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Old 08-27-2007, 10:13 AM   #1
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Tips/Info for Entering Canada w/an Airstream

I plan on taking my Airstream on a trip around Lake Superior in Canada and Wisconsin. I will enter Canada at Sault Ste. Marie and exit around Thunder Bay. Does anyone have any experience with border crossings with a camper? Besides my US Passport, is there anything else I would need to make the crossing trouble free? Thanks in advance!
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Old 08-27-2007, 10:16 AM   #2
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to answer your question. leave your fire arms at home. especially hand guns. Pets? you will need vacination certificates. be prepared to be searched proabably on the way back. Have fun.
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Old 08-27-2007, 10:23 AM   #3
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We just came back from British Columbia and Alberta. When first crossing into BC, we were asked at the border station: to see our passports (each person) what kind of alcohol we had, amd did we have any handguns, We had our dog Cody with us and the certificate of vaccination, but was not asked about that.
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Old 08-27-2007, 12:02 PM   #4
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Hi -- there might be other threads but here are a few links:
Auto Travel & RV Rental* - *

In addition to firearms you cannot bring personal defense sprays (Mace) into Canada. I have heard this also includes bear sprays but I talked to somebody last week who was allowed to do just that.

Talked to my daughter just now. She did the Lake Superior circle tour last week - said they had 1/2 an hour or more driving on gravel* between Nipigon and Thunder Bay. Said it was so dusty that there was some water spraying in a weak attempt to suppress dust. She was able to drive at close to the speed limit through this area. There were plenty of RVs doing the same and there are passing lanes every 8-10 km. I'd probably want to go slower pulling an Airstream and it's hard to beat Enkay Rock Tamers on your tow vehicle! I found this road construction link - Road Construction Reports - Northern Index

[on edit: * This was an area of 2-lane highway.]

5 meter Langford Nahanni

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Old 08-27-2007, 12:09 PM   #5
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Also, check to see what restrictions there are on fresh fruits and vegetables at those crossings.
Cameron & the Labradors, Kai & Samm
North Vancouver, BC
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Old 08-27-2007, 12:16 PM   #6
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We just went into Canada last month.

Going in - we were asked for passports and about weapons and alcohol.

Coming back - we were asked for passports and about fresh fruits and vegetables. They also entered the trailer to look for other people.

Oddly enough, my parents who were in a MOHO with a cat didn't even have to show their passports on the way in. On the way out they showed passports but were not boarded.
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Old 08-27-2007, 12:42 PM   #7
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Read all about it!

Funny you should mention that ... we have an article on precisely this subject, coming out in the Winter 2008 issue of Airstream Life magazine.
It will be mailed to subscribers in November and available in Barnes & Noble, Borders, and other bookstores around Nov 22.
Former full-timer | AIRSTREAM LIFE magazine | Tour of America (old blog) | Man In The Maze (current blog)

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Old 08-27-2007, 12:48 PM   #8
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Use your credit card for purchases when you'll get a better exchange rate (maybe 3 or 4%). I was just in Montreal for a week, and US cash doesn't get you change like it used to.

Fuel is sold in liters, not gallons (everything is based on the metric system) and is considerably more off your fuel tanks before you cross the border.

In that regard, keep in mind that the speed limits and distances are based on kilometers. If the sign says 50 kph, that's really 31 mph. Bridge clearances are metric, too.(3.05 meters is 10 feet)

I've also been told that if you've ever had a DWI/DUI you won't be allowed to enter Canada......if that's an issue, you should check out the regulations before you go.
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Old 08-27-2007, 01:16 PM   #9
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The best tip I ever got for border crossings was never to get lippy. Just answer the questions in as short and direct a manner possible. Border guards are there for our protection, sometimes the guy two vehicles before you has been a person they could live without, so make their day easy and they'll make your day easy.
This does not, however, negate the possibilty that you have drawn the "lucky random check" number for that day. We travelled into New York a few years ago in a caravan of Airstreams. Most got through without more than a short conversation, however one of our members had a bumper to bumper search done.
Sometimes it's just your luck.
Also you should be aware that Canada has now armed it's border guards. Must be a John Wayne thing.
Hope you have a great time in Canada. Yes our gas prices are more expensive than US prices, but our gallons (Imperial) are bigger, so that's why we sell our gas in litres. 4.2 litres per Imperial gallon. Just so you won't be confused.
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Old 08-27-2007, 05:29 PM   #10
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Yes our gas prices are more expensive than US prices

I was paying $1.12(CDN) per liter for unleaded regular at an Esso (a real Esso station, with real service bays) in downtown Montreal. Filled a 28 gallon tank and several 5 gallon cans daily. There was a Shell station (basic convenience store) a few blocks away that had regular for $1.07, but the owner of the Esso was friendly and helpful...he plugged a flat tire for free.... and the station and fairly easy to get to and from.

I enjoy going to Canada. I've always gone up there in busses or trucks....never as a tourist. Don't think I'd want to tow the trailer around downtown Montreal or Toronto or Vancouver, though.
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Old 08-27-2007, 06:42 PM   #11
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Don't forget to get an insurance card from your auto carrier for travel into Canada . No meats or produce except for your own consumption . Booze and tobacco are limited , I think 1 gal , 1 carton . Don't volunteer info , just answer their questions , remember where you were born . Have fun .

PS leave the curtians open in the trailer so they can see in , if they are closed it makes them want to go inside.
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Old 08-27-2007, 07:55 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by CanoeStream
Hi -- I found this road construction link - Road Construction Reports - Northern Index
Thxs for posting this link. We too will be heading up to Superior in a couple weeks.
Airstreams..... The best towing trailers on the planet!
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Old 08-27-2007, 08:55 PM   #13
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Some things I've learned going both North and South:

Take your sunglasses off, including passengers - they like to see your faces

Put the side windows down on the drivers side so they can see who, if anyone, is in the back

Have your ID or passports handy, often when they see you have them ready they don't ask for them

Cell phones, stereos and kids games must be turned off

Sometimes the line-ups can be long but it's not the border guards fault so letting them know how you feel about that isn't going to garner any sympathy

Don't volunteer information, only respond to what is asked.

Only one person should respond unless the officer asks another a question

Know your destination and particularly for the first night which City you intend to camp at

Leaving all curtains/blinds up is a great suggestion - we found by doing that we have not been checked since

Coming back don't even think about bringing Canadian fruits and vegetables with you. It's just not worth the hassle and I'm told if it has a US sticker on it (WA apples comes to mind) that they are pretty forgiving but why even go through the hassle

This website will answer all the questions about what you can bring into Canada with regards to food, alcohol, etc

Customs - Information for Visitors to Canada

If you want a quick idea of what the Kilometer speed is in miles per hour multiply the KPH by 6 for a very close approximate. Thus 100 KPH is 60 MPH and 70 KPH is 42 MPH. If your speedometer is like mine the alternate speeds are very small and hard to read so this rule of thumb works very well.

Here's the link to the US Customs - US Customs Rules and Regulations

If you need anything else just ask.

Barry & Donna
Life is short - so is the door on a '51 Flying Cloud (ouch)
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Old 08-27-2007, 09:49 PM   #14
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Going into Canada:

Most people don't realize that potatoes will be seized. If they search your Stream they will look for excess alcohol, beer, cigarettes and pornography!
For sure handguns are a true no-no with seizure!

Also if your grandchildren are with you and they don't have a passport then they must have a birth certificate with them. In addition, you must have written health care power and written permission from the parents to take the children accross state lines and in particular the border!

Going into the USA:

The border crossing from Thunder Bay to the USA will ask for passports!
If you cross at International Falls there is a good chance that they will have you drive through an x-ray machine!
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Old 08-28-2007, 12:53 AM   #15
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Being somewhat particular seasoned border crosses and recently MI wannabeessssss!!!

The LadyB, MoonBeam and of course the Overlander too....Peter and the two Girly dogs - have made several trips out of Canada to the US and touch wood back into Canada fairly unscathed each crossing....

The best advice we can give you all from both sides - is (I know it is even hard for me!!!) LEAVE THE HUMOUR PARKED!!!! and Have ALL the papers you can possibly think of up to date and handy - you will never never know what the flavour of the day is on either side nor at ANY of the border crossings.

We have had really easy going officials on BOTH sides and in like fashion really strict and no NONSENSE officials on BOTH sides....

Besides all the great advice above and in many other threads thing that is missing - know your TV license plate AND your Trailer Plate - just ask Marvin what happens if you don't - tee hee spot check!!!

Keep all documents for your vehicle, trailer MOHO, Toad, health, and other insurance - as well as PETS - and not just the vaccination - but health clearances and possibly proof of "citizenship"!!!! this is no joke!!

This crossing we had both girls with us Taz and Haily - on the way in to the US we were asked a very serious question of their nationality! then we were asked to shut off our engine and hand over the trailer keys.....(and for those going southbound - our last two crossings at Port Huron have taken over 2 hours from the last exit to the otherside so make sure your vehicle fluids are topped up and your own are emptied

On our return just a few hours ago - we had a record 5 minute crossing. (So it does happen ) But in all seriousness - there must be an issue going on with the canines and their documentation - as we were asked for ALL documents including registration for our Trailer and the Girls health and vaccine records. I had a re-print of Taz's health certificate because I had missplaced her original - and I was questioned as to why the date was crossed off and the original issue date indictated on the paper.....

Moral of the story - BE PREPARED with documentation things will go very smoothly....

Anyone a little apprehensive - you have no need to be - hide nothing and disclose everything you are asked.....

PS on the shopping end of things - we just find it so much easier to not cross with anything but snacks and pop for our road trip - a quick shopping trip on either side will save the possiblity of having uncessary delays - with having to discard items you have just bought.
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Old 08-28-2007, 05:25 AM   #16
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We went from Ohio to Halifax, NS a few summers back and besides all of what you have read already, the oddest thing was at the border crossing in Calais, ME, the Canadian customs people confiscated our POTATOES. We could keep the carrots, onions, celery, meat, but they wanted our Idahos - and when we got to the campground, we couldn't find any CANADIAN potatoes so our steak dinner was sans baked potatoes. I almost ate the sour cream by itself (which I used to do when I was a kid).

Have a great trip!
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Old 08-28-2007, 07:08 AM   #17
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We plan to visit Canada later this year, and it's been quite awhile since we've been there, so all the information and advice here is great and timely. The last time was to a police convention in Toronto in 2001. The conventions are always in interesting places, so I like to combine it with a mini vacation, and wander around a bit on the way home (pulling the AS through Miami Beach a few years ago was a blast).

The Canadian trip was shortly after 9/11, and security on both sides was rumored to be very tight. We did our research on how to cross smoothly, and followed the advice about being courteous and respectful, no joking, no weapons. etc. Consequently, both crossings were easy, and when the guard at the Canadian border found out where we where going she even joked with me about not being able to follow the rules (I pulled up too close to the car in front of me), and then asked me if I was sure I wasn't packing. On the way back, there were rumors of long lines and waits, but when we got there, there was only one or two cars ahead of us. After seeing the car in front of us very thoroughly searched, we had all documents and receipts ready. After the guard asked where we had been, he just waved us through and wished us a safe journey.
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Old 08-28-2007, 11:20 AM   #18
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Don't let concerns of border crossing stop you from coming

This all sounds so complicated and difficult, and it really is not. Do come to Canada. You will love it. We have incredible beauty here and we are no different than you, eh?

Don't let Customs concerns hold you back - it is not much different than hitting construction - it slows you down for a bit, you have to answer a few questions honestly and seriously, and it can be a bit of inconvenience, but that's all part of the trip.

We cross the border all the time as do our friends and having to go through the usual questions and possible line ups is just life. Once across we have a lot of fun, and we realize that the people at US and Canada Customs are just doing their job. They are used to people who aren't quite prepared for all the questions and for 99.99% of the time I believe they are extremely tolerant and courteous.

If you watch the border crossing wait times on the internet for the ones you intend to use you will get a feel for the best times to plan your crossing.

Need any more information? We want you to come see our part of the world, it is incredible.

Barry & Donna
Life is short - so is the door on a '51 Flying Cloud (ouch)
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Old 08-28-2007, 12:26 PM   #19
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Smile Great thread very helpful thanks for posting!

Originally Posted by safari57
Coming back don't even think about bringing Canadian fruits and vegetables with you. It's just not worth the hassle and I'm told if it has a US sticker on it (WA apples comes to mind) that they are pretty forgiving but why even go through the hassle Barry
That's a bummer but thanks for the info! We used to bring the best produce home from Leamington, guess when we go to visit Pt Pelee National Park we'll have to eat it all before we leave!
Steph in MI Air# 6996-
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