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  1. #1
    The Site Administrator: Currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes,please contact my assistnt admins for forum issues Tom Stormcrowe's Avatar
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    Anything I need to know about crossing US/Canada border by bike?

    Thinking about a Great Lakes Loop out of Indiana out around Lake Erie and back next summer.
    on light duty due to illness; please contact my assistants for forum issues. They are Siu Blue Wind, or CbadRider or the other 3 star folk. I am currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes. I am making good progress, happily.


    . “He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”- Fredrick Nietzsche

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  2. #2
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    Likely you'll be fine in the east. In the west, the Canadians are dynamite and depending on the amount of time you wish to spend there, will require you to justify the amount of money you have at your disposal to support your visit. The reception you receive at one entry point might also be entirely contradictory to that at another port. I have been told that Vancouver BC randonneurs are considering ending their cross-border events because of the hassle they are getting from their countrypeople when coming back into their home territory. All my experiences were while travelling in a vehicle, too, so it was not as though I was a ragged, lone cyclist.

    By contrast, I found that the US officials could not be more courteous, cheerful and co-operative (within their official bounds as security officers, of course). In fact, I found the contrast overwhelming, and my regard for Americans skyrocketed based on my border crossing experiences alone.
    Dream. Dare. Do.

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    That's good to hear about the US. It's like any other business when they find you screwing up they whip your tail, so any particular office can be on high alert. Mostly I haven't had trouble on either side, but I have stayed away since 9/11. The Canuck have juist been approved for guns, so yo can expect a period of foot shooting and "oops you mean it isn't one safe from an open breech?" for a while.

    One thing the cyclist needs to be alert for is whether it's possible to cross the desired bridge by bike. Some of them are too narrow to ride over and too narrow to push. And some of them are regular level road crossing, best to inquire about a specific one before you need to use it. Obviously the big bridges are the major issue.

  4. #4
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    I crossed by bike in 2003, there was no hassle. Just needed a passport.
    ...

  5. #5
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    There's that magic word - PASSPORT. They may never ask for it if you ride across on the Ferry from Seattle but then they might also. Crossing at other points you are at the mercy of the particular boredom of the agent on duty.

    Have a passport and enough money (a credit card is acceptable I believe) to get out of Canada again and you PROBABLY won't have any trouble at the borders.

    Once inside Canada you'll find them a bit peculiar - they always seem to do everything differently from Americans just BECAUSE. Nice people though.

  6. #6
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Be absolutely sure you have the following information with you:

    1) Passport

    2) Itinerary, including the names and addresses of any hotels you might be staying at, or people you might be staying with.

    3) Paperwork for any other modes of transportation you might be using such as flights, trains, busses, etc.

    4) Cash or traveller's cheques, and also a bank statement with your current bank balance.

    5) Proof that the bicycle is indeed yours ... receipts, or insurance papers are good.

    You may not need any of this (except the passport), but security has tightened up so much on the border over the last few months, you may discover yourself heading back to the nearest town to collect it. Yes, this is based on my experiences crossing the border over the last year or so!

    Also, it is best not to go into too much detail when you are talking to the border guards ... just answer their questions as briefly as possible ... provide them just the precise bit of information they are asking about. There is a list of about 25 standard questions they ask people crossing the border ... they don't ask everyone all 25, they will pick and choose 3 or 4 from the list. Some examples of those questions are:

    1) your name
    2) your city and country
    3) have you ever been fingerprinted
    4) what is your current occupation
    5) have you been convicted of a criminal offense
    6) have you ever been refused entry to another country
    7) what is the purpose of your visit
    8) are you carrying firearms
    9) have you purchased alcohol or cigarettes to bring into the country
    10) have you purchased any other gifts
    11) have you purchased any new goods
    12) do you have any food with you

    Just be prepared to answer those and others.

    Border crossing is SO much fun these days!!

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    You do not need a passport to enter Canada, or re-enter the US. I know nobody said you did, but polls show tourism to Canada is down because a majorty of US citizens do not have a pasport and believe the passport requirement is already in force.

    I have used nothing other than a drivers license, birth certificate, usually nothing. There is no harm in having a passport, and if you have a current one it's a good thing to bring. The passport requirement is being held off till '09 in a congresional deal taken today, according to CNN. Of course I have heard that before, but either way it isn't currently in place.

  8. #8
    WATERFORD22
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    We did it four times this summer and passports just make it easy - just save your yourselves some time and hassel just get a passport.

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    The answer to "8" should be "no". It used to be possible to bring a *** into the us or canada with no problems at all. But in the last 5 years it's become hugely complicated.

    You care not allowed to have a weapon in your posession in Canada. So if you are carrying dog spray or something (good luck with that one). make sure you do not say it's for self-defence. Self-defence is not illegal but carrying gas to shoot at humans is.

    Almost any lockback knife can be flipped open with the right technique, and flipable knives will be confiscated. You need to tighten the pivot screw so you can barely open it or have it in pieces. No brass knuckles, nunchucks, throwing stars, switch-blades, balisongs. Spring assisted knives are legal, and there is a customs letter circulating that says they may be imported, specifically the Leek type thing. But your chance of meeting a Canadian official who is so educated is pretty minimal.

  10. #10
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peterpan1
    You do not need a passport to enter Canada, or re-enter the US. I know nobody said you did, but polls show tourism to Canada is down because a majorty of US citizens do not have a pasport and believe the passport requirement is already in force.

    I have used nothing other than a drivers license, birth certificate, usually nothing. There is no harm in having a passport, and if you have a current one it's a good thing to bring. The passport requirement is being held off till '09 in a congresional deal taken today, according to CNN. Of course I have heard that before, but either way it isn't currently in place.

    I know the news tells us that passports aren't required, but I have been asked for a passport every single time I have crossed the border in the last 16 months.

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    So what we need is someone who's answer was "no I don't have one".

  12. #12
    Senior Member mudskipper99's Avatar
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    In case you didnt know, you will not be aloud to ride your bike across the Ambassador bridge, or through the tunnel, at Detroit-Windsor. Also at Port Huron-Sarnia, no bikes aloud on the bridge. There is a ferry you can take above Lake St. Clair, from Marine City to Sombra.

    I think to take a taxi across from U.S. to Canada, there is a $40 fee for crossing the border, plus fare, plus tolls, plus tip. Not sure what it is from Canada to the U.S..

  13. #13
    The Site Administrator: Currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes,please contact my assistnt admins for forum issues Tom Stormcrowe's Avatar
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    All good info...Thanks much! It'll help me plan the trip very nicely! This'll be my wifes first tour and I want her to have a BALL!
    on light duty due to illness; please contact my assistants for forum issues. They are Siu Blue Wind, or CbadRider or the other 3 star folk. I am currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes. I am making good progress, happily.


    . “He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”- Fredrick Nietzsche

    "We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals." - Immanuel Kant

  14. #14
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    GET THE PASSPORT....no one has mentioned one item that is crucial for traveling anywhere other than your home country.

    If something should happen...an accident...a crime that you witness....anything of that nature....the passport guarantees you the full faith and civil protection of the Canadian government as part of their reciprocal agreement with the U. S, and requires that they assist and render aid to you.

    If you are a U. S. citizen please be wise enough to consider Canada as a foreign country....because it is.
    Most economic fallacies derive from the tendency to assume that there is a fixed pie, that one party can gain only at the expense of another.....Milton Friedman

  15. #15
    Behind EVERYone!!! baj32161's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Monoborracho
    GET THE PASSPORT....no one has mentioned one item that is crucial for traveling anywhere other than your home country.

    If something should happen...an accident...a crime that you witness....anything of that nature....the passport guarantees you the full faith and civil protection of the Canadian government as part of their reciprocal agreement with the U. S, and requires that they assist and render aid to you.

    If you are a U. S. citizen please be wise enough to consider Canada as a foreign country....because it is.
    You took the words right out of my mouth....very important points, these. Why does it seem to me that so many Americans are so against getting a passport? It is money very well spent.

    Cheers,

    Brian
    “A good teacher protects his pupils from his own influence. ”

    ― Bruce Lee

  16. #16
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    I live in British Columbia only a few kilometres from the American border and 3-4 times/year will venture south on a day trip (usually for a round of golf). I don't have a passport and have got along fine with my birth certificate and driver's license.

    Although passports are sometimes asked for at the border, they are not mandatory. The implementation of mandatory passports for LAND crossings has been delayed by 17 months. See:

    http://www.cnn.com/2006/POLITICS/09/...g.ap/index.htm

    However, as of Jan 8, 2007 all crossings by airplane or cruise ship will require a passport.

  17. #17
    This user is a pipebomb brotherdan's Avatar
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    The ferry from Marine City to Sarnac is the way to go if you are crossing from Michigans lower penninsula to Canada. I took it this summer and it was absolutely no hassle at all. Just waited in line for about ten minutes (and there was really no line to speak of) and the crossing only took about ten minutes. They even forgot to charge me the two dollar fee that bicyclists are supposed to pay. And the Canadian border guard questioned me for about two minutes and didn't ask for any ID other than my driver's license.
    Bikes belong in the motor city

  18. #18
    This user is a pipebomb brotherdan's Avatar
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    I've crossed from Montana to Alberta and back, and from Michigan to Ontario and back. I don't have a passport, so I always carry my driver's license and a copy of my birth certificate. I always offer to show the birth certificate, but border guards usually tell me not to even pull it out. I've never been searched by border guards, and the my interaction with them has almost always been genial.
    Bikes belong in the motor city

  19. #19
    Numbler Cornchops's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka
    Some examples of those questions are:

    9) have you purchased alcohol or cigarettes to bring into the country
    10) have you purchased any other gifts
    11) have you purchased any new goods
    12) do you have any food with you
    And they don't ask them like that. They say "What are you bringing back...?" or "How much alcohol or cigarettes are you bringing back?"

    I think they do it to catch people off guard, but it can seem very pushy and accusing. I've never had problems by car. Just answer their questions and hope you got in the cheerful line rather than the I've-been-here-all-day-and-I'm-tired-and-bitter line.

  20. #20
    jon bon stovie
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    its really all luck of the draw. when in detroit with a friend in 2003, we decided to head over to windsor for an afternoon. we were wished a good time by the canadian border patrol on the way there, but had a hell of a time returning to the united states. most likely, the u.s. border patrolman we encountered just liked giving people a hard time. while i didn't have my passport (called ahead and was assured i didn;t need one), he spent quite a bit of time scrutinizing my pennsylvania driver's lisence for authenticity (despite the very difficult to reproduce hologram on the entire front of the lisence and the magnetic strip on the back that if he just ran through a computer would tell him everything he could possibly want to know about me).

    best to just treat it like a job interview. you will want to make a good impression, but don't say more than you have to.

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    "the passport guarantees you the full faith and civil protection of the Canadian government as part of their reciprocal agreement with the U. S, and requires that they assist and render aid to you."

    What exactly do you think the Canadian government would do if you didn't have one. This isn't Baghdad, you will be treated like a friend if you deserve that treatment, regardless of the piece of paper you are carrying.

    It is a foreign country up here, all that means in a practical sense is that there are some different laws. But not so far out that if you are just a fraction careful about gray areas you should be fine. The same is true visiting other states in the US. Your concealed carry permit may not be valid or your Mass. wedding.

    Both countries do not allow arbitrary search and seizure, except at their borders. Most people are in no greater risk at a border than they would be at a routine traffic stop. If you're not drunk, don't have a pound of weed in your lap, an illegal firearm, an abducted child, etc... You have nothing to worry about. On the other hand, if like Arar they want your ass, your passport is diddly.

    The big change (recent court rulings aside) is that foreigners visiting the US used to have equal treatment under the law. In ways like the right to have a Florida carry permit, that were pretty wildly generous. Now we fall into a different category, which in 99.999999% of the cases probably doesn't change much... As far as I know nothing has changed relative to rights of US Citizens coming into Canada.

    All these little changes highlight the unique border relationship between the US and Canada which has typically been very friendly, The friendliest border in the world, until the EC countries gave up caring. That is likely to continue in the big picture as US policy continues to favour disassembly of the border, and free labour flows. Just in the short run there remains some business to be done. There is the appearance of fairness vis a vis the Mexican border thing. When that gets sorted out there is a chance of a return to the status quo ante up here. The other thing is to create the climate for as many smart cards etc... for everyone, so expect a lot of short term inconvenience to soften us up.

  22. #22
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by baj32161
    You took the words right out of my mouth....very important points, these. Why does it seem to me that so many Americans are so against getting a passport? It is money very well spent.

    Cheers,

    Brian

    I agree!! What's the big deal with getting a passport? I've had mine for years now, and intend to keep renewing it. Not only is it very helpful for a faster and more simple border crossing between Canada and the US, but it also allows us to visit other countries in the world. For me, that part is essential! If I want to ride events like the PBP, GSR, and LEL ... I have to have a passport.

    Crossing between Canada and the US is a gamble depending on the border crossing you use, and depending on the border guards on staff that day. You may have no trouble at all (I have had some recent - in the last month - crossings that have gone very smoothly) ... or you could have all sorts of problems (I have also had some recent - in the last month - which have not gone smoothly). BUT if you carry a passport, and if you have your other paperwork, which I described above, and if you are prepared to answer all the questions I listed and more ... you can make your border crossing as simple as it can possibly be. If you aren't prepared ... be prepared for some delay and hassle.

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    Gee, the simple answer is most people are not international travelers! duh. I have euro relatives, so I get there, but many people never travel out of the country. Keeping an up to date passport for oneself and four other familly member is 400 dollars every time they run out. Last time I checked the Canadian government didn't accept a passports to get one, so I'm pretty confident my original birth certificate and other less PC factors are still the gold standard.

    One thing though, Machka, is that I have heard that more people have received lifetime US visitation bans leaving Alberta than anywhere else. It seems like a tough gig, so everyone else's mileage may vary. I'm not saying you aren't right from you experience.

  24. #24
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    I have ridden my bicycle on day trips several times back and forth across the northern border at the Blaine, Lynden and Sumas crossing points in Washington state. I have a passport and have never had a problem either with the Canadian or US border personnel. The Canadians hardly ever ask to see any ID while the US personnel always ask for ID. Both groups have gladly taken a picture of me on my bike posing next to the border marker. I suspect that they don't see much of a potential threat posed by a sweaty middle-aged guy clad in a Spandex jersey and road shorts! You cannot stuff much contraband into the jersey pockets!
    Regards, MillCreek
    Snohomish County, Washington USA

  25. #25
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peterpan1
    Gee, the simple answer is most people are not international travelers! duh. ... but many people never travel out of the country.
    Actually, if you polled the students in my college you might be surprised to discover that most of them have travelled internationally. Coming from Manitoba, I was under the mistaken impression that most people don't travel much ... and they don't in Manitoba ... but here in Alberta it seems like EVERYONE does!

    And it's only $80 per person every 5 years. That's not too bad! I wanted a passport so badly that I paid my $80 in 2003 to get mine ... and then paid another $80 in 2004 to get a new one with my new name! I had no problems at all doing that. It frees me to go where I want to go.

    In your case, $400/5 years is $80/year. If you travel overseas or back and forth to the US every year, that $80 is a minor amount in comparison to all your other travelling costs.

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