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Old 06-06-2010, 10:04 AM   #1
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Canadian border crossing questions

We are heading up to the Atikokan ,Ontario area for a fishing trip this week ,and I would like to know what I can take across the border as far as groceries go. The liquor regulations are pretty clear but the food regulations are not real clear. What foods should I avoid taking ? What amount of groceries am I allowed to bring across?
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Old 06-06-2010, 10:18 AM   #2
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Lots of good info here, with links to other issues.

As far as quantities of groceries, just don't show up in a 40-foot tractor-trailer rig and expect to slide in with no duty. You can bring reasonable amounts of food for the people on board, tobacco and alcohol having precise limits.

FYI, some Canadians who live near the border go to the US every weekend to do their grocery shopping.

Oh, and NO guns, of course.

Like any border crossing, it's always good to stay away from comments like, "Not the brightest crayon in the box now, are we?", or "Do they ever shut up on your Planet?"

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Old 06-06-2010, 10:58 AM   #3
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Do you have a passport? If not you may have as much trouble getting back into the States.

Not only no guns but no ammo. If you have ever carried ammo in the truck or trailer make sure it is out.

When I cross into Canada the inspector calls me by name even before I can open the window all the way down. I live in NJ and with a front license plate and they have my complete record in front of them before I get to a stop. It was surprising to have them say Mr. E. where are you going this time, the last time you visited Canada you were going to Alaska.

I have never had more than a conversation with Canadian Costumes, I have had the trailer inspected by US Customs.
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Old 06-06-2010, 01:50 PM   #4
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Sometimes I have been asked about specific foods (fresh things like fruits and veggies), but nothing has really happened. Going to Newfoundland in '04 from Nova Scotia, they were very concerned about potatoes, but we were already in Canada. But generally it's sort of like California—if you're going to eat it, they aren't much concerned.

Last year the US guys at a small station in NE Montana wanted to look inside the trailer, but I think they were bored because there was so little traffic and wanted to see the inside of an Airstream (that's what I told myself).

When we re-entered the US yesterday at Skagway the customs guy complimented us on our good taste in owning an Airstream, looked at our passports, and that was it. They have radiation detectors at US border stations now (large yellow rectangles you drive through) so turn off your x-ray machine before you go through.

The space at the kiosk, either way, can looking daunting but is wide enough for the trailer, not that we don't drive through at about 1 mph watching the trailer carefully.

You are right, the food regs aren't so clear and can change fast because of diseases carried by some products. This gives them leeway to act fast to prevent spread of them. If you have a cow that is falling down a lot, they will suspect mad cow disease. Any live cow (dead would be worse) in an Airstream is not advised.

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Old 06-07-2010, 10:44 PM   #5
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I figure they will look inside ,just because they like to see an older Airstream. Sounds like food won't be much of an issue; we will just avoid the fresh produce. The most thorough inspection we ever had was going into California.
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Old 06-08-2010, 05:11 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aage View Post
... You can bring reasonable amounts of food for the people on board, tobacco and alcohol having precise limits.
...
Thanks for the link! Here's an extract:
You are allowed to import only one of the following amounts of alcoholic beverages free of duty and taxes:
  • 1.5 litres (53 imperial ounces) of wine; or
  • a total of 1.14 litres (40 ounces) of alcoholic beverages; or
  • up to 8.5 litres of beer or ale.
Egads, I hope that's per person and not per vehicle?

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Old 06-08-2010, 05:22 AM   #7
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i was hoping that was per DAY. lol
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Old 06-08-2010, 07:36 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zeppelinium View Post
Thanks for the link! Here's an extract:
You are allowed to import only one of the following amounts of alcoholic beverages free of duty and taxes:
  • 1.5 litres (53 imperial ounces) of wine; or
  • a total of 1.14 litres (40 ounces) of alcoholic beverages; or
  • up to 8.5 litres of beer or ale.
Egads, I hope that's per person and not per vehicle?

Zep
Quote:
Originally Posted by richinny View Post
i was hoping that was per DAY. lol
You guys are my kind of people
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Old 06-08-2010, 09:53 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zeppelinium View Post
Thanks for the link! Here's an extract:
You are allowed to import only one of the following amounts of alcoholic beverages free of duty and taxes:
  • 1.5 litres (53 imperial ounces) of wine; or
  • a total of 1.14 litres (40 ounces) of alcoholic beverages; or
  • up to 8.5 litres of beer or ale.
Egads, I hope that's per person and not per vehicle?

Zep
Yes, that's per declaree. So if your SO is willing to fill out another form she can bring the same amount.

Not to forget, you can bring in ANY amount you like, as long as you are willing to pay the duty on the items over the amounts set out.

Or, failing that, I have heard lately that wine, liquor and beer are all for sale here, too.
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Old 06-08-2010, 10:20 AM   #10
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We had to leave our POTATOES at the border a few years ago - maybe call the Canadian consulate in your area and see what the current allowable list of imports is.....
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Old 06-08-2010, 10:52 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zeppelinium View Post
Egads, I hope that's per person and not per vehicle?
I know the question pertains "into Canada." We purchased up to the 1.5L limit apiece and brought 4 bottles of nice Okanagan pinot gris back from Waterton last fall. U.S. customs didn't blink or inspect when I declared them. Might have helped we escaped camp ahead of 2 dozen Class B mohos of a German auto club headed for the border -- and they were queued up right behind us with the U.S. customs officer shaking his head.

We've heard stories about limits on food going into Canada but have never had a question about our full refrigerator or shelves. Bringing a quantity only for personal consumption is probably the important point.

Be careful not to appear as if any of your party is organizing or charging for guiding. They frown on out-of-country commercial trips -- and have a very skeptical approach if a pilot flies in "friends" while the latter split costs. Same issue applies if your destination is a private cabin. They'll probably give you benefit of the doubt if family or cameraderie & friendship are at the core. It'll always help to have handy any brochures & proof of deposit at a resort. Politeness is important on a visitor's part. We've only been welcomed in that manner and it has always been a positive experience.

They will ask about guns and bear spray -- you won't get either in. Don't bring any cheeses or cured meats back to the U.S. from Canada -- that's the subject of a longstanding European trade embargo.
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Old 06-08-2010, 11:41 AM   #12
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In our experience bear spray is ok into Canada. Mace and other sprays to attack humans are not. More often than not they don't ask us about food.

We get the standard questions: passports? guns? ammo? where are you going and how long will you be in Canada? do you have $10,000 or more in cash (new one for Canada)? Since the computer tells them where we are from and the passports confirm, they don't have to ask that anymore, but when we entered Alberta about 10 days ago, "where is your vehicle registered?" That threw me for a moment since I'm used to the same questions. Obviously it was to check if I were deranged, stole the truck and changed the photo on the passport.

Border guards on both sides of the border more often than not have a sense of humor and know what they are doing. They see thousands of tourists and are looking for something strange. If you think getting into Canada will be easier if you wear a hockey uniform with "Howe" on the back, that will not help. An old guy with a big truck towing an Airstream is not the kind of person that usually is a problem and they know it. But sometimes you run into an often young person who is trying to prove themselves, or sometimes they just pull someone over because you are number 1,000 (or whatever the number is). That happened to us 4 years ago and it took us 45 minutes or so at the station. They didn't search anything, just wanted to look at documents. Seems to me with passports required now, there's less need for that.

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Old 06-08-2010, 12:42 PM   #13
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Old 06-08-2010, 12:54 PM   #14
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Although pets were not mentioned in the initial question - they need to have their shots and shot records up to date. The dog tag does not count as proof - must be a signed shot record from the vet. Mine was a printout with a signature - not an official form - they frowned on that, saying I could have printed it out myself. Well, a few minutes in photoshop and a scanner and I could make any form I want, but that's another issue. Take care of your pets, it was going back into the US that was the issue - Canada did not care much.
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