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Sunday, April 1, 2007

Tips for Easy Border Crossings


Freely crossing the border north and south simplify the routes we RVers wish to follow. Most agents do what they can to make crossings fast and pleasant. The following few ideas will help ensure a smooth crossing.

▪ If there is no RV/bus lane it may be faster or easier to go through the car lanes. HOWEVER if your mirrors are located at the side and not at the front of your RV, your unit could be too wide for the car lanes. A better move is to look for a bus lane or as a last resort to take the slower moving truck lanes.

▪ Always take off your sunglasses so the agent can see your eyes.

▪ Even if your RV is your ‘home’, at the border it is ONLY a vehicle.

▪ Searches only happen occasionally, but if your unit is searched you will be expected to repack it – just like a suitcase as the airport.

▪ Answer the questions asked. A reply to “Do you have any cigarettes?” should not be “I do not smoke.” But also NEVER provide more info than you are asked for.

▪ Have proof of where you call home, especially if your driver’s license and vehicle tags each list different states or provinces.

▪ Do NOT relay to an agent that you are a FULLTIME RVer. Officials feel that if you have no ‘home’ you may have no reason to return to your home country.

▪ Reference to food that you can take across the border - due to new diseases that surface from time to time, the rules of what food – especially meat – that you can have on board differs from day to day. As a result it’s wise to travel north OR south across the border with minimal food in your refrigerator and cupboards.

▪ Citrus fruit is never allowed, but pet food may also be confiscated if it is not in the original bag/container. We simply plan for our first stop at a nearby grocery store.

▪ Practice the Golden Rule Respect and go with the flow.
Peggi McDonald is the author of RV Travel to Canada E-Book and webhost of RVLiving.net - see RV Bookstore for details.



  • The Blaine WA/Surrey BC Hwy 15 truck crossing is just one of many crossings we have used that get pretty upset if an RV goes into the truck lanes.

    If you feel it is necessary I would suggest walking up and checking first.

    By Blogger Jeff & Sue Cousins, at April 7, 2007 4:40 PM  

  • Remember since 9/11 when the airport TSA agent searches your luggage you ARE NOT allowed to touch or repack the suitcase. They suggest to use plastic bags to contain loose articles for ease the the TSA's repacking. Just a point of information as I haven't crossed into Canada since 9/11, but I have gone thru many airport security points. Also...checked luggage is also repacked by the TSA if they do a hand search.

    Sue Burgardt

    By Blogger Susan, at April 7, 2007 6:56 PM  

  • Jeff I usually strongly suggest that all RVers go through the car or Bus/RV Lanes but recently I received an email from an RVer with mirrors mounted on the front side of his motorhome. He even sent me photos and since then I have seen several motorhome models with their mirrors on the sides. This greatly widens their units. His unit simply did NOT fit through the car lanes and the bus lane was closed. He sustained costly damage during one car lane crossing.

    These are the only RVers who may have no choice but to go through the truck lanes.

    The tip to walking to the gate and checking is a wise choice.

    Thanks for your comments P&J

    Susan please send me an email(or post the answer here) to explain what you mean about the plastic bags after a search. What are travellers suppose to do with these plastic bags when they continue theirr trip.

    Our coach has never been 'ripped' apart at the border but I have talked to people who went through an extensive search and they had to repack any cupboards or storage pods that had been rearranged.

    Waiting to hear from you. P&J

    By Blogger rvliving, at April 11, 2007 12:16 PM  

  • The advice about minimizing the food items in your RV can prove cumbersome for many of us. We just found the USA or Mexico government sites on the internet and followed their respective guidelines (on a recent trip from Canada).

    By Blogger lpmobilewood, at April 12, 2007 4:07 PM  

  • lpmobilewood: Hi Thanks for the info. Rules on what can and cannot be on board change frequently.

    On my website and in my RV Travel to Canada e-book I list many tips about crossing the border including phone numbers/website to call reference what is or is not allowed.

    However at any one time the rules can change due to present and or future diseases. We have not lost too much in the grocery end of things, but many of our friends have. The last few years officials have confiscated pet food that is not in the original package.

    I hate it when customs or agricultural checks take my food at the border or between states such as happened between Arizona and California a few years ago.
    We just purchased it at our previous stop in a grocery store.

    Since then we find it less of a hassle to travel on the side of caution.

    Checking before you leave is wise but for us crossing with an empty fridge and freezer. However we do not travel with a secondary freezer. If we did I would check details the day before we left and maybe follow-up by voice just to be sure.

    Happy travels and may you have good border crossings.

    By Blogger rvliving, at April 12, 2007 7:30 PM  

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