Crossing the Border

Canada Usa BorderTips for Crossing the Canada/US Border

Although it is the longest undefended border in the world, it is still a border between two different countries. Customs officers at the border ensure that people entering Canada respect Canadian Laws. They are authorized to interview persons seeking entry to Canada to determine admissibility. Below are some of the requirements and the information you will need to enter Canada.


Identification

When you enter Canada, a customs officer may ask to see your passport and a valid visa if one is necessary. A passport or NEXUS card is required if you are traveling by air. (the NEXUS card can be used in airports with a NEXUS kiosk.)

U.S. citizens returning home from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean or Bermuda, by land or sea, are required to present one of the following travel documents.

Canadians traveling to the USA: Approved Travel Documents

NOTE: All U.S. citizens including children must present a passport or other approved travel document when entering the United States.

A passport is the preferred document to cross the Canada/US border. Guests report that using a passport generally simplifies border crossing and results in fewer delays.

US citizens who are owners of a seasonal Tourism business in Canada are advised to have the following documents in their possession for ease of processing their entry into Canada

  • Work permit compliance fee receipt with the payment reference number written on it
  • Share certificate if applicable (A share certificate is a certificate issued by a company certifying that on the date the certificate is issued a certain person is the registered owner of shares in the company. The key information contained in the share certificate is: the name and address of the shareholder and the number of shares held)
  • Certificate of Incorporation
  • Deed for the property
  • Signed Purchase agreement if you are a first time new owner & a business plan
  • A financial statement from our accountant (showing balance sheet, retained earnings, statement of income, cash flows)
  • T4’s from previous year employees
  • All invoices showing purchases to Canadian vendors
  • All tax bills
  • MNRF land use permits
  • Commercial Bait license (if applicable)
  • Tax Return
  • NOTO letter or other support letters (optional but very helpful)

It is recommended that these documents be placed in a binder with dividers for ease of examination and reading.


What Can I Bring Into Canada?

Personal Baggage

As a visitor, you can bring certain goods into Canada for your own use as “personal baggage.” Including:
  • Clothing
  • Camping and sports equipment
  • Cameras, tape recorders and personal computers
  • Vehicles, private boats and aircraft.

More information on personal baggage is also available at the CBSA website. If importing a boat, please ensure you meet the conditions listed on this page.

Firearms and Weapons

Before you attempt to import a firearm or weapon, you should contact the Canada Firearms Centre for information at 1-800-731-4000 or www.cfc-cafc.gc.ca

The following requirements apply to the importation of firearms and weapons:
  • You must be at least 18 years of age;
  • You can import non-restricted and restricted firearms, provided you meet all requirements; and
  • You cannot import prohibited firearms, weapons or devices, including silencers, replica firearms, switchblades and other weapons.

The process for bringing ordinary hunting rifles and shotguns into Canada is relatively simple and usually involves filing a form in advance and making a declaration at the border.

Other important import information:

Bait: CBSA plays an important role in Protecting Canada from invasive species (cbsa-asfc.gc.ca) Accordingly, personal importations of bait are NOT permitted and will be refused entry. This includes both fishing and bear bait.

Importing Boats: Travellers towing or transporting boats at all border crossings in Canada must ensure that boats, trailers, vehicles and water-related equipment are free of Zebra and Quagga mussels before entering Canada. All boats and equipment must be cleared of aquatic plants, animals, mud, debris, and be drained of water and dry. When boats, trailers, vehicles, and conveyances arriving at the border are suspected to be contaminated, enforcement authorities will be notified to inspect and/or decontaminate the equipment. If decontamination is not feasible at time of importation, travellers’ equipment may be held and turned over to provincial authorities for a quarantine period, or refused entry by enforcement authorities and directed to a decontamination station in the U.S. before returning to Canada. Please view paragraphs 23-27 for more information.

Cannabis: Don’t bring it in, Don’t take it out. Click HERE for more information.

Poultry Products: When there are outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in the United States, the CFIA will restrict the import of some poultry products or by-products from the United States, including eggs and raw pet foods, sourced, processed, or packaged from the restricted zones. Click here for a list of restricted zones.

Travelling with Dogs – New Requirements from the USA

Changes come into effect August 1st, 2024

NOTO reached out to the CDC to seek clarifications on the new requirements that will come into effect August 1st, 2024. The CDC provided the following:

CDC’s importation requirements apply to all dogs, including dogs that leave the country for short trips, such as to visit family or friends, or to receive veterinary care.

Both Canada and Mexico are rabies-free countries. People bringing their dogs to the U.S. from these countries have many options to meet CDC’s requirements. Frequent border crossers can travel back and forth multiple times with the Certification of US-issued Rabies Vaccine form. The form is good for the duration the rabies vaccine is valid (so 1 or 3 years). The CDC Dog Import Form has to be completed for each trip; this takes less than 5 minutes and is free. You do not need to print the CDC Dog Import Form receipt; you can show the receipt to Customs and Border Protection on your phone.

There are additional options available for travelers from dog rabies free or low-risk countries, such as Mexico and Canada. Please see CDC’s website for the list of requirements for dogs that travel frequently between Canada, Mexico, and the U.S.

To learn more, these additional links might also have relevant information for you. The CDC website is updated regularly, please check back to get most up to date information.

Frequently Asked Questions on CDC Dog Importations

https://www.cdc.gov/importation/bringing-an-animal-into-the-united-states/faqs-about-high-risk-dog-ban.html

Bringing a Dog into the United States

https://www.cdc.gov/importation/bringing-an-animal-into-the-united-states/dogs.html


Guests with Criminal Records

Visitors to Canada who have any kind of criminal record may be denied entry. Even if you have entered Canada before, new screening procedures may lead to you being turned back.

Many jurisdictions distinguish between more and less serious offences. The US, for example, classifies crimes as either felonies or misdemeanors. Canada makes a similar distinction with indictable and summary offences, with indictable offences being the more serious.

However, many offences can be treated as either indictable or summary in Canada, depending on the specific circumstances. This is important to know, since determination of admissibility is based on how the offence would be treated in Canada, not its status in the visitor’s home state.

To help get you started, we recommend that you use our self-assessment chart: Entering Canada With a Criminal Record Self-Assessment

There are three basic procedures available that can allow you to legally enter Canada if you have a criminal record:

Granted Rehabilitation

You can apply through a Canadian Consulate or certain border crossings to have your record examined by immigration officials. There is a non-refundable administration fee. If the application is successful, you will receive a letter stating that you have been Granted Rehabilitation, and you will now be allowed to enter Canada freely any time. The application can be found here.

You will need to apply for Granted Rehabilitation if:

    • you have committed more than one indictable offences and at least 5 years has passed since your last sentence was completed, or
    • you have committed one indictable offence after December 18, 2018 and at least 5 years has passed since your sentence (or probation) was completed

It is important that you give yourself an appropriate amount of time to get your application processed. It can now take up to 2 years to file your application and it can be very costly.

Deemed Rehabilitation

Under some circumstances, you can be Deemed Rehabilitated without having to apply for Granted Rehabilitation. This procedure applies if:

    • You committed a single indictable offence that would be punished by a term of imprisonment of less than ten years (based on how the offence would be classified in Canada) and have not committed any offences since. Ten years must have passed since the completion of the sentence, including any probation.
    • Or if you have committed two or more  summary offences and five years have passed since the sentences were served and no subsequent offences have been committed.

If you have committed an indictable offence after December 18th, 2019, you will no longer be eligible to meet “Deemed Rehabilitation” status. You will need to successfully apply for Granted Rehabilitation in order to enter Canada. 

Deemed Rehabilitation is generally determined by an immigration officer at the border, although it is possible to have a determination made in advance. This application is available at this link.

Temporary Resident Permit

At their discretion, immigration officials may admit someone who does not qualify for Deemed Rehabilitation through a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP). It is normally issued for a single visit in extreme cases. More information on the requirements and uses can be found here.


Lac Seul Floating Lodges Houseboat Canada FlagWelcome to Canada

These procedures make it possible to enter Canada, even if you have a criminal record. In most cases, it is better to apply in advance to determine your admissibility, and which procedure is best for you to follow. You should also be prepared with additional information on the offence to help the officer determine your eligibility. Remember, the determination will be based on the information in the database. If there are any errors, like a charge that was dropped, you need to get those corrected in your home jurisdiction beforehand.

Despite the troubled times we live in, Canada is still the same friendly place to visit it has always been. The vast majority of guests still enter Canada with absolutely no problem. For those whose backgrounds may pose some difficulty, these procedures may allow them to come and enjoy all that Canada has to offer.

Crossing the Canada/US Border – Additional Links