U.S. Customs and Border Protection is reminding all travelers planning trips out of or into the United States to make sure they have proper documents for their travel and to anticipate increased traffic at land border crossings and international airports during the observance of the Christmas and New Year holidays. Visitors and returning residents should prepare for the inspection process before arriving at the inspection booth by having their crossing documents available for presentation and by being prepared to declare all items accompanying the traveler. If bringing presents across the border, ensure that wrappings do not obstruct inspection of the items. Simple alternatives are to leave one end open for inspection or wrap the gift item at your final destination. In compliance with the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative all travelers, including U.S. and Canadian citizens, need to present documentary proof of citizenship. These documents include a Passport, U.S. Passport Card, trusted traveler card (NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST or Global Entry) 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 website for additional information. (getyouhome.gov ) 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. For air travelers, the Global Entry program is designed to offer pre-approved, low-risk, frequent air travelers expedited entry to the United States by means of an automated kiosk.
Travelers can obtain local border traffic conditions by visiting the CBP travel page (http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/travel/) or the Canada Border Services Agency website (http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/). Crossing wait times are updated hourly and posted to these websites.
Travelers can take a few simple steps to help CBP facilitate their entry or re-entry into the U.S.
Tip #1 – Travelers should familiarize themselves with the “Know Before You Go” section of the CBP.gov web site to avoid fines and penalties associated with the importation of prohibited items.
Tip #2 – Travelers should prepare for the inspection process before arriving at the inspection booth and have their crossing documents available for inspection. Be prepared to declare all items acquired abroad. CBP also encourages the traveling public to avoid crossing the border with wrapped Christmas gifts in an effort to expedite their entry into the United States. It would be best to wrap gifts when you arrive at your destination.
Tip #3 – Members of the traveling public should consult the CBP website to monitor border wait times at ports of entry. Information is updated hourly and is useful in planning trips and identifying periods of light traffic/short waits.
Tip #4 – During periods of heavy travel, border crossers may wish to consider alternative, less heavily traveled entry routes.
Tip #5 – Travelers should plan to build extra time into their trips in the event they cross during periods of exceptionally heavy traffic like holiday weekends.
Tip #6 – Know the difference between goods for personal use vs. commercial use.
Tip #7 –Do not attempt to bring fruits, meats, dairy/poultry products and firewood into the United States from Canada without first checking whether they are permitted.