Crossing the Border with Your RV

By Samantha Lemna  | 
Mar 09, 2016

 If you head south in your RV during the winter to escape the cold or just like to enjoy America's beautiful nature when you can, you're going to have deal with border crossings. From the lineups and long waits to the questions and searches, border crossings can be stressful. But with a little bit of preparation and knowing what to expect, your border crossing can go much smoother. Here's what you need to consider when crossing the border with your RV.

General Border Crossing Tips

At the border, your RV is considered a vehicle and you can go into any line unless otherwise indicated. For larger RVs, you may want to go in the dedicated bus or RV lane (if there is one) in case your RV is too wide for regular car lanes. You can also take a truck lane, but this is generally slower moving.

As you wait, get your passports ready for everyone in the vehicle. If you're travelling with children, talk to them about the border crossing process and have them turn off their electronics. Remind them to be respectful and answer any questions the border agents ask them. If you're travelling with pets, make sure you have all of the veterinarian papers in order and easily reachable, including vaccination records. You should also have your insurance papers handy and know your license plate number as it cannot always be seen by the cameras.

You will need to tell the border agents your travel plans, including specific RV parks you'll visit and corresponding dates. It's best to have everything written out so you can easily tell them what they need to know.

Even if you’re totally upfront, a border agent may still request a vehicle search. If your RV is searched, you’ll be expected to repack it, just like a suitcase at the airport.

Food at the Border Crossing

Before you leave for your trip, research what food you can take across the border. A good trick is to write a list of all the meat, fruit, vegetables, alcohol and tobacco products you're taking with you while you pack. You can give the list to the agent.

Keep in mind that citrus fruit is never allowed to cross the border and pet food that is not in its original bag may be confiscated. Check out this website for more information.

It's easiest to buy your food once you're across the border and just bring some snacks or the basics for the drive down.

Considerations While Not in Canada

When travelling in the U.S. with your RV, ensure you have proper RV insurance coverage by talking to your broker. This coverage can help you if your RV breaks down, you get into an accident, or you suffer storm damage while you're travelling.

Keep in mind that if you are continuing on to Mexico or any other southern destination, you'll need to purchase additional insurance. Mexican RV insurance is sold in six or twelve-month terms and costs roughly $100 for every $10,000 you choose to insure. A good extra insurance package will allow you the option of bringing your vehicle back to the U.S.

You will also want to invest in travel medical insurance, as medical care in America is prohibitively expensive and provincial health care plans cover very little of any emergency expenses. Travel medical insurance will ensure that you can get any emergency care you require due to illness or accident.

Returning to Canada

If you’ve purchased items while in the U.S., make a list including all of the items and what you paid for them. There are limits as to the value of items purchased in the US that you can bring back into Canada before you will be charged duty fees. At present, the limit is $800 per person after 48 hours outside of Canada. Remember, that alcohol and tobacco have different rules and limits and there are hefty fees for going over the limit. Also, keep a log of any repairs or parts you purchased for your RV while in the U.S., as you’ll need to claim this as part of what you spent while travelling in America.

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