Staff
  • ---
  • *
  • Posts: 60377
  • RVer Emeritus
Re: Border Crossing Procedure
« Reply #4 on: May 01, 2006, 05:49:25 PM »
Some of the lanes at the big border crossings are VERY narrow - I scraped a mirror at the one on I-5 and only had maybe an inch clearance on the other side (my mirrors are side mounted and stick out further than most).  They have jammed a lot of lanes into a modest space, so clearance for big vehicles can be minimal.  The special lanes for RVs, if there are any, will be larger.  The lanes on I5 going into Surrey, BC, are all designed for cars because (I have been told) there is a separate commercial truck crossing elsewhere. I don't know where the alterante crossing is, though.

At the smaller towns where you cross to Alaska and back, there is much more room and procedures are informal. Just pull up and stop and wait for the order gaurd to come out and ask questions and tell you what to do. They will ask for whatever papers they want to see, so just smile and respond as needed.  Same thing when crossing back into the USA.

They are primarily interested in guns (actually weapons of any kind, e.g. mace or pepper sprays), ammunition, alcohol and cigarettes. Answer succinctly and honestly - they may even ignore it if you are somewhat over the personal exemption limits for alcohol or cigarettes. At worst they will charge you excise tax on the excess.  I don't know the current status, but at times in the recent past there have been temporary prohibitions on certain meats (e.g. the Mad Cow scare) and on some fruts & veggies (plant diseases). If you have any of the prohibited items, they will be confiscated. It's wise not to be carrying large quantities of meats, fruits & vegetables unless you have checked in advance and are sure exeactly what is allowed.

Most border guards are friendly and polite but a few are martinets. Just grit your teeth if you run into one. You are more likely to get static from a US gaurd than a Canadian one.
Gary
--------------
Gary Brinck
Summers: Black Mountain, NC
Home: Ocala National Forest, FL

Jeff

  • Forum Staff
  • ---
  • *
  • Posts: 8966
Re: Border Crossing Procedure
« Reply #5 on: May 01, 2006, 06:49:19 PM »
The lanes at both crosssings at Blaine, Washington/Surrey BC and the Sumas/Abbotsford crossing do not combine RV's with busses and trucks. You will use the passenger car lanes and they are very narrow.

UK-RV

  • ---
  • Posts: 815
Re: Border Crossing Procedure
« Reply #6 on: May 01, 2006, 06:53:56 PM »
Thanks Guys,

Im pleased to say that EVERY time we have encountered a US Immigration Official, they have been most pleasant - that probably means Im due the "officer from hell" any time soon.  ;D

Tom - yep, I did read the Library on this one.

Re the I5 - an earlier poster suggested an alternative entry into Canada - I think I will look at that option.

Thanks again.

Paul

Steve, CDN

  • ---
  • Posts: 2389
  • VA3VH
    • The Pallys
Re: Border Crossing Procedure
« Reply #7 on: May 01, 2006, 08:20:12 PM »
Paul,

DO NOT,  respectfully repeating do not enter the lane for trucks at any border crossing when entering Canada.  RV's must pass through the lanes designated for cars.

Truck lanes are for trucks and commercial traffic and you will be refused at the truck lane after perhaps standing in a long line of trucks for an hour or so.

However, when approaching Canadian Customs, have a look at the signs over the booths as some border crossings have lanes designated for RV's...the same is true at U.S. Customs.   Also verify the height clearance, as some crossings cannot accommodate the height of RV's and when the officer sees you approach, they will usually direct you to a lane with the correct clearance.

Take your time while passing through the Customs booths as some are also very narrow, same is true at some U.S. customs.

If you have purchased any defensive devices including mace or pepper spray while in the U.S., leave them in the U.S because all defensive devices are against the law in Canada and you will be asked if you have any on board. 

You will need your passport for positive identification to enter Canada, and as Tom suggested, check the section on RVing outside the U.S. for more links to  Canadian Customs and Government of Canada sites.

Change your money at a bank and not at the Duty Free or Money Exchange booths.  All banks in Canada will give you a better rate than the other places.

Let me know if you need more info,
Steve, Forum Moderator
Home Page
My Polar Bear Mural

Jeff

  • Forum Staff
  • ---
  • *
  • Posts: 8966
Re: Border Crossing Procedure
« Reply #8 on: May 01, 2006, 09:08:42 PM »
Thanks Guys,

Im pleased to say that EVERY time we have encountered a US Immigration Official, they have been most pleasant - that probably means Im due the "officer from hell" any time soon.  ;D

Tom - yep, I did read the Library on this one.

Re the I5 - an earlier poster suggested an alternative entry into Canada - I think I will look at that option.

Thanks again.

Paul

Paul:

The alternative is Sumas, about 20 miles east of I5.

Going up you will probably not have problems with the US, it is coming bacl into the US that they get picky.

Quite frankly I am not sure what you have to do to clear your visa, when we are inbound to Canada as US citizens we do not stop at the US side at all.



« Last Edit: May 01, 2006, 09:21:59 PM by Tom »

DougJ

  • ---
  • Posts: 549
Re: Border Crossing Procedure
« Reply #9 on: May 01, 2006, 09:51:05 PM »
Hi Paul,

Let me give you a quick overview of the Lower Mainland (ie, Vancouver east to Chilliwack) crossings.

1.  The I-5 crossing is the main crossing for all vehicles other than trucks.  You just stay on the I-5 as you travel north from Bellingham, then through Blaine although you may not realise it, and then you're at the border--Peace Arch border crossing for the obvious reason that there is a large "peace arch" there.

2.  If you keep you eyes peeled as you approach Blaine on the I-5 you will see the signs directing you to the "truck crossing."  All trucks must cross there; all other vehicles may cross there.

Both of these crossings, in either direction are busy and the customs and immigration officials attend to their task with due diligence.  Coming into Canada the most important thing to avoid is defensive weapons of any kind.  They are illegal (without the proper paper work) even for Canadians and citizens of other countries are cut no slack at all.

Try and be close to the limits of what you can bring in.  As some one else has said, if you're over but close and if the agent decides you honest and trust worthy on these matters, you're cleared through.  For me as a Canadian that means that the sun glasses come off, any hat I may have that may be obscuring my face comes off, I am never flip or cute (although that is very much my nature) and I answer the question asked specifically and briefly, ie, with no gratuitous elaboration.  In some fifty years in Canada I have never been searched coming home by car, by RV or in my plane.

3.  Further east is the Aldergrove crossing.  The exit for this is just as you are coming out of the north end of Bellingham--Belli Fair area, look for signs to Lynden.

This is my preferred crossing although it takes me out of my way for getting home because it is small, busy only on long weekends or other forms of holiday weekends.  For example, at Aldergrove going into the US they never seem to be interested in whether I have animals on board--at Peace and the truck crossing, I've been asked almost every time and that invariably precipitates inspectors prowling around inside the coach, and then everything is up for grabs.  At Aldergrove, my coach has never been examined.  Oh yes, if they are going to have a look in the coach, you are required to leave the coach, well away from it, and they do the examination out side of your vision.

4.  Further east of Aldergrove is the Sumas crossing.  I've never crossed there in my RV and haven't done so in a standard vehicle in perhaps twenty years, so I've really no useful information on that crossing.  My hunch is that it will be similar to Aldergrove in practice.


Since you are on your way to Alaska and I'm guessing that means that you'll be taking the trans-Canada highway east from the Vancouver area, my advice on all counts is to take the Aldergrove crossing; from there go due north on the secondary highway out of the crossing until you arrive at the trans-Canada, and then "hang a right" and go east.

That exhausts my experience of Canadian / US border crossings in my RV--other than one back into Canada in the Kooteneys, but you'll be no where near there, I don't think.

Have a great time in Canada.

Ciao,

Doug

UK-RV

  • ---
  • Posts: 815
Re: Border Crossing Procedure
« Reply #10 on: May 02, 2006, 10:25:52 AM »
WOW - thanks for all that info guys.

I think we will avoid the I-5 crossing in favour of one of the smaller ones.

Jeff - your comment has just reminded me that we (non US/Canadians) MUST stop at US Immigration as we leave the Country.

When we arrive in the US, we are issued with a small bit of white card (I think its an I-94), which states how long we are entitled to remain in the Country during that visit.

If we fail to hand that back to Officials when we leave, a "question mark" hangs over our name as to whether we did leave on time or not - this "could" affect future attempts to re-enter the Country.

I understand that MOST British visitors to the US forget (or like us, previously weren't aware) to give this back on exit - but, as they are usually on short packaged flights, I guess there are easy ways for authorities to match names against flight records etc.

Now - where did I put that little bit of card  ;D

Paul



Mick & Pat

  • ---
  • Posts: 291
    • Thiswilldous
Re: Border Crossing Procedure
« Reply #11 on: May 02, 2006, 11:00:10 AM »
I find some of the information relating to the size of some of the Customs booths very surprising especially from the countries who build large RVs. ???


I was recently involved in a thread regarding the current controversy surrounding the lengths and widths of RVs currently been imported into the UK, understandably the width of some A class RVs was mentions when using the toll booths on the French autoroute systems, but in the USA / Canada  ??? ???
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 .

Tom

  • Administrator
  • ---
  • *
  • Posts: 44383
    • RV Forum web site
Re: Border Crossing Procedure
« Reply #12 on: May 02, 2006, 11:31:08 AM »
I find some of the information relating to the size of some of the Customs booths very surprising especially from the countries who build large RVs. ???

Why would that be surprising? The folks who make RVs have nothing to do with the folks who guard our borders.
Tom.  Need help? Click the Help button in the toolbar above.

John From Detroit

  • ---
  • Posts: 19626
  • ^My New Home^
    • Diabetics Forum
Re: Border Crossing Procedure
« Reply #13 on: May 02, 2006, 03:17:25 PM »
One thought.. Sometimes.. The far right (or left but usually right) booth may be a bit "Wider" than the others due to not having another booth next door... Sometimes... However I've only crossed at 4 border crossings that I am sure of (possibly 5) and frankly have not crossed in a few years so I don't recall well

The crossings are 1, possibly 2, in Niagra, 2 here in Detroit (Tunnell/Bridge) and the Blue Water Bridge)

And I've never crossed in anything larger than a AMC Hornet pulling an apache popup tent-trailer
Nothing adds excitement like something that is none of your business
My Home is where I park it.

UK-RV

  • ---
  • Posts: 815
Re: Border Crossing Procedure
« Reply #14 on: May 06, 2006, 09:01:23 PM »
UPDATE :

We left the USA and entered Canada today.

Heading north on the I-5, our Sat-Nav system directed us to exit and follow the Truck route.

When we arrived at the crossing, there were specific lanes for the Trucks, those for RV's and Trailers and those for cars.

Before we knew it, we had passed the US Immigration point and were yards from the Canadian Booths.

This could have been a major problem for us as we felt we needed to stop at the US side before we left, so we spoke to the guy directing traffic and he simply told us we could pull over with hazzards on and walk back to the US Immigration staff.

This is important for UK visitors, taking on a trip like ours :- NORMALLY, when you leave the US, you must hand back the white US Immigration slip from your passport - so they know you did leave on time.

However, as we still had two months to run on our 6 month allowance (given at our initial Point Of Entry) AND we were due to finish our Alaska visits within that remaining period, we were told we did not need to hand back the slip (makes sense but these things never seem to be designed to make sense).

We must hand back the slip on our last exit from Alaska (remember, we are expecting 6 or 7 border crossings between US and Canada during our Alaska trip) - and it MUST be before the expiry of the slip.

We were told that we could complete these forms at every POI into the US if we really wanted to, but it would cost us $6 each time plus the hassle of filling the slips.

We can then do our Canada tour and ask for a further 6-month stay on our return to the USA.

After all that, we headed to the Canadian Immigration Booth - where the RV lane turned into a normal car lane - very narrow.

We were told we needed to park the RV and walk into the main Immigration building.

After a wait of about 30 seconds, we were asked some very simple questions about our tour plans and then discussed the Officers recent trip to the UK and what TV programmes she enjoys watching.

In all, we spent around 15 minutes from first approcahing the border to when we left at the Canadian side.

Nobody asked about any types of food or weapons, nor did anyone want to inspect the RV.

Paul



Tom

  • Administrator
  • ---
  • *
  • Posts: 44383
    • RV Forum web site
Re: Border Crossing Procedure
« Reply #15 on: May 06, 2006, 11:01:09 PM »
Glad it all worked out Paul.

FYI when I used to visit the U.S. while living in the UK, at no time did I pass through a U.S. immigration point when exiting the country. Sometimes the airline would lift the I-94 when checking in for the homeward flight, but often didn't. There was clearly no closed loop, which might be one explanation for illegals here. That was back in the 70's and it's possible that they've tightened things up since then.

That was also in the days when the U.S. customs & immigration folks didn't have computers and they'd look in a big black book to see if you were listed as someone who shouldn't be allowed in  ;D
Tom.  Need help? Click the Help button in the toolbar above.

olley

  • ---
  • Posts: 28
Re: Border Crossing Procedure
« Reply #16 on: May 09, 2006, 02:28:30 PM »
Hi ukrv that's the problem the couple who we bought our brave had, when they tried to  re-enter the states, no one had told them to hand the card in, they where given a severe bol*****g before being allowed in.

They were both ex military, and could not understand the idea of searching the RV without the owners, after all if they are trying to smuggle bombs in, they might be booby-trapped.

Olley

Chet18013

  • ---
  • Posts: 1741
Re: Border Crossing Procedure
« Reply #17 on: May 11, 2006, 09:02:08 AM »
My wife is Canadian and we visit relatives in Canada at least once a year, if not more often. The last few times we have crossed, the customs officer has commented that we visit Canada often and told us to enjoy our stay and passed us right on through into Canada.  I, like Doug, always remove my sunglasses and hand our passports to the officer the very first thing. I have encountered the width problem returning to the US, but don't recall any real close calls going into Canada.  I have always found the Canadian Customs officers to be very courteous and often sociable. Even had one, on a hot day ask if he come come inside for an inspection. When inside he said he always wanted "to see inside one of these big things".  We had a very nice 15-20 minute chat, he enjoyed the AC, and never did inspect anything except how comfortable the chair was.  This was at one of the smaller crossings, and a slow day.  We have crossed the Canadian/ US border to and from every Canadian Provence and State that touches  the other country except New Hampshire--which only has one crossing point.

Chet18013
Chet18013
Full time in a 45' '04 Monaco Signature
towing a 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee diesel

UK-RV

  • ---
  • Posts: 815
Re: Border Crossing Procedure
« Reply #18 on: May 15, 2006, 09:41:26 AM »
A question for you all to think about .....

We arrived in Hyder yesterday, with passports etc in hand, and found there was No US Immigration Point (there is a Canadian checkpoint when we leave Hyder).

So, are there any other locations where you can enter the US without passing thru Immigration/Customs.

Im waiting for President Bush to announce on TV tonight that he is moving 10,000 National Guard to Hyder to block this highly dangerous entry route.  ;D ;D

Paul

Tom

  • Administrator
  • ---
  • *
  • Posts: 44383
    • RV Forum web site
Re: Border Crossing Procedure
« Reply #19 on: May 15, 2006, 09:56:58 AM »
Im waiting for President Bush to announce on TV tonight that he is moving 10,000 National Guard to Hyder to block this highly dangerous entry route.

He's more likely to move them to the southern border, but one never knows.

BTW a recent TV documentary on the borders showed one crossing in the north that is an outpost. Honest folks stop and walk over to a shack to check in via video link to the nearest border patrol. Dishonest (or too tired) folks merely drive (or run) past the shack.
« Last Edit: May 15, 2006, 10:34:43 AM by Tom »
Tom.  Need help? Click the Help button in the toolbar above.

 

Hosted by Over The Network