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Old 06-18-2009, 07:29 AM   #1
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1976 27' Overlander
Scarborough , Ontario
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Border crossing tips?

We're well into the planning of our first trip to the US in our 27' Overlander, and were wondering if:

- we should be prepared for a search of the trailer at the border
- we can go into that much shorter line for trucks
- there are any normal items we can't take across the border (i.e. propane, groceries, Canadian bacon)
- tolls on toll-roads are much higher for a car-towing-trailer, than they are for a normal car.
- there are any other tips you can offer, to make this trip smooth sailing.

We'll be crossing from Ontario into New York at Ogdensburg.
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Old 06-18-2009, 07:54 AM   #2
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We cross at least twice a year into the US with our trailer. Since 9/11 we can only recall one crossing where we were not searched. Having said that - "search" is a relative term - really meaning just a little more attention - many "searches" were as simple as driving through some type of truck sized scanning device - the rest were fairly cursory - pull over for a bit more of an interview - then a walk through the trailer and look at our fridge and food storage. The trailer has never been torn apart. If you are courteous you will get the same in return - if you are not - well ..... they are the ones with the stick .....

Trucks are trucks - "Cars" are everything else - unless there is a specific sign saying RV's/Campers then you are a "Car".

The grocery rules seem to be the ones that take some time - we've made a practice of going across without any perishable items of any kind on board - and make sure there are no beef ingredients in your canned goods. We have lost beef and fruit at the border because of import restrictions.

If you have a GPS many will allow you to program toll roads out of its route calculations - we use this feature and it works well - but have occasionally turned the feature off when we know that a toll road will save considerable time - or just makes a whole lot more sense to take. I recall one route taken to avoid a toll where the GPS took us through the heart of a city during rush hour (I forget the city) - but after that I paid a lot more attention to what the GPS was telling us to do - I've become a fan of toll roads around large cities ..... saves time, effort and a lot of stress ....

The only other thing I would add is do not fear crossing the border - relax and let them do their job - if you are not one of the "bad" guys then its not you they are concerned about - and if you bring across those favourite steaks for the BBQ then you can expect to leave them behind ..... oh .... and if you have a pet make sure your pet has had the right vaccinations and that you have your vaccine certificates with you .....

Enjoy your trip.


Jay
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Old 06-18-2009, 08:10 AM   #3
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I forgot to add - after more than a couple of our crossings we would leave chuckling - once the obligatory screening deemed us worthy visitors to the US then the conversation was dominated by a discussion about the trailer ...... often at the expense of those waiting in line behind us ......


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Old 06-18-2009, 08:11 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pageclot View Post
We're well into the planning of our first trip to the US in our 27' Overlander, and were wondering if:

- we should be prepared for a search of the trailer at the border
- we can go into that much shorter line for trucks
- there are any normal items we can't take across the border (i.e. propane, groceries, Canadian bacon)
- tolls on toll-roads are much higher for a car-towing-trailer, than they are for a normal car.
- there are any other tips you can offer, to make this trip smooth sailing.

We'll be crossing from Ontario into New York at Ogdensburg.
************************************************** *

We have been crossing for years with never any serious problems, although it is a fact that in recent years, inspections and fairly lengthy questioning are becoming more routine.

Once in a while we have had border officers looking thru the back of our truck and the trailer - they have seemed quite concerned about foodstuffs that are not permitted.

To avoid potential issues, we take virtually no food from home now. I do take far more home made wine than is legally permitted, but it has never been a problem - yet!

Once we had an officer sorting thru a bunch of firewood I had thrown in the back of the truck looking for certain types of wood that I guess were not permitted due to potential insects. So now I don't take wood.

I have found the best procedure is to be as pleasant as possible, answer all the questions as simply and politely as possible and resist the temptation to give any smart-ass answers!

For some reason, a favourite question, after asking where you are going is
to ask "What's in Orlando?? Or whatever location you mention.

I always have a hard time not being sarcastic when answering that one, but biting my tongue pays off I'm sure!

Last time we crossed at Sarnia, a young border official wanted to look into our trailer. I opened it up and in he went with me behind him. The weather was sloppy and dirty out, and this guy stepped into the trailer with his big dirty clodhoppers on and wasn't happy with staying on the vinyl flooring bot had to walk all over our pristine beige carpet.

I was furious and gave him a real blast! As soon as I did so, I was thinking how tough he could make life for me if so inclined!

As luck would have it, he was very young and was most embarrassed, apologizing profusely and leaving the trailer immediately.

In hindsight, I'm sure it wasn't intentional and he just didn't think! Lucky he reacted the way he did and didn't turn on me!

Propane is absolutely not a problem, but I would avoid most foodstuffs, meats, veggies, citrus fruit dairy products (I think!) I avoid it all.


You will pay more on toll roads due to the trailer but I don't believe it is double. Still probably worth it if you want to make time across country.

At least tolls are nowhere near as bad as we pay on the 407!!


I'm sure you will have no problem at all - don't forget your passports!

Brian.
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Old 06-18-2009, 08:26 AM   #5
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I think the "things not to carry" was pretty well covered. However, the "things not to say" should perhaps be a bit more explicit.

Here are a few that were really meant for police, but border guards tend to have a similar sense of humour:

Avoid saying

1. Back off Barney, I've got a piece.
2. Wanna race to the station, Sparky?
3. I know I was weaving, but I can't find the Honeycomb Hideout!
4. On the way to the station let's get a twelve pack.
5. You'll never get those cuffs on me you idiot!
6. Come on write the stinkin ticket, the bars close in 20 minutes!
7. Hey wasn't your daughter a cow?
8. How long is this going to take? The mayor is expecting me.
9. I'm surprised you stopped me, Dunkin Donuts has a 3 for 1 special!

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Old 06-18-2009, 08:42 AM   #6
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1976 27' Overlander
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wingeezer View Post
Don't forget your passports!
We got 'em. For all 4 kids, and us. And travel letters for non-custodial parents, duly witnessed, too. And a calm and pleasant attitude for the underappreciated border crossing personnel.

Interestingly enough, at a forum in Toronto recently, the last two presidents weren't aware that the new passport requirements for cross-border visiting went into effect June 1st, 2009.

Thanks for all the help, everyone.
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Old 06-18-2009, 09:06 AM   #7
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We have crossed with the trailer many times and rarely get even a close look. Have an answer for where are you going and why.(Holiday works best)
Stay in car lane or special lane for RV if they have one.
We lost bacon and eggs one time near lunchtime but the next time they were OK to keep???
Gas is cheaper and tolls usually go by axel count. 2 axels = 1 car price

Coming home we have never been searched in the trailer. You are allowed $750 per person to bring into Canada after a week away and a case of beer per person!!
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Old 06-18-2009, 09:07 PM   #8
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the last time i crossed (Canada to US, spring of 08) they only wanted to make sure that i had no fresh produce or beef on board. It was much harder getting back into the US than crossing into Canada.
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