General chatter - Crossing US/Canada border rules... (VT/NY)

11-30-2011, 07:40 AM
Hey all, just wondering if anyone can help me out here. I can call later on today but just planning a trip into Vermont and would love some advice.

- What websites are best for showing the border wait times into the USA?

- Can I bring my son?? (17 months old, no passport for him, I have his birth cert. but he has his father's surname not mine - we are not married but still together, most women in Quebec have different surnames than their kidss). If not that's fine, I can leave him with my father in law for the day.

- How much can I bring back $?

Finally..... any tips/advice for VT or upstate NY (spec. Plattsburgh)? Restaurant ideas? Stores? It's been years since I've been to the US and I was on the west coast, so Seattle was my main hangout. This is new for me.

11-30-2011, 08:44 AM
You can't bring your son.He would need a passport and probably certified permission from the father to cross the border.
The others I am not sure about.

11-30-2011, 08:54 AM
Ah okay thank you! That's okay... at least I get some mommy time ALONE, LOL! So passport for all car/land crossings now? Hmm. I guess I better renew mine soon, expires in Sept 2012 :(

11-30-2011, 09:03 AM
No rush lol that is almost a year away. Getting a new passport takes about a month.

11-30-2011, 11:58 AM
The last time I crossed the border, it was at Niagara Falls and Port Huron, so I can't help you with the northern NY/VT crossing specifically.

If you're going to Plattsburgh, the Naked Turtle is a good place to eat. They have live music sometimes, too. In Burlington, there's lots of stuff to do - the Vermont Teddy Bear factory tour, Ben & Jerry's tour, the Shelburne Museum, Magic Hat brewery.

Have fun, and enjoy your mommy time!

11-30-2011, 01:09 PM
You will need to be prepared to show strong ties to Canada if the officers at the border requests it. Letter of employment, lease or title of home, child birth certificate (if the child is not traveling with you) are good documents to prove ties to Canada.

I would caution against carrying a large amount of money because it could be seen as an intent to immigrate unlawfully. Your Canadian credit cards will work just fine in the US and you can use your debit card to withdraw cash in any atms here.

Any prior convictions like DWI or drug use could cause you some problems at the border.

Good Luck.

11-30-2011, 09:36 PM
Wow! This seems waaay harder than what we do here. We live only approx. 1hr from the border and cross every month or so. Everyone needs a passport and if you travel with just your children, there is a form on the Canadian Border/Gvt website (sorry, can't remember the exact site) that your partner fills out and signs. If you go for just the day, you cannot bring back any tobacco or booze (darn, 'cause it's way cheaper down there!!). I think it's $75 each person can bring back if you are gone 24 hrs or less. If it's over 48hrs then you can bring back 1 litre of booze and up to $750 (Double-check this.) Hope that helps!!

11-30-2011, 09:37 PM
PS. We cross at 2 different smaller points of entry so maybe where you are, things may be a bit more difficult!!

11-30-2011, 09:53 PM
Border crossings can be interesting. I once worked with a girl origionally from Thailand who had moved to the US. She met a nice American boy who proposed to her and gave her a sizeable diamond engagement ring.As time went on she at one point flew to Canada to visit relatives living there. The Canadian officials were sure there was something fishy about this young , skinny Thai girl wearing this big rock. They confiscated her ring !
She was able to eventually get it back but her husband had to show them the receipt that showed he had actually purchased it and had given it to her as an engagement ring. Now when she travels she leaves the ring at home.

11-30-2011, 10:48 PM
I crossed the border for a day trip from VT early last year. It was painless- absolutely no one in line (we were in a car) and only one question- What are you doing?- then looked at our passports. When we returned to cross back later that day they asked us if we purchased any firearms, other items, we said no, and on we went. They didn't check the car.

I'm a US citizen but I can't imagine the process would be any more difficult for a Canadian crossing to the US!

Neither the US nor Canada are worried about illegal immigration from one country's citizens to their own. What would raise concern are individuals from other countries with high rates of asylum applications, visa overstays, etc.

11-30-2011, 11:22 PM
This is from Canada Border Services Agency

"Land and water ports of entry
(Effective June 1, 2009)

Canadian citizens are required to present one of the following valid WHTI-compliant documents when entering the United States by land or water:

a passport;
a NEXUS card;
a Free and Secure Trade (FAST) card;
an enhanced driver's licence (EDL) or enhanced identification card (EIC) from a province where a U.S.-approved EDL/EIC program has been implemented; or
a Secure Certificate of Indian Status.

Canadian citizens aged 15 years or under are only required to present proof of Canadian citizenship, such as an original or a photocopy of a birth certificate, or an original citizenship card, when entering the United States by land or water.

We strongly recommend that children travelling abroad carry a consent letter from every person with the legal right to make major decisions on their behalf, if that person is not accompanying the children on the trip. For example, children travelling alone, with groups, or with only one of their custodial parents should travel with a consent letter.

The parentsí full name, address and telephone number should be included in the consent letter."

It really depends on the guard about whether they will give you a hard time or not. I feel that the American border guards are a little bit more difficult then the Canadian ones but I am a Canadian so can't really compare. The last time we crossed the border to go shopping was in 2007 and it was such a horrible experience (the guard was a real jerk and hungry with power) it tainted our whole experience and we have not been back to the States since. We used to go a few times a year but personally IMO it is not worth the hassle for just a day.

12-01-2011, 07:41 AM
Wow thanks girls! Normally we always got across very fast/easily because we both work in law enforcement and have government/police ID which got us through fast, but this sounds like a hassle bringing my son! Not to mention the drive & nap times, LOL, so I'll def. be going alone without him and leaving him with a babysitter for the day! I just want to go shopping in the NY/VT outlet malls :) Hehe.

Thanks for all the great advice.

12-01-2011, 12:38 PM
I'm a US citizen but I can't imagine the process would be any more difficult for a Canadian crossing to the US!

About three years ago I was living in Canada. We went on a trip to NY and I was the only US Citizen that went. They were friendly to me. They were so rude to everyone else. It made me ashamed to be an American.

12-02-2011, 12:41 AM
I'm a Canadian living in the US on a work visa and every time I go home to Canada to visit and then re-enter the US it's a huge deal and they treat me like a common criminal. In airports it's not so bad, but the land crossings seem to have quite a few jerks, or at least the ones I've crossed at.

12-02-2011, 12:53 AM
That's a shame :(

12-02-2011, 05:05 PM
I should also add that I've heard that some of the Canadian guards at land crossings can be jerks, too. I've never had a problem, but I've had other Canadians tell me that they have had worse luck with the Canadian guards than the American guards.

I just like to avoid land crossings in general. I've had much better experiences in airports.

12-04-2011, 05:29 PM
They won't let me post links yet, but go to and search for the new york/rouses point crossing and it should come up. That's the one we used going up to Montreal sometimes.

I'm not exactly sure how you would get there coming down from Canada though. I grew up near Plattsburgh and had relatives living in Rouses Point, and I was younger then so I didn't pay attention that well. This crossing would take you into Rouses Point instead of I-87.
But you said you were going to VT, right? In which case that crossing would be ideal because it's very close to the Champlain Bridge. A gps might be able to help you?

The map they show on that webpage (on my link anyway) is for the Highgate Springs/St. Armand/Phillipsburgh border crossing though, and I don't really know why. That one might be ideal for you too, since it looks like it's in VT according to the map.

Sorry if I wasn't much help! There are phone numbers you can call and hopefully get directions and the information you need.
You'll definitely need a passport. They've gotten really pissy up there about that since 9/11.
Good luck.

12-04-2011, 06:49 PM
Wow thanks, very helpful actually! I am originally from the west coast and don't really know the area.

Would you say VT (Burlington) or Plattsburgh is a better trip? I just want to shop around, have a nice meal, speak in my native language for the first time in a year, LOL

12-04-2011, 07:09 PM
I never really went to Burlington much, but it's a bigger city than Plattsburgh is and undoubtedly more things to do there. Plattsburgh isn't huge and there isn't a ton of stuff to see or shop at unless you wanted to go to a very small mall. Try googling things to do in Burlington and you should get some hits. I know they have Church Street Marketplace, and I went there once when I was younger but can't remember too much!
Burlington will be a longer drive for you, but I think it would be more worth the trip. Depending on which way you go (more directly or more of a round-about-way) from Canada, you could pass by Plattsburgh if you wanted to stop by it.
There are ferries that go between NY and VT. The northernmost one at Plattsburgh/Cumberland Head, and it takes you to Grand Isle, VT which is only 25 miles north of Burlington. That ferry is only 12 minutes long and lovely on a nice day.
There's another ferry that runs further south in Port Kent, but it's closed during the winters. Search for Lake Champlain Transportation or ferries and you should get some info on it.
So you've got a lot of options. Come down from Canada directly into VT, or come down into NY, and cut over to VT right away in Rouses Point. Or come down into NY and drive down to Plattsburgh and take the ferry over to VT.
If you ever want to go during the warmer seasons and you wanted to see NY a little, you could go down to the Port Kent ferry and over the lake which drops you directly into Burlington.
Lots of choices :)