U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Canada Border Services Agency recently joined efforts to remind travelers of document requirements to travel into both countries.
Frequent travelers know that regulations have changed steadily since 9/11 and keeping up with them is a challenge. Fortunately for families, both agencies want to make border crossings during the busy summer vacation season — or any holiday — faster, easier and dare they say it – “more enjoyable.”
Listen up, this affects most of you and your children.
Rules for American Travelers from the CBP: www.cbp.gov
- For air travel, almost all travelers of any age flying back to the United States need to present a passport or NEXUS card for entry.
- For travelers by land or sea entering the U.S, the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) requires that U.S. and Canadian citizens, age 16 and older, present valid, acceptable travel documents that denote both identity and citizenship.
- U.S.and Canadian citizens entering by land or sea under age 16 may present a birth certificate (photocopy is acceptable) or alternative proof of citizenship.
- Acceptable documents for entry into the US at land and sea ports include U.S.or Canadian passports; Trusted Traveler cards; U.S. passport card; state- or province-issued enhanced driver’s licenses. For more information, visit the helpful WHTI site: Get You Home
- Boat owners can apply for entry into WHTI countries by phone, if they have applied online and visited a customs office in advance. The system is available in Florida, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands as well as along the northern U.S. border.
Canadian Regulations from the CBSA: www.cbp.gov
- Canadian entry requirements have not changed as a result of the U.S. WHTI. Air travelers are required to fill out and present a Declaration form (Form E311).
- Canadians of any age returning home are encouraged to carry proper identification. In addition to a passport, other acceptable identification includes an enhanced driver’s license, a birth certificate with accompanying photo ID such as a regular driver’s license, a permanent residence card, a citizenship card, a certificate of Indian Status or a NEXUS card or Free and Secure Trade (FAST) card when traveling by land or boat.
- United States citizens do not need to carry a passport to enter Canada, however they should carry proof of citizenship (such as a birth certificate) as well as photo identification.
- Boat owners are responsible for reporting themselves, their crew and their passengers to a telephone reporting centre (TRC) upon arrival in Canada by calling 888/226-7277; NEXUS members can provide advance notice to the CBSA by calling 866/996-3987.
Current Travel Recommendations and Tips for Border Crossing
- U.S. Customs & Border Protection recommends in their helpful booklet “Know Before You Go” that guardians traveling internationally with minor children under age 18 carry notarized travel permission letters if the minors are traveling without their parents. Most countries have this requirement.
- Be prepared to declare all items acquired abroad. Travelers should prepare for the inspection process before arriving at the inspection booth and have their approved travel documents ready.
- Monitor border wait times for various ports of entry. Travelers can find wait time information online.
- Allow extra time in the event of crossing during exceptionally heavy traffic. International border crossers should expect a thorough inspection process, ranging from checking luggage to a personal search, without a warrant.
- To avoid fines and penalties associated with importing prohibited items, travelers should familiarize themselves with their destination country border regulations. Do not attempt to bring fruits, meats, dairy, poultry and/or firewood into the U.S. or firearms into Canada without first checking whether they are permitted. Each country has extensive documentation online regarding personal imports and commercial imports.
As we like to say, Safe There and Safe Home!
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