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Crossing the border this Thanksgiving long weekend? Here’s what you should know

Be prepared.
Air passengers travelling from Vancouver International Airport (YVR) to the United States may now reserve a place in line at security screening.

Locals looking to get away over the Thanksgiving Day long weekend may want to plan their trips in advance to save time at the border, ferry terminals, and the airport.

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) recommends that travellers cross the border at non-peak hours, such as the early morning. Additionally, they should plan ahead and check U.S. border wait times. Monday tends to be the busiest day on long weekends, with longer waits at the border.

But the CBSA says there are several other things travellers should keep in mind over the holiday weekend for a smoother experience. 

How the ArriveCAN app can save you time 

While travellers to Canada are no longer required to enter their information into the ArriveCAN app, they can save time at the border by using it. The app allows them to submit their customs declaration in advance. 

Didn't use arriveCAN? Use the primary inspection kiosk or eGates

Travellers can also use the primary inspection kiosk or eGates to verify their travel documents, confirm their identity, and complete an on-screen customs and immigration declaration.  Up to five travellers can use a single kiosk to submit their customs and immigration declarations while eGates processes travellers individually. Currently, only Toronto's Lester B. Pearson Airport has eGates technology. 

What not to bring to the Canada/U.S. border

Don't try to bring any live birds, bird products or by-products from U.S. states affected by Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza. Otherwise, be prepared to prove the origin of your poultry product at the border.

Keep your cannabis in Canada. Unless you have a permit or exemption that is authorized by Health Canada,  transporting cannabis across the border in any form, including any oils containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or cannabidiol (CBD) remains a serious criminal offence subject to arrest and prosecution.

Be prepared to declare and know your limits 

Canadians planning to go shopping south of the border should be aware of their personal exemption limits. The CBSA recommends that you "check the CBSA duty and taxes estimator to calculate taxes on goods purchased in the United States." 

Locals should also be prepared to declare everything they bought. Since border officers might ask to see your purchases, you shouldn't wrap any gifts. 

Travellers can consult the CBSA’s website for information on firearms and other restricted and prohibited goods.

You must also declare any foods, plants, or animals such as raw meats, fruits, house plants, live animals, wood products (including firewood and wooden souvenirs) to the border service officer. Check the Automated Import Reference System for specific import requirements.

Recommendations for travelling with children

When travelling with children, it is recommended that the accompanying adult have a consent letter authorizing them to travel with the child. Border services officers are always watching for missing children, and in the absence of the letter, officers may ask additional questions, to help them identify the relationship between the child and the accompanying adult. 

Reserving your spot in security at YVR airport

Air passengers travelling from Vancouver International Airport (YVR) to the United States may now reserve a place in line at security screening.

On Wednesday, the airport announced its YVR Express program, which allows travellers to reserve a spot at the security checkpoint ahead of their flight. 

Plan ahead for busy BC Ferries sailings

Travellers should reserve their spots early with BC Ferries over the long weekend. Customers with advance bookings do not experience sailing waits, even when multiple waits are reported. The best option to avoid sailing waits is to travel during less-busy times, typically mid-week days and early-morning or late-evening sailings. Always arrive early.

BC Ferries advises using ride-share or public transportation to the terminals, when possible. Check current sailing wait times before you leave, too. 

With files from Carla Wilson.