During the summer of 2009, we did some RV travel in Canada, crossing the US/Canada border at Port Huron, MI, on our way to Niagara and a first visit to the Falls – it’s a busy crossing and it took 1-1/2 hours to get to the actual border patrol. The guard asked quite a few questions; I declared an open bottle of bourbon and think that was the extent of it. Leaving Niagara, we crossed back into the US to Buffalo on the Peace Bridge with no difficulties.
Visit ezbordercrossing.com for lots of detailed information.
At that site there is even a list of border crossings into Canada from all US border states except Alaska - scroll down to "United States Border Crossing Agencies" and pick the link for the state you’ll be crossing from for general information - then you can click on the link for the exact crossing you’ll be using to get more specific information.
A bit later that summer, we crossed Into New Brunswick, Canada, at Houlton, ME, for a wonderful week or so in the Canadian Maritimes. We crossed back into the states at the same place – and had no trouble going either direction. We were not subjected to inspections at any of these borders, but that doesn’t mean it’s always so easy.
I have heard, and read, many stories and warnings about border crossings. It is said that if you’re a full-time RVer, you shouldn’t admit it to the Canadian border patrol – they’ll think you’re a homeless drifter. If they worm that information out of you, make sure you let them know you are expected at some US location on a specific date, so they know you’ll be leaving.
If you are planning on RV travel in Canada and your license plates show you are from one of the states that have recently legalized marijuana, it’s very likely you will be searched, as it is still illegal at the Federal level. The patrols will ask, several times, if you are carrying anything illegal.
If you have criminal, security, or medical reasons why you might be denied admission to Canada, it's possible you could be eligible for a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP). It is recommended that you check out your situation well in advance of your intended trip - you can find more information about this at the TRP site.
RV travel in Canada was more expensive than we had anticipated: gas costs were higher, there was a 13% tax added onto just about everything, and I discovered to my dismay that my wireless internet connection had sent my phone bill skyrocketing. Check with your service provider to see what coverage you have before crossing into another country as cross border roaming charges can be prohibitive. Since WiFi is available in so many places these days, you may be able to get an Air Card for pay-as-you-go service through a Canadian provider.
If you’re a US citizen, returning to the US from Canada, there are restrictions as to what fruits, vegetables and meats you might be bringing in, as they won’t allow anything that wasn’t commercially grown in the US or Canada. If you have any of those items, it’s a good idea to leave the little stickers on the produce showing that it was indeed grown in “safe” countries.
If you’re a Canadian citizen, entering the US, you’ll be asked “How long are you staying in the USA?” The US allows Canadians to stay in their country as visitors for 182 days which is calculated on an annual basis from January 1st to December 31st .
However, if you are in the U.S. for more than 182 days over a three year period, you are expected to fill out the "Closer Connection" form and send it in to the IRS before June 15 the following year. This Form 8840 is available on the IRS website. Find the IRS Conditions for a Closer Connection to a Foreign Country to see how they calculate the number of days over that three-year period; if it ends up you have stayed more than 182 days, the IRS can claim you are a US citizen for tax purposes.
Emergency Medical Travel Insurance is always a good idea when you are traveling anywhere, but especially in the USA where medical treatment is very costly. It is quite reasonably priced unless you have existing medical conditions – in that case, the premiums can be pretty high. However, it’s worth it.
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