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Old 05-28-2016, 11:41 PM   #1
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Experience with Canadian Customs

This question is for fulltimers. At Sumas, WA we pulled up to the open window and talked to the first CC Officer at the gate. After going through her checklist of things that are and are not allowed (We had no guns, ammunition, potatoes, apples, carrots, fireworks, etc.) the Officer shifted her focus to our SD residency. Several times during the conversation she mentioned our fulltiming and was particularly interested in how we travel and where we receive mail. After she finished with her questioning she gave us our passports and her check list, told us to park in one of their bays nearby and report to the CC Officers inside the adjacent building.

Inside we had to go through a second set of screening questions. We disclosed everything that they asked about. After reviewing the check list, the second CC Officer began the conversation by stating "Looks like we have a lot to work with here." The only thing remarkable was the fact that we were not carrying any prohibited goods and that we were fulltimers. After casually talking to us together she separated us and asked me more questions about guns and other contraband. Again, I said that we have nothing in the trailer or tow vehicle that they would have a problem with.

The CC Officer then wanted to talk to my wife separately. She asked my wife a similar set of questions and again made a point of our being fulltimers. Once she finished, the Officer told me that they were going to search our trailer and tow vehicle and wanted the keys to both.

While three officers were tossing our rig, two Officers took us to separate rooms and searched us as though we had been arrested. They went out of their way to make sure we understood that the Officers are trained to subdue us if we did not follow their orders.

Ultimately they found nothing but an unopened package of fresh corn during their search of us and our rig. At 7pm we were told that we were free to travel in Canada but that the Customs Officers or police could search our vehicle at any time, anywhere.

We have traveled in Europe (including Russia), the Middle East, SE Asia, Mexico and Canada several times but have never been treated as suspects who are involved in some kind of smuggling venture. These folks went out of their way to try and intimidate us and made sure that we understood they could order us out of the country at any time.


What was your experience with Canadian Customs Officers?

Have you heard of anyone else who has had their rig searched for no reason?
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Old 05-29-2016, 12:07 AM   #2
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Sorry about this unfortunate event! I was afraid to respond to you for a moment for fear that your being spies or terrorists would somehow connect us on our next trip up ;^)...but seriously....they were either following some cryptic border profile, or perhaps some long distant recorded event in your lives popped up in the "network", or they saw full-timers as dangerous vagrants, performing a nasty training exercise, or lasty were just being mean bullies having a bad day!

Our only out of norm experience so far has been to be asked to pull over, submit passports, and answer a few stern routine questions while our profiles were searched...all told about 15 minutes in and out.

You had no trouble coming back? I suspect that customs share data?
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Old 05-29-2016, 12:29 AM   #3
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Hi, you can read in my blog about our two hour harassment, at the Canadian border, during our cross country trip last year. We made a "U" turn at the border.

"Bob, Lee, and Dusty's random trips"
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Old 05-29-2016, 06:31 AM   #4
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It can sometimes seem for no reason at all that customs, US or Canadian do what they do and take it to whatever level they do; but there's always a reason......

We have a fairly lax imigration enforcement policy in this country, so once inside you are considered and treated with the same rights as Canadian residents under the Canadian constitution, thus the border is the only place we can stop terrorists, criminals or people that wish to take advantage of our healthcare system and other reason, such as jumping the immigration cue.

I can only surmise that you both are not young bucks anymore so if something should happen to you health wise, there is nowhere in the US we could legally return you for treatment, which would increase Canada's exposure to possible or probable expensive healthcare costs, with no possibility of compensation.

I'm also not sure of South Dakota's guns laws but it has been Canada customs experience that any American travelling extensively, especially full timers, will be packing heat. Most Americans have guns, it's a fact, and if your trailer is your home, where are the guns?

Any country, that includes the US, are very hesistant of allowing people into their countries that have NO ties, financial or residency into their countries. If I were to try and cross the US border and declare that my trailer is my home, I have no doubt at all that I would be turned away; no doubt at all. Any country that you visit, wants you to eventually go home; if you're travelling with your home, that makes things different.

A distant relative had the same thing happen to her when she married an American. The US declined her to travel back to see her husband as they were concerned she would over stay her welcome. It took a long time of legal hurdles before she was allowed to return to his side.

I'm glad they eventually let you in as I believe our country is a stronger one for it but it wouldn't have surprised me if they hadn't. Getting back across the US border maybe a whole different ballgame, as the US border guys want to know where you live. You may find yourself in limbo there for a while.

I hope you enjoy our country and have a safe trip.

Cheers
Tony
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Old 05-29-2016, 07:45 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ROBERTSUNRUS View Post
Hi, you can read in my blog about our two hour harassment, at the Canadian border, during our cross country trip last year. We made a "U" turn at the border.

"Bob, Lee, and Dusty's random trips"
Where's your blog?

@Isuzusweet...only 1/3 of Americans own guns.
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Old 05-29-2016, 07:48 AM   #6
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We had a similar experience, although not quite so extreme as yours, returning to the US from a Canadian Rockies caravan a few years ago. Husband and wife questioned separately, trailer searched, etc., etc. Our conclusion was that our days of traveling to Canada were done.

Fortunately I had many trips to Canada in the "good old days" when it was not uncommon for the border guards to just wave you through, so I have seen many of the famous sights in Canada.

Nowadays with both the US and Canada apparently becoming police states on account of fifty years or so of the War on Drugs, 9/11, Islamic terrorists, etc., etc. it's simpler just to stay in the US. There's plenty of places to travel here.
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Old 05-29-2016, 07:52 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Isuzusweet View Post
It can sometimes seem for no reason at all that customs, US or Canadian do what they do and take it to whatever level they do; but there's always a reason......
Although the reason may be that they just randomly decide to give some visitors the full treatment, or they are training a new agent how to hassle people, or maybe they are just in a bad mood that day. . .
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Old 05-29-2016, 08:18 AM   #8
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We were in Montana and did a day trip to Waterton National Park. The day before we went I was visiting with another camper from Texas in the RV park. I told him we were going the next day.He said ,get ready when they see your Texas licence plates they will give you hell. The guy at the gate was the biggest horses butt I have evere seen.If we had not have driven 1500 miles I would have turned around. I will never go back to Canada.
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Old 05-29-2016, 08:47 AM   #9
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My wife and I have made several trips to Canada. The last trip was 4 weeks ago. We had a UHaul trailer and the truck full of our sons personal belongings. We had all of the proper paper work. Crossed into Canada at Aldergrove. The customs folks had us pull over, asked a few additional questions. Did NOT look at a thing or even open the UHaul.
I am an American, my wife is Canadian. Never had any issues crossing in either direction. We do have a permanent residence here in the states.
We did have to throw a dozen eggs away when crossing into Canada last year at Aldergrove. U.S. Customs did look in the Argosy TT back in 2013, but I think that was just out of curiosity.
Sorry about the bad experience.
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Old 05-29-2016, 09:13 AM   #10
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While at Glacier National Park in 2011 we took a day trip to Waterton and entered via Chief Mountain border crossing. Nothing unusual to report, just typical serious minded officials entering Canada and back to the US. We had Texas plates at the time.

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Old 05-29-2016, 09:30 AM   #11
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Easy trip into Canada last year. On the way back US Customs wanted to go in the trailer, looked around at everything(the real reason he wanted in), opened the refrigerator, and confiscated the lemons that we told him were purchased in the USA.
Larry
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Old 05-29-2016, 10:00 AM   #12
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We've never had a problem entering Canada, only with US customs on exit. We have been treated with respect by Canadian customs.

That said, if we were treated like the OP, like Robert Sunruss... we would do an immediate U turn.
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Old 05-29-2016, 10:24 AM   #13
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Although I've learned that Canadians now appear to be friendly, from past experiences I would never go there.
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Old 05-29-2016, 10:27 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Troy Tyson View Post
We were in Montana and did a day trip to Waterton National Park. The day before we went I was visiting with another camper from Texas in the RV park. I told him we were going the next day.He said ,get ready when they see your Texas licence plates they will give you hell. The guy at the gate was the biggest horses butt I have evere seen.If we had not have driven 1500 miles I would have turned around. I will never go back to Canada.
We have traveled to Canada many times pulling the Airstream and have TX Plates. I have a CHL which shows up on a passport swipe and we have been questioned each time about guns and do I have one with me, and don't all Texans carry a gun, you regularly carry don't you and so forth. All part of normal questions that we have been exposed to each time we have crossed a border. In all of those instances the agents have been good. I personally think that a lot depends on how you respond to the questions they ask. If personable and answer when asked, I've found no issues. Just my experience though. Not saying that there aren't some jerks out there, but in our experience we have not had any issues.

Canada is a lovely place to visit and I wouldn't take one instance keep me away from future visits. I am sure we will have one of those experiences at some point that will frustrate us, but I am sure not to the point of refusing to ever go there again. We have seen some of the most beautiful places in NA up there and have built some fantastic friendships as well. Respect the laws they have in place and all generally will be good. For those wanting to carry handguns with them while traveling, plan ahead and arrange a safe deposit box in a boarder town that you can leave the gun and pick up on return. Hasn't worked for us though on some of our trips as go across in one area and back to US in another.

Safe travels.

Chuck
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