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Thread: My Fellow Canadians

  1. #16
    TravelsWithBarley.com
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    Quote Originally Posted by RocksforBrains View Post

    So yes, ride up individually and just answer the questions. I do not think they would appreciate any attempt at humor.
    Have to share a border crossing story...

    Was coming back from a week in Nova Scotia, crossing back into the states at Calais, Maine. The US Customs agent was a drop dead gorgeous blonde, tall, slim, bright blue eyes and oh-so sexy in her olive drab jumpsuit with paratrooper boots.

    She was absolutely stone-faced. Not one shred of any emotion aside from a bit of annoyance at finding me in front of her. "Take off those sunglasses!" she barked, and I was embarrassed that I'd forgotten to do that. "Where are you from? Where did you go? What are you bringing back with you?"

    Rapid fire questions, and I had difficulty hearing her because of the straight-piped Harley blipping his throttle impatiently fifty feet behind me. She pointed to the Harley rider. "Is he with you?"

    I looked in my mirror at the other rider. He was in full pirate regalia: leather vest with patches, earrings, chaps, full beard, Yoko Ono sunglasses. He was also perhaps the most filthy human being I'd ever seen. "No, ma'am," I responded. "I ride a Beemer and he's on a Harley."

    She looked puzzled and asked, "Aren't all you biker types brothers?"

    "Yes, ma'am. But some of us bathe!"

    For just a micro-second a delighted smile flitted across her face. Then the stone returned and she waved me on.
    '07 R1200GS for solo rides
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  2. #17
    maacova maacova's Avatar
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    Boarder

    My story from last summer. Buddy and I crossed from Alexandria Bay, NY into Canada. When we crossed back we were on a very small road and they did spend more time asking questions. How hard can the answers be if you are legal. We went single file. 60 miles latter on small 2 lane road in upstate NY came over a rise and there is a 3 or 4 car Boarder Patrol road block. I went through first and was asked three questions that I had the same one word answer.
    1. Are you a US citizen? Yes
    2. Do you know the biker behind you? Yes
    3. Is he a US citizen? Yes
    Waved us both through

  3. #18
    Registered User Anyname's Avatar
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    I have crossed the US/Canadian border many times. It is my observation that the Canadian guards look more closely at returning Canadian citizens and that the US guards do likewise for returning US citizens. Most days they are just looking to make sure you declare any thing you have bought across the border.

    The two exceptions I have encountered are:

    1) When traveling to Canada for work, I have been closely questioned as to the nature of the work, although this was only somewhat testy on one occasion.

    2) When returning to the US on September 20, 2001, the heavily armed US guards were very interested in everyone.
    BMW R bike rider, horizontally opposed to everything...

  4. #19
    Registered User motocamper's Avatar
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    Crossing north at Buffalo in +95 degree in a two hour traffic jam, the RT was over heating we had pull off twice. When we finally pulled up to the Canadian Guard we gave him the passports and started to take off the hemlets and he said "Roadcrafters hot Eh" YES we replied in two part harmony. He handed us back the passports and waved us on. Best break of the day.
    A couple of times we have been asked to dismount the bike and read the plate to them. I did not ask why.
    I consider boarder crossing stops has dangerous has toll booths. The lanes are covered auto fuilds that one can easily slip and fall. How come those lanes are never cleaned?
    Love Canada and have always had a great time with great food. It is nice not to hear the F word for a entire week.
    Tony
    We're not here for a long time
    We're here for a good time HUEY LEWIS

    2007 R1200RT, 2003 F650CS

  5. #20
    Benchwrenching PGlaves's Avatar
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    Voni and I go into Canada once or twice a year typically. One of us rides to the entry. The other stops back at the stop sign. Sometimes the first one is asked if we are together and then the second of us is motioned forward. Sometimes they act as if the second bike is not even there until they are done with the first one. It depends on the person at the gate I guess.
    Paul Glaves - "Big Bend", Texas U.S.A
    "The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution." - Bertrand Russell
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  6. #21
    Registered User tourunigo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RocksforBrains View Post
    ........ I do not think they would appreciate any attempt at humor.
    Depends on your take on their approach. We've had many crossings (and yes they track them all so stay honest) and humor is really situational. Had the occassion once in '98 in unrelenting rain crossing into Ontario and asked if I had anything to declare and me, in some fit of momentary madness, said 'Ya, a sore butt." Asked where to and I said San Francisco. He looked at the /5, smiled and told me to have a good trip.

    Absolute do's: sunglasses off, helmet up or off, motor off, be honest/concise but don't rattle on with your life story, have a passport, do not let yourself get flustered by the 'trainee' .... sometimes the questioning can be somewhat surreal but it will pass (I had a senior agent intervene during one odd exchange). - Bob
    saltyfogriders@gmail.com
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  7. #22
    Registered User jgsmith's Avatar
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    I cross into the US several times per year, and I have the unique honor of being on a very bad list for Homeland Security. Its not the no-fly list, but it isn't good either. The truth is that its not even me they're looking for. There just happens to be someone with my first, middle and last name, born on the same day, month and year as me that they want, and each time they scan my passport the agent's eyes light up like a granny in a casino that just hit jackpot. About half the time I get pulled over and seriously interviewed...and by serious I mean 2 or 3 hours...the other half I just get more than the usual number of questions and I'm on my way. I've never been denied entry, but either way, it can put a real dent in your itinerary, especially if you are trying to catch a flight. Anyway, back to the point of the thread. When I approach the border agent, the only thing I do is turn the engine off, remove my sunglasses and hand over my passport. If the agent asks me to remove my helmet, then I do, but not unless asked. No matter what the agent asks, I answer clearly, concisely and politely. No extra information...ever! Think of all those cop shows..."anything you say can and will be used against you". Despite my problems at the border, I think most border agents are doing a good job and are very decent people. I was stuck on the bridge from Sarnia to Port Huron 2 years ago in a huge storm, waiting for over an hour in the lineup, and drenched by the time I got to the agent despite my Aerostich gear. When I handed my passport to the agent, I said that he would see that I resemble someone they are looking for, but it isn't me...ask me anything you want. He said "Don't worry, I'll get you on your way". He looked at my file for a couple minutes, handed me back my passport and wished me a good trip...no questions.

    Ok, one more small story. I got Nexus a couple years ago in the hope that it would alleviate this pain (it didn't) and just last month I was coming back from the Florida Keys where I was on a dive trip, and presented my Nexus card at the Miami airport. The conversation with the person doing the security screening (it was not a border control point) went something like this:

    [Her] "I've never seen one of these...what is it?"

    [Me] "Its pre-clearance for trusted travellers"

    [Her] "Oh, we don't take that here"

    [Me] "It was issued by the US Government"

    [Her] "Sir, do you have a passport?"

    [Me] "Sigh"

    Jim

  8. #23
    Amma Holly's Avatar
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    The Nexus card proved it's worth for me on that Sarnia/Port Huron crossing. I ride an airhead and you know the Blue Water Bridge would take a lot of clutch work to inch up in heavy traffic. Traffic was stopped about 3km from the bridge but the Nexus lane was open and I breezed past, very happy to not be overheating my engine.

    Dallas/Fort Worth airport has no clue about it either, but I've flown out of Denver airport using it.

    Holly
    Volunteer for the 2014 Rally in St. Paul. rallyvolunteer@bmwmoa.org

  9. #24
    Kbiker BCKRider's Avatar
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    two stories

    A group of us in the Valley BMW Riders club had camped just north of the border. Next day we decided to take a day ride down into Washington state. Since I hadn't brought my passport, I rode up first to enquire if I would be admitted. (Should mention that I have dual citizenship - US and Canadian - but no ID with me except a Canadian driver's license and credit cards.) "Well, if you have US citizenship, we can't keep you out." Great! Then the nightmare started. EVERY bike had tank and saddle bags checked. No guns, of course - but we were also asked about "edged weapons." Yes sir, I have a hatchet in my left saddle bag for pounding tent pegs. That was acceptable. Later we found out the two reasons for this close search of a bunch of elderly guys on BMW's: 1. this was a "training" station for new border guards, and 2. a nearby bakery had recently been closed for exporting marijuana brownies. No problem getting back into Canada.

    Several years ago I was VERY concerned about getting back into Canada. I was driving a pickup with a canopy, the bed obviously completely filled and several ladders roped to the boat rack on top. I was also pulling a trailer (no windows) that could have held a couple horses, but in fact was filled with furniture my mom and inlaws couldn't use any longer. Very hard to figure the value of this stuff, but we tried - and we figured to have to pay a large import duty. The border guard spent a couple minutes looking through the windows in the canopy, clearly thought about how he would like to spend the rest of his shift, and asked "are you transporting any live animals?" "No." "OK, you are free to go." WHEW!

    I echo all the previous advice - especially, answer only the question asked. If you smoke and/or drink, many border crossings have "tax free"stores that offer a very substantial savings. Obviously, you should declare these purchases, but only if you are asked. Leave the recreational drugs and guns at home when you come to Canada, or you could be in some very serious trouble.
    Doug
    1992 K100RS

  10. #25
    Certifiable User Mike_Philippens's Avatar
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    I'm still puzzled by all these stories. I was puzzled the first time I went to the US by the form I had to fill in. You have to indicate if you're a terrorist... Well...if I say yes, I'd be sent back (or to Guantanamo), so just say no and blow up everything all the same. What's the point of these silly forms and what's the point in being so rude/formal/agressive at the border? If the US was the safest place on the planet, I'd understand their attempts in keeping it that way. But it isn't and their attempts surely are not going to help. They only make travellers (who intend no harm) apprehensive and thus entice problems at the bordercrossing. People start making jokes or misunderstand something and the official acts like you're the leader of a terrorist group or something.

    Back in the day when we had (real) checkpoints at the borders in Europe it was quite relaxed. I remember the French always being a bit more formal, looking interrogative, but in the end they did nothing weird. But everybody knew that you shouldn't mess with them. They were never agressive or rude.

    I understand that you can't just open your borders, but there's a world of possibilities between opening up completely and scaring off innocent travellers. Because criminals or terrorists are not stopped because of an agressive border official. They'll just ignore it and have their stories together.
    -=- if you always see the road ahead of you, it's not worth the trip -=-

  11. #26
    I like TANG! bubbagazoo's Avatar
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    My first bit of advice for WECM31 would be find a crossing point that isn't usually busy. I don't know how likely that is along the US/Canada border in Ontario but I might suggest the Thousand Islands Bridge just east of Kingston. Or the bridge at Prescott, east of Brockville. My recent personal experience in crossing the land border have all been from Alberta into Montana at Wild Horse, Del Bonita and Carway. Coutts/Sweetgrass south of Lethbridge is the main crossing. The others are quite "isolated". Have all your paperwork ready. They really don't like it if you have to search for your passport. And be courteous.

    Best crossing story I have is on my way to Pocatello, Idaho a few years back for a Rounders get-together, the INS/Customs lady asked where I was going. I told her I was headed for Pocatello. To which she responded, "Why Pocatello? Nobody actually goes there, they just pass through." Had to explain that it was approximately half way between Edmonton and San Diego. To this day, I don't think she figured I was serious.
    Robert
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    ÔÇ£If you get in too far over your head, remember - full throttle and make it spectacular!ÔÇØ http://www.yearroundriders.com

  12. #27
    Registered User lvermiere's Avatar
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    Smile

    Quote Originally Posted by wecm31 View Post
    Getting me and my posse geared up for the ride to the rally in Bloomsburg and a question has come up.

    There will be three of us, each on our own bikes. This will be my first two wheeled border crossing, none of us have any serious issues with legality of the border, but long hair and radical ideas can be problem enough

    The question is, do we process through customs one at a time and regroup on the other side? Or given that we are travelling together for a common purpose, do we ride up together and face the man as a team?? Whats the norm?
    Living on the border I cross every week or so mainly to ride in the US.

    We go in one at a time, sunglasses off and engine off. Usually they ask you to move forward to type in your licence plate number.

    Next they ask for your passport and start the questions. Recently they have been asking to take off the helmet to compare to your passport(even though we 'know' them due to crossing all the time) plus now they are asking to open one of the side bags where they didn't before. They said this is now because they are on camera.

    questions such as where do live, where are you going?, how long?, bringing in anything to plan to leave?, to pick up? and rarely something like 'have you ever been convicted of anything?- all reasonable questions and if answered straight up no problem.

    have a good trip and cheers.

  13. #28
    Rocky Bow BMW Riders #197 bogthebasher's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lvermiere View Post
    Living on the border I cross every week or so mainly to ride in the US.

    We go in one at a time, sunglasses off and engine off. Usually they ask you to move forward to type in your licence plate number.

    Next they ask for your passport and start the questions. Recently they have been asking to take off the helmet to compare to your passport(even though we 'know' them due to crossing all the time) plus now they are asking to open one of the side bags where they didn't before. They said this is now because they are on camera.

    questions such as where do live, where are you going?, how long?, bringing in anything to plan to leave?, to pick up? and rarely something like 'have you ever been convicted of anything?- all reasonable questions and if answered straight up no problem.

    have a good trip and cheers.
    I generally cross into the USA 6-7 times per year (one of which is on my motorcycle). I get the questions as the above post when flying (with or without my SO and for work or not).

    However when crossing on my motorcycle the last three years in a row, I have been asked repeatedly if I have a criminal record, asked why I took so long to get my helmet off and hand over the passport (it is law to wear a helmet in Alberta) and two of the years it was pouring rain. This year I was questioned for 15 minutes and so was the person on another bike who was traveling with me. Neither of us have so much as a speeding ticket on our records, answered questions politely with "no sir", "yes sir", were wearing obvious high vis riding gear without sunglasses and had quiet bikes (BMW, Yamaha) so would not likely be construed as 10%-er by any means. All we wanted to do was enter the great country of USA, ride the many varied and twisty roads, spend some $ on fuel, meals, motels, entertainment and gifts, then return home - nothing out of the ordinary. This year in our May crossing we talked about our treatment at the border for the first three days - we just couldn't understand the (almost) abusive and condescending attitude of the the border official.

    The only difference for the last three years is that I crossed at a reasonable busy Coutts/Sweetgrass crossing whereas I selected 'Del Bonita' to go to the Highway to the Sun previously which is a very sleepy crossing literally in the middle of nowhere.

    Also when crossing back into Canada I have been universally well treated as a returning citizen should.

    Having said all of that, I always treat Police Officers, Border Personnel and Judges with the utmost respect knowing they have a very difficult job and do hold my future in their hands... per my mothers advice.
    Ken
    [2008 R1200RT (Biarritz Blue) - Mine]
    [2007 R1200RT (Sand Biege) - Hers]

  14. #29
    Survivor akbeemer's Avatar
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    We cross the Canadian border 3-4 times a year. Have never had an iota of problem with the crossing in or out of the US. We always ride up together and have never been rebuffed or chastised for doing so.

    Only once was there some tension at a crossing. We were delayed for an hour while trying to enter Canada from Haines, AK on our way to Haines Junction, YT. Someone ahead of us had been caught smuggling a handgun into Canada; a supreme act of stupidity. The staff on duty were all tied up dealing with the situation and had to call in off-duty personnel to deal with the normal traffic. When we at long last approached the Canadian officer manning the border she gruffly asked us, "Have you ever been fingerprinted?" I guess this was an around-about way of asking if we had ever been arrested. She was surprised when Annie and I both said yes. I think she thought she had some American gangsters on her hands. We explained that we both were finger printed multiple times due to our jobs; military, teaching, work in a virus lab. I think she learned something that day.
    Kevin Huddy
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  15. #30
    rabid reader dbrick's Avatar
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    In either direction, do the immigration folks want to see registration or insurance docs too? Or is having passport in hand sufficient?
    David Brick
    Santa Cruz CA
    2007 R1200R

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