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Foreign Exchange

Foreign Exchange Packing Properly for Legal Passage By Tracey Fox Maple trees surround the winding and seemingly endless Adirondack Northway. Exit 43. The final stop. Here, Interstate 87 connects to Autoroute 15 and our Canadian neighbors. Whether cruising up for poutine or journeying down for a Michigan, traversing the border should top your to-do list. In 2018, more than 2 million people caught the travel bug and crossed at the Champlain-Rouses Point border. According to the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics, about 263,000 people moving by bus and 1.8 million by car. If you’re traveling in a personal vehicle, the…

Foreign Exchange

Packing Properly for Legal Passage

By Tracey Fox

Maple trees surround the winding and seemingly endless Adirondack Northway. Exit 43. The final stop. Here, Interstate 87 connects to Autoroute 15 and our Canadian neighbors.

Whether cruising up for poutine or journeying down for a Michigan, traversing the border should top your to-do list.

In 2018, more than 2 million people caught the travel bug and crossed at the Champlain-Rouses Point border. According to the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics, about 263,000 people moving by bus and 1.8 million by car.

If you’re traveling in a personal vehicle, the I-87 border crossing has 10 lanes, four of which are open at 1 p.m. with a usual wait time of 10 minutes.

But, before you go, make sure you understand the rules. Restricted items require a special license. Prohibited items are (you guessed it) prohibited.


All agricultural items must be declared at border crossings. Don’t ruin the vibe of your trip by failing to declare them. U.S. Customs and Border Protection will fine you $300. If, somehow, you forget this rule and do it more than once, be ready to shell out $500 on the way back.

To bring a firearm across the border, the paperwork must be filed in advance because of the different laws regarding firearms in the U.S. and Canada. Firearms must be declared.

Some people can’t travel without their pets. If you’ve gotta bring Sherman and Cooper, don’t worry. They can cross the border with you and enjoy those Tim Hortons Timbits as long as they have signed and dated certificates from your vet.

Alcohol, for some a vacation must-have, is OK too, up to 1.5 liters of wine, a case of beer or 40 ounces of liquor. Smokes are also fine, customs allows 200 cigarettes (10 packs) or 50 cigars.

If, by some chance, you are bringing back a lot of beef, don’t panic because you can bring up to 11 pounds. Packaged food items are also allowed.

Yes, recreational marijuana was legalized in Canada as of Oct. 17, 2018. But, don’t get ahead of yourself. Don’t even let the thought cross your mind because you absolutely cannot, under any circumstances, take marijuana into the United States. You will get arrested for trying to smuggle an illegal substance across the border.

The thought of crossing the border can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be.

In 2017, a 20-year-old American women crossed the border in her 2003 Hyundai Elantra. Little did she know, her muffler was broken. She made it into Canada just fine but, when she was coming back to the U.S., Border Patrol noticed her broken muffler. She and her boyfriend had to get out of the car as the vehicle got searched. Agents also searched the woman’s purse, where she forgot she had a fake ID saying she
was 21.

“Instead of treating me like a criminal, which technically I was,” she says blushing, “Border Patrol just laughed, told me it was a good fake ID and threw it away.”

She had either good luck or good karma because having a fake identification is a misdemeanor which could have resulted in jail time and/or fines in both the U.S. and Canada.

Whether or not you intended to cross the 45th parallel while traveling in the North Country or historic Montréal, don’t let the fear of crossing the border stop you from witnessing the beauties of these two different cultures.

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