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Old 12-18-2018, 06:26 PM   #1
Justin
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Crossing the NY/Canadian Border

With the recent good news that the Ticonderoga murder suspect found near the Canadian border, it got me to thinking...

There have been several reports over the years of people getting busted at or near I87 check points, traffic stops, etc, coming from Canada & trying to enter the US. Be it illegal people trafficking, firearms, or drugs, etc (especially now with the legalization of marijuana in Canada). I’m sure it’s probably the same (or similar) for people in the US crossing into Canada, as no doubt the murder suspect was probably trying to cross the border into Canada, and not unlike inmates Matt & Sweat from the Dannemora Prison Escape were more than likely trying to do a couple years ago.

I know that many of our friendly neighbors to the north in Quebec & Ontario are frequent contributors on this forum, and cross the border often (sometimes on a weekly or daily basis) to hike, ski, paddle, camp, hunt, fish, sight-see, or even work in or near the Adirondack Park.

So my questions are...

What is it like for a Canadian citizen to cross the US border, especially if it’s on a daily/weekly basis?

Do you become friendly with & recognized by the employees of the border patrol at all?

How often do you get searched and/or hassled?

What are the reports like of people coming from the US into Canada and getting busted for illegal activities?

Just curious, and just a topic meant for friendly discussion.
Thoughts?
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Old 12-18-2018, 08:48 PM   #2
Neil
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What is it like for a Canadian citizen to cross the US border, especially if it’s on a daily/weekly basis?At the time of day I enter the US it's a very short wait (0-2 mins) and I get asked 2-3 quick questions. I have a Nexus card so maybe that gets me a streamlined process.

Do you become friendly with & recognized by the employees of the border patrol at all?
No and no.

How often do you get searched and/or hassled?
Rarely, as in twice southbound in 12 years. It was quick, clean and respectful.

What are the reports like of people coming from the US into Canada and getting busted for illegal activities?I'm unaware of anything along those lines.

Crossing can involve long waits in either direction if you choose your times unwisely. Waits of up to 2-3 hours in extreme cases such as long weekends, and holidays.
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Old 12-18-2018, 10:04 PM   #3
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Thanks for the reply, Neil.
Iíve been as far north as Montreal a few times, usually for a concert, and only once was turned around because one of the members of our group had been charged with a DWI several years prior. A disappointing road trip for sure, but other than that one time never had any issues.
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Old 12-18-2018, 10:30 PM   #4
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There used to be an annual Boy Scout International Brotherhood Camporee. It alternated years on the US and Canadian side. I had done it a couple of years already traveling along with other leaders, but it was my turn to drive several boys in my van across the border to Upper Canada Village. When I was questioned by Canadian Customs, I was asked for identification for each of the boys with me. Gulp... what? In past years with other leaders this had never been an issue. Thankfully we were all in BSA uniforms and between some of the boys having library cards and the like i was able to plead our way across with a warning that it could be awfully suspicious for me to be transporting children not of my own across an international border. Thankfully this was way before 911 or widespread activities in child trafficking. I would not have gotten off so easily or at all now.
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Old 12-18-2018, 11:39 PM   #5
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I don't cross as often as I used to now that the CN dollar is in the gutter, but still do at least once or twice a month. I live in Niagara so I'm usually crossing into Buffalo or the Falls. I find people who don't cross a lot on either side of the border make the process out to be more than it is. People who cross often don't even think twice about it. My personal take is you get some real nice guards but you get a few a-holes... probably in proportion to what you'd see in the general public. Also, if you have a Nexus card, the process is especially seemless. There are thousands of Canadians and Americans that cross every day for work. My friend does it and it's hassle free.

I've never noticed the same guard twice so they would never recognize me either. I think this is by design as to avoid any funny business between co-conspirators.

My biggest hassle was when I got found with radiation on my truck. After about an hour of searching, they couldn't pinpoint the source of it and chalked it up to road salt. Another time I got pulled over for a random search. They ended up forgetting about me. After sitting for an hour I asked what's going on. They came clean... but were nice about it. I'd say in one hundred crossings, you'd get 20 noticeably friendly people, 10 jerks, and the rest would be all business.

Over the years I've crossed hundreds of times and those were the only two true searches. They've opened my trunk a bunch of times too though.

The biggest report of illegal activity I hear of is Americans thinking their 2nd Amendment rights apply in Canada. Maybe not literally so, but people either forget about their guns or just don't realize. My friend who's a cop in the Falls (ON) says it happens all the time.

9-11 changed everything though. Before then, you didn't need ID or anything. The cross border cities were closer to being communities. It's too bad a few bad guys ruined a good thing. I think it had a negative impact on the economies of the cities on either sides of the border.
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Old 12-19-2018, 02:23 AM   #6
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I cross from Canada a few times a year I have never really had any problems, they see the camping gear and are happy. I always get supplies in the US, Malone usually so there is never an issue with customs limits on booze and types of food. Coming back into Canada is also usually painless. I happen to live near the college where all customs personnel in Canada train so I never have to explain where I live.

It remains to be seen how entry into the US will change now that cannabis is legal up here. Hard to believe but I have never even tried it so I can answer with a clear conscience but there have been a few scare mongering stories put out by second rate journalists up here.
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Old 12-19-2018, 11:09 AM   #7
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am not Canadian
but lived in Burlington, vt years ago
also had an office in Toronto and used to cross the border regularly
when I lived in VT worked a liquor store, there were quite a few who would fill up their trunks with cases of liquor such large purchases were almost always toward end of evening close to closing, it was obvious were they were headed.
cops and border patrol aren't so concerned with personal sales of such, but are always looking for such larger scale smugglers,
when I would cross to go to Toronto, often had various old office equipment coming back with me(new equipment I would buy in Canada for Canadian office)
customs always asked about my equipment and my explanation was always sufficient, they never gave me a problem, used to cross about once a month for about 5 years.
if it was computers they would often asked how old, once I would tell them which OS it had, year didn't matter they knew it was old.
few times they would ask about my outdoor rec stuff, I would tell them aside from work like to camp/hike/etc, never a problem
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Old 12-19-2018, 01:37 PM   #8
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I cross northbound a few times a year. Last year sparked some interest by having a motorboat but no fishing equipment. Highly suspicious to some.

Never really a hassle, similar to interactions with any other type of professional. Appreciate the diligence.
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Old 12-19-2018, 02:56 PM   #9
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Last year I carried a C4 canoe to Whitehorse for a race. The canoe belongs to a paddling partner, it is not my canoe but I would meet my friend in Whitehorse since he was arriving by plane. The canoe looked rather new so I was most worried about re-entry back home after the race. I might have had to pay duty on a new canoe if US customs thought I had bought it in Canada. So I had my friend give me a copy of the original bill-of-sale when he bought it, and a letter signed by him stating I had permission to transport it from NY to YT. I received no questions on ownership or the canoe specifically (other than an agent saying:"It is a long drive to Whitehorse from here, eh") and had no issues upon crossing in either direction.

Another time, for a different race in NY, another race friend from Belgium arrived via Ottawa. I was to pick him up at the airport. We had pre-announced his arrival with some kind of form I completed for him in advance. We were briefly detained at the Thousand Island border where I had to surrender my car keys while the paperwork and passport checked out. I could not see my car from inside the building, but I am fairly sure that my car got the once-over, since after we got the Ok to leave it was moved from where I had originally parked it. Maybe it was because he traveled with canoe paddles protected in a gun case. Returning him to Ottawa a week later we had no issue crossing into Canada.
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Old 12-19-2018, 05:34 PM   #10
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I used to carry sled dogs into Canada for racing...one trip on the return on the US side around 2am we were stopped and were showing all of our paper work and one of the men in charge said he wanted to see a specific dog....I pointed out that the dog in 'question was asleep behind another dog and if he wanted to stick his hand in and grab the dog he was more than welcome...he handed the paperwork back and sent us on our way...I have never had a problem...even carrying guns for hunting purposes.....
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Old 12-19-2018, 05:43 PM   #11
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I always establish eye contact and answer all questions politely even if asked the same question over and over. I speak in a calm clear voice. I stay away from peak times and usually get waved on through. Same coming back.
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Old 12-19-2018, 06:17 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Schultzz View Post
I always establish eye contact and answer all questions politely even if asked the same question over and over. I speak in a calm clear voice. I stay away from peak times and usually get waved on through. Same coming back.
That's probably a good strategy if you have a kilo of cocaine in your trunk.
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Old 12-19-2018, 06:40 PM   #13
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I always establish eye contact and answer all questions politely even if asked the same question over and over.
A quick story why some friends & I got turned around at the border several years ago...

...Three friends, along with my girlfriend & I were heading to Montreal from the Albany area to see Pearl Jam at the Bell Centre in Montreal. My girlfriend was driving, and when we reached the booth at the border the attendant asked her where we were coming from.

My girlfriend replied “New York”.
I rolled my eyes & said “No honey we’re coming from Albany”.
My girlfriend said “Oh yeah sorry no we’re coming Albany”.

The border attendant then said, “Ok please pull over & go inside the building on the left for more questioning”.

After about a half hour or more of questioning from the agents inside, followed by a quick search of our vehicle they would not let us into Canada because one of our passengers had been charged with a DWI back in Albany several years earlier.

Needles to say we all missed the show that night.
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Old 12-19-2018, 07:32 PM   #14
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Dude - lesson learned:

Bring boats, guns, maybe drugs; DON"T bring girlfriends.
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Old 12-19-2018, 07:38 PM   #15
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Dude - lesson learned:

Bring boats, guns, maybe drugs; DON"T bring girlfriends.
True, especially with those world class strip clubs in downtown Montreal.
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Old 12-19-2018, 07:43 PM   #16
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When I was a kid (many decades ago), the big thing was firecrackers from Canada.People came up with all kinds of inventive hiding places in vehicles, many of which are the same used for drug running now I'm sure, to bring fireworks available in Canada illegally into NY.
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Old 12-19-2018, 10:02 PM   #17
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We were briefly detained at the Thousand Island border ...
I am not sure whether "detained" is the right word.
I would phrase it as "were questioned" or "his documents were checked".

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wldrns View Post
... I had to surrender my car keys while the paperwork and passport checked out. I could not see my car from inside the building ...
It's their standard operation procedure to ask for a key while checking documents etc.
I assume that borderguards are supposed to search the car in this case.
I am not sure how thorough is their search when they have no real reason to believe that something is hidden.

Anyway I would recommend "Border security" TV show to anybody who is interested in this subject.
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Old 12-19-2018, 10:12 PM   #18
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I am not sure whether "detained" is the right word.
I would phrase it as "were questioned" or "his documents were checked".

It's their standard operation procedure to ask for a key while checking documents etc..
I would call it detained when I, my wife, and my Belgian friend are asked to park, get out of my car, surrender my keys, and to spend a half hour inside waiting for our clearance to pass. I had no choice in the matter and no option to leave. That is being "detained" in my book. It was not an unpleasant experience inside, chatting with a nice female agent about canoe racing while her male partner checked us and our passports and his paperwork.
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Old 12-20-2018, 09:50 AM   #19
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Ona recent trip to Quebec City to ski and watch the final event of the X-C World Cup season, we were asked if we were carrying an firearms. We of course said "no". Then he asked if we owned any firearms. Again we said "no". His reply, "What do you mean you 'don't own any guns', you're Americans." He then waved us through.
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Old 12-20-2018, 11:31 AM   #20
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Over the last 8 years I've traveled to the US at least twice a month so my responses to your questions are based on many border-crossings. However, to be clear, I've only traveled to the US twice in the past year (so if things have changed recently, I'm not aware of them).

What is it like for a Canadian citizen to cross the US border, especially if itís on a daily/weekly basis?
I have a Nexus card (in addition to a passport) so that means I have been vetted by both US and Canadian authorities. As a consequence, questioning tends to be brief for both entering the US and re-entering Canada.

Do you become friendly with & recognized by the employees of the border patrol at all?
No. However that may be due to my choice of using the large Champlain crossing where you're unlikely to meet the same person. Perhaps if one were to use one of the smaller border-crossings (and frequently) then you'd recognize the employees. FWIW, I recall meeting the same person two weekends in a row, at Champlain, but there was no banter about 'being a regular'.

How often do you get searched and/or hassled?
Twice by US Customs and Border Services. I was requested to pull over for an inspection.

I parked my car, gave them the keys, went into the building to wait my turn. Interaction was polite and professional. I was cleared within 15 minutes. I couldn't tell if they actually searched my car because nothing inside seemed like it had been touched.

As for "hassled" I can recount one case where they attempted to rattle me, ostensibly to catch me in a lie. It was just after 4:00 AM and I was the only person at the gate. One of the two officers asked if I planned to meet anyone. I confirmed and explained I was hiking with one other person. When asked his name, I realized I only knew his first name (and his forum moniker). I told the officer what I knew and was warned about the dangers of meeting people "on the Internet".

I smiled and said there was no danger in this case because the two of us had already hiked together. The official's demeanor changed and he said "But you said you didn't know him!" I'm sure I had a puzzled look because I had no recollection of saying that. I didn't know his family name but we had met and hiked together. The officer's partner stepped in and repeated that he also heard me say I didn't know the person I was going to meet.

In addition to being perplexed I felt frustrated because I was certain I said no such thing and definitely had no reason to lie about it. My frustration was also due to the fact I could not contradict them and simply say "You're wrong about that." I told them I had no recollection stating that and had no reason to say it. He and I had already met and hiked before, I just never bothered to ask for his family name. They insisted I said I didn't know him. "Sorry, if I said that then it was in error because we have met before."

They closed the door, minutes passed, I thought they'd revoke my Nexus card, then the officer hands me back my card and says "Have a great day." I drove off replaying everything in my mind, certain I never misspoke and they were just practicing their verbal jujitsu techniques. I recounted the story to my American friend and then asked him what the @#!% was his family name.

As for re-entering Canada, it's been comparatively uneventful. The only "hassle" is when US authorities occasionally implement a checkpoint about a quarter-mile short of the Canadian border and screen everyone leaving the US. While you're being questioned by one officer, another one (or two) is checking inside your vehicle. It's also just one checkpoint station so everyone bound for Canada is funneled into a single lane.

What are the reports like of people coming from the US into Canada and getting busted for illegal activities?
No idea. Most of the news revolves around people from the US crossing into Canada (not at an official port of entry) and claiming refugee status or political asylum. Tens of thousands of people have done this, over the past two years, and are being housed while the backlog of claims is being processed.
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