Travelling from Canada to us
If you’re travelling to the U.S. from Canada, there are a few things you need to know before your trip. Keep in mind that every traveller has a different experience when crossing the border and this article is based on third-party research, as well as personal experiences of other travellers.
The process can change frequently and depend on a number of variables such as time of year, location of the checkpoint, or even the agent you get on any given day. In general, travelling from Canada to the U.S.
involves three main steps: getting your documentation ready, border check-in and re-entry into Canada. While it might seem like a lot, it’s all quite simple and shouldn't take more than an hour if you have everything prepared in advance.
Read on to find out what you need to know about travelling from Canada to the U.S..
Know your documentation and requirements
For most people, the first step in preparing for border crossing is making sure you have the correct documentation for the trip.
While requirements change from time to time and from border to border, some documents are always useful for visitors to both countries.
The first and most basic requirement is a valid passport. If you don’t have one, don’t worry—you can travel with a trusted photo ID and proof of citizenship like a birth certificate.
Passports must be valid for at least six months after your intended date of return, though some countries require you to have at least two blank pages for entry stamps.
If you’re visiting a friend or family member and are not a resident of the country, you’ll also need proof of your relationship with that person.
Relevant documents include a birth certificate, marriage license, adoption papers, or a signed affidavit.
Travelling to the U.S. from Canada
Border crossings are busiest on weekends, holidays and during summer (particularly August).
If you’re crossing on a weekday, you may be able to avoid some of the crowds. During the week, crossing times can vary anywhere between 20 and 60 minutes. On the weekend, you may face longer wait times of one or two hours.
When you arrive at the border, you should inform the Customs and Border Protection officer of your intention to go to the United States. They may ask you some questions about the visit and your travel plans.
Be honest, polite and friendly—being rude won’t get you anywhere.
After you’ve gone through a security check, you’ll come to a border checkpoint. Here, you will have to report your entry into the country and get your travel documentation checked by a Customs and Border Protection official.
The officer will have you fill out a declaration form and ask about the purpose of your visit. If you’re crossing on foot or by car, you’ll likely have to go through a pre-approved inspection of your vehicle before you can enter the U.S.
If you’re travelling by air, you’ll go through inspection before you get to the border. It’s important to remember that a border officer has the right to ask you about anything and everything, so don’t lie, misrepresent yourself, or leave anything out.
The inspection process shouldn’t be taken personally and it’s nothing personal.
Re-entry to Canada
After you’ve gone through inspection and arrived at your destination, you’ll have to report back to Customs and Border Protection as you depart the country.
When you report back to the border, you’ll be asked if you intend to leave the U.S. If you do, you’ll be given a re-entry permit that you’ll need to show when you come back to visit the country again.
If you don’t intend to leave, you can stay in the country without any special documentation. When you report back to the border, you’ll go through inspection to make sure that you haven’t been involved in any criminal activity, don’t have any diseases and aren’t carrying any harmful substances or plants.
Traveling with children from Canada to the U.S.
If you’re travelling with children, you’ll have to show that you are the parent or legal guardian.
You can do this by providing a birth certificate or adoption papers. Before you leave, make sure that you have the name, date and place of birth for each child you’ll be travelling with.
If the kids are minors (under 18), you’ll also have to provide a written consent letter that states you are the parent or guardian, as well as details of your guardianship. You can do this by filling out a form CBP provides.
When you arrive at the border, you’ll also need to pay a $5 processing fee for each child.
Tips for travelling from Canada to the US
There are a few things you can do to make sure your trip goes smoothly and is as quick and easy as possible.
Here are a few tips: - Make sure you have the right documents for your trip. If you don’t, you might have to make a special trip to get them.
If you’re not sure, check the government websites for both countries for the latest information. - Prepare yourself for a long wait at the border.
It’s possible to avoid some of the crowds by visiting during the week, avoiding peak times, or travelling from smaller border crossing.
- If you’re visiting friends or family, be prepared to show documentation proving your relationship.
- Give yourself enough time to get to the border. If you’re crossing on a weekday, you’ll likely face shorter wait times. - Stay calm and friendly. Getting angry won’t help you.
Travelling internationally can be a stressful and tiring experience. Make sure you plan ahead and bring along all the documentation you might need.
If you’re travelling from Canada to the U.S., make sure you know what documents you need, how long the border wait times are and how to prepare yourself for the inspection process. If you follow the tips in this article, you’ll be well-prepared to make your trip as smooth as possible.