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Sunday, September 11, 2016

Holiday Travel from Canada to the US

Over the years we've travelled to only a few places in the US from our home in Canada. We're not big travellers, and mostly we drive. I've taken a few bus trips with groups, and flown a few times to places like California and New York, myself.

Back eons ago (oh alright, only about 35 years ago, so not really eons) travelling across the border between Canada and the US was a lot less structured, but when 9/11 hit ... things began to change. Once, you could drive between our two countries with little worry, but today travel involves a lot more preparation than just packing your suitcase.

Although there have always been regulations about what you take across into the US and what you can bring back into Canada, checking packages as you drive through the border crossing was almost non-existent way back then.

Today, the checks are frequent and you should be prepared to show all your receipts for everything coming back into Canada with you, and receipts to show what hotels or motels you've stayed at. The receipts can help confirm the length of time you've been in the US, and prove the value of products you're bringing back home.

Never remove and throw away tags and receipts from new articles of clothing or shoes, or from any electronics you've purchased (did you know most electronics have serial numbers that show which market they are for?).  Border staff are pretty good at telling the difference between old and new, even if you've worn the item. Keep receipts and tags in an envelope so even if you've worn an item of clothing, you can prove the value of it. You may purchase a $300 purse on sale for $50, but if you've discarded the tags/receipts when you cross the border you have no proof you only paid $50, and you'll be responsible for value of the original cost. You might "get away with" passing it off as something you purchased a few months ago at home ... but there have been cases where the item has been confiscated until the owner returned with proof from home that they bought it here, and not in the US. You can also be fined for not declaring the items you are bringing back to Canada.

I once had a friend whose engagement ring was taken by border staff (receipt given to her) because her boyfriend proposed in the US while on holiday, even though he purchased the ring in Canada. The ring was returned when he came back to the border with the store receipt and appraisal.

If you haven't crossed the border from Canada to the US recently, (or from the US to Canada) you'll be doing yourself a favour by studying the requirements before you go. Make sure you carry nothing with you that is restricted in the US, or restricted from crossing the border (things like seeds, live plants, roots, some foods, drugs, including unlabelled prescriptions, etc.)

I go back to the border crossing sites every time we take a trip and double check what I'm packing, or what I'm bringing home. You don't want to be surprised by a change that you were unaware of.

You can find this information on travelling with:
For snowbirds bringing household belongings into the US, depending on how you plan to bring these items, you may need to complete appropriate forms. If you are driving to your destination or US property and the items are coming with you (in your vehicle), you aren't required to fill out these forums, but you are required to provide a manifest (a listing or inventory) of those items, so make sure you have that present in your vehicle with you when driving across. See this page on importing household goods.

While I do focus mainly on Canadians going to places in the US, for US Citizens travelling to Canada, some information is available at theNiagara Falls Border Crossing site.

I'm not really planning on providing a ton of travel tips. There are many sites that can provide you with much better information than I can, but I will be sharing some of our travel routes, and the information on the hotels where we've stayed, places we stopped when enroute for meals, or rest stops - what we liked, what we didn't, and our experiences along the way, and at our destinations.

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