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Crossing the US/Canada border

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36 replies to this topic

#1 of 37 OFFLINE   Holadem


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Posted August 25 2005 - 09:07 AM

What IDs do they actually ask, either way? WOuld a driver license suffice? I lost my green card sometime ago, they're asking 300 quids to get it back, which I will before year's end (need to travel overseas) but meanwhile, I need to head up north. It would be stupid to drive 5-7 hours all the way up there just to get turned around, or better yet, get stuck in canada on the way back... I have crossed the Mexican border with no more than a driver's license. Can anyone who has undertaken the trip in the last couple of months describe the process? Thanks. -- H

#2 of 37 OFFLINE   Mort Corey

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Posted August 25 2005 - 10:19 AM

Last I heard, they were considering making a passport mandatory. How far along those regulations got I don't know. Mort

#3 of 37 OFFLINE   Holadem


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Posted August 25 2005 - 10:25 AM

I heard that as well a couple of months ago. -- H

#4 of 37 OFFLINE   Jeff Peake

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Posted August 25 2005 - 11:02 AM

I have driven across canada when heading home to Michigan many times. I often dont get asked for any ID at all. Sometimes they ask for drivers license. Sometimes they ask for license plate number. I drove across 2 months after buying a new car, and didnt remember the plate number. The booth troll asked me to get out of the car and read it from the license plate. On the return part of that trip I was asked the same thing (remembered it that time). Have never been asked since for license plate number. Never been asked for a passport or birth-cert. I have heard in the news that soon you may need a passport, but as far as I know this hasnt started yet. Jeff

#5 of 37 OFFLINE   Jay H

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Posted August 25 2005 - 11:23 AM

I read recently that they're going to make passports mandatory, and also consider a system of alternative ID for those that live near the border and go across the border frequently. However, it's still only talk at this point and I beleive Bush has some proposal set up but it still hasn't been voted on by congress or so and certainly isn't in effect. Jay
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#6 of 37 OFFLINE   Jeff Ulmer

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Posted August 25 2005 - 11:41 AM

I cross the border regularly from Canada and only recently did they begin asking for ID (driver's license) when entering the US. I couldn't hurt to have a birth certificate and driver's license. I don't see why they would ask for plate numbers, as they stop you to take down the number before you get to the booth.

#7 of 37 OFFLINE   Dennis Nicholls

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Posted August 25 2005 - 12:21 PM

You need to get in touch with both the US and Canadian officials I'm afraid. Since you are a resident alien and not a US citizen, your missing "green card" (aren't they really blue?) may well be a problem. A few phone calls is really worth your time in this case.
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#8 of 37 OFFLINE   Andrew Pratt

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Posted August 25 2005 - 03:23 PM

At a minimum a birth certificate and your drives license but really you should have a passport.

#9 of 37 OFFLINE   Chris Lockwood

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Posted August 25 2005 - 05:27 PM

Usually it's the luck of the draw as far as what questions they ask or what documents they want, a bit like when you get pulled over by a cop.

> Since you are a resident alien and not a US citizen, your missing "green card" (aren't they really blue?) may well be a problem.

Yep. The big problem I see is in getting back into the US, which is usually the tough part.

A few years ago there was a family of illegals in Florida who went to Niagara Falls, NY. They decided to walk across the border to see the falls from the other side. Since they didn't have the paperwork needed to re-enter the US, they couldn't get back in. (Canada lets anyone in, apparently.) They ended up living in a motel in Canada for weeks- not sure what happened after that. This was all long before 9/11, so it is stricter now.

I believe the passport thing passed, but even if so doesn't take effect for years:


#10 of 37 OFFLINE   James T

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Posted August 25 2005 - 05:29 PM

Every time I go to the states, I show them my birth certificate. It's an old school Ontario certificate, so there's no picture on it. With that said, they've never asked for photo ID. A funny story about my uncle. He looks like a terrorit. He wears a baseball cap and wears aviator style sunglasses. If he takes the glasses off, he has a stone cold stare and talks like he's a General commanding a war. And he always gets asked to open his trunk as they do a thorough search. And yes, he has a family, but I don't think they care. It's funny hearing him order through the drivethrough at Taco Bell. "I want two soft tacos, OKAY?!?"

#11 of 37 OFFLINE   Mark Philp

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Posted August 25 2005 - 05:34 PM

I live within an hour of the border, and have crossed it many times. At this point, while neither the United States or Canada presently require passports from the other country, they can and do sometimes require proof of citizenship. The preferred form is a passport. Should the U.S. go ahead and require passports for Canadians to enter the country, you can bet Canada will require them for us. I've never had trouble crossing either way, but I always bring my passport. As for the gentleman who lost his "green card", my suggestion is that he get it replaced before he goes. His passport from his home country might get him into Canada, but there's a good chance that he my not be allowed back in the U.S. The way things are nowadays he shouldn't take a chance like that. For that matter, even if he doesn't leave the country he may need it here.

#12 of 37 OFFLINE   Chris Bardon

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Posted August 26 2005 - 12:16 AM

There are pictures on new birth certificates? The only change that I know of is that the new ones aren't (and aren't supposed to be) laminated. Never been asked for ID when I've driven across, and flying you can still do the License + Birth Certificate (although they're getting more and more anal about it). Apparently they're asking drivers for ID more often though, so if that's your plan, might want to be prepared...
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#13 of 37 OFFLINE   Michael Warner

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Posted August 26 2005 - 12:35 AM

You might be asked for a picture ID and proof of citizenship or resident status. Upon re-entering the U.S. it's 99% likely that you will be asked where you were born. Since your answer will not be a U.S. locale you will have to have the required documents to get back home or your Canada trip could become an extended vacation. I travel from Detroit to Windsor about once a week and it's just as likely that the Canadians will demand to see prrof of citizenship or resident status. I actually have a harder time getting into Canada than getting back out.
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#14 of 37 OFFLINE   Mark Paquette

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Posted August 26 2005 - 12:50 AM

This has been my experience as well crossing at Detroit/Windsor. The majority of the time I'm asked for a picture ID and a birth certificate to get into Canada. When coming back to the U.S. I always have to present my picture ID, but I'm rarely asked to present my birth certificate.

#15 of 37 OFFLINE   Tony-M



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Posted August 26 2005 - 01:30 AM

My Irish American friend just came back from Canada and said they treated him like crap. They wanted to see a passport not just a driver’s license. They even threaten to keep his kid (they did not have the kids birth certificate with him). Better safe than sorry.

#16 of 37 OFFLINE   Andrew Pratt

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Posted August 26 2005 - 01:51 AM

When traveling with kids its imperitive that you have birth certificates so I can't say that I'm surprised to hear there was trouble at the boarder. A friend of mine tried flying to San Diego a few weeks ago w/o his passport just his drivers license and an old copy of his birth cert. and he was held up for almost and hour by US customs. While they aren't out and out demanding passports it just makes it so much easier.

#17 of 37 OFFLINE   Scott Merryfield

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Posted August 26 2005 - 02:17 AM

Customs agents at the airports are generally much more strict with requiring documentation than at the border crossings. It's probably because they are dealing with people entering from many different destinations, not just from Canada (or Mexico). Anyway, I live about 40 minutes from the border, and have rarely been asked for ID at the Windsor, Sarnia or Sault Ste. Marie crossings, but always have both a driver's license and birth certificate just in case. As others have said, passports will be required in a couple of years, but they are not yet.

#18 of 37 OFFLINE   Kwang Suh

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Posted August 26 2005 - 03:44 AM

The problem was that he used a copy of his birth certificate. You need to use the original. The passport requirement will not go through. It would grind commerce to a halt.

#19 of 37 OFFLINE   Ken Chui

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Posted August 26 2005 - 03:46 AM

Not to hijack the thread, but have any non-Canadians attempting to enter the US (through the Kingston, ON border crossing) had their entry refused for not having this border pass?

#20 of 37 OFFLINE   Jeff Ulmer

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Posted August 26 2005 - 03:52 AM

Yes, I don't see why anyone should be surprised by this, given the number of abductions or custody cases. If you are not a resident of either country, I would make sure to have as much documentation as possible to avoid delays or being held by the authorities.

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