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7 Border Crossing Tips For Canadians Traveling to the USA

While the Internet is full of official advice on how to make passing the Canadian/USA border quick and painless for Canadians, not many resources tell you the real truth about small things. No one wants to be stuck at the border trying to prove the obvious right to go to another country. Meanwhile, thousands of Canadians each year are turned back due to silly mistakes. Here are some dos and don’ts about the border crossing.

1.    Make A Good Impression

Don’t rave about your right to look any way you want. If you come up to the mirror holding a Koran and wearing a traditional dress, you are bound to make the officers suspicious. Whatever your religious affiliation may be, the border is not the place to flaunt it. If you must wear a special dress, keep it subtle.

Coming to the border with your shoes unlaced, uncombed hair, and an unzipped fly is a sure method to delay your border passing. Look in the mirror before approaching a border officer. Brush your hair, throw out the chewing gum, and don’t have anything sticking out of your pockets.

2.    Clean Up Your Car

If you are travelling by car and want to avoid a search, make it look squeaky clean. If you have plenty of garbage lying around together with ashes or, god forbid, marijuana paraphernalia, you are bound to be in trouble. Clean and vacuum your car, empty out the ashtray, and tidy up the trunk.

3.    Avoid Loud Music

When you are driving up to the border, turn off your radio. Loud music is just another reason to start a search. Meanwhile, don’t forget about your manners. Speaking with a border officer through an open window with the music blasting out of it doesn’t make you look like a polite and law-abiding Canadian citizen.

4.    Have Your Children Covered

If you don’t want to spend hours proving you didn’t kidnap your own children, make sure to bring the proper documents. If the child’s mom, dad or both are not present in the car, you have to obtain a certain permission to get the kid through.

Talk to your kids before approaching the border. An officer might ask them some questions in order to make sure they aren’t being transported against their own will. If you spent the last 5 years telling your children not to speak to strangers, it’s time to tell them that a border officer is an exception. Don’t forget to bring the child’s birth certificate or passport.

5.    Become a Charmer

When speaking to the border officers, turn on your charm. Act polite and make your answers quick and concise. Border officers deserve due respect. If you don’t offer it, you are looking for trouble.

If you are one of those people, who have a short temper when it comes to speaking to the officials, take a few deep breaths before making the step toward the border. If you are driving, perhaps it’s smart to put someone with more cool behind the wheel.

6.    Don’t Be Aggressive

Even if you seem to be doing everything right, speaking all the right words and showing all the right documents, a border guard might still smell something fishy. They have a knack for sniffing out criminals, terrorists, and trespassers, but everyone makes mistakes.

So if you have to go through and extensive search and interrogation, it’s imperative to keep your cool. In the best case, aggressive behavior can lead to a visiting ban. In the worst case, you become a victim of a pepper spray attack.

7.    Know Your Time Limit

Canadians tend to forget about the time they can stay in the USA. In 12 months, you can only stay in the USA for 182 days. If you exceed the limit, you might not be allowed to enter the USA due to a ban. Always check how many days you’ve already used before passing the border.

If you overstayed your welcome or were banned from crossing the border for other reasons, you can fix the problem by taking advantage of the United States entry waiver. Unfortunately, US entry waiver application may take months to be reviewed and up to a year to be approved. So it makes sense to watch your time and behavior.

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