OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - June 26, 2013) - Many families are making their Canada Day travel plans this week. The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) reminds vacationers and other travellers heading to the United States that now is the best time to prepare for a fast, efficient return across the border at the end of their holiday. Savvy travellers know that they can hone their vacation planning by using tips to get ahead. For those planning to travel, the CBSA offers the following smart crossing tips.
1. Beat the border rush. Cross at a non-peak time. Try to plan crossing the border in the morning, especially if you cross on Saturday or Monday. Most lineups at the border start building in the afternoon and carry on throughout the evening. You can also use Border Wait Times services to check lineups at most major ports of entry. The lists are updated regularly, and you can subscribe by Twitter to see listings on the go. U.S.-bound or Canada-bound information is available.
2. Keep travel documents handy. An officer will scan them. One of the best ways your family can save time returning to Canada is to make sure each passenger has the correct travel document handy and ready to give to the border services officer. A passport is the best bet. For even faster service, become a NEXUS card member and enjoy the benefits of an expedited border clearance process.
If you prefer to travel light while on the road, an enhanced driver's licence might be for you. Other acceptable forms of ID include: birth certificates with accompanying photo ID such as regular driver's licences; permanent resident cards; citizenship cards or certificates of Indian status.
3. Know your purchases, know where your receipts are, and know your exemptions and restrictions. If your family has purchased goods in the U.S., mailed gifts, or made major repairs or upgrades to your vehicle or boat, you will need to declare the total value of your purchases and back your claim with the receipts. Each traveller is entitled to certain personal exemptions on items like alcohol and tobacco depending on the length of your visit, and this can save you money. Also remember that some goods will always be restricted in Canada, such as firearms. Take the time to know what you're bringing back to Canada, and that time will pay dividends at the border.
4. Know the contents of your vehicles. It's as important to declare certain items in your vehicle and/or boat when you return to Canada. For example, if you have food tucked away in coolers or organic items such as soil (for example, in a bait container) or firewood, make sure you tell the border services officer. These kinds of products are easily forgotten when you are crossing, but could potentially create problems for Canada.
5. Not sure? Ask the border services officer. The single best thing you can do to save time returning to Canada is to simply be open and honest with the border services officer. If you are not sure about what to declare, don't hesitate to ask. The officers are there to help you.
The CBSA encourages all Canadian residents to be border-savvy travellers and save time this long weekend by making a smooth return a "must-have" part of holiday itineraries. For these tips and more, watch our travel tips video to hear advice directly from officers, or read our travel tips fact sheet. The CBSA also has a mobile Web site for busy planners who like to stay connected.
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