Holiday Travel Tips Across the US – Canadian Border

The Law Office of Robert F. Mirque and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reminds travelers planning trips across the border into the United States to have their approved travel documents and to anticipate heavy traffic during the celebration of the holidays.


The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, implemented on June 1, requires U.S. and Canadian citizens, age 16 and older to present a valid, acceptable approved travel document that denotes both identity and citizenship when entering the U.S. by land or sea. WHTI-compliant documents include a passport, U.S. passport card, enhanced driver’s licenses (EDLs) — now produced by the states of New York, Michigan, Vermont and Washington; also the Provinces of Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, and British Columbia — or a Trusted Traveler Program card (NEXUS, SENTRI and FAST). For more information, visit thw WHTI Web site. 


We also want to remind U.S. lawful permanent residents that the I-551 form (green card) is acceptable for land and sea travel into the U.S.


Border traffic volumes are expected to be greatly increased during this holiday weekend and all travelers are reminded of a few simple steps they can employ to cross the border.


Tip #1 – Travelers should familiarize themselves with the “Know Before You Go” section of the CBP Web site to avoid fines and penalties associated with the importation of prohibited items. “Know Before You Go” brochures are also available at border ports. 


Tip #2 – Travelers should prepare for the inspection process before arriving at the inspection booth. Individuals should have their crossing documents available for the inspection and they should be prepared to declare all items acquired abroad. In addition, individuals should end cellular phone conversations before arriving at the inspection booth.


Tip #3 – Members of the traveling public should consult the CBP Web site to monitor border wait times for various ports of entry including Blaine and Sumas, Wash., Sweetgrass, Mont., and Pembina, N.D. Information is updated hourly and is useful in planning trips and identifying periods of light use/short waits.


Tip #4 – During periods of heavy travel, border crossers may wish to consider alternative, less heavily traveled entry routes.


Tip #5 – Travelers should plan to build extra time into their trips in the event they cross during periods of exceptionally heavy traffic (i.e. Thanksgiving holiday and adjacent weekends).


Tip #6 – Know the difference between goods for personal use vs. commercial use.


Tip #7 –Do not attempt to bring fruits, meats, dairy/poultry products and firewood into the United States from Canada without first checking whether they are permitted.


Tip # 8 – Understand that CBP officers have the authority to conduct enforcement examinations without a warrant, ranging from a single luggage examination up to and possibly including a personal search. Even during the holiday travel season, international border crossers should continue to expect a thorough inspection process when they enter the U.S. from Canada.


You should be aware that CBP will continually monitor traffic and border crossing times at area ports of entry. The agency stated that it plans to fully staff all inspection lanes during peak periods and  implement various traffic management operations to maintain the flow of traffic during periods of exceptionally heavy usage.

The Law Office of Robert F. Mirque, Jr. wishes everyone a safe holiday season and if you have an immigration issue, please give us a call at 616-233-9300.

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