Entry Requirements & Customs in British Columbia | Frommer's (2022)

Passports

All persons traveling between the United States and Canada are required to present a passport or other valid travel document. A birth certificate and photo ID are no longer accepted for crossing the border by land or sea, as of June 1, 2009.

Other valid travel documents include passport cards (a new high-tech identity card, which can speed up entry at U.S. land and sea ports of entry); enhanced driver's licenses; trusted traveler cards such as NEXUS, FAST, or SENTRI; a valid Merchant Mariner Document (MMD) when traveling in conjunction with official maritime business; or a valid U.S. Military identification card when traveling on official orders.

Permanent U.S. residents who aren't U.S. citizens must be prepared to present their Alien Registration Cards (green cards). If you plan to drive into Canada, be sure to bring your car's registration papers and proof of insurance.

Children under the age of 16 (or anyone under 19, if traveling with a school, religious group, or other youth group) need only present a birth certificate or naturalization certificate. Birth certificates can be an original, photocopy, or certified copy.

An important point: Any person under 18 traveling alone requires a letter from a parent or guardian granting him or her permission to travel to Canada. The letter must state the traveler's name and the duration of the trip. It's essential that teenagers carry proof of identity, usually a passport, though see the above website for alternatives; otherwise, their letter is useless at the border.

For information, please contact the following agencies:

For Residents of Australia -- Contact the Australian Passport Information Service at tel. 131-232, or visit the government website at www.passports.gov.au.

For Residents of Ireland -- Contact the Passport Office, Setanta Centre, Molesworth Street, Dublin 2 (tel. 01/671-1633; www.irlgov.ie/iveagh).

For Residents of New Zealand -- Contact the Passports Office at tel. 0800/225-050 in New Zealand or 04/474-8100, or log on to www.passports.govt.nz.

For Residents of the United Kingdom -- Visit your nearest passport office, major post office, or travel agency, or contact the United Kingdom Passport Service at tel. 0870/521-0410 or search its website at www.ukpa.gov.uk.

For Residents of the United States -- To find your regional passport office, either check the U.S. State Department website or call the National Passport Information Center's toll-free number (tel. 877/487-2778) for automated information.

Bringing Children into Canada

If you are traveling with children under age 18, you must carry identification for each child. Passports are best, though birth certificates are still accepted for children under 16. Divorced parents who share custody of their children should carry copies of the legal custody documents. Adults who are not parents or guardians should have written permission from the parents or guardians to supervise the children. When traveling with a group of vehicles, parents or guardians should travel in the same vehicle as the children when arriving at the border. Customs officers are looking for missing children and may ask questions about the children who are traveling with you.

Visas

Citizens of the U.S., most European countries, most former British colonies, and certain other countries (Israel, Korea, and Japan, for instance) do not need visas but must carry passports to enter Canada. Entry visas are required for citizens of more than 130 countries. Entry visas must be applied for and received from the Canadian embassy in your home country. For more information on entry requirements to Canada, see the Citizenship and Immigration website visitors' services page at www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/index.asp.

Citizens of the U.S., most European countries, most former British colonies and certain other countries (Israel, Korea, and Japan, for instance) do not need visas but must carry passports to enter Canada. Entry visas are required for citizens of more than 130 countries. Entry visas must be applied for and received from the Canadian embassy in your home country. For more information on entry requirements to Canada, see the Citizenship and Immigration website visitors' services page at www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/index.asp.

Customs

What You Can Bring into Canada --Customs regulations are very generous in most respects but get pretty complicated when it comes to firearms, plants, meats, and pets. You can bring in free of duty up to 50 cigars, 200 cigarettes, and 200 grams (about a half-pound) of tobacco, providing you're over 18. Those of age (18 or 19, depending on the province) are also allowed about 1.15 liters (39 oz.) of liquor, 1.5 liters (51 oz.) of wine, or 24 355-milliliter (12-oz.) containers of beer or ale. Dogs, cats, and most pets can enter Canada with their owners, though you must have proof of rabies vaccinations within the last 36 months for pets over 3 months old.

Canada has complex requirements, restrictions, and limits that apply to importing meat, eggs, dairy products, fresh fruits and vegetables, and other food from around the world. You can avoid problems by not bringing such goods into Canada.

As for firearms, visitors can bring rifles into Canada during hunting season and for the purposes of hunting. Handguns and automatic rifles are generally not allowed. Fishing tackle poses no problems, but the bearer must possess a nonresident license for the province or territory where he or she plans to use it. For a clear summary of Canadian rules, write for the booklet I Declare, issued by the Canada Border Service Agency (tel. 800/461-9999 within Canada, or 204/983-3500; www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca). It's available as a download at www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/publications/pub/bsf5056-eng.html#P021.

What You Can Take Home from Canada --U.S. Citizens: Returning U.S. citizens who have been away for at least 48 hours are allowed to bring back, once every 30 days, US$800 worth of merchandise duty-free. You'll be charged a flat rate of 3% duty on the next US$1,000 worth of purchases. Be sure to have your receipts handy. With some exceptions, you cannot bring fresh fruits and vegetables into the United States. Travelers 18 and older are allowed to bring back 100 cigars, or 200 cigarettes duty-free, and those over 21 can bring back 1 liter of alcohol, as well. For specifics on what you can bring back and the corresponding fees, download the invaluable free pamphlet Know Before You Go online at www.cbp.gov. (Click on "Travel," and then click on "Know Before You Go!") Or contact the U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP), 1300 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20229 (tel. 877/287-8667; www.cbp.gov), and request the pamphlet.

U.K. citizens returning from Canada have a Customs allowance of 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250 grams of smoking tobacco; 2 liters of still table wine; 1 liter of spirits or strong liqueurs (over 22% volume); 2 liters of fortified wine, sparkling wine, or other liqueurs; 60cc (mL) perfume; 250cc (mL) of toilet water; and £145 worth of all other goods, including gifts and souvenirs. People under 17 cannot have the tobacco or alcohol allowance. For more information, contact HM Customs & Excise at tel. 0845/010-9000 (from outside the U.K., 020/8929-0152), or consult their website at www.hmce.gov.uk.

Australian Citizens: The duty-free allowance in Australia is A$900 or, for those under 18, A$450. Citizens can bring in 250 cigarettes or 250 grams of loose tobacco, and 2.25 liters of alcohol (for travelers 18 and older). If you're returning with valuables you already own, such as foreign-made cameras, you should file form B263. A helpful brochure available from Australian consulates or Customs offices is Know Before You Go. For more information, call the Australian Customs Service at tel. 1300/363-263, or log on to www.customs.gov.au.

New Zealand Citizens: The duty-free allowance for New Zealand is NZ$700. Citizens over 17 can bring in 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars, or 250 grams of tobacco (or a mixture of all three if their combined weight doesn't exceed 250g), plus 4.5 liters of wine and beer, or 1.125 liters of liquor. New Zealand currency does not carry import or export restrictions. Fill out a certificate of export, listing the valuables you are taking out of the country; that way, you can bring them back without paying duty. Most questions are answered in a free pamphlet available at New Zealand consulates and Customs offices: New Zealand Customs Guide for Travellers, Notice no. 4. For more information, contact New Zealand Citizens: New Zealand Customs, The Customhouse, 17-21 Whitmore St., Box 2218, Wellington (tel. 04/473-6099 or 0800/428-786; www.customs.govt.nz).

Medical Requirements

Unless you're arriving from an area known to be suffering from an epidemic (particularly cholera or yellow fever), inoculations or vaccinations are not required for entry into Canada. If you are traveling under a South African passport and intend to stay more than 6 months in Canada, you may be asked to pass a medical exam.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

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