NEWS

5 tips for crossing the border on Canada Day weekend

06/28/2013 04:01 EDT | Updated 08/28/2013 05:12 EDT
As the Canada Day long weekend approaches, the Canada Border Services Agency is offering some tips for safe and efficient travel to and from the United States.

1. Beat the border rush

Border officials say travellers should cross during off-peak times, such as Saturday morning or Monday morning. The agency says most lines at the border start building in the afternoon and carry on throughout the evening.

Both the Canadian and U.S. governments offer border wait time websites.

Travellers can also subscribe to any number of the CBSA's border wait-time Twitter feeds.

2. Keep travel documents handy

"One of the best ways your family can save time returning to Canada is to make sure each passenger has the correct travel document handy and ready to give to the border services officer," a media release says. "A passport is the best bet."

For even faster service, people can become a NEXUS card member to expedite the border clearance process. An enhanced driver's licence is also an acceptable form of identification at the border.

Other acceptable forms of ID include: birth certificates with accompanying photo ID, such as a regular driver's licence, permanent resident cards, citizenship cards or certificates of Indian status.

3. Know your purchases

Upon returning, people should know where all their receipts are and know the exemptions and restrictions on goods.

If someone has purchased goods in the U.S., mailed gifts, or made major repairs or upgrades to a vehicle or boat, they will need to declare the total value of the purchases and back the claim with receipts.

Each traveller is entitled to certain personal exemptions on items like alcohol and tobacco depending on the length of visit.

4. Know the contents of your vehicles

Some products and materials are not allowed in Canada and are easily forgotten when packed away while travelling. People must declare items such as food in coolers, organic items such as soil, which could be in a fish bait container, and firewood.

5. Be honest

"The single best thing you can do to save time returning to Canada is to simply be open and honest with the border services officer," the agency said in a media release. "If you are not sure about what to declare, don't hesitate to ask. The officers are there to help you."

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