Crossing the Canada – U.S. Border
All U.S. citizens aged 16 and older, entering Canada by air (including in-transit passengers who are transferring planes in the U.S.), land or water, must present one of the following documents:
- a passport or passport card
- an Enhanced Driver’s License
- Trusted Traveler Program Card (SENTRI, NEXUS or FAST Card).
Travellers aged 15 and under require a birth certificate for land or sea travel and a passport for air travel. For current requirements go to: cic.gc.ca
If both parents are travelling with children under the age of 16 you only require birth certificates for the children. If only one parent is travelling with the children you still require the birth certificates but it’s always good to have a letter of permission, including name and contact information, to travel into Canada signed by the other parent. The Canadian Border Services officer may ask for this letter when crossing over into Canada.
Visitors from all other countries require a valid passport and, in some cases, a visitor’s visa. Starting March 15, 2016, visa-exempt foreign nationals who fly to or transit through Canada will need an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA). Exceptions include U.S. citizens and travellers with a valid visa.
For more information:
Canada Border Services Agency: www.cbsa.gc.ca
Within Canada: 1-800-461-9999, TTY Within Canada: 1-866-335-3237
Outside of Canada: 204-983-3500 or 506-636-5064
U.S. Customs and Border Protection: www.cbp.gov
Within the U.S.: 1-877-CBP-5511, TTY Within the U.S.: 1-866-6582
Outside of the U.S.: (202) 325-8000
Sault Ste. Marie, MI Point of Entry: (906) 632-7221
Important Notice for U.S. Residents
If you or anyone in your party has a felony or misdemeanour conviction, you may not be allowed into Canada. This includes such offences as a DUI. Your admissibility to Canada depends on the nature of the offence, how many offences you have, as well as how long ago it occurred. If this applies to you or someone travelling with you, it is imperative you contact Immigration Canada well in advance of your arrival. You will likely have to complete some paperwork and Immigration Canada authorities will then advise you of the likelihood of being allowed into Canada. The final determination of your admissibility into Canada is only made when you cross the border.
Contact Citizenship and Immigration Canada at www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/tourist.asp or the Canadian Consulate in New York, NY regarding any forms you may be required to fill out. You may also wish to call an Immigration Officer at the Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario Port of Entry to discuss your situation at 1-800-461-9999 or (204) 983-3500 (calls outside of Canada). Frequently asked questions for Americans travelling outside of the U.S. are available on these two websites: www.cbsa.gc.ca or www.travel.state.gov
What Can & Can’t Come into Canada
Residents of the United States who visit Canada are allowed to bring in a “reasonable” amount of personal goods duty-free. The amount you bring should align with your length of stay. Limits for some of the regulated items:
- Alcohol: If you are 19 years of age or older and crossing the border into Ontario, you can bring, free of duty and taxes, either 1.5 litres (50 oz.) of wine, 1.14 litres (40 oz.) of liquor, or 24 X 355 millilitres (12 oz.) of beer or ale. If you bring in more than the amount listed here, you will be required to pay the duty at the Border on excess amounts. Make sure you fully declare all alcohol in your possession.
- Tobacco: If you are 19 years of age or older and crossing the border into Ontario, you are allowed to bring, free of duty, up to 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars, 200 grams (7 oz.) of manufactured tobacco and 200 tobacco sticks. You may bring additional quantities but you will be required to pay duties & taxes on the excess amounts.
- Food Products: What is and what is not allowed changes frequently, visit www.inspection.gc.ca for current information prior to your departure.
- Pets: Dogs and cats accompanying their owners from the U.S. must have current (within 36 months) rabies vaccination certificates. Owners from other countries who wish to bring their pets with them should contact 1-800-442-2342 / 1(613) 225-2342 /TTY 1-800-465-7735 or visit www.inspection.gc.ca
Residents Returning to the U.S.
Returning U.S. residents are eligible for an $800 duty-free personal exemption every 31 days, having remained no less than 48 hours beyond the territorial limits of the United States except U.S. Virgin Islands, in a contiguous country which maintains a free zone or free port, has remained beyond the territorial limits of the United States not exceeding 24 hours. This exemption includes no more than 200 cigarettes and 100 cigars. Visit: www.cbp.gov for more information
Vehicles & Insurance
Any necessary permits are issued at the port of entry. If you’ve rented a vehicle or trailer, make sure you bring along a copy of the rental contract, which stipulates that you have permission to use it in Canada. U.S. motorists planning to travel in Canada are advised to obtain a Canadian Non-Resident Interprovincial Motor Vehicle Liability Insurance Card available only in the U.S. Contact your local insurance agency. For more info contact Canadian Border Services at (204) 983-3500, or (506) 636-5064, or visit www.cbsa.gc.ca
Ontario Law requires that adults and children over 40lbs / 18kg in weight wear seat belts. Infants from birth to 20 lbs / 9 kg in weight must travel in a rear-facing child restraint system. Toddlers weighing 20-40 lbs / 9-18 kg must travel in a front-facing child restraint seat.
Hospitals & Health Insurance
Most communities have hospitals and/or resident doctors. Wise travellers will check with their medical service plans to ensure they will be covered while in Canada, as health insurance plans may not extend coverage outside your country of residence. If you are taking prescription drugs, make sure that they are in the original packaging, bring an adequate supply, and bring a copy of the prescription in case you need a refill during your stay in Ontario. If this is not possible, carry a copy of the prescription or a letter from your doctor. For more information and insurance details, contact your travel agent, insurance broker, or your employer’s insurance provider.
Credit Cards, Financial Services and U.S. Funds
Chartered banks are located in virtually all cities and towns. These full-service institutions are the best locations for exchanging currency. There is also a government-sanctioned Canada / U.S. currency exchange service at the Ontario Travel Information Centre in Sault Ste. Marie and at the Duty-Free Store & Kiosk. Credit cards such as Visa, MasterCard and AMEX, are generally honoured in all communities. Be sure to check with individual businesses before or when booking accommodations to ensure they accept your card.
In Ontario, a Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) of 13% applies to most purchases. For more information, contact: 1-800-565-9353 (inside Canada); (902) 432-5604 (outside Canada); or www.cra-arc.gc.ca
If you want to know what your money is worth in Canada, visit www.bankofcanada.ca/rates/exchange/daily-converter/ to quickly convert your currency to Canadian dollars.
In Ontario, it’s important to plan ahead for the following holidays and booking ahead for accommodations is recommended:
- New Year’s Day – January 1
- Family Day – Third Monday in February
- Good Friday – Friday before Easter Sunday
- Easter Sunday – Retail stores not open
- Easter Monday – Governmental Only
- Victoria Day – Monday before May 25
- Canada Day – July 1
- Civic Holiday – First Monday in August (not statutory)
- Labour Day – First Monday in September
- Thanksgiving Day – Second Monday in October
- Christmas Day – December 25
- Boxing Day – December 26
Liquor Outlets and the Law
You must be 19 or over to buy or consume liquor, wine and beer in Ontario. It is an offence to consume alcohol anywhere other than in a licenced establishment, your residence or within a reasonable distance of your residence. Ontario laws prohibit having open bottles of liquor in a location accessible to the driver of a vehicle. Please don’t drink and drive! Liquor including wine and beer is available through stores run by the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) or in smaller centers, by their authorized representative. Beer may be purchased through “The Beer Store” or directly from brewery outlets. Beer, wine and cider are now available at select grocery stores in the province of Ontario. Drinking hours in licenced establishments are from 11 am until 2 am. In Ontario, it is an offence to consume alcohol anywhere other than in a residence or on licenced premises. Please note that driving motorized vehicles, including cars, trucks, ATVs, snowmobiles, and boats, while impaired is illegal. You can immediately lose your licence for 90 days for refusing to take a breathalyzer reading greater than 80 mg (0.08%) of alcohol per 100 mL of blood. Charges may be laid under the criminal code of Canada.
Ontario Provincial Police (OPP)
For police services anywhere in Ontario, call the 24-hour toll-free line 1-888-310-1122 or 1-888-310-1133 (TTY).
Boaters – How to Report Your Entry
Pleasure crafts may enter Canada by trailer or under their own power. All boats powered by motors 10 HP or over must be licenced. Boat licences from outside Ontario are accepted. Operator Competency Requirements for Pleasure Craft – Regulation requires that all operators of motorized pleasure crafts have proof of competency and proof of age on board at all times. An operator card or equivalent, issued to a non-resident by their state or country, will be considered as proof of competency. For information visit www.safeboater.com
Planning to “land” your vessel on Canadian soil or did you leave Canadian waters and land on U.S. soil? All private boaters who intend to land on Canadian soil, or who have departed Canadian waters and landed on U.S. soil, are required to report to a CBSA-designated marine reporting site. Upon arrival at this designated site, call the Telephone Reporting Centre at 1-888-226-7277 from the phone provided to obtain clearance. Not planning to “land” your vessel or did you leave Canadian waters but did not land on U.S. soil? You still need to report to the CBSA. Certain private boaters may contact the CBSA by calling the TRC at 1-888-226-7277. For more info, visit www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/travel-voyage/pb-pp-eng.html
Licences: All non-residents of Canada require an Outdoors Card or a Temporary Outdoors Card accompanied by a valid fishing licence tag for non-Canadian residents. Non-residents under the age of 18 may fish without a licence if accompanied by a licenced family member. Any fish caught are part of the limit of the person with the licence. Canadian residents require a resident fishing license and a current resident Outdoors Card.
Bait: You cannot bring live minnows, smelts, leeches or any other bait fish into Ontario from the U.S. Night crawlers are allowed but they must be brought in containers with artificial bedding only.
Limits and Regulations: With countless lakes and streams, it is important that anglers are aware of the general regulations and of any exceptions to the general regulations (e.g. specific slots or catch and possession limits) that may apply to the lake you will be fishing.
Ontario’s Fishing Regulations can be downloaded at www.ontario.ca/travel-and-recreation/fishing
Non-residents must have one of the following to obtain a hunting license:
1) An Ontario non-resident hunting licence issued to you after January 1, 1968.
2) A hunting licence issued to you after January 1, 1968, by a competent authority in a jurisdiction where you were a resident of that jurisdiction.
3) An Ontario hunting licence verification certificate showing your licence to hunt in Ontario or that you passed the hunting licence examination.
Visit www.ontario.ca/travel-and-recreation/hunting or call the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources at 1-800-667-1940 for further information.
Residents of the U.S. over the age of 18 may bring a hunting rifle or shotgun into Ontario for hunting purposes. You are also allowed to bring up to 200 rounds of ammunition duty-free, or up to 1,500 rounds for use at a recognized competition. Firearms are subject to a registration fee. It is suggested that you contact the Canada Firearms Centre for information before you attempt to import a firearm.
Residents of the U.S. are encouraged to pre-register their firearms prior to arriving. Handguns, fully automatic weapons, modified weapons, stun guns, mace and other weapons are not allowed in Canada. Proper storage of the firearm is important so make sure you are aware of the regulations. Of special note, firearms of any kind are forbidden in many of Canada’s National and Provincial Parks and adjacent areas.
For more information on importing your firearm into Canada and to receive a registration form, please contact the Canadian Firearms Centre at 1-800-731-4000 or (506) 624-5380.
Average Monthly Temperatures
|Yearly Precipitation:||906 mm (35.66″)|
|Average Snowfall:||472 cm (189″)|
|Record Snowfall:||1989-90, 782 cm (308″)|
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