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For those who drive from US to Canada

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

I have a border/customs question.  We have spent a week at whistler every year since moving up here to the PNW 5 years ago.  Before the first trip we were warned "You can't take nearly ANY food across the border, they will nail you for a bag of potato chips!"  Seemed a little harsh but we have generally stopped in Vancouver to load up on groceries (we always stay in a room with a kitchen).  I just spent an hour going through the Canadian customs site, and it appears to me that you CAN take most food items in (fresh fruit and veggies MIGHT be an exception).  The reason it is hard to figure out is the database is written mostly for importers, and at the bottom of the page long legalese for each item there is usually a poorly written "exemption" for personal use.  It is also unclear if the regular border patrol can make the call to let it in or if you must go to the special "food police." 

 

Specifically, I am currently working on a smoked brisket and a pork shoulder for pulled pork, would really like to take them with (esp the pulled pork, makes outstanding carnitas tacos).  Anyone with any knowledge in this area?

post #2 of 11

Fresh veggies and fruits can be a problem, most anything else, especially if it's processed, will pass.  Anything packaged, even things like dried fruit will be OK.  

 

We don't bring fresh produce, but stop at the supermarket in Cloverdale (north of the truck border crossing) that's just off off the highway behind the McDonalds.  You can't see it well from the road, so you have to trust me here and turn right at the stop light just before the McDs.  It's right after the curling rink and other civic buildings.  I don't remember the name of the place, it's not one I'm familiar with,  but the produce section is really great and the prices are very reasonable.

post #3 of 11

I drive to Canada in the east.  From NY and from VT.  Was told we were not allowed to bring meat.  We had a cooler full of food and bags of groceries and the only thing mentioned was the steak.  Guards let me keep it anyway.

post #4 of 11
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by crank View Post

I drive to Canada in the east.  From NY and from VT.  Was told we were not allowed to bring meat.  We had a cooler full of food and bags of groceries and the only thing mentioned was the steak.  Guards let me keep it anyway.


Does it matter if the meat is cooked already, couldn't really call it processed, my own pulled pork and smoked brisket.

 


Edited by Alveolus - 1/15/12 at 6:17pm
post #5 of 11

pousane has good advice. Always remember that the border officials are the sole decider on what you can have with you and if you will be let in at all. Different seasonal restrictions can apply for fruit and veggies,. Other restrictions pop up frequently for potential mad cow, chicken flu, swine epidemic etc it's hard to know what is the latest. Throw in the continual fear of terrorist lurking everywhere and it can be slow crossing. This applies both ways. It's best to just buy what you need and make sure you use it up to avoid problems.  

  

post #6 of 11

I found this:

 

 

Quote:

Canada maintains limits on certain food products imported from the United States. Meat and poultry products are among the most stringently controlled food products. The following is a list of some of the quantities that a visitor may bring into the country. Note that this is an incomplete list of Customs Canada's limitations, and that all meat products must be labeled or identified as products of the U.S.

Examples of Products and the maximum amounts that can be imported upon entry to Canada

  • Dairy products (such as cheese, butter or milk): 44 lbs/20 kilo, not to exceed $20 in value
  • Margarine and imitation butter products: 6.6 lbs/3 kilo
  • Eggs: 2 dozen
  • Meat, meat products, poultry or poultry products: 44 lbs/20 kilo

There are separate limits within this category as follows:

Turkey or turkey products: 1 whole turkey, or the 10 kilo of turkey products
Chicken, chicken products: 22 lbs/10 kilo chicken or chicken products
Meat products from cattle, bison, buffalo sheep or goat: 11 lbs/5 kilo
Fruit (temperate, such as those grown in Canada): generally prohibited*
Fruit (tropical): 550 lbs/250 kilo per person
Fruit and vegetables (dried, canned): 44 lb/20 kilo

 

Since the meat has to be labeled, you're probably out of luck. I was told by a US guard that I even need to keep dog food in the original bag, rather than the ziploc it was in (he asked when he saw our dog in the back seat if we had any). I think they are particularly careful about meat since the last foot and mouth epidemic in Britain, wihch caused the slaughter of tens of millions of animals, was caused by improperly cured prosciutto brought in from eastern Europe.

 

I have actually never been asked by Canadian guards about my groceries, and I always have them. I am almost always asked by US guards when I return.

post #7 of 11

ok, I just got back from whistler this weekend. I drove up from seattle. As usual - the canadian agent grilled me - asking a lot of questions. Who are you planning to meet there. why did you not fly directly into Vancouver. Are you carrying any weapons? they let me go. I reach whistler and bump into this guy from NYC who flew to SLC. didn't find snow - so took a flight to SEA and drove up. Not only did they give him the third degree for driving up all by himself - they also pulled his car aside and searched his bags !!!. I have seen this happen coming into US but I have never heard of that happening  going north. They don't seem to like people driving up by themselves??

post #8 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marty View Post

They don't seem to like people driving up by themselves??


Not if you flew into Seattle.  They're probably concerned that you might be trying to get something in that wouldn't pass muster in the airport.  They also try to trip you up with an oddball question from time to time.  If you cop an attitude or joke around, they'll pull you over instantly.

 

I drive over by myself from time to time with never a problem (of course they ask questions, that's their job) but it's because I live less than 30 miles from the border and it is the only reasonable way for me to get to WB or the B.C. interior.  They've got my license plate number in their computer and it comes up that I've gone across for skiing several times before so it's just one more in the pattern.  Someone from far away who is driving a rental car is different, and therefore suspect.

 

post #9 of 11

I'm not sure if things are different at the Washington / BC border, but my parents (and now me) have been shopping over the border in Niagara Falls for 40+ years.  None of this has ever been an issue.  

 

Sometimes I hear people with similar concerns, but they're usually the ones that never go across themselves.  My cousin has a large family and stocks up once a week.  No issues.

post #10 of 11
Thread Starter 

Just crossed Saturday in what promises to be an outstanding week.  No problems with the groceries, but did have a minor problem with the lack of a "my wife said I can take our daughter skiing across the border" letter (knew about it but just forgot).  For those who don't know, if crossing the border with a minor (and only one parent), you are supposed to carry a letter from the other parent stating essentially that you are not kidnapping the tyke (never made a lot of sense to me, if I really was trying to run away with my daughter why wouldn't I just make up a letter and sign it myself...not like there is a signature database and they never call and check).

 

 

/my 7 y/o daughter, newly smart ass, saved the day with a response to the border guard (to the question "Is that your dad?) of "Yes, that is xxxx  xxxxx, he is my dad, he is kinda geeky but I like him.  He would never take me anywhere without mom's permission...if he did, I think mom might kill him."  She said all that with a completely straight face...as soon as we were past the border she couldn't stop laughing, has been recounting the story ad nauseam since.

post #11 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alveolus View Post
\

/my 7 y/o daughter, newly smart ass, saved the day with a response to the border guard (to the question "Is that your dad?) of "Yes, that is xxxx  xxxxx, he is my dad, he is kinda geeky but I like him.  He would never take me anywhere without mom's permission...if he did, I think mom might kill him."  She said all that with a completely straight face...as soon as we were past the border she couldn't stop laughing, has been recounting the story ad nauseam since.


I like this kid.

 

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