Crossing the US / Canada border. (You should read this.)
Obviously if you travel the border a lot you know this, but there are some “innocent”, “I had no idea” situations which could really screw things up for you now, and in the future.
Border Guards: Are FEDERAL – on both sides. In other words, if you have a serious problem at the border flying up from Atlanta, Georgia into Toronto, Ontario, you may wind up with a possible FEDERAL charge, as the guards do NOT represent neither Georgia, U.S. nor Ontario, Canada regardless of how tiny the crossing may be.
So, some basic stuff.
Guns: Don’t. This works both ways but Canada has some of the toughest gun laws in the world which many Americans don’t realize. For that matter, “stun-guns”, “brass knuckles”, “pepper spray” are all banned in Canada. (Check your purse before crossing!) YES you can bring ‘some guns’, but you MUST check beforehand which ones are allowed. (An AR15 is not going to cross.)
DO tell the first guard you encounter if you have any weapons regardless (including stun guns, brass knuckles, and ‘spray’). This way, they can send them back to US customs and you can pick them up on your way back, no biggie.
If you don’t tell them (and they have the equipment as well as dogs that can smell weapons, money, and drugs), you could be charged with smuggling weapons. Bu-Bye!
Work. Many people don’t realize that “tit for tat” freebee stuff is considered ‘working’. For example, if I have a friend in Washington State who owns a Bed & Breakfast (and I’m from British Columbia, Canada), and we make a deal that if I fix his car in return for a free night’s stay, that ‘could’ be a reason for border security to decline me entry – and flag me for future hassle. (“Compensation for work or service provided” is how they see it – not necessarily just cash money.)
How would they find out?
Well, another thing which many don’t know is the ‘power’ of the Federal Agents at the borders. They actually do have the right to go through your phone, emails, on line postings, laptop, etc. IF you refuse, or refuse to give your passwords (like they need them), then they will simply deny you access and turn you away – which could be a drag after a 6 hr. flight! OR, if they suspect something illegal, throw you in jail and call authorities.
MONEY: Usually, travelling with anything over $10,000 must be declared. If in doubt, just say “yes”. You might have to pay a few bucks on duty. Otherwise, again, it could be lying to a Federal Agent – which is a federal offence, both sides. This includes “gifts” (that diamond bracelet?) “I forgot / didn’t know” doesn’t cut it!
FOOD / DRINK: Again, if unsure, just say “yes”. Worst is they’ll take it off you. Otherwise, your ham sandwich could get you charged / fined for ‘smuggling meat into the country’!
DRUGS: ‘Medical Marijuana’ can NOT be brought across a border. (I suppose you have to make arrangments to purchase on the other side). Bring any prescription I.D. if you need to bring drugs – and claim it right away. Certain drugs are banned – regardless.
Future reference, Canada is supposed to legalize ‘recreational’ marijuana spring, 2017. Washington State already has this in place. IT WILL STILL BE A FEDERAL OFFENCE to bring ‘legal marijuana’ from Canada, into Washington State where it is also ‘legal’. WTF?? This is because, again, the border is under Federal Juisdiction – not local. Remember this!
I know this is a bit of a read and maybe you knew all of this – but hopefully one person got an “Oh! I didn’t know that!” moment from this.