Border Crossing Process by Sam Stone

We still have the challenge of getting into Canada, whether by plane, car or for most of us by boating. To make that easier for you, if you decide to go tomorrow, here is what you will need to prepare in advance.

  • 1. Get vaccinated and have your original record(s) with you when you travel. Not only will you add those to the ArriveCan app in advance, but you will need to have the originals with you to enter any restaurant or show a customs agent if they request. Canadians have a QR code on their original vaccination paper document(s) and BC has created an app specifically for using that QR code for BC residents.

2. Get a Covid PCR test (this is not the same as an antigen test) within 72 hours of either takeoff if flying or checking in at customs. The test requires that you to go to certain specific testing locations in your county. You can see locations at the site below, but do note that some locations ONLY offer the antigen test, others only take symptomatic or ill patients, and many require an appointment. You can look up testing sites here, but again be sure to determine if the site will do travel testing. Results are usually back in 24-48 hours. Ours were back in less than 24 hours, and we went to the Bellingham airport location. .

3. Determine which Canadian ports of entry are still allowing boater check-in. For example, Poet’s Cove and Montegue are closed for entry, however you can go to Van Isle or Sidney to check in if that’s on your way north. You can also look at this site and sort based on your entry point. .

4. Download and fill out the information in the ArriveCan app. which requires all information be entered and transmitted, prior to your arrival. The app is available on the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store. The ArriveCAN iPhone app is compatible with any iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad running iOS 12.0 or later. On Android, the app requires Android version 6.0 or newer.

You will be asked about:

Covid symptoms, if any.
Your vaccination status and which brand you received
Your Covid test which is currently needed within 72 hours of entry
Your boat’s registration #, hull number and other specific data for your boat
The same personal information you gave previously when traveling to Canada
Your Port of Entry, and make sure this is where you want to go. Again, not all entry points are open, thus a reduced alphabetical listing in the app from which you can select the correct location.
A quarantine plan if they require you to quarantine for 7 to 14 days
Nexus or passport information
Last, but not least, a copy of your vaccination card. This is quite simple as the app allows you to hover over it with your phone or iPad, just as you would if submitting a check for deposit. The camera will focus and do the work for you.

If you don’t have 100% of the information the first time, the app allows you to save your information, and come back later to finish entering. You do need to submit the information on the app as soon as you have it all loaded, and prior to entry into Canada

5. When arriving, don’t expect to see a customs agent on the dock. You will need to use the phone on the customs dock (not your personal cell) to call an 800# listed on the phone station. Be prepared to wait! Holding on the phone for up to an hour was not unusual just after Labor Day, so dress for the weather, grab a folding chair and a bottle of water. And above all DON’T hang up or you will lose your place in line on the phone.
They will ask some of the usual questions about:
• Where are you going, how long will you be in Canada, and the purpose of your trip.
• Do you have any guns and how much money are you bringing in.
• They will remind you that marijuana, THC and CBD are illegal to bring to Canada and ask if you have any.
• Specific food items don’t seem to be a problem any longer, as long as all the food you bring is for your personal consumption and not for resale.
• It is recommended that you leave meat and other previously forbidden food products in their original containers in case you do get inspected.
• There were no questions about pets, though you should have a current rabies certificate or other documentation you previously supplied.

It has been rumored that sometime in December, Canada will no longer require the PCR test within 72 hours of travel. Time will tell if that becomes their new standard.