Crossing the Border over Labour Day Long Weekend?

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Canada_Border_Services_AgencyFORT FRANCES — Thousands of tourists cross the International Border from Canada into the United States, and back again. Over the Labour Day long weekend, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) is suggesting to travellers to plan their border crossing to avoid delays during the upcoming Labour Day weekend.

In anticipation of higher traffic volumes and limits to the volume of traffic that can be processed at some ports of entry this weekend, travellers are advised to consider the potential for delays at the Fort Frances port of entry for the following dates and times: Fort Frances port of entry: peak traffic volumes are anticipated between 10 a.m. and 11 p.m. on September 1; between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m. on September 2; between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. on September 3 and between 12 p.m. and 7 p.m. on September 5, when border wait times may exceed 30 minutes.

Travellers in Northwestern Ontario may also choose to enter Canada via the Rainy River port of entry, where peak traffic volumes are anticipated between 4 p.m. and 9 p.m. on September 4 and September 5, when border wait times may exceed 30 minutes.

Peak traffic volume information and anticipated border wait times are based on historical data. The CBSA anticipates an increase in traffic this weekend from previous years based on traffic volume trends to date in 2011. The forecasted traffic volumes may vary from one port of entry to another depending on numerous factors, including weather conditions.

For more information on border wait times and for instructions on how to receive Twitter messages for border wait times at some ports of entry, visit the CBSA Web site at www.cbsa.gc.ca. You can also visit the Government of Canada Wireless Portal through your Web-enabled mobile device at www.wap.gc.ca or www.gc.ca.

Travel Tips: To facilitate their entry into Canada, travellers can follow a few easy steps:

Plan your border crossing and be patient: Wait times at border crossings may have increased recently as more travellers take advantage of the higher Canadian dollar to travel to the United States. The CBSA has added resources to process travellers as efficiently as possible; however, some delays due to volume may occur.

Try to plan your border crossing to avoid arriving at the border at peak times. In general, peak times tend to be one and a half hours before and after the lunch hour, between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. on weekdays, and 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays at most ports of entry.

If you are travelling with a larger group or on a shopping bus, be patient as it will take more time because CBSA officers must process all travellers.

Have proper identification: Make sure you are carrying proper identification for yourself and any children travelling with you in the vehicle. A passport is not mandatory for entry into Canada, but it is a preferable piece of identification. If you are a Canadian or American citizen or a permanent resident of either country, other acceptable identification includes an enhanced driver’s licence, a birth certificate with accompanying photo ID such as a regular driver’s licence, a permanent resident or green card, a citizenship card or citizenship or naturalization certificate, or a certificate of Indian Status.

Keep in mind that the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) is now in effect. This is a U.S. law requiring all travellers to the United States to present a valid passport or other approved secure document.

Know your personal exemptions: After an absence of 24 hours, you may bring back $50 duty- and tax-free; after 48 hours, your personal exemption is $400; and after an absence of seven days, you are entitled to $750 duty- and tax-free. Alcohol and tobacco can be imported free of duty and taxes only if you have been away at least 48 hours. For amounts allowed and additional information, check www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca.

There are no personal exemptions for same-day travel.

Have your receipts ready

Determine the total amount of purchases for each occupant of the vehicle converted to Canadian funds, and have all your receipts for purchases (and accommodation) in hand to present to the border services officer when asked to assist with processing.

Declare all your purchases regardless if exemptions may apply as there may be enforcement actions taken for undervaluing or not declaring purchases.

You may be required to pay applicable duties and taxes on purchases over your personal exemptions or where no personal exemptions apply.

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