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Driving into Canada
Old 11-07-2014, 09:26 AM   #1
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Driving into Canada

I plan to be "driving" into Canada (Manitoba) later this month. (only for a few days) Anyone here know of a good website where I can find out the basic "rules/laws" that US citizens traveling (driving) into Canada need to be aware of? It's been 10+ years since I've been to Canada so I need a quick refresher. (And yes, I know I need a passport these days and yes I remember that speed limits are in km/h.)
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Old 11-07-2014, 09:45 AM   #2
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I couldn't find a good website but assuming you and your traveling companions are US citizens over 18 with no criminal record bring:
1) US passport for everyone in your car.

Don't bring:
1) Firearms and/or ammunition
2) Illegal drugs (essentially the same as in the US).
3) Any OTC drugs must be in their original container, prescription drugs in the original containers with the original labels (a copy of the prescription won't hurt).
4) Certain agricultural products/food. You won't be denied entry but you may have to discard them. The border people will ask if you have any (if any are currently banned).

Above all, don't lie about what you have. That will turn out very badly if you are searched for any reason. There are probably a few Americans in our jails right now for lying about the first 2.
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Old 11-07-2014, 09:45 AM   #3
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You've got the key rules nailed. We are fairly easy-going up here and the border, for personal and non-commercial purposes, is easy to cross particularly by car.

However, if you are traveling for business purposes, our "border control people" are as tight fisted as the US team (which is very tight, I assure you). Have your story straight and have it verifiable. You may NOT work in Canada without a visa or other right to do so, same as in the US. You may visit colleagues, have internal meetings, get trained, meet and network with contacts, etc. but may not sell anything, consult, etc. The horror stories from both sides of the border are legend including many with my colleagues in my area of business.
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Old 11-07-2014, 09:47 AM   #4
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I think the only thing you need is a special insurance card which you can get from your US insurer for free. It's called a "Canada Non-Resident Inter-Provincial / Motor Vehicle Liability Card" (aka yellow card) and basically indicates that your insurance meets the minimum for Canada.

I was never asked for this in canada and I don't actually know if it is still officially required, enforced, or what the penalty is for not having it. But since it was free, we got it from our insurer anyway.

Some provinces are no-fault insurance. I dropped collision so I wasn't entirely sure what would happen if we got into an accident in Toronto. Probably we'd have to pay for our own repairs even if the other driver was at fault.

Here's a AAA brochure:

http://www.aaawa.com/maps_resources/...erCrossing.pdf
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Old 11-07-2014, 10:03 AM   #5
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Here you go:

http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/travel-vo...-rpvc-eng.html

Manitoba 511 - Road and Traveller Information | Province du Manitoba

Welcome to Friendly Manitoba!
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Old 11-07-2014, 10:15 AM   #6
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No pepper spray either. If you go camping and a bear knocks on your door, just yell at it.

Another misc. point: Liquor stores, ferries, or any other govt. agencies selling anything will usually give you the best currency exchange rates. Private business out in the hinterlands will discount usd significantly, regardless of the official exchange rates.
If you buy goods that you bring home, you may be able to get a refund of the gst tax at the border.
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Old 11-07-2014, 10:20 AM   #7
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We drove across at Abbottsford, north of Seattle, back in May.

They asked each of our passengers what they did for a living, how long our trip was, and what we planned to do in Canada. And did we have enough money to get back home.

All friendly, of course. Compared to Kazakhstan, it was a piece of cake.

Ditto when we returned to the USA, in Montana. Same sort of friendly questions, but the USA agents had more questions for the Canadian girl traveling with us than the rest of us.

I showed our US insurance information along with the registration, and they had no trouble with that.
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Old 11-07-2014, 10:22 AM   #8
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Coming back into the USA is always interesting also. The USA border guards have an international reputation for not being so nice. There are some items one can purchase in Canada that may not be brought back to the USA. They ask about those.
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Old 11-07-2014, 10:42 AM   #9
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OK, thanks for all the quick responses/info.
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Old 11-07-2014, 10:53 AM   #10
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About ten years ago, I asked my insurance company (USAA) about getting the special insurance certificate the Canadian government website said was needed.

The reply was that they would cheerfully send me one, but they didn't know of anyone who had ever been asked for it.

All the other info above is good, including the part about the unpleasant guards coming back into the US. Food is not allowed, and I've seen fresh fruit confiscated from other cars around me. You're not supposed to bring alcohol across either, but I've never had a problem with a few bottles of beer in my cooler.
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Old 11-07-2014, 10:56 AM   #11
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Old 11-07-2014, 10:58 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by braumeister View Post
About ten years ago, I asked my insurance company (USAA) about getting the special insurance certificate the Canadian government website said was needed.

The reply was that they would cheerfully send me one, but they didn't know of anyone who had ever been asked for it.

All the other info above is good, including the part about the unpleasant guards coming back into the US. Food is not allowed, and I've seen fresh fruit confiscated from other cars around me. You're not supposed to bring alcohol across either, but I've never had a problem with a few bottles of beer in my cooler.
I'm not sure that bringing alcohol into the US is prohibited, braumeister. As a Canadian resident, I have brought both food and alcohol across. I declared it, but it wasn't a problem.

https://help.cbp.gov/app/answers/det...3D/suggested/1
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Old 11-07-2014, 11:03 AM   #13
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No, but I meant we are not allowed to bring it into Canada.
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Old 11-07-2014, 11:07 AM   #14
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Booze bought at the duty free stores prior to crossing into Canada is allowed.
I typically bring full coolers of groceries across as well.
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Old 11-07-2014, 11:07 AM   #15
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No, but I meant we are not allowed to bring it into Canada.
Oh, pardon me. Here are the rules about bringing alcohol into Canada:

Alcoholic beverages

Alcoholic beverages are products that exceed 0.5% alcohol by volume. If you meet the minimum age requirements of the province or territory where you enter Canada, you can include limited quantities of alcoholic beverages in your personal entitlement. Minimum ages for the importation of alcoholic beverages, as prescribed by provincial or territorial authorities, are as follows: 18 years for Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec; and 19 years for the remaining provinces and territories.

You are allowed to import only one of the following amounts of alcoholic beverages free of duty and taxes:

1.5 litres (53 imperial ounces) of wine; or
a total of 1.14 litres (40 ounces) of alcoholic beverages; or
up to 8.5 litres of beer or ale.

bsf5082: Visitors to Canada and other Temporary Residents

Whenever I am in doubt, I check the government websites.
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Old 11-07-2014, 11:13 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by Meadbh View Post
I'm not sure that bringing alcohol into the US is prohibited, braumeister. As a Canadian resident, I have brought both food and alcohol across. I declared it, but it wasn't a problem.

https://help.cbp.gov/app/answers/det...3D/suggested/1
Back in the 1980's before all the nice craft beer was available, DW and I lived in northern Idaho and used to drive to Canada to bring back some decent beer. We knew exactly how much could be brought back for personal use. Sometimes the USA guards would tell us we were lucky we had just the right amount, like we bought a carload of beer on a whim.

Another time, coming back from Glacier park, DW bought something with seal fur on it that was confiscated at the border. Turns out the tourist shop where we bought it catered to japanese tourists (explains the signs in japanese), and seal parts can be taken to japan, but not the USA.
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Old 11-07-2014, 11:51 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by timo2 View Post
There are some items one can purchase in Canada that may not be brought back to the USA. They ask about those.
"Nothing to declare. Especially not the box of Cuban cigars."
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Old 11-07-2014, 12:09 PM   #18
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You are generally denied entry if you have had a felony conviction in your lifetime, a DUI conviction in the last 7 years (you will even be denied if not driving), or certain kinds of misdemeanors like any sort of drug possession, etc., no matter how many years ago. Also, they have complete up-to-date access to the USA criminal conviction database (whatever that is, but they can pull it up US criminal records on their screen, it is all shared between Canada and USA). You will need to make sure everyone in your party passes these hurdles before leaving.

You can google this, it is quite surprising and much stricter than the USA. Even most Canadians are a bit surprised when they learn about this.

They have had these rules for a long time, but I think they have had access to the US databases for only the last ten years or so.
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Old 11-07-2014, 01:07 PM   #19
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I've entered Canada from the US a total of about 20 times, once for work, and all of the other times as a tourist. I've entered Canada multiple times each by bicycle, car, ferry, & plane. I've traveled to over 3 dozen countries. The ONLY country I've ever had a problem entering was Canada, and it has happened twice. The first time was fairly innocuous, I was 21 years old and had just graduated from college. I was taken to a room and an agent politely asked me reasonable questions. I wasn't searched at all.

2 years ago, however, I was interrogated for an hour by a very nasty border official while driving a rental car from northern Maine into New Brunswick. I was told to park and go inside. They asked me which states I had lived in during my life and proceeded to initiate police checks on me for each of those states. I was put in a closed, small windowless room with the agent who asked me increasingly ridiculous questions. He searched every file on my netbook (I was not allowed to watch), and looked at every photo in my camera. I hadn't gotten around to erasing the photos I had taken in Mexico the previous winter, and he was treated to looking at lots of photos of a cloud forest in the mountains of Oaxaca where a friend & I hiked for 2 days, photos of the fabulous food markets there, and photos I had just taken in Acadia Nat. Park.) At one point, he started yelling at me, demanding to know who a certain person was for whom I had created a directory on my netbook. He and another agent also did a thorough search of my empty rental car, which only contained my small carry-on suitcase.

After an hour, he marched me back into the main room, tore off a sheet of paper which he stapled to my passport and told me, "I think you're lying, but you don't have a police record and you have money, so I'm letting you in. But you can only stay until the day of your flight home (from Manchester, NH), and you have to stop at the border before you leave Canada and turn in this document. If you don't leave by that date, there will be a warrant for your arrest." I just wanted to get out of there, but before I walked back to my car I said to him, "I didn't lie to you about anything." I had no reason to lie to him about anything. Since my intention was to go to NH & VT after leaving Canada, the shortest way to get there from northern Maine was via Canada. Otherwise, I might have turned around and re-entered the US immediately.

I only stayed in Canada one night, which was 1 or 2 nights less than I had anticipated. I just wanted to get the hell out after the treatment I had received. I really mainly wanted to re-visit Quebec City, which the agent found bizarre for some reason. When I was leaving Canada, I stopped and entered the small Canadian border post (in Quebec province) to turn in the document. The 2 agents there were very nice. I told them what had transpired the previous day. One of the agents had never even seen one of those documents before. They had no explanation for why I was given the third degree.

I then drove across the border to the US side. The friendly agent asked me a couple of questions and said, "you can go". Since nobody was waiting behind me, I told him what had happened entering Canada 36 hours earlier. When I quoted the guy saying to me "I think you're lying...", the American border agent said to me, "Wow, that's different." His reaction made my day.

I told a Canadian friend of mine about this, and he was somewhat surprised because he had only heard stories from his Canadians friends who were hassled at the US border. If you search online, you will find a huge number of much worse tales by citizens of both countries being hassled while trying to enter the neighboring country.
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Old 11-07-2014, 01:23 PM   #20
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I'm not sure that bringing alcohol into the US is prohibited
Back on the early 80's we used to make "beer runs" from upstate New York into Quebec to buy Canadian beer. "State your purpose" "Beer run" "Welcome back to the US son" We never had any problem with this. This was back in the stone age when 18 was the legal drinking age.

During the same era, one of my roommates parents was moving and offered us some furniture and such for our apartment. We rented a U-Haul and drove it to Michigan across Ontario (Niagara Falls to Detroit). Coming into the US they asked a couple of rag tag college students (us) what we had in the back of the truck. "It's completely empty!" we said. Sure they thought and pulled us over to search it. And it was completely empty. They were a bit surprised I guess.

After filling it up with my roommates family stuff, we didn't take the short cut across Ontario - so no boarder crossing to worry about.
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