Crossing the Border/Passport Information
Every year, Canada welcomes more than 35 million people, and since the population of Canada is just over that, there is one visitor for every resident in the country at one time or another each year.
Since many of those visitors drive up from the United States, this page is designed to make crossing the border between the US and Canada a comfortable and efficient experience.
Please keep in mind we are a local travel company and not qualified to answer crossing the border questions.
First though, here are some useful numbers to call if you have specific questions regarding crossing the border or moving to Canada since neither of these topics is our area of expertise so we won’t be able to help you if you give us a call with border or immigration questions.
Important Contact Numbers
Canada Border Services/Customs: 1-800-461-9999
Canada Border Services/Customs from outside Canada : 1-204-983-3500
Official Visit Canada Site
Passport Canada : 1-800-567-6868
Canada Immigration: 1-888-242-2100 / 1-613-944-4000
Press 1 for English, then 0 each time you are instructed to make a choice to talk to a real person.
Hours 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Canada Customs Information
Surrey, BC V4P 1M7
Telephone (604) 538-3600
For general customs information: Within Canada – 1-800-461-9999
Outside Canada – 1-204-983-3500
Fax (604) 538-0293
For more information call Monday to Friday, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. local time 1 888-242-2100. This number only works if you are calling from inside Canada. From outside Canada, see the Canadian Immigration Information on the Visa Information Page.
Canada Border Services Agency
This site provides useful information for residents and non residents, and includes information about importing vehicles, duties and taxes and border wait times.
United States Customs
9901 Pacific Highway
Blaine, WA 98230
Telephone (360) 332-5771
Fax (360) 332-4701
Click Passport Canada for passport information.
Vancouver Passport Office
757 West Hastings
7:30am – 4:30pm
Vancouver Immigration Local Office
1148 Hornby Street, Vancouver
If you have specific questions not answered here, contact Canadian Immigration Services: 1-800-461-9999 or US Customs at the Peace Arch border crossing in Blaine, WA: 360-332-8512. For general inquiries, click on the Canada Border Services Agency.
Vancouver Citizenship Local Office
#877-200 Expo Blvd
NEXUS Information: 1-866-496-3987
USA Border Services: 1 703 526-4200
USA Passports click HERE
USA Customs click HERE
Lynden U.S. Border Office Contact Information: 360 354-2183
Blaine U.S. Border Office Contact Information: 360 332-5571
Frequently Asked Questions about Crossing the Border
Do I need a Passport?
Yes. Click Passport Canada for Canadian passport information. If you’re an adult, you’ll need a passport if you are traveling to Canada. Parents traveling with their children should bring a birth certificate for each child. If a child enters the country with only one parent, she/he must have a letter from the other saying it’s OK for the child to enter Canada.
Read more about it HERE. Americans are required to carry a passport to travel between the US and Canada even if they are traveling by car or boat.
How Long Is The Wait to Cross the Border?
It Varies. Summer is the busiest time, and weekends and holidays all year round are often busy, too. A long wait can be over 2 hours; however, if you time your crossing for early in the morning or later in the evening, you can reduce the wait. And in winter, on week days, there may be no wait at all.
May I Bring My Dog or Cat into Canada?
Dogs and cats are allowed to accompany their owners on trips to Canada providing they have current rabies certificates.
How do I import a vehicle into Canada? Click HERE
Can I enter Canada with a previous DUI or other criminal conviction?
As a general rule, Canada does not allow persons with DUI’s to enter the country, although travellers who require in-depth information regarding the process of applying for a waiver or other admissibility questions can reach the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) during regular business hours, Monday to Friday (08:00 – 16:00 local time, except holidays) by calling either (506)636-5064 or (204)983-3500. Please go to this official link for more in depth information: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/information/inadmissibility/conviction.asp#a5
How many border crossings are near Vancouver?
There are four. They are listed from west to east;* The main border crossing is the Peace Arch / Blaine crossing. The Peace Arch is the most beautiful and popular of the local crossings and is open 24 hours.
* There is a truck crossing near the Peace Arch border crossing because no commercial vehicles are allowed to cross at the Peace Arch. This crossing is also open 24 hours a day and cars are allowed; however, if the Peace Arch crossing is backed up, the truck crossing is almost always backed up as well.
* The border crossing at Aldergrove / Lynden is open 8am to midnight every day. It’s 35miles/59km east of Vancouver. However, if you’re traveling to the North Shore or to the east side of Vancouver, this crossing is worth considering. If it’s not a holiday or a weekend, the wait time is usually minimal.
* The border crossing at Abbotsford / Sumas is open 24 hours but is 43 miles or 72km east of Vancouver. This crossing is almost too far east to consider unless you know the Peace Arch is really busy or the Aldergrove exit is closed.
You may also want to look at our Getting to Vancouver page for other ways to get to Vancouver besides driving.
Typical questions you may be asked at the border:
1. What is the purpose of your trip? Pleasure or business is a common response.
2. Where are you going? You might say Vancouver – or Alaska – if that’s your plan.
3. How long are you staying? A visitor can stay up to 6 months in most instances.
4. Are you bringing any gifts into Canada? You may bring gifts to Canada but if a gift is worth more than $60 Canadian, it is subject to duty. All gifts of alcohol or tobacco are subject to duty.
5. Are you bringing any alcohol into Canada? If so, how much? Each person 19 or older may bring 1.5 litres or 24 cans of beer or ale for personal consumption.
6. Are you bringing any tobacco into Canada? Each person 19 or older may bring 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars or 200 grams (7oz) of loose tobacco for personal use.
7. Are you carrying firearms, pepper spray, mace? Under most circumstances, it is illegal to bring firearms, pepper spray or mace into Canada. For more information about firearms in Canada, call Clive Law at the Department of Foreign Affairs at 613-992-0478.
8. As a Canadian, what is the total value of goods I’m allowed to bring back into Canada?
There are new guidelines effective June 1, 2012. If you travel to the U.S. for more than 24 hours but less than 48 hours, you are allowed to bring back $200 worth of tax-exempt goods.
The previous limit was $50. If you’re out of the country for more than 48 hours, your limit is $800. Previously, travelers who were out of Canada from 48 hours to seven days were allowed to bring back $400 worth of goods. Travelers gone more than a week could bring back $750.
If the goods you buy in the USA are made there or made in Canada, there is no duty on them, buy they are still taxable. Some food items are taxable, but most basic grocery items are not. Avoid bringing fruit and vegetables.
For more information, click HERE.