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ENTRY BY ROAD into Canada ///

Discussion in 'Skilled Worker / Professional Immigration' started by qorax, Mar 16, 2011.


    Entering Canada from Buffalo
    One of the main routes for new immigrants headed towards Ontario, from the US, via Toronto, is to use the Buffalo border, across the Niagara front. There are four (4) bridges to cross between the US & Canada, via Niagara.

    1. The Peace Bridge. This is the Buffalo-Fort Erie crossing.

    2. The Rainbow Bridge. This is the Niagara Falls crossing. The main bridge & one of the busiest crossings, mostly used by tourists... better avoided by new immigrants.

    3. The Whirlpool Bridge. A bit further north is the "Whirlpool Bridge" - somewhat hidden from the public and used almost exclusively by local residents and commuters. It is usually necessary to have a pre-obtained "pass" to use this bridge as the inspection process is streamlined. Generally one should not attempt to use this bridge.

    4. The Lewiston-Queenston Bridge. Much further north, well outside Niagara Falls is the “Lewiston-Queenston Bridge”, an excellent route to take for “landing” into Canada - via Buffalo.

    Lewiston-Queenston Bridge

    Rainbow Bridge

    Using the Buffalo International Airport
    Located in Buffalo, New York, USA, just under 30 mins from the Canada / US border, the Buffalo Airport (officially, the Buffalo Niagara International Airport, airport code BUF), is 90 miles (144 Kms) from Toronto. Which is 1hr 45mins by car.

    The Buffalo Airport is an excellent choice for our ‘by road' commute to Canada. ‘Coz there are many options available here.

    1. Limousines, Bus and Shuttle Services:
    Numerous companies offer transportation to and from nearby cities including Toronto, Hamilton and Niagara Falls. Many of these companies also offer tours of the Niagara Wine Region.

    2. Niagara Airbus Service:
    The Airbus service offers limousine, shuttle and bus service between the Buffalo Airport, Niagara Falls, and Toronto. For tourists the company has many tour packages, including city highlights and hotel/airport transportation.

    3. Buffalo Airport Taxi:
    The Airport Taxi service offers hourly shuttle service between the Buffalo Airport and Niagara Falls-Canada. It also has hotel packages for US$50-70, at Niagara-Canada. Children under 6 go free. This is a cheap way of crossing-over, enjoy the Niagara & then take a separate commute to Toronto.

    4. Rental Cars:
    Renting a car in Buffalo and driving to Canada has many advantages. The drive from Buffalo Airport to Niagara Falls is about 30mins and to Toronto about 1hr 45mins. The drive between Buffalo and Toronto is an easy one by highway and is an awesome scenic route too.

    Renting a Car at Buffalo to enter Canada
    Driving a rented car is a safe-bet for “landing” from the US into Canada. We have heard many horror stories of driving one's own, didn't we?

    There are two (2) options for doing that:
    1. Rent a car with *International Drop-Off. –if u don't plan to return to the US
    2. Standard Rentals. –Using the car for few days in Canada & bring-it back to the Buffalo Rental Office

    Actually, the total costs for both options are fairly close. Only problem with option #2 is when you have any auto problem or accident in Toronto, you will have difficulties explaining why you are driving the Buffalo rental car over in Canada. Also, while driving in Toronto, if you un-intentionally drove into the Toll Highway (Highway 407)... even if you noticed it imdtly upon entry, u'd have no choice but to take the first subsequent exit... and few months later u'd receive an invoice from the Toronto department of the car rental company for toll road charge. The actual toll fee maybe around $1.25, but the toll charge handling fee would be around $25. So beware.

    *The majority of car rental companies will allow you to take a car rental into Canada, provided you are bringing it back. For “international drop-off” – I'm not sure of others, but Enterprise, Hertz & National are known to offer this service.

    Buffalo Airport has 7 rental car companies on-site. Off course these have their offices at downtown too.
    1. Alamo
    2. Avis
    3. Budget
    4. Dollar
    5. Enterprise
    6. Hertz
    7. National

    You must have a valid US D/license, Rental Agreement & Liability Protection cover, for driving into Canada.

    GENERAL ADVISORY - Entering Canada

    1. Travellers with Criminal Convictions, Including Impaired Driving
    People with criminal convictions, including impaired driving convictions may have a problem when entering Canada, but it is at the discretion of the BSO whether to allow you into the country or pull you in for secondary inspection.

    If you are pulled into the secondary inspection they will look into the matter and determine whether to let you continue on or turn you around. The more documentation and information you have to provide them the better (court documents, etc.). Generally speaking, although DUI or DWI offences are very serious crimes in Canada, they often will let you by if they can verify all your information and the conviction is not recent.

    2. Be sure to STOP your vehicle where instructed by signs.
    If the sign says remain at a certain spot until motioned to move up, don't disregard this. Examiners have computers and often enter your vehicle license plate number into it BEFORE you are motioned to the examiner's booth. Bridge tolls are collected on the Canadian side of the bridges only.

    3. Have seat belts engaged.
    Ontario requires seat belt use when motoring. There are frequent "blitz enforcement periods." Fines can be stiff and a stop can open you up to a probe for other violations. Why give the examiner at the booth an immediate reason to frown?

    4. For the vehicle DRIVER.
    a) Keep ready your driver's license and registration. If you are driving a rental car, check with the rental company that you are covered by insurance in Canada and that you have in the car adequate documentation for the vehicle.
    b) Auto insurance certificate showing you have “liability insurance”. Before entering Canada be sure your auto insurer provides Canadian coverage. If you get in an accident you will be required to prove you have Canadian coverage. Best to ask your insurance carrier to provide you with a supplementary card that states you have Canadian coverage. Don't enter without liability coverage for your vehicle.

    5. The Questions & Answers.
    These are the "most frequently asked questions" at Canadian Customs. If the questions you are asked stray much from this, the examiner may be suspicious of something. Each person in the vehicle is usually expected to answer at least one question. You may not be asked all of these questions.

    -Where were you born? Citizen of what country? Where do you live? (city/state)
    -Where are you going? How long will stay?
    -What is the purpose of your visit?
    -What do you have to declare? What are you bringing into Canada?

    Don't joke, don't stall, don't act up in any way (but speak up clearly)... and don't lie. The examiner wants to move you through within seconds... don't give a cause for a delay.

    6. Don't Bring.
    a) Anything that's not declared vide the Form B4 (Goods Accompanying & Goods To Follow). Items not declared may be seized. This could also include extensive amounts of expensive, professional, photo or electronic gear.
    b) Guns or weapons. You will be denied admission.
    c) Illegal Drugs. If you have "prescription drugs" in a purse etc. be sure they are well labelled with documentation (doctor's prescription).
    d) More than 20 packs of cigarettes or tobacco products. If you have more than a couple day's personal supplies you may have to explain.
    e) Don't bring alcoholic beverages at all. Don't even leave a "six-pack" in your vehicle trunk.
    f) "Radar detectors." They are illegal to be fitted in a vehicle in Ontario.

    *If you find at the last minute that you have something that could be a problem in your vehicle, better to honestly declare it.

    SPECIAL ADVISORY - Those Convicted of DWI In The USA:
    Canadian authorities are reported to be refusing admission to drivers with a DWI conviction in the USA. Such records are immediately available on Canada Immigration computers and may show convictions as far back as 20 years ago.

    Those with such convictions may be able to get a waiver for up to 30 days visitation upon payment of a $200 (Canadian) fee. A single DWI conviction may be permanently expunged from the Canadian computers for payment of $400 (Canadian). Canadian officials are reported justifying the fees because they feel DWI is a serious crime and it is a way of keeping "undesirables" out of Canada. The law, which has been in effect since 1978, has not been evenly or consistently enforced. However, reports indicate more and more drivers with USA DWI conviction records are being refused admission to Canada without paying extra fees.

    If you are returning from Canada from the US you can expect things to go very quickly, faster in fact, than when you were entering Canada.

    1. Pets:
    For dogs and cats you must have a valid veterinary's certificate of rabies vaccination. Exceptions may be made for "performing" animals or "seeing eye" dogs.

    2. Questions & Answers:
    For those returning to the US there are some variations to expect...
    -How long were you in Canada?
    -What are you bringing back?

    Often these are the only two questions that are asked. Because of the computer data base keyed to your vehicle license plate, the examiner may well know how long you were in Canada etc.

    3. Duties, Restrictions, Obligations:
    If you are bringing or taking $10,000, or more, in cash or negotiable instruments through the US border you must declare it. There is no tax, but Uncle Sam wants to know. Fail to declare, and those assets, if discovered, will be seized - no matter how innocent an explanation you have.

    4. Re-Entry To US Within 48 Hours Of Leaving:
    Goods purchased must be for personal or household use. Exemption is individual and cannot be grouped with other family members. Goods free of duty up to the value of $200 in U.S. funds. Also, ten cigars, 50 cigarettes and four fluid ounces of alcohol or perfume containing alcohol, may be included. Cuban tobacco of any kind is prohibited into the United States regardless of where it was purchased. If limits are exceeded you are subject to duty and taxes.

    5. Re-Entry To US After 48 Hours or More:
    Every 30 days, you may bring in goods free of duty up to the value of $400 in U.S. funds. Family members may make a joint declaration and combine their personal exemptions even if the articles acquired by one member of the family exceeds the person exemption allowed (Family members must live in the same household and return together to the United States. Your exemption is not cumulative. If you use any portion of your exemption on entering the U.S., you must wait 30 days before you are entitled to another exemption (other than the $200 exemption for within 48 hours detailed above). If you go over the exemptions you are subject to duty and taxes.


    1. Expect delays at all border crossings due to increased security.
    It is recommended that drivers follow extreme caution, especially in regard to giving straight, no-nonsense answers at the borders. Those heading into Canada may get radio updates in their cars, within about 10 miles of Niagara Falls, by tuning to the special FM station at 105.1 MHz (cluttered however, with much Casino Niagara and other advertising material).

    Information is also available (constantly updated) by calling the Rainbow and Lewiston-Queenston bridges special info line at 285-6322/Ext 1500.

    2. US closing border to part-time foreign students.
    International students, including those from Canada who have been attending college part-time at Niagara University and other Niagara Frontier higher education institutions will no longer be permitted to do so. This major change in policy was made effective May 22nd 2002, by United States Customs/Immigration.

    The Lockport Home Page was told Friday, 5/24, that those students who are already under contract to attend summer sessions at Niagara University and other colleges will be permitted to complete the summer courses however they will need proof of enrollment and will need to stop at Customs/Immigration each day they enter the US and fill out a form. Once their class has concluded for the summer future entry to the US to take additional courses part-time will be denied.

    Full-time international students will continue to be admitted, sources told the Lockport Page, but under stricter controls and monitoring. Students have been advised not to "tell stories" at the border, such as they are going shopping. If found out (and with computer checks this is likely) they will be banned from entering the country for a sizable time period.

    3. Surveillance cameras going up along Niagara River.
    The US Border Patrol has installed four (4) low-light cameras, spaced at even intervals along the Niagara River between the city of Niagara Falls (atop Wrobel Towers' subsidized apartments) and Fort Niagara. The remote-controlled, PTZ cameras are high enough above the Niagara Gorge to provide several miles of observational territory.

    Their purpose is to spot illegal border crossings and to save the cost of border patrol agents staking out long stretches of the US-Canadian border along the Niagara River. The cameras feed video to remote transmitters which send the signal back to a central control room, where one Border Patrol Agent observes over ten miles of the border, 24-7.

    When an illegal is spotted making a border crossing, the control operator dispatches a Ground Unit to make the intercept. In addition to the spots in Niagara Falls and Fort Niagara, other cameras are also located on private properties, at a site off Lower River Road in the Town of Lewiston and at "The Ledges" a heavily treed area about a half mile north of the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge.

  2. WOW!! so highly relevant info for me. Thanks qorax. Had been scouring the net for info like this. And all this in one place. U r just awesome!
  3. Hi Quorax,

    Could you please give some information to enter Canada from Seattle...Thanks Manny....
  4. This is the landing experience from USA to Vancouver:

  5. Thanks Steaky...what a amazing community we can make...people are so helpful..thank you everyone

  6. Great work Quorax and it is highly appreciated. May god bless you.

  7. Re: ENTRY BY ROAD into Canada

    Hello All,
    I am permanently moving to canada next month. I did my first landing on 23rd Feb, 2011. My B4 list was stamped and all customs procedure completed. I am planning to drive penske with all my stuff.

    The question I have is, can I partially take the goods listed on my B4? I am going to keep some of my stuff in my friend's basement. Will take all that in next couple of months. Can I do that? If I can, how does the custom office mark the stuff that I am taking next month as Imported.

    Thank you all for your time and help.

  8. Hi Qorax,

    First of all thank you for the information and apologies if my next question has been answered already, but I would like reassurance of what I may need to do when validating my visa.

    I live in London, and I had planned a trip to Utah (USA) in June this year. By then, I may probably have my visa already, and I would actually need to stamp it before 27 July (a year after my medicals).

    I was thinking that instead of returning to London, and then pay for another ticket from London to Toronto, I could just drive our rental north of Utah, through Wyoming and Montana, which I would love to see, and enter Canada by road somwhere in Alberta or Saskatchewan. Then, after two days in Canada, return to Utah to get my flight.

    I was thinking of doing this because I am not planning to move to canada right away due to work projects in London, and I would give my friend's address in Toronto so that she can forward me the PR Cards. Will they ask me questions at the border with a US Rental that I plan to return within a week of entering in the USA?

    Also, if I validate the visa in Alberta or SK, will they question me if they know I am planning to live in Toronto (thousands of miles from there)?

    Your thoughts and everyone else's would be greatly appreaciated. Thanks. This would save me about 1,500 pounds for the LON-Toronto flight 2 weeks later.
  9. Thanks for such useful info
  10. [​IMG]

    Here's a good trivia on U-Haul

  11. Qorax what about flag pooling? is it allowed any more or not? if still permitted then whats the process? Thankx in advance
  12. Qorax,

    Can you elaborate on horror stories about driving ones one vehicle to Canada. I currently live in the US and I am thinkig on taking my car

  13. Canadian Residents Becoming a PR "within Canada"

    One doesn't really require to "Flag-Pole" nowadays... we could 'validate' our PRVs "in Canada" itself:
    7.9. Becoming a permanent resident
    To become a permanent resident, any foreign national outside Canada needs to present their permanent resident visa at a port of entry to Canada. However, applicants whose permanent resident visa is issued while they are in Canada with a valid temporary resident status may:

    Contact the Call Centre to request an appointment at a local CIC office to become a permanent resident at that location; or
    Leave Canada and become a permanent resident upon re-entry to Canada at a port of entry.

    Please note that if you are already in Canada and have a valid temporary resident status, you now have the option of obtaining your permanent resident status in Canada as opposed to leaving Canada and re-entering at a port of entry. [For this purpose] Please contact CIC's Call Centre at 1 888 242-2100 as soon as possible to arrange an appointment with the Citizenship and Immigration office nearest to your place of residence. (You cannot call this number if you are outside Canada.)


    Quoted from:
    - OP7(B)
    - Operational Bulletin 076

    About "Flag-Polling" in the next post.

  14. Thankx boss, i have heard that current waiting period is 6-8 weeks 2 land in canada.
  15. Flag-Polling
    - Trip around the flagpole-Canada.
    - Is it permitted?
    - What is it all about?



    A trip around the flagpole, or "Flag-Polling", as we often hear in the forums, mean driving from a/ny location in Canada to the Canada-US border - Xing the Canadian side - turning around, before going thru the US Border Post - and ReEntering Canada imdtly - then meeting a BSO at the Canadian Border Post to validate/activate our PR visa, aka "landing".

    It's the same procedure as we would undergo while we flew to Canada, landed at an airport, and went through the immigration there. However, if we're already in Canada [as a visitor, or on TWP, and we receive the 'stamped' PR visa], we've to create an artificial situation in which we exit/enter Canada in order to get the necessary stamps, 'landing'.

    Is it allowed?

    Yes & No.
    No, 'coz prior to 2004, Canadian & US Border Officers usually allowed people to return to Canada before arriving at the US border post. Yes, 'coz since 2004, policy began to change and it became necessary to either be formally admitted to the US (as evidenced by an I-94 or I-94W form issued by the Americans), Or be given a formal "refusal of admission" by the Americans. Thus, actually it is still allowed & is prevalent.

    The Procedure for Flag-Polling

    The simplest way is to leave Canada, visit the US, and then return to Canada. This'd only apply if we had a US tourist visa, or are admissible to the US under the Visa Waiver program [or if we r a US citizen or otherwise don't need a visa].

    However, if we aren't either of those, then the procedure is mentioned below:
    a) Keep your COPR, Passports & other IDs on person [everyone's in the car];
    b) Exit thru the Canadian Border Post;
    c) Drive along to the US side;
    d) Enter the US Border Post;
    e) Seek a US Tourist visa;
    f) Either u'd be offered the visa or be 'refused';
    g) If obtained the visa - drive along - do some shopping [if u do not intend spending the night/s] & return;
    h) Visit the US Border Officer, get the I-94 revalidated & leave for Canada;
    j) Meet a BSO at the Canadian Border Post, indicate that u have 'flag-polled' & r now 'landing';
    k) Rest of the procedures/paper work remain the same as described in my 'landing thread';
    l) Drive on to your home.
    m) U r a PR [erstwhile 'landed immigrant'] now!!!

    - US border officials may not like the idea of someone arriving in the US & leaving imdtly.
    - It is thus, important to have a plan for what u intend to do in the US [shopping, sightseeing etc].
    - There is nothing illegal about visiting the US with an intention to 'switch' to a different status in Canada on return.
    - U do not have to 'volunteer' this information to US border officials, but u should tell the truth if enquired.
    - There is no fundamental difference between crossing the land border or taking a flight to the US for a vacation.
    - To the US, it really doesn't matter if Canada don't let u return - 'coz, they can always send u back to the country of your nationality.
    - When u return to Canada, make sure u give the Canadian officials your US I-94/I-94W forms.
    - They are supposed to return them to the US, to show that you have left the US.
    - If being "refused entry" to the US - no issues - just obtain the refusal document. Which you can present to the Canadian BSOs.
    - An US 'refusal of entry' does not "officially" prejudice future entry to the US, but there's always a risk [policy change reasons].
    - As the previous 'actual' flag-polling was pretty easier, the current procedures r not...
    - We have to meet the US Border Officials, get the paper work done, it's time consuming nowadays.
    - We should be prepared for search [especially vehicular] & questioning at both the borders.
    - A MRP [Machine Readable Passport] is required to enter the US.
    - Make sure your passports are not expired, and will not expire during your intended stay in the US.

    CIC now allow PR approved applicants to "land" at their office/s, however there is often a waiting list for appointments. Pls read my previous post on the subject.

    Hope that helped.


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