Monday, September 8, 2008

Advice - Landing/Border Crossing

There will be minimal to no stress if you are thoroughly prepared. Our landing was a relatively fast and pleasant experience.

We drove with our cat in our SUV from San Francisco across the U.S. to officially land at the CBSA facility at the Peace Bridge at Niagara Falls. CBSA confirmed our work permits, processed the temporary import of our vehicle and officially acknowledged/stamped/kept copies of both our mandatory declarations (Form) of personal belongings ("goods to follow" as well as those we brought with us). Our expectation was that they would also inspect our cat's required rabies certificate, our auto and accompanying belongings. All of which they opted not to do.

Immigration officials at the border can also issue Temporary Work Permits. We chose to obtain our work permits at the border during a prior week long visit to Toronto. Be advised that a CBSA agent inside the facility will not assist you if you have not received an entry slip given by the officer at the drive through booth as you cross the border. Why do I mention this? Because, during the prior week long visit to T.O., Eric and I tried accessing the facility from the Canadian side. It was a no go. We were instructed by an officer just outside the door to the building to return to our car, drive toward the U.S. border and take a specific U-turn just before we left Canada. This would allow us to re-enter the queue of cars just before the Canadian Customs booths where we would receive the required entry slip. OK. Sure. Whatever. Not the biggest hassle - but don't just think you can Waltz right in. Or maybe you can - Nah. Everyone we saw inside did have an access slip. 

Our moving company had actually arrived several days prior to our landing and the truck was being held in a GTA warehouse awaiting Canadian Customs clearance for delivery. With our landing papers in-hand, we acquired the clearance needed for delivery at the local Toronto Customs office on Front St. Once again, they opted not to inspect the truck or it's contents - our belongings.

Have all your documents ready. In our experience the more knowledgeable and comprehensively prepared you appear, the less scrutiny you will receive from the CBSA officers. If all is in order, scrutiny will be neither a concern nor a big deal anyway, but the less you get the faster you will be on your way. We were obviously very organized. Our documents were ready and in-hand almost before they were requested. We clearly knew what was expected of us and which documents would be necessary. They did not even inspect our cat's mandatory rabies certificate when we proactively presented it. And they were obviously impressed with our Declaration of Goods Lists, both of which were thoroughly detailed

All the CBSA agents we dealt with were incredibly pleasant. This was the case both at the border and also the customs office we visited on Front St. in Toronto. We had been told that they might go completely by the book inspecting everything in our car and moving truck. Or they might not. For example, having watched us from the time we parked the car, the several agents outside the border facility showed us and our vehicle neither interest nor concern. They did, however show others a great deal of attention. In my opinion, our demeanor and obvious preparedness went a long way toward an incredibly quick and painless landing experience. Food for thought.

As of June 1, 2009, a passport or similar document will be required to enter the U.S. when traveling by air, sea or land. Although currently one is not technically necessary to enter by land or sea, travelers are still required to prove citizenship. Here are the "official" details. What does it all mean? Anyone visiting you in Canada needs a valid passport. Now. Inform any family, friends, or expected house guests. More information, here. Click here for Passport Canada. And here for U.S. passports


Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your experiences. I got my PR approved and planning to land in the next couple of days in Canada. I will in Buffalo, NY and plan to take one of the bridges to go to Canada. Now, If I drive by my car (NY State Plate), can I come back on the same car, without any problems, acorss the border with my landing ?

I was reading several conflicting postings on internet about this subject. Some people say that I can't go by my car (suggest to rent one), and go by the rental car, and do the landing.

What do you suggest ?

Douglas Adam said...

Hello Anonymous,
Your comment concerns me because it lacks even a suggestion of several fundamental truths about "landing" in Canada which you should be aware.

Firstly, landing in Canada includes declaring your possessions of which your car is part. You must declare what you have with you and also what may be following at a later date. Since anyone, whether visiting Canada on holiday or, like yourself, those landing, can drive a car they own into the country, I question why you or anyone would think this is a problem. I also wonder about your sources of information. Why wouldn't you be able to cross in your own car? Are you going to declare it (as required) when you "Land"...or sometime in the future? To bring it into the country legally you will have to declare it at some point. Is there a reason you prefer to do it at another time? Either way they may want to process it (complete the paperwork and collect the fees) when you officially land whether or not you declare it as a "goods to follow" or as "goods accompanying." Why not just phone the CBSA and ask them directly?

My partner and I didn't immigrate to Canada with PR status. We did so with Work Permits. I realize that with PR status you are required to stay in Canada approx. six months. Perhaps this is what you are referring to. My suggestion is to call the CBSA and explain to them your situation, whatever it may be. They are incredibly helpful and will tell you exactly what needs to be done. My blog has two resource pages that may be of help to you. I have also written a quite lengthy posting regarding importing an auto. Except for certain fees that we were exempt from the process should be identical to the one you are about to go through. Reading it might be of help if you haven't done so.

I hope I was some help to you. Please contact me again if there is need...there is a link for email at the top of the blog.

And Good Luck! ...whomever you are (you didn't sign your anonymous comment!)