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Crossing to US from BC - easy or hard

Crossing to US from BC - easy or hard

Old Jun 20th 2010, 10:54 pm
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Default Crossing to US from BC - easy or hard

Hello

Next week I am considering a trip to Seattle from Vancouver.
Never having crossed by land before, is there a consensus out there on the experience?
Bad times to go re. a queue? (We are planning early Sat am)
Papers - do they still need the visa waiver & if so how long has it taken others?
We will be - British passport & visitor to Canada, plus one British passport & Canadian PR.

Thanks
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Old Jun 20th 2010, 10:59 pm
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Default Re: Crossing to US from BC - easy or hard

Originally Posted by Bali2010 View Post
Hello

Next week I am considering a trip to Seattle from Vancouver.
Never having crossed by land before, is there a consensus out there on the experience?
Bad times to go re. a queue? (We are planning early Sat am)
Papers - do they still need the visa waiver & if so how long has it taken others?
We will be - British passport & visitor to Canada, plus one British passport & Canadian PR.

Thanks
Waiting time will depending in which crossing you are using. Huntingdon is usually the quickest and Peace Arch & Pac Highway the longest. PR will require proof of PR, such as PR card, always best to take a passport along for back up. Visitor will be asked to go into immigration, pay the fee and get an entry card.

If going by car, wait until the border officer asks your visitor to go into immigration, tell them not to jump out of the car and run toward the immigration office (my bro did this recently). You cannot imagine all the mayhem that will rain down on you!
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Old Jun 20th 2010, 11:38 pm
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Default Re: Crossing to US from BC - easy or hard

Originally Posted by The Aviator View Post
Waiting time will depending in which crossing you are using. Huntingdon is usually the quickest and Peace Arch & Pac Highway the longest. PR will require proof of PR, such as PR card, always best to take a passport along for back up. Visitor will be asked to go into immigration, pay the fee and get an entry card.

If going by car, wait until the border officer asks your visitor to go into immigration, tell them not to jump out of the car and run toward the immigration office (my bro did this recently). You cannot imagine all the mayhem that will rain down on you!
Thanks, really useful....re. your brother - I have images of armed guards surrounding him
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Old Jun 21st 2010, 2:31 am
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Default Re: Crossing to US from BC - easy or hard

Originally Posted by Bali2010 View Post
Thanks, really useful....re. your brother - I have images of armed guards surrounding him
You're not far off. It created quite a stir and a lot of questions.
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Old Jun 21st 2010, 3:27 am
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Default Re: Crossing to US from BC - easy or hard

Originally Posted by The Aviator View Post
Waiting time will depending in which crossing you are using. Huntingdon is usually the quickest and Peace Arch & Pac Highway the longest. PR will require proof of PR, such as PR card, always best to take a passport along for back up. Visitor will be asked to go into immigration, pay the fee and get an entry card.

If going by car, wait until the border officer asks your visitor to go into immigration, tell them not to jump out of the car and run toward the immigration office (my bro did this recently). You cannot imagine all the mayhem that will rain down on you!
You need a passport as well as your PR card. Plus as PR you pay the fee, so the PR and the visitor will be lining up together in immigration.
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Old Jun 21st 2010, 4:46 am
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Default Re: Crossing to US from BC - easy or hard

Depending what time you are going, and what for, the train is a great option for a weekend away to Seattle and MUCH easier on the whole border thing.
You sail past the traffic queue.

It's also heavily subsidised and dirt cheap. Something silly like thirty bucks return, which is a great deal for a scenic ride down the coast.

Just a thought.

Cheers, Iain
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Old Jun 21st 2010, 6:01 am
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Default Re: Crossing to US from BC - easy or hard

Originally Posted by Iain Mc View Post
Depending what time you are going, and what for, the train is a great option for a weekend away to Seattle and MUCH easier on the whole border thing.
You sail past the traffic queue.

It's also heavily subsidised and dirt cheap. Something silly like thirty bucks return, which is a great deal for a scenic ride down the coast.

Just a thought.

Cheers, Iain
Where do you get the train from? I'm guessing from Vancouver?

Just expect to be interrogated!
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Old Jun 21st 2010, 11:26 am
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Default Re: Crossing to US from BC - easy or hard

Originally Posted by minimeeze View Post
Where do you get the train from? I'm guessing from Vancouver?

Just expect to be interrogated!
Took the train last weekend. Was very nice after the border crossing. Myself and OH were both visitors to Canada, and had our US$6 each ready at the US Customs & Border Protection room in the Vancouver train station, only to be told that they did not accept the US$1 coin (or US$10 bill either...I didn't care about getting change, "no it has to be $6!")...so after much annoyance a Vancouver train station security guard swapped my coin for a dollar bill he had on him, luckily. I'm guessing the CBP officer wasn't familiar with 31 U.S.C. § 5103 that says the US government must accept US bills and coins to settle debts, but I digress.

Once properly across the border the train stops for about 5 mins in Blaine for a quick inspection by yet more customs officers (presumably as they now actually have legal authority to arrest you unlike whilst in Canada.) The journey after that is pretty uneventful, but quite beautiful.

We returned to Canada via Greyhound, which was quite an experience... Seattle bus station is...not great to say the least... but the journey itself was quite nice, especially after all the Americans had left the bus after Bellingham (which included yet another visit from US CBP officers...) The border crossing back into Canada was very pleasant and quite speedy (although it was 10pm by then) and the Canadian officials were very nice (even managed to crack a small joke about our time in Seattle being quite dull..."sounds about right").

Just remembered my OH told me that the CBP officer mentioned not needing to pay the $6 if you had registered for ESTA whilst I was trying to find my dollar bill (which we had done even though the website said it was unnecessary...my OH was unaware that we had though, but surely the officer would have known this when she scanned our passports). I'm pretty sure from what I've read however that this is complete nonsense...
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Old Jun 21st 2010, 3:53 pm
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Default Re: Crossing to US from BC - easy or hard

Yeah, it's the old central train station (now also the Greyhound terminal) near Science World; it's a grand old building (as in Seattle). As BTJ mentions the customs clearance is in the station (in both directions) as there are no stops on the Canadian side before the border.

There's still only one train a day there and back (I believe) but plans are afoot to expand the service. Or at least they keep talking about it every once in a while.

If I recall correctly the service down to Seattle is in the evening and the one back to Vancouver is early morning. We went down Friday night and came back Monday morning last time we went; you do travel through some beautiful scenery.

Cheers, Iain
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Old Jun 21st 2010, 4:13 pm
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Default Re: Crossing to US from BC - easy or hard

Originally Posted by Iain Mc View Post
There's still only one train a day there and back (I believe) but plans are afoot to expand the service. Or at least they keep talking about it every once in a while.

If I recall correctly the service down to Seattle is in the evening and the one back to Vancouver is early morning. We went down Friday night and came back Monday morning last time we went; you do travel through some beautiful scenery.

Cheers, Iain
There are two trains a day at the moment. One in the morning and one in the evening in both directions. The extra train was added for the Olympics and is being continued over the summer. It is due for review in September I think.
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Old Jun 21st 2010, 4:28 pm
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Default Re: Crossing to US from BC - easy or hard

Originally Posted by Bali2010 View Post
Bad times to go re. a queue? (We are planning early Sat am)
The bad time is a Saturday morning. Unless you are there very early a 2 hour wait is not at all unusual at Peace Arch or PAC Hwy. News 1130 AM gives regular updates on wait times and there are electronic signboards on Hwy 99 and Hwy 17 as you approach the border. The best time to cross southbound is a weekday evening when you can often drive right up to the booths.

As for documents the US people don't need to see your PR card. That is for getting back into Canada. If you are traveling on a British passport you will be sent into the office to pay your $6.00, get your I-94 visa waiver and possibly be photographed and fingerprinted.

CBP are very serious people if you try to mess them about but are usually fine if you do as they say and answer their questions properly. However, the odds of getting a smile about 10 to 1.

I always enjoy visiting Seattle and I hope you have a good time too.
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Old Jun 21st 2010, 10:08 pm
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Default Re: Crossing to US from BC - easy or hard

Thank you all for the advice.

I will remind my sis to take her passport + PR card.
I have my ESTA & so will she but I thought the land was still on the old visa waiver form so will be ready for that too.
I considered the train, but will have more flexibility on going home (Kelowna) by car.

I'll keep looking at the times for crossing, but it will probably be very early saturday - i.e. getting up UK time, but we will check out the queues & if too bad we may just go into Vancouver instead.

I now just have to find the exact change in USD.

thanks again
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Old Jun 21st 2010, 10:51 pm
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Default Re: Crossing to US from BC - easy or hard

Last time I went down was about two years ago, crossing at Kingsgate near Cranbrook into Idaho on a weekday, mid morning. We only had 4 cars ahead waiting for inspection. I had a third degree grilling from the US guards as it would appear my I -94 from my last visit to to states hadn't registered in the system & I was shown as still being in the US. After around 15 minutes I was allowed on my way once they were satisfied I hadn't overstayed.

Returning to Canada via Rykerts near Creston took about ten seconds! There was no line up whatsoever & the Canadian guard never even asked for our passports although he had a quick scan of my Wal -Mart receipt.

Usually, the rural crossing are always quieter as you would expect.

Last edited by castra; Jun 21st 2010 at 10:53 pm. Reason: typo
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Old Jun 21st 2010, 10:54 pm
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Default Re: Crossing to US from BC - easy or hard

Originally Posted by Bali2010 View Post
Thank you all for the advice.

I will remind my sis to take her passport + PR card.
I have my ESTA & so will she but I thought the land was still on the old visa waiver form so will be ready for that too.
I considered the train, but will have more flexibility on going home (Kelowna) by car.

I'll keep looking at the times for crossing, but it will probably be very early saturday - i.e. getting up UK time, but we will check out the queues & if too bad we may just go into Vancouver instead.

I now just have to find the exact change in USD.

thanks again
Check before you go
http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/general/times/menu-e.html
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Old Jun 22nd 2010, 12:07 am
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Default Re: Crossing to US from BC - easy or hard

Originally Posted by The Aviator View Post
thanks for the link
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