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Readers Respond: Border Crossing Stories

Responses: 205

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Crossing the Canada/US border can be a stressful experience and changes to the passport requirements in 2009 added to the anxiety for many. Do you have a story about crossing the border? Forget your passport? Make a stupid joke? Maybe your story could help someone else, or maybe you just want to get it off your chest. Share Your Story

Harassed at the Canadian Border...

We waited 25 minutes before they called us up, when they did they asked us why we were in CA. we told them about the bird sanctuary, a lady officer asked for our phones, I figured I didn't want to not be cooperative & I had nothing to hide. She proceeded to call me up & question me about some messages on my phone. They were nothing bad, just joking around with a friend. the wording even looked like a joke. She asked me over & over if I do drugs, I said flat out no, I never have, and she didn't believe me. I felt violated, embarrassed, harassed! I can't believe they treat you like a criminal even when you did nothing wrong! She kept insisting that I admit to doing drugs like she was trying to coerce a confession out of me. I am a respectable person that does not deserve to be treated like a criminal or a delinquent druggie! They searched through my purse, made us lift our shirts, searched car & even went thru my camera. We barely had any time at the sanctuary by the time they were done.
—Guest scared shitless

Security is all-powerful 1

Border: Detroit Windsor Tunnel, into Canada Date: about 07/2014 Having travelled to Canada before about a decade ago, I was surprised to find the security so... over-the-top. And abusive. From others' experiences, it really does seem like there's an issue with the Canadian-American border security; this is unchecked power, a police state, and it's really terrifying to see, even in just one border area, such unchecked power and tentative embrace of the police state. Americans have a distrust of their gov't since Nixon, and this is a new, still terrifying development. They say they're protecting us from terrorists; who is protecting us from the gov't? It used to be American liberties, I know. Anyway. What happened to me was shocking and unexpected. This stuff isn't in the news as much as the airlines, and really should be. On the weakest of reasons (related to my valid passport, which works everywhere else including international airlines, and in banks, etc) they searched my car (cont)
—Guest hmm

More Aggravation at the Border

My latest crossing into Canada was via the Sweetgrass/Coutts crossing, and I got hit up for secondary screening. Apparently being single and coming up for a short visit was a red flag and I got the third degree from the customs officer; it was apparent he thought he had caught a live fish running drugs, guns, or other contraband. After demanding my smartphone/iPad/Macbook passwords to look for porn, he than drives my car into a closed garage while I sit in the waiting area. After 30 minutes he comes back out and sends on my way but the process had taken nearly 2 hours from the time I got pulled in. The only other time I got a secondary screening was when I drove from Mexico into the USA but it was fairly speedy and I stayed with the car. The process at Coutts was long, aggravating and I felt like was in a detention center with guards barking at other hapless travelers who didn't give the right answer when interrogated. There’s not even a TV or any amenity in the waiting area.
—Guest markbyrn

Sad situation.

Have experienced several unfortunate incidents with Immigration Officer in Ont. Other guards seem very friendly. Maybe I.O. is the "enforcer".
—Guest Minnesotan

Rude Border Guards

I was recently crossing the border to visit family. I was detained for over an hour and then told they made a mistake and I could go. While waiting however, I witnessed a very power-hungry guard. A bus driver (driving a bunch of kids) had been waiting longer than me for them to print a paper. He was standing up in the waiting area near the desk. The border guard told him to sit down in a commanding tone. The man explained that he was just stretching as he'd been sitting all day. The guard repeated his order adding the threat that if he did not sit, he would never get his papers. A common, unnecessary misuse of power in the land of the "free."
—Guest Jenna

Denied 2x

Been to Canada many times, mainly for work, but when visiting past 2 times, over the past few years for tourism, was denied due to a prior DUI they found out about almost 10 years ago. Travel is not suggested through the smaller border checkpoints where the guards are bored. If you have a prior DUI in the States, you need to go thru the ringer on documents/vetting required to get special permission for both temporary or lifetime entry, and even that is not guaranteed and under extreme scrutiny. It could take you up to 6 months just to prepare the documents and possibly another year to get approval. Suggest you hire an attorney to get the process undertaken, one who is certified/vetted by the CBSA. It's truly not an "Open" border as they say and as many of you can see due to your own experiences. If living in the States, please write to your state and federal attorney general in regards to the issue, or even your local Congressman/Senator, but don't expect any immediate results.
—Guest Keystone

Us border rejection

I have been travelling in the states all my life. I am 61. Yesterday my wife and sister-in-law and I tried to enter at Thousand island bridge. I was flagged by officer and directed inside for a random check Three of us went in and I was singled out and asked if i had ever been convicted of a crime. I said yes, 43 years ago when i was 18, for possession of 5$ worth of pot. I got 9 months probation. As I attempted to tell her that I had looked into a pardon, she immediately told me they do not recognize pardons. I then explained that I don't have a pardon because RCMP computers do not even have a record of my conviction. I have been CPIC cleared at least 30 times as I am a Christian minister who visits every prison in eastern Ontario. I asked the customs agent if it had come up on their computer and she said she was not obliged to tell me that. I am pretty certain it was not there, but she had gone fishing and caught one. Now I need a 660$C waver for 1 year. 6-18months to do. ADIOS USA
—rasby

Password-protect your phones, etc.

Folks: To avoid having your phone contents easily searched you should lock them with a password and do it as a general rule no matter where you are. Think about all that personal info and take it seriously. I think my password saved me a further violation of privacy when they searched my vehicle (see other posting). They'd have to ask for a password and might not feel like it unless they think you're truly dangerous. Also, "Mike" and others who've led flawless lives ought to get reality-checks someday. I hope they get searched by these power-trippers and never get an explanation for why. That alone is irritating. You have no standard search or seizure rights at border crossings now. I'd travel with as little important stuff as possible to minimize aggravation if you do get searched.
—Guest jUSA

I should have read these stories first!

I hadn't been to Canada in decades and only recently got my passport. Crossing into Canada at Douglas near Blaine only took a few minutes, though I got stern questions about guns. But the return crossing in Oroville WA shook me up. I answered basic questions about travel and work, then found myself suddenly forced to forfeit keys & wallet while they searched my vehicle and man-handled my bags and cargo; the most annoying part. They don't care about the time and effort you put into your gear, or keeping it clean. I wasn't allowed to use the bathroom either. They found nothing since I'm not a druggie or criminal, and let me go with weak apologies from one agent. It seemed like a complete waste of time on my end. They may have found me "shady" for being a lone male somewhat scruffy from hiking, with only Canadian sightseeing in mind. Do they assume people must have a "serious" purpose for all trips? If it helps, I may call in advance and ask whether I'll be flagged if I cross again.
—Guest jUSA

Turned away from Canada for...nothing.

I went to Canada from the US for a weekend getaway in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario in August 2009. I thought the crossing would be a breeze, having entered Canada in the past. No problem with passport, background check, luggage search, etc. The Canadian Customs agent simply decided that the fact that I was traveling alone was suspicious, so she denied entry. Then I went over to US Customs to re-enter the US and they checked me out completely, including criminal background check, which was clean. Then they sent me on my way. I never went to Canada ever again.
—Guest manicdrummer

Unprofessional boarder guards

I am from Michigan and a US citizen. I travel to Canada two or three times a year. On the Canadian side of the boarder the female guards are mostly rude and confrontational. I assume it's because a use of some kind of insecurity issues. I try not to judge the whole country by these boarder bullies. But I must add I don't visit as often as I like because I don't like to be bullied. Saying that, the American side of the boarder canbe just as bad. Maybe the job attracts people with low self esteem and insecurity issues. Or people with unsatisfying home lives.
—Guest Dante 11

Afraid To Go Back

Me and my boyfriend took a trip to Canada. We were stopped at the border and accused of smuggling drugs based on having a nice car. They searched us and the car, took our phones and went through them and made us late to our hotel. They were rude, condescending and tried to make me implicate my bf of a non-existent crime. I'm afraid to go back if they decide to do more invasive searches. I don't want to be violated.
—Guest Sarah

I-5 Vancouver Crossing Ordeal

Back in 2008 I drove up to Vancouver to pick up a friend of mine who was going to visit for the weekend. It ended up being a holiday weekend, which I forgot about, and I was stuck in traffic at the border for over an hour; this was after a two hour drive. By the time I got to the border I had to pee like you couldn't believe, and was very much looking forward to using the first restroom I saw on the Canadian side. The guard was a young guy who was very rude to me, and sent me inside for more questioning. I was detained for close to an hour and told I could not use a bathroom. Over and over again they asked me if I'd ever been arrested, and over and over again I told them no. They searched every database they could think of, but could not find any evidence of my imaginary crime. It will be a long time before I visit Canada again, jerks. I hope you get harassed next time you drive down to Seattle.
—Guest John

No entrance. ..Unless u give us money.

In 2005 I came to Vancouver British Columbia to board a cruise ship for an Alaskan cruise. this was my third time to the beautiful country of Canada. The two previous times I had no problems. On the third time however, I was told that I could not enter The country because I had a pending criminal case in the United States. I found this strange because I had not even gone to court here for it yet and knew I was innocent of the charges does Canada not abide by innocent until proven guilty? I was very stressed I had a 7 day $4000 cruise paid for a $500 hotel room paid for in Canada and I had been planning the trip for several months not to mention a girlfriend who had flown in from the east coast to join me and had already passed customs. After discussing my situation with the customs inspector he informed me if I paid $350 to the Government of Canada then they would allow me to enter. Having no choice in the matter I had to pay the money or risk losing my cruise my self respect my mo
—Guest Chuck Bradley

canadian female officers

I go across border to the U.S monthly to shop. I have never had a problem crossing border either state side or back UNTIL I hit a female at the booth! Which I try to avoid them. Its like they have something to prove. I often get groceries and never in my life did I get harassed over buying cheese! UNTIL it was a female. And yes I always bring over a case of beer and always claim it and never get pulled in UNTIL its a female.So tonite coming back to Windsor as she handed me the slip, I told her I never get pulled in for this and she said well consider yourself lucky! And yes I am a female as well. Needless to say I will look very close into those dark windows before I choose my line.
—Guest Lisa

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