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Old 08-04-2019, 09:15 AM   #1
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Traveling to Canada

We've been talking about making an extended trip to Canada. We KNOW we can't carry our guns (which we normally do) but other than that didn't know what to expect. We recently ran into someone we know that had just returned from a month long vacation that included several weeks there. They were in a car, not an rv. Just an ldr couple traveling alone. What disturbed me was hearing the horrible experience they haff st he border.
One of the first questions they were asked was, are you carrying a weapon. They said no. The next comment was, SOOOOO, you are trying to tell has that you are from GEORGIA and you're NOT carrying?!!! I mean, really? Then their car was searched, with NO regards to their possessions or neatness or respect or anything other than stepping down their car. Is this common? They were there so long that they witnessed an rv being put through the same misery.
He DID say that he and his wife had no specific plans, reservations etc. As they enjoy just going where the mood takes them. And that is kind of how we travel as well.
We also have 2 dogs. I'm assuming I need current health reports and I carry those with me all the time anyway. But other than that, any advice???
I DO understand there are MANY places to hide a weapon. I DO understand them searching.
But is there anything I can do that will make the process ANY less intrusive??? And less stressful??
Thank you for any helpful tips you may have.
P.S. I HAVE crossed the border on the past and HAVE been searched. I was with a friend and best husband that were at the time living in NY and they were taking me sightseeing. My friend was being a lurker silly answering their questions I can understand why they searched our car. But it was quick, easy and no big deal.
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Old 08-04-2019, 10:50 AM   #2
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You mentioned that you’ve crossed the border before so you know what to expect. When we’ve approached a border crossing (going into the USA or Canada), we always remove our sunglasses. We maintain eye contact with the agent. We have our documents ready to hand over (if and only when requests) before we reach the agents booth. We know ahead of time what we can or cannot bring across a that border. We answer the questions precisely without extra commentary. We treat the agent with all due respect, and with only one exception, that is what we received in return. We’ve never been bordered or inspected. We did have to surrender raw chicken eggs one time (that was our fault for not knowing what we could bring into Canada at that point in time).

Agents are people too. We can only control our emotions, thoughts, actions, and reactions, not those of others. Some days are better than others for you and the agent. Just accept it and move on.

As for your comment about Georgia plates, we have California plates. One can only imagine what they think of us!
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Old 08-04-2019, 11:10 AM   #3
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You generally get treated at the border quite professionally. Canadian agents in our experience are more professional than US.

I have to say, reading your post, there’s a lot of anxiety on display. That’s the type of behavior that can trigger interest in further examination.

We’ve had our number come up for searching the coach and toad and it’s really no big deal. Although maybe it could become one if you reacted inappropriately.

When you state you normally travel with guns it’s reasonable to expect some direct questions and heightened interest. I assume that US and Canadian law enforcement share a lot of information, and they probably know a whole lot more about you than you imagine.

The only advice I have is take a deep breath, go to customs with plenty of time in your schedule so there’s no time pressure. And don’t take any dipsticks along who get off on making smart Alec comments at the border.
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Old 08-04-2019, 11:58 AM   #4
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From a Canuck

Hi.

Crossing any border can be intimidating. We traveled last year from Canada to Mexico and back with no problems. The border personnel in all 3 countries were very polite and professional.

Of course, we did our homework. And we were prepared. We were forthright, as others said we removed our sunglasses, and we answered the questions without hesitation. Here are some tips:

- research the government website for entering the country into which you are planning to go. There will be rules and advice. About allowed agricultural and meat products (eg) chicken, lamb, pork, vegetables - even dog foods. When we entered the USA, we were told that dog foods with lamb and chicken were not allowed across the border.

- yes, have your pet or pets’ health certificates current and readily available. We carry our boxer’s health certificates in a folder that sits beside the passenger along with the PASSPORTS.

- know where you are going. Have a plan of some type (eg) “we’re going to Vancouver for a few days, then up to Whistler, down to Kelowna, over to Banff and Jasper, visiting Calgary. We will be staying in RV parks, provincial and federal campgrounds and parks etc” . This is important. The reason (most probably) that the couple in the car were so severely scrutinized was because they said that they were going to be in country for an extended period and had no real plans. The border service does not want to hear this. They want specifics, even if they are just generalities as I alluded to previously. Many try to enter Canada for illegal work or to get lost as illegal immigrants in a massive country with a total population that is less than that of California.

- if you have a criminal record or have plead guilty to a felony, you will not get in. Traffic tickets and other legal history is another story. You can check with border services beforehand and they will advise you.

- if you are carrying a weapon (eg) hunting rifle while transiting Canada to Alaska, there is a process for paperwork before coming to the border. Your trigger must be locked, your gun stored appropriately, and your ammo stored separately from the weapon. Hand guns are restricted weapons in Canada and rules are strict about moving them from home to range or competition. There is no open carry, very very restricted permissions for closed carry (PI for example) and Canadians are even required to transport hunting weapons as described above - gun separate from ammo. As well, all Canadians must have a PAL (possession and license) card to buy a gun anywhere or even ammo. It’s government issued Photo ID that is given only after documentation of an approved gun safety course and an exhaustive background check by the RCMP/civil authorities. So, it’s safe to travel without a gun in Canada.

- although this is not a complete list of things to know, a little research and common sense will make your transit easy. Lastly, having a bro-in-law as an ex border agent, and his and my nephew as a current border agent, and from my own experience:

Answer the questions posed succinctly with eye contact and in a respectful manner.
Don’t offer more information than the questions asked. This can present as nervousness.
Yes Sir, No officer are polite and appropriate responses.

Border agents will sometimes try to trip you up. It is a way to help them determine whether you are hiding something. On our return to Canada this past spring I was asked whether I had a front plate on our RV. I thought to myself “ of course I do, you saw it and the system took a picture of it” YES SIR was my response. He asked me if anyone had given me anything in Mexico or in the USA while traveling home. After a few more questions, he asked me the same question but in a different way. I gave the same response both time. NO SIR.
While not a “game” per se, the officers are trying to “read” you in the 3 or 4 minutes that you are there with them. If they do have a concern, they will pull you over into secondary for an inspection.

DON’T TAKE AN INSPECTION PERSONALLY. They pull over X number of vehicles per hour. As we say in the Motorcycle world “Give respect, get respect “

Happy and safe travels. Although our gas prices are high, you have the advantage of the good USA/CDN currency exchange rate.

And while you are enjoying that expensive case of beer or pack of smokes, know that a lot of the tax on those products go to our nationalized health care system.

Cheers 🍷

DJ
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Old 08-04-2019, 01:15 PM   #5
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We have crossed into Canada many times and never had a problem. We have our vehicle registration, passports, the cat's rabies certificates handy and know our licence plate number.
I am told that many states have gun registrations linked to the car license plates. So when they key in the plate, they can see that you own guns. We have never owned guns and have never been second guessed when we say that we don't have any.
Crossing back into the US agents have always been less polite and courteous than the Canadian agents, but it seems to depend on where we cross and how busy the checkpoint is. Coming across the Rainbow Bridge in Niagara Falls we had a very long line and the rudest agent ever.
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Old 08-04-2019, 02:47 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by HavingABlast View Post
You mentioned that you’ve crossed the border before so you know what to expect. When we’ve approached a border crossing (going into the USA or Canada), we always remove our sunglasses. We maintain eye contact with the agent. We have our documents ready to hand over (if and only when requests) before we reach the agents booth. We know ahead of time what we can or cannot bring across a that border. We answer the questions precisely without extra commentary. We treat the agent with all due respect, and with only one exception, that is what we received in return. We’ve never been bordered or inspected. We did have to surrender raw chicken eggs one time (that was our fault for not knowing what we could bring into Canada at that point in time).

Agents are people too. We can only control our emotions, thoughts, actions, and reactions, not those of others. Some days are better than others for you and the agent. Just accept it and move on.

As for your comment about Georgia plates, we have California plates. One can only imagine what they think of us!
Excellent post. This is our feeling, also. We've crossed multiple times and never searched. There's no reason to be apprehensive. Hopefully, your record is clean. They have lots of information on you when you first drive up. Look up the Canadian web site for crossing which gives all the information you need. Be polite. Answer questions with yes or no, if possible and above all.... don't joke around. Crossing any border is serious.
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Old 08-05-2019, 07:08 AM   #7
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Thank you ALL for your excellent advice. I had not thought about looking up the website. I definitely will do that. Also having everything at hand and removing sunglasses.
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Old 08-16-2019, 11:49 AM   #8
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Another thing, if asked about guns that you own but left behind at home, state that you are aware that they are restricted and left them behind. Showing your awareness always helps.
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Old 08-19-2019, 08:47 AM   #9
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Another thing, if asked about guns that you own but left behind at home, state that you are aware that they are restricted and left them behind. Showing your awareness always helps.
Yes, I thought that is what I would do. Thank you for the confirmation.
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Old 08-22-2019, 11:52 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Vicky H View Post
One of the first questions they were asked was, are you carrying a weapon. They said no. The next comment was, SOOOOO, you are trying to tell has that you are from GEORGIA and you're NOT carrying?!!! I mean, really? Then their car was searched, with NO regards to their possessions or neatness or respect or anything other than stepping down their car. Is this common? They were there so long that they witnessed an rv being put through the same misery.
You act like this is a surprise? First off, by crossing an international border you open yourself up to inspection by the country you are trying to enter. It's their land...their laws. Canada does not have the same constitutional protections to firearm ownership that we enjoy as U.S. citizens, let alone you're entering their country not as a citizen at all, so don't expect to have the same rights that a Canadian citizen might in their own country.

We took our fifth wheel into Canada this summer at Coutts, AB. The crossing was actually pretty painless as we were quite prepared. I expected to be asked about alcohol, tobacco, firearms, marijuana, and cash and that was exactly what was asked of us. We were HONEST about what we were bringing. That's important. We went over on the alcohol we were bringing across the border and fully expected that we'd be paying a duty. Guess what? The CBSA agent was satisfied that we weren't planning to sell the alcohol to Canadian citizens so he let us through without a duty. Same thing happened to us coming back into the U.S. Honesty and preparedness helped again. We were over on the alcohol again and they let us through duty free again. We never got pulled for inspection on either border crossing. I wrote a blog post on our experiences at the border: https://lower48intow.com/crossing-th...-the-easy-way/.

If you prepare and go there with the mentality of "Their Land, Their Laws," you won't have problems.
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