USA – Canada Border Crossing

This 2-year long Pandemic is almost over and Border Restrictions will soon be lifted for American RVers to come to Canada.  What you will find is the beautiful scenery, welcoming Canucks and exciting camping adventures across this beautiful country.  Since we live in British Columbia the information in this Blog Post is generated from that perspective.

Find out if you can enter Canada

Important that you follow the protocols on this Canadian Government Website:

Here are the OTHER THINGS you need to know:

Just a reminder – Canada and the United States of America ARE two different countries even if there are no border fences or walls which separate us.  We have different laws, different driving rules, multicoloured money (NO, Monopoly Money nor Canadian Tire Money is legal tender) and Canadians don’t carry firearms (hand guns, AR15s etc. are illegal or restricted in Canada).  Generally we look the same, eat the same food, use the same language (although Quebec might be a bit of a challenge unless you speak French – Canada is officially bilingual).  You could say we have many common similarities with a few important differences.  However, once here in the ‘Great White North’ (we are called this because it apparently snows all year round) we work hard to make visitors to our country feel welcome.

Crossing the Border between Canada and the United States:

As I said above there are no walls or fences between our two countries but that does not mean you can crossover anywhere you like, you must cross the border through Canada Border Service Agency Crossing when you travel north into Canada. When you return to America you must return through the US Customs and Border Protection Crossing.

While travelling between our two countries is relatively easy there are some restrictions and requirements you must be aware of in order to cross the invisible line.

The Big STOP – Criminal Convictions:

Any previous criminal convictions may prevent you from entering into Canada.  This may include marijuana convictions even though it’s legal here. Realise that there are restrictions on the use of marijuana in Canada and it is still illegal to bring it with you. So it is important to check prior to arriving at the border.

Cannabis Legalization and Regulations:

Things You Need Before Arriving At The Border:

I was a Boy Scout and we had a Motto: BE PREPARED! … Do your research ahead of time.  First visit the appropriate government website (listed below) with the question: what do I need to know?  Next start a binder with references from the website where you have found the answers to the question.  Also make a list of everything you will be carrying; such as cameras, electronics etc. (include receipts, serial numbers). Next, be sure you have ALL the documentation of ownership, insurance papers, valid licenses and permits for the RV.  I recommend you have an up-to-date RV mechanical inspection report (just in case)  – put all this gathered documentation into a binder and have it ready if you’re requested to provide proof/documentation of ownership. Realise that the Border Agent has the legal right to enter and inspect your RV as well as your vehicle.  The last thing you want is for them to find a surprise!

Just as an aside – we did the above Binder with gathered documentation when we went from Canada to the USA. 

Don’t forget your identification > The best identification to carry is a valid passport. If you’re a U.S. citizen, carry proof of citizenship such as a passport, birth certificate, a certificate of citizenship or naturalisation, a U.S. Permanent Resident Card, or a Certificate of Indian Status along with photo ID. If you are NOT a citizen of the U.S. then you may require further documentation to enter Canada (this is beyond the scope of the Blog Post).

Travelling with Children has certain requirements.  The big one is custodial. For example: If you’re a grandparent taking your grand-kids on an holiday you will need their parents consent in writing.  Realise that divorced or separated parents will also require written consent from the custodial parent.

Travelling with pets is governed by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (website link below) and with the proper documentation (medical/ownership) there won’t be any problems bringing your pet across the border.

Canadian Food Inspection Agency (travelling with pets)

There are some specific requirements around the type of food you can bring into Canada.  Since you’re travelling it’s easy to forget what foods you’re carrying in the RV.  This is especially true if you live in your RV. Before crossing the border check with CBSA (website link below) to see what the current restrictions are surrounding food, such as raw or cooked meats, fruit/vegetables and milk.  There are also restrictions as to how much alcohol and tobacco you can bring into the country for personal use.  When you arrive at the border and are unsure the smart thing to do is simply “Declare” what you have – better to declare than to “Surprise,” because the claim of ignorance to the law will still get you fined or worse refused entry into Canada.

Well the BIG ONE – let’s talk FIREARMS.  I realise that almost every American carries and/or owns a hand gun . Canadians don’t carry hand guns, it’s just not part of our culture.  Sure, we hear about the illegal use of firearms by criminals in Canada (wonder where they get them?). However, the general population has no use for firearms or feel they need them as Canadians.  Generally, outside of Long Guns for hunting, firearms are not part of our every day culture. So, if you want to bring any type of firearm into Canada you are required to obtaining authorisation to do so.  You can find out about the list of restrictions on the Canada Border Services Agency website (link below).

US Customs and Border Protection:

Canadian Border Services:

Driving, Trailer Towing and RVing Once In Canada:

Driving an RV and Towing a Travel Trailer in Canada is similar to that in America. We drive on the same side of the road so the transition should be straightforward. Like in the U.S. the driver must have a current driver’s licence and proof of auto/RV/liability insurance. U.S. driver’s licence and insurance are acceptable when driving in Canada. Realise that both your RV or Tow Vehicle and Travel Trailer must have your up-to-date State Licence Plate. (PS. A wise person checks with their insurance provided just to make sure they’re covered – just saying)

The singular challenge you might have is understanding the speed limits that are posted – they are in metric. So a posted speed limit of 100 is NOT 100 miles per hour. Only Three Countries in the World (Officially) Still Use the Imperial System. They are the U.S., Liberia and Myanmar, all other countries use the Metric System.  So 100 means 100 km/hr which = 60 mph and an posting of 50 means 50 km/hr which = 30 mph.  Fuel is purchased in litres (4 litres – 1.05 US gallons) and distance and speed is measured in kilometres (1 km = 0.62 miles – isn’t this fun!).  Generally, we are permitted to make right hand turns in Canada on Red Lights, when safe to do so.

We also have cross Canada distracted driving laws with some provincial or territorial minor differences. Cell phones can only be used “hands free” when driving in Canada  The use of seat belts are mandatory and children under 40 lbs. must be restrained in appropriate car/booster seats.  Some provinces have laws restricting the use of smoking in a vehicle if children are riding in it.  Be aware, because the claim of ignorance to the law will still get you fined.  For more detailed information (Link Below).

Driving In Canada:

Money and Medication:

As I mention above Canadian money uses different colours to denote different currency amounts:

    • $5 – Blue
    • $10 – Purple.
    • $20 – Green.
    • $50 – Red.
    • $100 – Gold.

There are no 1 or 2 dollar paper bills (the $2 Canada was orange and a collector’s item), coins are used instead (Loonies -$1 and Toonies -$2). We stopped using pennies several years ago, so prices are rounded up or down to the closest nickel. While retail outlets will accept US dollars they may take it at par with the Canadian Dollar. So I suggest you exchange your money at a bank or use your debit or internationally accepted credit card (Visa, MC, Amex etc.) when making purchases in Canada.

One last item that is often over looked is Medications.  If you’re carrying prescribed medications it is very important that you have your doctor provided you with a prescription and/or letter which would allow you to refill the prescription if required.  Also, make sure that you carry on your person a list of required medication, health conditions and list of medications you’re allergic to.

Disclaimer ?

Realise that I am not a lawyer nor is the above meant to be legal advice.  What I have written above is general information and believed to accurate at the time of posting – however, you really need to do your own research as changes in requirements do happen.

Canada is a very safe country to travel, camp and even Boondock in. However, it’s always best to use common sense.  Theft can happen if valuables are too visible and doors unlocked. Most campsites are secure and safe and people respect each others property. Personally, I have never had issues while Boondock Camping in 25 years.

Canada is a beautiful welcoming country.  There is lots to see and places to explore – have fun. ?

For Further Detailed Information Visit The Following Websites:

Government of Canada:

Destination Canada:

Camping Canada:

Camping & Accommodations At Parks Canada:

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