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Video:How to Prepare to Cross the Border Into Canada

with Omar Saad

If you're planning a trip to the Great White North, be sure to take the necessary steps to prepare for your border crossing into Canada. Here are some ways to get ready for crossing the border into Canada.See Transcript

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Transcript:How to Prepare to Cross the Border Into Canada

Hi, I'm Omar Saad here for About.com and today we're going to take a look at how to prepare crossing the border from the US into Canada. With a combination of great culture, city life, and breathtaking natural sites, our neighbor to the north is a fantastic place to visit. But it's important to remember that heading into Canada isn't as simple as crossing from one state to another. You'll be crossing an international border and as such you'll need to be aware of what will be expected of you and what documentation you'll need to bring along.

Passport Required to Cross Canadian Border

It used to be the case that when an American citizen was traveling from inside the US to either Canada or Mexico, a passport was not required for entry. However, in 2009, in an effort to better control the borders, the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative went into effect, requiring everyone to have a passport when entering or leaving the US, even when going Canada or Mexico. So naturally when crossing the border into Canada, you'll need to have a valid passport. Passports can be obtained from your local post office among other locations and must be renewed every ten years. Keep in mind that the average turnaround time for getting a passport issued changes depending on the time of year, but 60-90 days is a good estimate. If you find yourself in a bind and need a passport sooner, there are vendors online that can expedite the process, getting your passport done in as little as 24 hours, for an extra charge.

May Have to Present Registration at Canadian Border

Along with your passport you should have the registration readily available for whatever vehicle you are diving across the border. While it may not be asked for, it's better to be safe than sorry. If you are traveling with any children who aren't your own, you will need a letter from the parents granting them permission to travel with you. The letter should be signed and contain the parents contact information. If you are traveling with one or more of your own children but not the other parent, you'll need a signed letter from him or her, granting permission, just to be safe.

Bring Pet Vaccination Record

If you are planning on bringing your pets across the border, you will need to have a current record of their vaccinations available, including up to date rabies shots both to enter Canada and also to bring them back into the states. It's always good to know the protocol when approaching the border. As you pull up to the border officer, roll down your window, remove your sunglasses, and present your passport.

Prepare for Car Search When Crossing Border Into Canada

Be ready to answer any questions about the nature and length of your visit along with information about any food, alcohol, or money you may be bringing along with you. It's not uncommon for there to be a random vehicle search. Knowing that may be a possibility, do yourself and the border officers a favor and make sure you have a relatively clean car that can be cleared by the officer with a cursory exam. The anticipation of crossing the border into another country can certainly cause some anxiety. In the case of crossing from the US into Canada, provided that you have the right paperwork and know what to expect, you've really got nothing to worry about!

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