Detroit - Planning for crossing the border this Memorial Day weekend - the traditional start of heavy summer cross-border travel - may spare motorists the unwanted angst of a traffic jam. That's the advice from U.S. Customs & Border Protection officials who are gearing up for the upcoming holiday weekend.
"CBP wants to remind travelers that all individuals entering the country must present proof of citizenship when entering the U.S.," said Chief CBP Officer Ron Smith, in Detroit.
Documents that can be used to gain entry into the United States include passports, passcards, enhanced driver's licenses, NEXUS or FAST cards. U.S. and Canadian children under the age of 16, or under the age of 19 if traveling with a school, religious, or other youth group can use a birth certificate.
Those U.S. citizens who travel without the correct documentation can experience delays in their travel as CBP officers verify their identity and citizenship prior to allowing them to continue past the border. Canadian citizens, or other foreign nationals, can face similar delays or they can be refused entry into the United States.
In addition to having the proper documents, planning ahead can expedite crossing.
- "CBP will staff inspection booths commensurate with traffic flow throughout the holiday weekend at all of our ports of entry. CBP reviews historic crossing data, monitors real-time traffic conditions and makes necessary changes in staffing based on that information," said Chief Smith. "Our goal is to facilitate the crossing process for all of our legitimate travelers while still maintaining the security of our borders."
- Travelers should check border traffic conditions to help facilitate their crossings.
- Have travel documents ready before stopping at the inspection booth.
- Be prepared to declare merchandise purchased or acquired in Canada.
- Declare "Duty-Free goods" even if purchased at "Duty-Free" stores.
- Do not attempt to bring unauthorized fruits, meats, and dairy products into the United States.
- Do not attempt to bring Cuban cigars in as they are a prohibited item.
- Even before leaving for the trip, obtain a Know Before You Go brochure available on the CBP Web.
- Don't rely on friends and shopkeepers for advice on what items "will clear inspection"; instead, obtain this information directly from U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
- Understand that, CBP officers have the authority to conduct enforcement inspections ranging from a luggage inspection up to and possibly including a personal search.
For individuals who plan to make the trip back and forth over the bridges frequently this summer, CBP suggested they enroll in the NEXUS program which allows prescreened, low-risk travelers to proceed with little or no delay. Applications are available on the Canadian Border Services Agency Web site and the Customs and Border Protection web site or by calling (866) NEXUS 26 [866-639-8726].
A traveler who knows how to cross the border not only facilitates their own crossing but also that of the other travelers as well as helping Customs and Border Protection be efficient and effective in securing our borders.