Crossing the US-Canadian Border in an RV

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I’ve traveled out of the US numerous times, but we’ve never taken the RV out of the country. That all changed this past summer when we traveled to Niagara Falls, CA. We spent a week in Niagara, with the first half spent on the Canadian and the second half on the American side.

The thought of traveling across the border with the RV was intimidating. I imagined scary scenarios where they would search our camper and keep us in customs for hours. I watched YouTube videos in which people were denied crossing. I read the policies and procedures to ensure the smoothest crossing possible. 

As it turns out, I had little to worry about. We crossed the border into Canada near Buffalo, NY, then traveled back to the US on the Rainbow Bridge, which is much more crowded, but the view makes it worth the wait.

Following these simple steps, we made it across and back in minutes.

Limit the food you are bringing.

Any meat, produce, dairy, plants, or animals must be declared at the border. Having any of those items can increase your risk of being searched. To be safe, we only brought dry goods and non-perishables across the border and purchased our meat, produce, and dairy on the Canadian side.

Bring no firearms or weapons.

If you plan to hunt, you will obviously need to bring your weapons across. Just know you must declare them; border agents will probably want to see them. If you are not planning to hunt, your border crossing will go much smoother if you don’t bring your firearms, crossbows, or any other weapons. This includes bear spray and mace. 

Have all your documentation ready.

In the center console of our truck, I had the following ready to hand to the agent:

  • All our passports open to the photo page and stacked on each other.
  • A paper with photos of the truck and camper license plates (the border agents greatly appreciated this one.)
  • Photocopies of our registration and insurance.

No small talk. Simply answer the questions.

Border agents are busy reviewing thousands of crossings a day. They don’t want to chit-chat, even if you are nervous. Do not joke with them or ask them questions about themselves. Simply wait for them to ask you a question, answer it without elaborating, and NEVER use sarcasm. 

Follow these steps, and your border crossing should go smoothly!