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Author Topic: Traveling through Canada  (Read 1524 times)
wagwar
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« on: March 20, 2013, 01:47:27 PM »

We're planning a trip in the bus to upstate New York in June and we're considering taking a route through Flint, MI across at Sarnia into Canada and then exiting back into the US around Buffalo, NY. So, we'd be in Canada a couple of days. I know we need passports, but what other issues do we need to be prepared for? We'll have the cats with us also. Is our US insurance valid in Canada?  Do we need to bring the title or is current registration sufficient? BTW, we won't be towing anything.

Thanks in advance!
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Scott Bennett
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« Reply #1 on: March 20, 2013, 01:50:53 PM »

Jim and Wendy,

I'll offer this much, my wife's parents live in Port Huron about a mile from the Bluewater Bridge. Heather grew up there. Recently they changed everything around with the new security standards. So your GPS may confuse you when you get ready to cross the border. Just pay super close attention to the signs and take it slow and you'll get there. Hopefully by then the GPS will update its maps, but if not, you'll see some weird stuff happening on the screen when nearing the border. They majorly changed up the roads and border crossing there....majorly.

Scott & Heather
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Scott & Heather
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« Reply #2 on: March 20, 2013, 01:56:01 PM »

Have papers from your vet (all shots up to date for the cats ) A copy of your title,insurance for the bus . You might need short time medical ins. for you and your wife . No guns or ammunation or    firewood.       OH and spend lots of money !                               dave
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Utahclaimjumper
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« Reply #3 on: March 20, 2013, 04:03:54 PM »

 I made this exact trip last year,, Port Huron is the only place to cross,,don't even think about Detroit. I had a dog and a cat, no questions about either, obviously no fire arms,,it helps to memorize your vehicle licence number, don't ask me why..  Present your passports and drivers licences at the entrance station... Crossing into New York will be totally different,, you WILL get a going over, including provileling,, they WILL walk thru your coach looking for (of all things) other people on boared that you may be smuggling,,,,have a good trip,, remember the speed limit in Canada is 61 MPH (alltho you'd never know it going thru Toranto.>>>Dan
« Last Edit: March 20, 2013, 04:33:13 PM by Utahclaimjumper » Logged

Utahclaimjumper 
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« Reply #4 on: March 21, 2013, 07:43:47 PM »

It's a crap shoot. Last time we crossed into Canada in the bus (2005), I didn't have the birth certificates out of the safe when we pulled up to the gate (didn't need passports then). It pissed off the idiot woman working there, so she decided to harass us and give us the "inspection". Had us pull over to the side and wait. Her and another woman came out, had us leave the coach and then walked through it. Came out and told us we could go. Didn't touch anything. Didn't open a single bay door. Complete waste of time!

Last year we went through with truck, trailer and motorcycles. Never even bothered to check inside the trailer. Hell, I could have smuggled an atomic bomb into Canada and nobody would have been the wiser! On the other hand, why would anyone want to do that. Canadian terrorism is just not high on the list. Their high prices are terrorism enough.

You'll probably have more trouble getting back into the US than getting out! Don't even think of trying to bring grapes into the US that you purchase at a Canadian grocery store!!

It's all a big farse under the fictitious guise of security! 

Have your papers ready when you pull up. Be polite. Resist the urge to tell them they're wasting your time. They actually believe their job is useful.

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Fred Mc
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« Reply #5 on: March 21, 2013, 08:54:28 PM »

As someone who crosses the border frequently(I am Canadian) my advice is to be polite, answer the questions as asked, don"t try and make small talk or be funny and be prepared to give them a reason you are going where you are. Tell them you are going to visit your brother-in-law or going to a fishing lodge rather than say "were just going to drive around". Leave any firearms or ammo at home, have vet certificates for the animals and call customs ahead of time to find out what fruits, veggies etc are pohibited. When I return to Canada they don't seem to care how much I bought but DO care about booze and tobbacco.
If you do a minimum of research on what you can bring into Canada you won't have a problem.

Your insurance is probably OK but it might not hurt to ask your agent. Don't know about medical insurance when in Canada but I can tell you you don't want to be a Canadian and get sick or injured in the US WITHOUT added insurance. Funny thing is, though, its dirt cheap for short stays. My wife automatically buys it for our who family(kids are 40 years old now)every year.

Enjoy your trip.
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bevans6
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« Reply #6 on: March 22, 2013, 09:45:49 AM »

I cross regularly, at lots of stations, including the ones you will hit.  Always have the passports in your hand when you open the window.  If it's raining, turn the wipers off before you drive up to the window.  Only one person (the driver) in the vehicle talks, unless a passenger is asked a directed question.  Always have the first day's destination location ready, a specific hotel/campground or a city if you are traveling through.  Have a specific reason for visiting the country.  US Border guards probably grill us Canadians the same way Canadian Border people grill Americans, and I have had them specifically try to trip me up on my story, so pay attention and answer question accurately.  "I'm going to visit my sister in Lansing MI"  and a few seconds later "So, your sister-in-law lives in Detroit?" "No Sir, sorry I wasn't clear, I'm going to visit my sister in Lansing." "what is the purpose of your visit?" "It's my turn to visit, she came to see us the last 10 or 15 times, so it's my turn to visit her..."

My recollection of the Sarnia crossing that that it's often congested, maybe an hour in the line.  The line goes over the bridge, which is quite steep.  My Spicer with it's heavy clutch about wore my leg out, and I started turning the engine off so I could sit with the clutch out, and put it in gear and start it when I had to inch forward.  My sister lives near Detroit and has been avoiding that crossing in favor of the Detroit one, but I wouldn't take a bus anywhere near the Detroit tunnel or bridge for less than a lot of money.

In terms of your route, you can either take highway 402 from Sarnia to London, get on 401 towards Toronto, then take 403 towards Brantford (Home of Thomas school buses, fwiw), then into Hamilton, take the Lincoln Alexander Parkway to bypass Hamilton, get onto the QEW (Queen Elizabeth Way) towards Niagara Falls/Fort Erie/Buffalo as the direct route, or you can take a far longer time-wise route by  heading up to Lake Erie as soon as you get into Canada and just driving along the lake on little roads.  Eventually you will get to Fort Erie/Buffalo.  The first way takes about 5 hours, the second way could take a week if you stop to smell the roses.  Speaking of smelling stuff, it's oil country between Sarnia and London, you will see and possibly smell the oil being pumped out of the ground along the way, kind of cool if you like that sort of thing.  If you are taking highway 402 from Sarnia to London, be advised there ain't no stops between the two cities, so do what you need to do before you start out, including getting fuel if you aren't good for 60 - 70 miles on your tank.  Crossing into Buffalo you have two main choices as to border crossing.  Take the Peace Bridge crossing between Fort Erie and Buffalo if you plan to head towards western NY State, or Erie or down Rte 219, and take the Lewiston Bridge between St Catherines and I-190 north of Buffalo if you plan to head east of Buffalo either along I-90 or up along the lake.  If you happen to be around on a Friday the 13th and you like Harley's, go to Port Dover and you will see about a million motorcycles all try to fit into a very small town and everyone tries to go to the one Tim Hortons for a coffee...

Brian
« Last Edit: March 22, 2013, 10:05:04 AM by bevans6 » Logged

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Oonrahnjay
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« Reply #7 on: March 22, 2013, 10:49:06 AM »

      There's something about Canadian tax laws that if you take alcohol and give or sell it to a Canadian person, you have to pay tax on it; if it's for "you own personal use", then it's tax free.  Since if you come under the "pay tax" category you have to go into the offices and start officialdom, it's much better for you to avoid that one.  When the Customs inspector says "do you have any alcohol?", answer truthfully (you REALLY DON'T want to get caught not telling them the truth) and say something like "we have a bottle of single malt whiskey and one bottle of wine, for our own personal use".  Usually, they want you to tell them "what they want to hear" so they can just justify handing you back your passports and sending you straight through.
       DAMHIK.   Bruce H NC  USA
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« Reply #8 on: March 22, 2013, 11:44:13 AM »

I have a safe/vault hidden inside my coach.  It contains important papers and other things a person might want to protect. 
Does the border security people have a right to see the inside of that safe/vault?  Would the even know it exists? 

Dave
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« Reply #9 on: March 22, 2013, 12:12:47 PM »

When you enter that 100 yard space between the two customs shacks you leave all your rights behind you.  They can do literally anything they want to while you are in that no-man's land.  If they find a compartment, whether its a safe or just a blank space somewhere in your bus and they want to see what's inside it they can and will look inside, with or without your cooperation.  Hell, they can look inside you without your cooperation too if they take a notion to do so.  Fortunately most of the time none of that happens but don't ever forget that you have exactly zero rights inside that no-man's land.
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akroyaleagle
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« Reply #10 on: March 22, 2013, 12:13:44 PM »

I have not used the ports you mention.

I have used many others over the years.

Customs/Border Security have the duty to inspect anything they suspect.
Just because they "Didn't do it last time" has no bearing on what they do this time.
Ignorance is never an excuse.

My advice is to not make any attempt to get anything forbidden past them.
Do not run off at the mouth.
Answer everything truthfully.

If anyone in the party has ever had a DUI, or been arrested for a crime, be prepared for a very unpleasant time.
I travelled with a friend that had pleaded guilty to trespassing on the railroad in Denali once. I had no idea.
The nightmare started with the Canadian agent saying to him, "You realize you are inadmissable". It went downhill from there.

My experience is that the Canadians are much more friendly than the US agents.
Customs is one thing. The Department of Homeland Security is another. It is my opinion those folks are failed TSA employees.
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Joe Laird
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wagwar
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« Reply #11 on: March 23, 2013, 09:49:39 AM »

Thanks so much! Great info!

I was planning to take 402 across to London and then on to Woodstock, ON. I found a place called Pittock Conservation Area on the Uppper Thames CA that looks like it might be a good place to stop for a couple of nights. Then on to the QEW and 405 to 190. I thought I'd cross back into the US just north of Niagara Falls. I'd then skirt around east of Buffalo and head south east to Elmira, NY. Do you think that's a reasonable plan?
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bevans6
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« Reply #12 on: March 23, 2013, 10:33:35 AM »

The conservation area is right near woodstock, so there are going to be some support facilities that you can visit, shops, restaurants, etc.  Make sure when you leave that you take Hyw 403 towards Hamilton, not 401 towards Toronto - the last thing you need is to get caught up in that mess.  the route I gave you will work fine - 403 to Lincoln Alexander Pkwy to QEW, over the big bridge at St. Catherines and then 405 to Lewiston.  No problems...

Brian
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« Reply #13 on: March 23, 2013, 08:59:46 PM »

Sounds like it is no better or worserer than crossing over from the Oregon Republic to Kommiefornika. (California for those who do not understand)

I for one would have major problems with them coming inside MY Bus Conversion without a warrant, but that is just me.  Canada is a foreign country.   HB of CJ (old coot)
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bevans6
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« Reply #14 on: March 24, 2013, 05:35:23 AM »

Canada is indeed a foreign country, but for your edification here is the rule on the US law surrounding this point of search and inspection without a warrant when entering the USA:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Border_search_exception

Canada's laws on this seem a little less extreme, they amount to a reduction in the test of reasonable suspicion, and all other rights are preserved.  Basically at an international border the individual's rights are subordinate to the State's right to protect itself.  The only warrant required is when the US Border Patrol decides to open USPS letter mail, apparently.  Packages in the mail can always be opened for inspection without warrant.

Amazing the things we take for granted, I've crossed the border hundreds of times and while I always kind of knew about this I never gave it a second thought.  For example, I used to travel to the US to speak at conferences and trade shows on telecommunications and Internet stuff, representing my employer.  Even though unpaid for the appearance apparently this is not allowed, and I could have been turned away and gotten my name on a list.

Brian
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1980 MCI MC-5C, 8V-71T from a M-110 self propelled howitzer
Spicer 8844 4 speed Zen meditation device
Vintage race cars -
1978 Lola T440 Formula Ford
1972 NTM MK-4 B/SR
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