Monday, April 3, 2017

Five border-crossing tips for returning Canadian snowbirds

Canada Border Services Agency - After wintering abroad, Canadian snowbirds are beginning to fly – and drive – north in increasing numbers. This is a peak travel time at many border crossings, and the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) Prairie Region offers the following tips to make the return to Canada as quick and smooth as possible:

Remember to declare: Make a list of all goods acquired outside of Canada since leaving the country, and present it to the CBSA officer. This list should note the monetary values of each item, which include any sales tax paid. Retain the receipts for all goods you are importing and be prepared to provide them if asked.

Be aware: Some types of goods – such as food products, live animals, firearms, weapons, and ammunition – have specific reporting requirements. Certain goods may be prohibited or inadmissible to Canada. Do your research beforehand and make sure you have any required documentation. You must also report if you are travelling with Can$10,000 or more.

Returning with vehicles: Travellers must declare any acquired vehicles – including RVs – they are returning with, and are responsible for ensuring they are eligible for importation. They must also declare all vehicle repairs and alternations, including new tires, paint jobs, and the addition of any accessories.

Returning with boats: Snowbirds returning with boats must ensure they are free of aquatic invasive species such as Zebra and Quagga mussels, or else risk detention or seizure of the equipment they are attached to. Travellers should also be prepared for provincial reporting and inspection processes.

Travelling with children: CBSA officers watch for missing children, and may ask detailed questions about any accompanying minors. Travellers who share custody of their children should carry a consent letter and contact information for the other parent, so that officers can follow up and confirm details.

The CBSA also reminds snowbirds to research their personal exemptions following an absence of more than 48 hours, which include goods worth up to Can$800 and specific amounts of tobacco and alcohol products. Finally, have your passport ready and ensure that parcels are opened and unwrapped when crossing the border, as a CBSA officer may need to examine them to verify your declaration.

Quick facts
  • In the Prairie Region (Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba), historically, an average of eight per cent more travellers enter Canada in April than in other months.
  • Last year, CBSA officers in the Prairie Region processed 598,053 travellers in April.
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