US Canada Border Crossing Lawyers

7 Reasons You Might Have Issues Crossing the US/Canada Border

Travelling from the United States to Canada, whether you’re a citizen of the U.S. or Canada, might not be effortless. As you reach the border, you might find yourself being directed for a secondary inspection at the final security checkpoint. When you find yourself stalled at the border crossing between these relatively friendly countries, several reasons might be the cause of your delay. It is critical you prepare for border crossing before reaching this point. Regardless of your citizenship status, the border officers have the right to stop anyone they deem a threat for entry. You might not have ill intentions, but incomplete or incorrect paperwork and bringing unauthorized items results in time delays, hassles, and possible detainment.

7 Reasons Border Patrol Might Stop You from Crossing the US/Canada Border

You must realize the situations Border Patrol encounter daily. Therefore, having your paperwork in order is critical.

Border Patrol has limited patience for those who come unprepared, and they have no qualms delaying your travel to ensure everything is kosher.


1. You Have Insufficient Identification

Canadian citizens travelling by land to the US must present a Canadian passport, Enhanced Driver’s License/Enhanced Identification Card, NEXUS, FAST/EXPRES or SENTRI card.  If you are traveling by air, you must present a valid passport or NEXUS card at the Canadian airport.

American citizens do not require passports for travelling to Canada, but you must still have proof of U.S. citizenship plus proof of identity. Proof of citizenship includes a birth certificate, certificate of citizenship or naturalization paperwork. If you live in a state that issues an Enhanced Driver License, this can be used as both proof of citizenship and proof of identity. If you are a US citizen traveling by air, you do not need a US passport to enter Canada, but you must have a valid US passport to re-enter the United States.

2. You Did Not Document Your Domestic Animals Properly

Pets require documentation before entry.

Under the National Animal Health Program and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, animals require a veterinarian inspection, updates on vaccinations, and verification your pet is not part of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora controls.

Domestic dogs and cats do not require quarantine for entry, nor do they need microchips. However, animals presented to border officers must have necessary vaccinations.

To ensure you have all proper documentation, review the pet inspection guidelines.

Furthermore, it is best if you leave your pet food at home and purchase food in the country where you are traveling. While some forms of pet food are allowed, the country restricts types and origins of pet feed.

3. You Have No Note or Documentation for Minors Travelling to Canada

Human trafficking is a huge issue in both countries.  Border officers look for missing or kidnapped children; therefore, they might ask detailed questions about any minors travelling with you into Canada.

Parents must carry copies of all legal custody documents, including custody rights. When shared custody exists for minor children, but the other legal guardian is not travelling, a consent letter must come along with the children. Having your permission letter notarized is best to avoid any questions of authenticity.

Children under 16 from the United States must have appropriate documentation showing proof of U.S. Citizenship.

4. Your Trunk is Not Empty

Your vehicle is subject to an inspection at the border. Not only do you require proper documentation, but you must also clear your vehicle cargo area of any unwanted or unneeded items. Suspicious items or items not permitted at the border, such as meat, cannot cross with you.

You must complete a declaration form regarding any products you are transporting across the border.

Certain items have restrictions, like garden plants, baked goods, fish, dairy, and animal fats. Therefore, review the inspection guidelines before travel to remove illegal items from your vehicle.

5. You Have a Criminal Record in the United States or Canada

Americans travelling to Canada with a criminal record may face entry refusals. Not all offences qualify for refusal. However, the border officers have access to the NCIC to verify criminal convictions and the type of offence.

Canadian border officers can refuse access to anyone with a serious felony. Also, if you are on probation, border officers are very likely to refuse entry. Multiple offences, such as multiple DUIs, might result in border refusal, too.

6. You Brought a Firearm without Documentation

A United States citizen or Canadian citizen bringing a firearm into Canada must complete a declaration form with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Furthermore, you must be 18 years or older and have a possession and acquisition license to bring a firearm into the country. Without these documents, you cannot cross with a firearm.  Worse yet, attempting to cross into Canada without the proper documentation regarding a firearm or any ammunition, could likely end with you being charged with a serious criminal offence.

If you bring ammunition into Canada, you must possess all of the necessary licenses and paperwork as you would if you were bringing a firearm into Canada.  Leaving a stray cartridge in your vehicle, without having the proper documentation, will very likely result in denial of entry.  Again, in the worst case scenario, you could be charged with a very serious criminal offence.

7. You Do Not Have Your Visa or Permit

As a Canadian citizen crossing the border, a passport is encouraged when traveling by land. If you do not have a passport, you must bring proof of citizenship and photo identification with you. Identification includes an Enhanced Driver’s License, NEXUS card, Canadian citizenship card, Certificate of Indian Status, birth certificate, or the Free and Secure Trade card.  If you are traveling to the US by air, you must have a valid passport or NEXUS card to show at the airport prior to departure.

If you are an American citizen traveling to Canada as a tourist for less than 180 days, you are not required to have a Canadian visa.  You are also not required to obtain an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) to fly or travel through Canada. However, US Citizens must still carry proof of citizenship and proper identification, preferably a US passport.


Crossing the US/Canada Border is Easy with Legal Guidance

Whether you are a United States citizen travelling to Canada or a Canadian citizen re-entering, consulting with a border and immigration attorney helps ease the transition between the two countries.

Basiga Law Firm understands the numerous refusals Americans and Canadians face when crossing the US/Canada border. Our law firm has offices on both sides of the border, and we can help you gather all proper documentation to ensure a smooth crossing.

For a great experience travelling to Canada, make your first call to Basiga Law Firm. Schedule a consultation from the U.S. at 517-708-7830 or contact our Ontario offices at 519-432-7780 for a consultation.

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