Travel Tips

The information on these pages is provided as an aid for U.S. citizens driving to Canada to see baseball games.
Please do NOT email me with questions not related to simple border crossings outside of the Northern League.
I am neither a government official nor extensive resource for this subject.

This information is based on personal experiences and should not be considered "legal advice." For the latest official information consult the links on the main page.

Into Canada

Canadian Port of Entry

Pembina Canadian Port of Entry (June 2001)

Due to heightened security caused by the events of 9/11, everyone (American or Canadian) should bring a passport or birth certificate to prove citizenship when returning. A photo ID is a "must" to enter Canada so a passport is recommended for simplicity.

This is still usually a minor stop, depending on the "backlog" taking a few minutes.

Tax & Duty Limits
Canadian residents leaving United States
Length of Visit Duty Exemption
Daily (24 hrs) C$50 per person
Excludes alcohol & tobacco
48+ hours C$200 per person
Weekly (7 days) C$400 per person

Canadians returning with goods valued over these amounts requires a stop at the border crossing to and a declaration stating the cost and nature of the goods at the Port of Entry.

Duty-Free Limits

  • 1 liter alcohol per adult 21 years of age or older
  • 200 cigarettes
  • 100 cigars

To make your stop go more quickly you should keep "everything friendly." That includes driving up slowly to the border agent and taking off sunglasses so your face can be seen more clearly (motorcyclists should take off their helmet) and have your photo IDs (for yourself and all occupants in you vehicle) ready.

Once at the front of the line you're asked a simple series of questions:

Q: What is the purpose of your visit to Canada?

A: To see our team play yours.

Q: Are you carrying any firearms, mace or "pepper spray?"

A: No.

This is not the US. Gun control is firmly in place (and the low murder rate reflects it). Don't bring any guns with you, this includes mace and pepper spray. These will extend your stay longer than if you're caught.

Q: Are you carrying any cigarettes or alcohol?

A: No.

Small amounts for personal consumption while visiting are fine. Limits happen to include 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars, or 14 oz. of "loose" of tobacco. Alcohol limits are 40 oz. (1.14 liters or approx. quart and 1/2) of hard liquor or wine, or 8.5 liters (300 oz.) of beer or ale (i.e., about four six-packs). Your stay, if taking these substances, should be longer than 24 HRs.

Q: Are those children yours (if you brought some)?

A: Yes.

Our border crossings were uneventful when taking the kids, but that was 1994. If both parents are in the car, or you look like a complete family, then there will probably be little problem --provided you have proof of citizenship.

Increased concerns over child abduction can make it difficult, particularly for single parents. Birth certificates or other proof of citizenship for children (and entire travel party) are helpful for verification. Single parents may need copies of custody rights and/or a signed note from the other parent authorizing this out of country journey.

Children should know their phone numbers and address (since they're likely to be questioned if delayed). In case of a check of this sort, it will be necessary to call the other parent, so have phone numbers handy just in case.

Though I haven't heard of any of these difficulties, the above recommendations come from the Canadian Govt. (as read in a 29.June.97 Minneapolis Star Tribune article reprinted from the LA Times). Since they are meant to prevent child abduction it is understandable why they may occur. The State Department can answer more details about specific foreign-entry requirements through its web site, or Citizens Emergency Center line (202.647.5225).

Q: Would you please pull ahead and park under the awning?

A: Yes, Officer.

Border Checks

In the unfortunate case where they're checking, get ready for a 5 minute delay as they paw through your luggage just to make sure you're not an international drug smuggler (you aren't are you?) and you answered the above questions truthfully (you did, didn't you?).

Travel Suggestion

U.S. Port of Entry

Manitoba Visitor's Center (June 2001)

Once across the border you might make a brief stop at the Manitoba Visitor's Center. Though it may be your third stop in about as many miles, there are helpful guides to answer questions, give you directions to your hotel (or help you pick one), and brochures about various restaurants, events, attractions, etc. in the province.

These also include brochures and discount coupons for local restaurants such as the Melting Pot fondue restaurant.

Into the United States

U.S. Port of Entry

Pembina U.S. Port of Entry (August 1999)

Returning to the U.S. entails a similar set of questions, with one difference. Again, keep it friendly and you should be on your way quickly.

Remember to have your birth certificate or passport ready as proof of citizenship. Drivers licenses are no longer enough.

Tax & Duty Limits
United States residents leaving Canada
Length of Visit Duty Exemption
Daily (24 hrs) US$200 per person
Monthly (48+ hours) US$400 per person
U.S. citizen returning with goods valued over these amounts requires a stop at the border crossing to and a declaration stating the cost and nature of the goods at the Port of Entry.

Duty-Free Limits

  • 1 liter alcohol per adult 21 years of age or older
  • 200 cigarettes
  • 100 cigars
Q: What was the purpose of your visit to Canada?

A: To see our team play the Canadian team.

Q: Did you make any purchases while in Canada?

A: Yes, souvenirs and programs

If you make a significant amount of purchases (see table above) you may be required to fill out forms and pay duty at the border. In such cases make sure to get copies of the receipts to show the U.S. border patrol (such as after you got your GST back in Pembina).

If you're smart, you'll avoid contraband like Cuban cigars and "restricted Beanie Babies." They're certain to be confiscated if you're checked, maybe worse.

Also don't bring any raw meats (think "mad cow disease") other "fresh fruit or vegetables." These too will likely be confiscated and lead to further checks (and possible fines if not declared).

Since the events of 9/11 border crossings into the U.S. have become "less routine" than in the past. Don't be surprised if a border inspection is required on your return.

Q: Are those your kids?

A: Yes.

Additional Suggestions

A Canadian fan had some additional suggestions that make sense when crossing the border. This are pretty much common sense, but they they're worth repeating to make you border crossing go as quickly as possible:

This also reiterates the need to have a passport when crossing the border. If you have one, have it ready to view. If you don't consider getting one or other appropriate paperwork.