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Your Easter getaway guide: simplifying border crossings for stress-free trips

As Easter approaches, many Canadians are making plans to travel across the border over the long weekend.


As Easter approaches, many Canadians are making plans to travel across the border over the long weekend.

Whether it's a trip to visit family or friends, or maybe you're just looking to head on a weekend getaway, there are many things to consider to ensure a smooth and hassle-free trip.

And just in time for the Easter long weekend, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) has shared some tips that will help Canadian travellers when crossing the border.

The CBSA is encouraging travellers to take advantage of the following tips to help ensure a smoother trip both over the Easter long weekend:

Plan ahead, expect delays, and check border wait times: It's wise to plan your travel in advance, anticipating possible delays, and staying informed about current border wait times. Consider crossing the border during off-peak hours, such as early mornings, to minimize wait times. Keep in mind that holiday long weekends, especially Mondays, tend to experience heavier traffic and longer border wait times.

Travelling with children: If you're travelling with children and you're not the parent or legal guardian, it's recommended to have a consent letter authorizing you to travel with the child, especially if there are custody arrangements involved. This helps border services officers ensure the safety and well-being of children and may expedite the crossing process.

Have your travel documents handy: Make sure to have all necessary travel documents readily accessible, regardless of your mode of travel (land, air, or water). Being prepared with your travel documents can speed up processing times and streamline your border crossing experience.

Save time with Advance Declaration: Take advantage of the Advance Declaration option, allowing you to complete your customs and immigration declaration up to 72 hours before arriving in Canada at select international airports. This can significantly reduce processing time at kiosks or eGates, potentially cutting waiting times by up to 50%.

Be prepared to declare: It's crucial for all travellers to declare their goods upon entering Canada. Keep your receipts handy for items purchased or received while outside of Canada. Take responsibility for the contents of your vehicle and avoid travelling with restricted or prohibited goods like firearms, pepper spray, or certain knives.

Food products and exemptions: If you're bringing in food products for religious traditions or other purposes, consult the Automated Import Reference System (AIRS) on the Canadian Food Inspection Agency website for guidance. Know your personal exemption limits for items like alcohol, tobacco, and Easter chocolates, ensuring compliance with CBSA regulations.

Gifts, cannabis, and medication: Visitors to Canada can bring gifts for friends and family but must declare them. Avoid bringing cannabis across the border without proper authorization, as it remains a serious criminal offence. If you're travelling with medication or traditional Indigenous medicines, understand the regulations and your responsibilities.

Pets and animals: If you're travelling with a pet or importing an animal into Canada, ensure you have the necessary paperwork and meet import requirements. When in doubt, ask a CBSA officer for guidance and follow their instructions to facilitate a smooth border crossing experience.

Not sure? Ask a CBSA officer: The best thing you can do to save time is to be open and honest with the CBSA officer. Be sure to follow all instructions they provide to you. If you are not sure about what to declare, don't hesitate to ask. You may also contact Border Information Service (BIS) line toll-free within Canada at 1-800-461-9999 for more information