Top 5 things RVers need to know about border crossings to Canada

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American RVers must know these things about Crossing the Canadian Border

motorhome at the Canadian - US border

Have questions or concerns about traveling through Canada on the way to Alaska? You aren’t alone. However, there’s no need to be worried about the legalities of crossing the border between Canada and the United States. With a bit of pre-planning your border crossing can be hassle free.

Five things to be prepared for when entering Canada in your RV

1.  Canada and the United States are separate countries. This is important. Although Canada and the US have a lot of things that are similar it’s important to remember they are separate countries with many differences that includes a different legal system, monies, and cultures so be prepared for this. Although there are many differences between the two countries Canadians are a friendly bunch and are very welcoming to their visitors. If potential visitors have a DWI or other conviction or charges against them do your research before getting to the border because you may not be allowed into the country. It’s better to be prepared than be disappointed when trying to enter Canada.


2.  Passport for identification purposes.If you’re a U.S. citizen, you must carry proof of citizenship such as a passport, birth certificate, a certificate of citizenship or naturalization, a U.S. Permanent Resident Card, or a Certificate of Indian Status along with photo identification.

3. Traveling with children and pets. If both custodial parents aren’t traveling with the children you may require a letter from the missing parent giving permission for the child to leave the country.  As to pets, they’re are documents and requirements that must be met which aren’t difficult but these policies are governed by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency – there’s a link at the bottom of this post.

4. Bringing food or alcohol across the border. Full-time RVers living in their RV sometimes forget what they actually are carrying with them. Know that certain foods are restricted from entering Canada and the laws change regularly depending on what is taking place in the agriculture industry. Citrus foods aren’t allowed and dog food must be in it’s original container. There’s a limit as to how much alcohol and tobacco that can be brought into Canada without paying a duty. Make sure you declare what you have with you – there’s no problem with bringing in extra, but you must declare them.

5.  Importing a gun and other weapons into Canada. No, Canadians don’t carry guns as a rule and aren’t used to guns being a part of their lives. That doesn’t mean you can’t bring guns into Canada but you must be aware of what types of guns are allowed. Once again do your research so you know what you can bring with you or what you should leave at home.  Be honest with the border patrol agents because if you aren’t and they find out you have undeclared guns or weapons with you there could be serious consequences.

There’s no need to be stressed about crossing the border. Be prepared and do your research in advance and you will be through the line quickly. Remember, don’t be surprised if the border agents request entrance into your RV and will ask you to leave it while they do a search. They’re allowed to do so and by being forthright you shouldn’t encounter any problems.


Have your documents ready, put a smile on your face and head north to experience Canada, a beautiful country filled with spectacular scenery, delicious food, warm citizens and lots of attractions and events to enjoy. Border crossings don’t have to be difficult.

Resources

Government of Canada: http://www.canada.ca/en/

US Customs and Border Protection: http://www.cbp.gov

Canadian Border Services: http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca

Canadian Food Inspection Agency (traveling with pets) http://www.inspection.gc.ca/animals

Happy travels,

Carol Ann

This Post Has 14 Comments

  1. Mary Johnson

    Are you allowed to have a tow trailer behind a 5th wheel? What is the length limit?

    Thank You

    1. It will depend on where you are – definitely not in BC. Alberta may be a different story. I would check with Alberta motor vehicles.

  2. Ernest E. Dauphinais

    I will be traveling to Canada in July,I have been a fulltimer for 10 years. traveling in a Motorhome plus toweing a car. what do i need when crossing with a pistol. I have permit to carry concealed in South Dakota And Massachusetts

  3. Keith E Goertzen

    We are traveling across Canada to Alaska in an RV. Are the electrical hookups the same as in the United States?

  4. Jeff Papa

    I’m traveling to Niagara Falls in a Motorhome with a pet. would love to go to the Canada side with my dog. What documents do I need to go across the border?

    1. Jeff Papa

      And how about coming back to the USA?

      1. Carol Ann Quibell

        Hi Jeff,

        You will need to visit the USA Customs website to know what the requirements are to return home. Here’s the link

    2. Carol Ann Quibell

      Hi Jeff,

      Here is the link for the Canadian Government website with all the information you will need. Pets

  5. Wanda

    We are planing a trip to Niagara Falls Canada. We are driving our RV and towing a car.
    Are there any restrictions on towing into Canada?
    Thanks

    1. Carol Ann Quibell

      Hi Wanda,
      I am sorry for the delay. The following is information I found at http://www.ezbordercrossing.com
      As long as both vehicles are insured properly you shouldn’t have any problems. If I come across anything else to help you I’ll pass it along.

      Basic Requirements to cross the United States / Canadian Border
      The driver must have a valid drivers license.
      You must also have your vehicle registration. Border officials are always on the lookout for stolen vehicles or people trying to avoid duties on vehicles purchased out of country.
      Having your proof of insurance showing coverage is recommended.
      Alarm bells will go off anytime you try to cross the border in a car that is not yours. This is especially true if you fly across the border, and then try to come back in someone else’s personal vehicle. See our page on Crossing the Border in a Borrowed Vehicle for instructions and a sample permission letter you should bring.
      Rental Cars: Generally speaking, an American citizen can cross the border in a rental car without much problem. It is a bit more complicated for Canadian citizens. We have a separate page with much more detail on taking a rental car across the border.
      As a general rule, neither country will prevent one of it’s own citizens from re-entering the country and return home even if you lack the preferred documentation. Of course, you may be subjected to a secondary screening.
      Documents Needed to Enter Canada
      To cross the border into Canada you will need the following documents:

      American Citizens: A passport is not required but is strongly recommended. Alternatively, you will need other documentation that shows proof of American citizenship such as a birth certificate, a certificate of citizenship or naturalization or a Certificate of Indian Status, plus a photo ID. Remember, you will need to comply with the stricter U.S. entry requirements to return to the U.S.

  6. Charles Chatman

    I am almost 80 years old and have never had a passport. I understand that if I cross into Canada in my RV…… I can use only my birth certificate and ID card.
    However, when I am leaving Canada, and going back into Alaska, is my birth certificate and an ID card enough?

    1. Hi Charles,
      My suggestion to you would be to contact the US Border Services – I assume you are American so they would have the correct information for you. Let us know how you make out.

      CA

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