Despite the many differences between Lethbridge, Alberta and Whitehorse, Yukon (my first home as a lawyer), a constant seems to be people get into trouble crossing the US-Canada border into Canada. The following are tips that should make your trips coming back across the border more pleasant and trouble –free:
(1) Identify yourself by your own name at the border.
• Identifying yourself by a false name or by someone else’s name is not a good idea.
(2) When asked if you have certain substances, such as firearms, be honest about whether or not you know whether or not there are firearms in the vehicle.
• Only answer no if you are certain about what is or is not in your vehicle.
• If you don’t know what is in the vehicle or if you didn’t pack the contents of the vehicle or if the contents of the vehicle could have changed after you packed them, tell the office you aren’t sure about what is in the vehicle. You don’t need to offer more information than that.
(3) The same goes for a criminal record – be honest.
• If you’re not sure whether or not you have one tell the border officer that you are not sure. Odds are that the officers at the border can figure it out for you.
(4) Do not bring undeclared firearms, THC gummy bears, marijuana plants, and other such substances into Canada.
• There are a number of offences under the Customs Act and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act that you could be charged with should you find yourself in a position where the border officers believe you are attempting to import illegal or restricted material across the border.
• If the border officers suspect that you are trying to enter Canada with a prohibited substance you will likely be detained for at least a few hours.
• Ask to speak to a lawyer if you believe you are being charged with a statutory or criminal offence or if you are not sure what is going on.
(5) If you have an existing record, some options include applying for a US Entry Waiver or a record suspension.
• Should you suspect you have outstanding warrants or should you not be aware of whether or not you have a criminal record we can likely help you answer those questions.
If you have any questions regarding this article or if you would like more information, please call one of our office locations.