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Crossing the Canadian Border: Do’s and Don’ts

Updated on May 21, 2016

Having lived on both sides of the 49th parallel, and traveling back and forth over the border many many times, I’ve learned a few things about crossing the Canadian Border. There are some definite DO's and DONT'S when it comes to driving across the boundary between the United States and Canada.


DO carry your passport

As of June 1st, 2009, requirements have changed, so a driver’s license and birth certificate are no longer acceptable forms of identification if you are traveling into or out of Canada from the United States. A valid passport is necessary for everyone crossing the border. Keep this in mind, and take care of your passport renewal well in advance of any trip you have planned into Canada, or vice versa.

DON'T be disrespectful to border officials

Everyone crossing must declare themselves to the proper officials.  Customs and Immigrations Officials will greet, question, and possibly inspect you as you cross the border.  Sometimes called “Border Guards”, these individuals are some of the most highly trained law enforcement personnel you will ever meet.  They are doing their job to protect both countries from many possible threats, as well as ensuring safe passage of goods and persons across the border.  They deserve your respect.


DO cooperate with border officials

Not only do the Customs and Immigrations Officials on either side of the border deserve your respect, but they also merit your cooperation.  As already mentioned, they are simply doing their jobs.  Answer their questions as simply and clearly as possible.  Remove your sunglasses when approaching the border station, unlock your vehicle doors, roll down your window completely, turn down your radio, hand your passports to the guard right away, etc.   All of these things will show that you’re helpful and ready to do whatever is needed to make the crossing as easy as it can be.

DON'T stretch the truth

When the border officials are questioning you, always be truthful in your responses. No matter what the question is, answer as specifically as possible. This is to your advantage for a couple of reasons. The officials are trained to monitor your responses, and they will very likely be able to tell if you’re not telling the truth. It’s not worth being pulled over, inspected, detained, and possibly fined, if not arrested, for having stretched the truth a little, or a lot. In addition, if you’ve given exact answers, and, for some reason, do happen to be inspected, when your exact answers match the inspection results you’ll have nothing to worry about.

These things all seem fairly common sense, but I’ve witnessed all of these do’s and don’ts being violated at many border crossings.  Not having proper identification, being sassy and uncooperative with the border guards, and being dishonest when questioned at the border has delayed many travelers on their trips across the international boundary between the US and Canada.  If you take these few things into consideration, you can make your border crossing much easier.  


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    • profile image

      francis5k 5 years ago

      Interesting article nice story... goodjob!

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 6 years ago from the short journey

      Very good tips again. Thanks! Looking forward to updates from you as our world situation evolves.