As we have urged travellers for many months, crossing into another country is a privilege not a right and is made infinitely easier if all your documentation is in order and you cooperate fully with both U.S. and Canadian border crossing officials. Don’t waste their time. Have your documentation ready and in order. Know the rules and comply.
According to The Canadian Press, Canadians returning home from the United States by car are being forced to undergo closer inspection—“ironically because of stricter U.S. security demands.”
The report, citing a newly-released government border crossing evaluation, links the tighter land-border scrutiny to Canadian government negotiations over a controversial perimeter security deal with the U.S. The talks are part of a larger program called the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative imposed by the U.S. in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The point of that program is to safeguard crossing procedures between western hemisphere countries while strengthening security measures.
The CP reports that more than 190,000 people and almost $2 billion in goods cross the Canadian/U.S. border daily, and millions of Canadians have obtained passports and other security identification documents to comply with new and emerging border crossing regulations.
The evaluation notes that the fact more travellers are carrying detailed documents makes it easier for Canadian and U.S. border agents to check them out against police and intelligence databases. As a result, however, the number of people referred by Canadian officials for secondary inspection has increased by about 12 percent since the program was implemented and that has added to the overall delays.
The proposed North American perimeter security deal is ultimately designed to allow for a smoother flow of traffic across the common border,” said the CP report, but apparently it will take some time before that goal is met.
For most people, border crossing into the U.S. or back into Canada will remain a relatively simple procedure, although it may take a little more time. That’s part of the price we all pay for maintaining our security in dangerous times.
You can make it easier on yourself and border officials if you know the rules, have your documents in order, cooperate with the agents, and consider if it’s really worth carrying household food stuffs across the border just to save yourself some lunch money. And think twice about stuffing your golf bags full of Canadian Club when returning from Florida or Arizona.
And don’t forget your travel insurance documents. They are good proof of your intentions as a visitor and that you plan on returning home by a designated time. By all means carry your full policies with you. They may help you at the border and if you need to be admitted to a U.S. hospital for a medical emergency.