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TOP 10 DON’TS WHEN CROSSING THE US AND CANADA BORDER
1. SHUT UP! PART 1.DON’T TRY TO BE FUNNY.
Border guards are not your friends, and it’s highly unlikely that they moonlight as talent scouts for comedy clubs. This is the wrong moment to make a buddy or tell jokes. Stay respectful and succinct and save the complaints for the drive away from the checkpoint.
2. SHUT UP! PART 2. DON’T DISCLOSE MORE THAN YOU’RE ASKED.
Answer all of the guard’s questions, but avoid getting chatty about your plans if you don’t have to. Thinking of catching up on some work on your laptop a little during your vacation, for example? Don’t mention that. There is no such thing as an American working holiday visa, although there are plenty of options for working holidays in Canada, or for Canadians travelling to other parts of the world. If you’re going to the U.S, however, best to say that your laptop is just for fantasy sports and YouTube. Planning a trip to propose to your girlfriend? Congratulations. But...
3. EVEN YOUR SEX LIFE MATTERS.DON’T MENTION THAT YOU’RE PLANNING TO MARRY A CITIZEN OR RESIDENT OF ANOTHER COUNTRY WHEN YOU’RE ENTERING IT.
Even if you’re in the middle of the appropriate application process, talking about your romantic attachments will not warm the hearts of the border guards and it will get you flagged as a potential risk for illegal immigration. This goes for crossing the US and Canadian border in either direction. Say that you’re visiting “a friend” and save the flaunting of your ring for the day when you’re married or your citizenship and residency information is fully settled.
4. DEVELOP A “CREATIVE VOCABULARY.”DON’T BE IN A RUSH TO EXPLAIN EVERY DETAIL ABOUT THE GOODS YOU’RE BRINGING WITH YOU, BUT KNOW THE RISKS OF INCOMPLETE DISCLOSURE
It can be mighty tempting to try to bring a few extra items back from your trip without declaring them. You can push the limits of the personal exemption (see above for the exact amounts), or you can declare the extras and pay the duties. If you’re pushing it, try to describe dollar values using words like “approximately,” “about,” or “around” if you’re just above the personal exemption limits. Remove the tags, and ditch the shopping bags and receipts. If you are searched and the agents find something that you haven’t declared, it’s most likely that you’ll be delayed and that you’ll have to pay the duty. Hey, people forget the things they buy all the time, right? Mistakes can happen. If you push it too far, however, and you get caught making a false declaration crossing to Canada, you might also have your goods seized or you might have to pay a penalty that’s an extra 25-80% of the goods’ value. The worst case scenario is that you’ll lose the goods permanently and have your vehicle impounded. You’ll also almost certainly find yourself subject to more intense scrutiny at future crossings. Getting caught with small amounts over the limit shouldn’t have lasting repercussions, unless you’re busted repeatedly. Now you know the risks. Govern yourself accordingly. Bonus tip: Never try to conceal anything you just bought at the duty-free shop. They take your name and license plate number and their database is coordinated with the border guards on each side, so lying in this case makes for a guaranteed delay. Don’t do it.
5. A CRIMINAL MIND, IT’S ALL I’VE EVER KNOWN.DON’T LIE ABOUT YOUR CRIMINAL PAST.
If you have run into legal trouble, check to see if it’s serious enough to prevent you from travelling. Each country has its own regulations on this, and most countries reserve the right to deny anyone the right to entry for any reason. If you are denied entry crossing from Canada to US, consider applying for a US Entry Waiver. If you are worried you can’t enter Canada from the US, consider getting a temporary resident permit. The process rules and process for both the US Entry Waiver and the TRP can be complicated and difficult, so you can always seek help.