Plan ahead to avoid travel delays during the holidays
BLAINE, Wash. — U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Office of Field Operations, is reminding travelers planning trips across the border into the United States this holiday season to make sure they have their proper documents and to plan ahead. Border traffic volumes peak at various times during this period, especially on weekends.
CBP strongly encourages travelers to plan your trip in advance and obtain a radio frequency identification (RFID)-enabled travel document such as an Enhanced Driver’s License/Enhanced Identification Card, U.S. passport card or Trusted Traveler Program card (NEXUS, SENTRI, Global Entry or FAST/EXPRES) to expedite entry and make future border crossings more efficient.
“We encourage all travelers to follow the simple steps outlined below to help facilitate their travel into the United States during this holiday weekend,” said Area Port Director Kenneth L. Williams.
For travelers with RFID-enabled cards, Ready Lanes are open:
- Peace Arch: 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday – Friday
- Lynden: Noon to 4 p.m. Monday – Friday
- Sumas: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday – Friday AND 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
To avoid delays, border crossers may want to use the nearby and less traveled Sumas Port of Entry on State Highway 9 (open seven days per week, 24 hours per day) or the Lynden Port of Entry on State Highway 539 (open from 8 a.m. until midnight).
To avoid potential delays at the border, CBP is urging all foreign travelers requiring I-94 or I-94W (visa waiver) entry document processing to obtain the essential document early instead of waiting until the day of their travel. Travelers are encouraged to obtain the required document as much as a week in advance for faster and more convenient processing. Travelers also have the option of applying and paying for their I-94 via the I-94 website prior to arriving at a land port of entry. A provisional I-94 is issued after submitting their application and paying online. In order to finalize the I-94 issuance process, a traveler must present themselves at a land port of entry within seven days of their application and submit biometrics, if applicable, and be interviewed by a CBP officer. Full details can be found online. All travelers requesting an I-94 or I-94W entry document may be required to establish financial solvency, proof of residency outside the U.S. and demonstrate they have sufficiently strong ties to their country of origin, including a home abroad they do not intend to abandon.
All travelers are reminded of seven simple steps they can employ to cross the border more efficiently:
1. Check out the CBP informational website
The completely redesigned site provides users quick access to the content they need. It also is optimized for access by smart phones and makes use of a new content delivery network that will improve access internationally.
2. Beat the border rush
Cross during off-peak times, such as between the hours of 6 and 8 a.m. or after 5 p.m. Most lines at the border start building in the morning and carry on through the afternoon. Monitor wait times on the internet or via mobile app. The free CBP Border Wait Times app is available at the Apple App Store and Google Play. The app provides estimated wait times and open lane status 24/7 at ports of entry that process commercial vehicles, passenger vehicles, and pedestrians. It breaks down wait times at each crossing by lane type (Standard, Sentri, FAST, Ready Lane, Nexus, etc.). The app does not require individuals to register or provide any personal information. Information is updated hourly and is useful in planning trips and identifying periods of light use/short waits. CBP officials continually monitor border crossing times at area ports of entry and plan to fully staff all inspection lanes during peak periods to maintain the flow of traffic.
3. Keep travel documents handy
Make sure each passenger has the correct travel document accessible and ready to give to the CBP officer. If you are a frequent international traveler and have not already become a member of a trusted traveler program, sign up now. For more information, please visit CBP’s Trusted Traveler site.
4. Know the contents of your vehicles and be prepared to declare all items
Travelers are required to declare all items being imported into the United States from Canada. If you are not sure about what to declare, do not hesitate to ask the CBP officer.
5. Declare all firearms
Travelers are reminded that specific requirements must be met to import or export firearms and ammunition to/from the United States. For more information on the importation or exportation of firearms and ammunition, visit the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; State Department; and Commerce Department websites or contact CBP at 406-453-7631.
6. Know what food products can be imported
Many fruits, meats, dairy and poultry products are prohibited from being imported into the United States from Canada. For more information, view prohibited and restricted items and foods permitted into U.S. for personal use.
7. Leave medical marijuana at home
Although medical marijuana is legal in many U.S. states and Canada, the sale, possession, production and distribution of marijuana all remain illegal under federal law.
For more information on international travel into the United States, visit CBP’s Travel site.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.