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Crossing the border can feel stressful, but it doesn’t have to be a painful experience. If you’re thinking of crossing into Canada from the U.S. (or vice-versa), whether it be for business or pleasure, some advance planning can make the experience easier.
Handy Travel Tips for Crossing the U.S./Canada Border
- Practice border crossing etiquette. Don’t roll up with a cluttered vehicle and your music blasting. A clean vehicle has less places where you could be hiding something, so make sure to clear out the clutter and trash before you leave. Before you pull up, take off your sunglasses, turn down your stereo, and put away your cell phone. Have your passengers roll down their windows and take their sunglasses off as well. The more visibility you offer, the less holdups you will have.
- Carry necessary travel documents. In order to cross the border, you and your passengers will need to present valid proof of citizenship and identity, such as passports and/or NEXUS cards. Don’t pack these documents away, either; make sure they’re easily accessible so you can present them to the border officer without delay. Have your vehicle registration available, as well.
- Have concrete travel plans. The border officer is going to ask you the purpose for your visit, so it’s in your best interest to have your travel dates, destinations, and reason for traveling ready for them.
- Know the contents of your vehicle. Before you leave for your road trip, take some time to clean out your car interior and trunk and take stock of which items you’ll be bringing with you. Unnecessary items and those unrelated to your trip, such as work clothing or items, may leave border guards wondering if you’re being honest about the purpose of your visit. You’ll have to declare all items upon crossing, so make sure that you know what you can and can’t bring across the border as well. You can learn more about what you can and can’t bring across the border at the Canada Border Services Agency and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
- Check border crossing wait times. You can avoid a delays by choosing the right border crossing. Border wait times can be lengthy, so it’s worth it to check and see if driving an extra few minutes to the next one could be worth your while.
Good luck in your travels!