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Old 05-28-2022, 10:20 AM   #1
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USA - Canada Border Crossing

This is long but only intended to be informative for those crossing the northern borders. YMMV!

Two weeks ago, DW and I crossed into Canada at the Peace Arch crossing outside of Blaine Washington. Experience was perfect. Asked the usual questions: guns, weapons, fruits, vegetables, BEAR MACE, cash larger than $10,000 and alcohol. Answered no on all above except alcohol which was slightly above personal consumption allowances. Allowed allowed was 1.14 L per traveler and we had 1.75L BLT, 750ml BTL and a 500ml BTL. I also had the receipt. Border officer was super nice and welcomed us into Canada without any additional duties.

Keep in mind there are 3 different “Absence of xx” time frame scenarios that affect your personal expeditions.

Now last week needed to return to Washington state for a windshield replacement. Came into the states through the Pacific crossing. I would avoid this crossing at all costs for how narrow the entry lanes are for Motorhomes, I mean I’m talking 6” clearance a side!

So here is where the Sh_t hits the fan. So I’m moving really slow and can’t see for beans, and I clear the posts and stop at the officer. Now I’m a US citizen and I’m a bit worked up about the narrow lanes. So the officer says what are you nervous about. I say well I just about damaged my motorhome entering the lanes here. Instantly he says rather curtly “engine off and hand me the keys”! I thought wow a bit over the top but ok and comply.

Asks the usual questions above and I answer no to all. Then the doozy ones, do I have any eggs, chicken or rice in the MH? I said yes I do. “Sir I’m going to need to refer you inside for agricultural violations”. So after 90 minutes they confiscate my 6 raw eggs, 4lbs of uncooked rice and 1 lb of vacuum packed COSTCO rotisserie chicken (this was only marked by me as such). Oh and went through the coach top to bottom with 3 officers and one K-9. They did not “toss” the place but they were thorough and seemed frustrated that they could figure out how to open the non-electric storage doors. Sent an officer in to get the keys from me and I said I would need ton show him. Said I couldn’t enter the coach and I said well then its gonna be a challenge for you to locate based on my descriptions…finally let me enter, gave them the keys and was told to leave the area while they finished.

So there was a rule change 3 weeks ago that rice, chicken and eggs are not admissible into the USA regardless of where they were purchased even with proof of receipt for same. Fresh or frozen chicken, originated from USA while still in the manufacturer’s packaging showing country of origin are allowed.

It is an ever changing landscape when it comes to border crossings and I know the agents all have a tough job. My complaint is the way they handle us. Can’t mgmt develop and teach a professional demeanor for agents, while not coming across as bada_ses? I would imagine a little bit of kindness would go along way AND help them catch illegal activities along the way.

Lastly, for those of you interested about commenting on agents performance and worrying having your account/ID flagged, (especially if your in the NEXUS/TRusted Traveler Program) you have your rights so please do share. US Border Patrol has a website where you can compliment and complain about your experience. This is through the Department of Homeland Security.

If your worried about information that might be on your files, the agents are not allowed to tell you, but they are also not forthcoming about how to see that information. You can file a Freedom of Information Act request to see what if any comments have been made.

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Old 05-28-2022, 10:31 AM   #2
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Yours is a typical story actually. When we traveled to Alaska in 2019 we had to traverse the border numerous times. We had eggs, tomatoes, meat and other items seized at both sides of the border. As you mentioned, the list changes frequently. The biggest hassle we had was first entering Canada. As soon as the agent read my file she realized I was retired law enforcement and questioned me for several minutes about if I had a firearm on board. I kept my cool and was passed off to another agent who seized out tomatoes ��. Of course it did not help that another of our group tried to hide a pistol in his MH. He was a few hours ahead of us. He spent the night there. They seized his firearm, was fined $2k and allowed to rejoin our group the next day. He was then stopped at each border crossing and his Mh was completely searched each time. He finally gave up and went home.
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Old 05-28-2022, 10:49 AM   #3
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Yes ; Pacific Crossing is a PITA both directions , JMHO Southbound is worse.

The steel posts filled with concrete are to keep us unruly Canadians from lane jumping to the faster kiosk.

Always; warn about setting the park brake and turn off engine and remove sunglasses , prior to speaking to the guard .

You want to hear and be heard .

I got called over for inspection and when allowed back to the coach , entry door was open in the rain . Inspectors had no idea about the door's Posi-A-Lock system . I guess they'd never done a coach before .
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Old 05-28-2022, 10:55 AM   #4
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That's why I will never go to Canada!!!
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Old 05-28-2022, 10:59 AM   #5
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whats the rules on bear spray
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Old 05-28-2022, 11:10 AM   #6
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We had similar experience crossing from Canada into Alaska in 2011. I assume agent was bored and tired but no excuse for his being gruff and rude. Threatened us with $200 fine for each prohibited item. They ended up taking our strawberries and red peppers and gave us a fond farewell.
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Old 05-28-2022, 12:25 PM   #7
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We crossed into Canada from Calais, Maine a few years ago. We were told to shut off the engine and hand the keys to the officer. Three more uniformed, armed officers came out with a dog. We were told to open all our slideouts and stand outside while they searched the coach for a half hour. Thankfully the weather was good. They found nothing, and we proceeded on our way.

Would this deter me from going back to Canada? Not on your life! I have visited Canada 15 or 20 times and each visit was a joy. The people are great, the culture is great, and the country is replete with scenic wonders. I totally enjoyed my every visit to Canada, and I think you will too. The customs hassles are just a blip. Don't let it bother you. Just be sure to leave your guns at home.
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Old 05-28-2022, 12:44 PM   #8
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I sure hope that migrating birds got the memo that they are no longer permitted to cross the border. Oh, the deer and bears better play it safe and only cross at night. This is why governments need supervision.
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Old 05-28-2022, 01:52 PM   #9
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Had same experience as OP on crossing into the USA with K9 and officers and being told to leave coach and not allowed to witness what they were doing inside etc or assist.

Had tons of different meals and stuff confiscated heading south in our early inexperienced years on numerous occasions but the most funniest of all we ever encountered was:

Had a handful of grapes in a dish up front thinking better for us than always eating sweets. Now remember these were bought in a Canadian Supermarket, that had washed them umpteen times at various points plus we had washed them ourselves. We are talking a small handful here! Officer said "pass me them" gave him our dish and he emptied it in his garbage bin at his post.

Asking very sheepishly and politely as I could "do you mind me asking why"? Answer was curt and "cos they come from Chile". OK then. Again sheepishly asked "and"? There might be a certain fly on them.

Our conclusion was that these flies are so hyper intelligent that "if" still present on the grapes, they knew not to fly out of the officers garbage can and risk heading 5 ft across the border line.

Don't get us wrong we absolutely do respect the needs for everyone's protection at border check points, but some days one does shake their head in confusion and question the logic or lack thereof.

For sure with Avian Flu, other diseases, foot and mouth when it was prevalent and so on we absolutely respect the precautions on allowed/not allowed/driving or walking through disinfectant baths etc

Another one that totally throws us is why they confiscate my whole tomatoes and then tell me after the fact if they were sliced I could have kept them = well duh thanks for the after the fact info Tibbs.

Another time in years gone by when raw eggs were banned we were offered to pull over and hard boil them if we would like. Really depends on luck of the draw what type of officer you get and whether he/she got out of the wrong side of the bed that morning or had a row with the spouse before coming into work.

Happy Travels, just keep on truckin' and don't sweat the small stuff. NEXT ......
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Old 05-28-2022, 02:04 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by swduns View Post
whats the rules on bear spray
Same as Border Agent Spray.

When entering Canada, use with discretion.
When entering US, use with caution.

In either application, check wind direction first.
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Old 05-28-2022, 02:34 PM   #11
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I use to cross the boarder all the time. The agents are just doing their job. If they bend or flex the rules they could lose their job. Their job is very much scripted with questions and how to act and react. And, its the way I want my boarder. I always thought the US side was the bigger pain.
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Old 05-28-2022, 02:48 PM   #12
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I was a U.S Customs Inspector that worked out of Seattle Port of entry, there were times we helped cover the Blain Port of Entry. I retired in 1996 so I am sure that there has been a bunch of changes. I would be the first to say there is no excuse for being rude and disrespected to the folks coming into the port of entry. I do have a couple of suggestions, first if you feel that you are be harass or disrespected, politely demand to speak with the Supervisor Inspector on Duty. Then discuss the problem with the Supervisor. Don’t get into a peeing contest with the inspector, things will not turn out well.
Anyone going out or coming into the US I highly recommend to read at least this will give you an idea of what to expect.
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Old 05-28-2022, 03:23 PM   #13
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We went to AK in 2009 and crossed east of Glacier National Park, it was a small crossing.

Prior to crossing while we were in Glacier I went to the Canadain customs office and asked some questions just to confirm some things. One thing they told me was that Potatoes were not allowed to cross into Canada. OK
So we went to the crossing and stopped in the parking area and I went into the office to ask some questions. I asked about the potatoes and they said they never heard of that but would check, they later said they were OK to take. I also had a large folding knife I kept in my pocket, I pulled it out and unfolded it (it was a decent size knife) and I asked "Is this a weapon?) they said jut keep the knife in my pocket and let the Canadian custom agent decide it they ask to see it. Asked a couple other questions and then went back to the coach.
Drove to the crossing point and by that time they had a small pickup stopped, the driver was spread eagle on the side of the truck, and agents were going through his stuff and they had a dog checking everything. We had to wait quite a while before the finished and he was able to drive on.

I pulled forward, stopped the engine, put it in park and waited. Finally one of the agents came out of the office, recognized that I had just been in the office and just waived us through.

On the Canadian side they agent asked the usual stuff, and we were way over in alcohol ( had beer, wine, hard), he asked how long we were going to be in Canada and we said as long it it takes to drive to AK, probably 7 days. He said have a nice trip and waived us through.

When we came back we crossed somewhere near Vancouver, not sure what crossing. We were in line and it was going pretty slow, a female agent came and asked what size rig we had and I told her, and she waved us through bypass where oversize loads would go. No problems at all there.
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Old 05-28-2022, 06:40 PM   #14
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Wow. I'm from a small town on the Michigan/Canada border (St Clair River). Before Covid, I used to go over just to see the Sarnia Sting hockey games. Never had any issues. Once the CA agent asked if I had my rifle with me since I was visiting MI from TX for deer season. I said no, and that was it.

We had a ferry in town. People on both sides went to the other side for dinner. No issues.

We used to water ski on the Canadian side, since they have a nice sand bar to take off from. Technically, we were in CA. No issues.

I miss the good old days where we all just cooperated with each other.
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ada, canada

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