Buffalo, N.Y. - U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reminds travelers planning cross border trips this holiday weekend to make sure they have the proper documents and to plan for a possible increase in traffic. Canadians will celebrate their Thanksgiving on Monday, October 11. Columbus Day is also observed in the United States on Monday and is an official New York State holiday, with most government offices and many schools closed in observation of the holiday. CBP officials want to remind the traveling public that there are a number of steps that can be taken to facilitate their arrival into the United States.
Travelers should check traffic conditions at the four border crossings within the Buffalo/Niagara region and select the crossing that is least congested. Travelers can easily obtain current border traffic conditions by calling the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission's toll free number at (1-800) 715-6722 or by visiting any of the following websites:
Travelers should familiarize themselves with the "Know Before You Go" section of the CBP Web site and consult the Wait Times - Airport and Border page. Wait time information is updated hourly and is useful in identifying periods of light use/short waits. Travelers should have their approved travel- documents available for inspection and be prepared to declare all items acquired outside the U.S.
In compliance with the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) implemented June 1, 2009, all travelers, including U.S. and Canadian citizens, need to present an approved-travel document to enter the U.S. by land and sea. These documents include a valid Passport, U.S. Passport Card, Trusted Traveler card (NEXUS, SENTRI or FAST) or an Enhanced Driver's License. Children under the age of 16 can present an original or copy of their birth certificate. Please visit the WHTI Web site for additional information.
CBP strongly encourages travelers to obtain a radio frequency identification (RFID)-enabled travel document such as a U.S. Passport Card, Enhanced Driver's License/Enhanced Identification Card or Trusted Traveler Program card (NEXUS, SENTRI or FAST/EXPRES) to expedite their entry and make crossing the border more efficient.
WHTI-compliant, RFID-enabled documents help reduce the time it takes to process travelers at the border. No personal identification information is stored on the RFID chip embedded in the cards - only a series of ones and zeros that points to information in a secure CBP database.
WHTI document requirements for air travel have been in effect since January 2007.
CBP also reminds U.S. lawful permanent residents that the I-551 form (green card) is acceptable for land and sea travel into the U.S.
Frequent cross-border travelers are encouraged to participate in the NEXUS program, which allows pre-screened, low-risk travelers to proceed with little or no delay into the United States and Canada. Application forms are available on the Canada Border Services Agency website. Travelers can apply online at the following website. Additionally, NEXUS information is available toll-free at (1-866) NEXUS 26 (1-866-639-8726).
WHTI is the joint Department of State-Department of Homeland Security plan that implemented a key 9/11 Commission recommendation to establish document requirements for travelers entering the United States who were previously exempt, including citizens of the U.S., Canada and Bermuda.