The CBSA gives tips for a smoother trip this Thanksgiving and Columbus Day long weekend
October 3, 2023
The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) reminds travellers that the Canadian Thanksgiving and US Columbus Day long weekend is a busy time at the border. There are a few things you should know before you go.
Across the country, CBSA front line employees are keeping harmful goods out of Canada, while ensuring legitimate travel and trade can continue efficiently and safely. In 2022, we facilitated the arrival of over 60 million travellers while keeping more than 1,100 firearms and 24,400 prohibited weapons off our streets and seized over 41,000 kg of illegal drugs. Over the Canadian Labour Day long weekend, our officers welcomed 1.34 million travellers while keeping wait times to a minimum.
The CBSA invests significant effort planning and preparing for peak periods, such as holiday long weekends. We monitor traveller volumes and work hard to minimize border wait times at ports of entry, including international airports, without compromising safety and security.
Help us by coming prepared! For a smoother trip, you should:
Plan ahead and check our border wait times web page. Travellers crossing the border by land are encouraged to cross during non-peak hours such as early morning. The Monday of holiday long weekends tends to be the busiest – pick another day to cross the border if you can.
Looking for a port of entry’s hours of operation? Always best to check the official CBSA Directory of Offices and Services for this information. And, if you are using a GPS application (such as Google Maps, Apple Maps, or Waze) to direct you to a port of entry, consider checking different navigation options, such as fastest and shortest routes.
Save time with Advance Declaration. Travellers arriving at the Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, Winnipeg, Halifax, Québec City, Ottawa, Billy Bishop, Calgary and Edmonton international airports can make their customs and immigration declaration to the CBSA prior to their arrival using Advance Declaration. Travellers who use this option have access to express lanes to get to an airport kiosk or eGate faster.
Have your travel documents handy. Whether travelling by land, air or water, you can help speed things up by coming prepared with your travel documents.
Bringing turkey across the border? Poultry products must be retail packaged for human consumption, and labelled as a "Product of the USA". Homemade food or leftovers containing poultry cannot be brought into Canada. Check the latest Information for travellers: Restrictions on poultry and birds from the United States before bringing these products across the border.
When travelling with children, it is recommended that the accompanying adult have a consent letter authorizing them to travel with the child if they share custody or are not the parent or legal guardian. Border services officers are always watching for missing children, and in the absence of the letter, officers may ask additional questions.
Know your exemption limits. Returning residents who make purchases or pick up online purchases outside of Canada should be aware of their personal exemption limits. Use the CBSA duty and taxes estimator to help calculate your monies owed.
Cannabis: Don’t bring it in. Don’t take it out. Bringing cannabis across the border in any form, including oils containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or cannabidiol (CBD), without a permit or exemption authorized by Health Canada is a serious criminal offence subject to arrest and prosecution, despite the legalization of cannabis in Canada. A medical prescription from a doctor does not count as Health Canada authorization.
Be prepared to declare. All travellers must declare their goods upon entry into Canada. For returning residents, have your receipts readily available for goods purchased or received while outside of Canada. You are encouraged not to travel with firearms, but if you choose to do so, be sure to check the CBSA website for the rules on importing firearms and other restricted and prohibited goods.
Boaters planning to travel in or near Canadian waters, or enter Canada by boat should review Reporting requirements for private boaters before making travel plans. All travellers entering Canada by boat must report to the CBSA without delay.
Declare any foods, plants, or animals. Consult the Automated Import Reference System (AIRS) on the Canadian Food Inspection Agency website before bringing any food, plant, and animal products into Canada.
Not sure? Ask a border services officer. The best thing you can do to save time is to be open and honest with the CBSA officer. If you are not sure about what to declare, don't hesitate to ask. Our officers are here to help!
For more information, visit the CBSA website or call us at 1-800-461-9999.
For more information or to schedule an interview with a CBSA representative, please contact:
Canada Border Services Agency
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