Updated February 2024
Do you know how to cross the border into Canada with your RV? Trust me – it doesn’t have to be difficult or scary.
There are a few rules in place – but once you’re familiar with them, they’re easy to follow and you will cross the border with ease.
So, let’s get started.
Welcome to Canada!
Once you cross the border into Canada you’re an international traveler!
Let’s get all the details out of the way so you can really have a good visit.
But, first you need to cross the border.
Canadian Border Services Agency
The Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) manage the Canadian side of the border between the United States and Canada. To cross the border you will pass the American border control and approach the booth operated by the CBSA.
As a visitor, you can bring certain goods into Canada for your own use as personal baggage. Personal baggage includes clothing, camping and sports equipment, cameras and personal computers. This also includes your mode of transportation, including vehicles, private boats and aircraft.
Let’s break down the details into smaller chunks – much easier to understand.
Table of Contents
How many Border crossings are there between Canada and the U.S.?
Can I bring my RV into Canada?
The answer is YES! You can definitely bring your RV into Canada. You’ll need to have the registration and proof of insurance paperwork to show the Border Agents if asked. That also goes for any vehicle you may be towing as well.
What Happens when you Cross the Border into Canada?
Knowing in advance what the process will be makes crossing the border much easier. Here’s a few tips to follow:
- Have your identification documents ready,
- Make a list of your RV’s licence plate, insurance, etc. in case you’re asked.
- List of food onboard your RV,
- Paperwork for permitted guns
- Knowing the required answers for expected questions.
The goal is for you to cross the border into Canada and satisfy the Border Agent that you’re entering legally.
You may be sent to the secondary inspection – it’s common so don’t panic!
Referrals to secondary inspection are a normal part of the cross-border travel process that any visitor to Canada may experience. So not to worry if the Border Agent requests that you pull over to the side and possibly go into the office.
The agent may request entry into your RV and it’s perfectly legal for them to look through everything if they feel the need.
Co-operation is the key – remember they are just doing their job!
What Documents do I need to cross the border into Canada?
The easiest form of identification and most preferred is a passport.
If you’re a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, you must carry proof of citizenship such as a passport, birth certificate, a certificate of citizenship or naturalization, a U.S. Permanent Resident Card, or a Certificate of Indian Status along with photo identification.
If you’re a U.S. permanent resident, ensure you carry proof of your status such as a U.S. Permanent Resident Card.
Can I bring my Grandchildren with me into Canada?
If the children are under 18 years of age they’re considered to be minors and must follow the same rules as any other visitor to Canada. They’ll need proper documentation and depending on who they’re traveling with, will need a passport, a copy of their birth certificate, and possibly need more detailed authorization letters. (See resources)
RVers ask "What Food can I Bring into Canada?"
First, let’s clarify something. We’re talking about bringing food into Canada for personal use only. The rules for bringing food for commercial use is a whole different process and we won’t be getting into that at all.
Next, I really want to reassure you that we have beautiful grocery stores and markets in Canada with almost every item you find in the U.S. Coming to Canada does give you an opportunity to experience shopping in our local shops and trying some regional foods you may not have tried before.
At times there might be concerns and rules change periodically, so before you attempt to cross the border check the CBSA site for current restrictions.
When asked - tell the Agent what Food you have with you
Prior to arriving at the border, it’s really a good idea to have a list of food you have with you. That way, when a border agent asks you what you have it’s easy to hand over the list and he/she can scan it for any items of concern.
Always declare what you have – it’s not worth being refused entry into Canada over something so simple as not letting the border agent know you have an egg in your refrigerator. They may or may not ask what food items you have, where they came from, and their intended use in Canada.
Its best to be prepared – there are some restrictions when it comes to bringing your favorite treats into the country. Things change continuously but it’s up to the border agent’s discretion as to how strict the rules are followed.
Essential Tip for Bringing Food into Canada
We all have favorite foods and snacks and worry that we won’t find any when we travel away from our home. You can look at it in two ways. One is this might be an opportunity to try new foods and treats or if it’s important you can bring a supply with you – if it’s allowed into Canada.
What Food CAN you Bring into Canada?
As of September 19, 2022, retail packaged AND fully cooked poultry products are acceptable for import from any U.S. state, regardless of outbreak status (such as Avan Flu).
The label may say Ready to Eat, Cooked, Fully Cooked, or any equivalent expression. Canned or hermetically sealed items are also acceptable. Some examples of these products include:
- Rotisserie chicken (Retail barbecued, roasted or broiled)
- Chicken soup and soup mixes
- Hard boiled eggs
- Chicken/turkey hot dogs
- Chicken/turkey deli meats
- Fully cooked chicken/turkey sandwiches, wraps, kabobs etc.
What Food is NOT Allowed into Canada?
Any fresh, raw, or unprocessed poultry products or by-products from a state currently experiencing an outbreak of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza and/or Newcastle Disease.
This also includes any items that are not consumer prepackaged, such as products from a roadside stand or small farm. Some examples of restricted items include:
- Raw poultry meat (including frozen turkeys and chickens)
- Raw table eggs
- Egg yolks and egg white (albumen)
- Cooked leftovers from a restaurant
- Raw pet food and raw poultry items for pet food
Different Rules for Homegrown Produce, Dairy, and Meat
If you’re planning to bring food that you grew or made yourself into Canada, you should know ahead of time that there may be different rules to follow. Dairy, produce, and meat products created in the US must meet the standards of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) in order to be permitted into the country – otherwise, they will be seized at customs.
Furthermore, there are also restrictions on bringing in wild game and fish from other countries. Make sure to check CFIA regulations first before starting your journey!
Avoid Any Prohibited Food Items When You Cross the Border
Before you travel, look up the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s list of prohibited items to ensure none of your snacks fall into this category. All fruits and veggies from south of the US border are considered suspect and may be seized if brought across the border, as well as any meats or products containing meat. So read up ahead of time to save yourself any hassle at customs!
Be Aware of Food You Can and Can't Bring into Canada
As you can see Canada has very strict regulations on what food travelers are allowed to bring into the country. While some products such as dairy and certain meats are prohibited, there may be some exceptions for smaller amounts for personal consumption.
For even more details please check the resources at the bottom of the page.
Can I Bring My Dog or Cat and his/her Food into Canada?
For our purposes – this applies to your own personal pet that lives and travels with you (the owner) and you aren’t giving it to anyone else. See the resources below because the age of your dog may become a factor.
- Your dog will have to appear to be healthy and have a valid rabies vaccination certificate. They must be traveling under humane circumstances.
- Traveling with a cat is very similar – you will need either a Valid rabies vaccination certificate; or veterinary certificate
PET FOOD: You may bring personal amounts of pet food from the U.S. but NOT from any other country
Travellers may bring into Canada a personal import of pet food (limit of 20 kg), if the import meets all of the following requirements:
- the pet food or product must be of United States origin and be commercially packaged
- the pet food or product must be in the possession of the traveller at the time of entry from the U.S.
- the animal that will eat the imported product must accompany the traveller at the time of entry
- the imported product is fed only to the animal that accompanied the traveller into Canada
How much Alcohol and Tobacco Products Can I Bring into Canada?
First, you must meet the minimum age of the province or territory where you enter Canada. Each province determines what their minimum age is and currently Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec are 18 years, and the remaining provinces and territories is 19 years.
Yes, you can exceed the limits stated below but be prepared to pay duty and taxes on the overage. If bringing wine, your limit will be equal to two 750 ml bottles, while beer or ale will be approximately 24 cans or bottles of approximately 355 ml each. For Alcoholic beverages the maximum amount is up to 40 fluid ounces or lone large standard bottle of liquor.
Tobacco products have their own limits as well with 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars, 7 ounces of tobacco and 200 tobacco sticks being the maximum.
I Have a Medical Permit for Marijana/Cannabis - Can I Bring it?
It doesn’t matter whether marijuana is legal in Canada or not, or whether you have a medical document authorizing the use of it.
You must have a permit or exemption authorized by Health Canada (see resources). Without the permit or exemption, it doesn’t matter how much you have with you and remains a serious criminal offence subject to being arrested and prosecution.
Can I Bring my Guns into Canada?
All firearms and guns must be declared at the border – there are severe penalties if you don’t and it’s not worth trying to avoid letting the border agent know what you are carrying in your RV.
There are firearms that are prohibited but there are also some that can be brought into Canada if you have proper documentation.
The best advice we can give you is to be honest, do your research (see resources) and if in doubt ask questions. It’s not worth the risk of not being truthful.
I Had a DUI Many Years Ago - Can I enter Canada?
We are not lawyers – sorry. If you have a criminal record of any type please check before you arrive. There is a process you’ll need to follow and depending on the type of crime such as a DUI there are certain steps to follow. See resources below.
In Conclusion - How to Cross the Border into Canada in Your RV
Obviously, we can’t list every question you might have – only supply answers to the most asked questions. But hopefully we have made your research a little bit easier. We want you to feel more comfortable when approaching the U.S. / Canada border crossing so you will have a positive relaxed experience.
There are many people who recommend you don’t bring food, firearms, alcohol or other restricted items but sometimes many RVers don’t have a choice. They may have health concerns or other reasons for traveling with these items. No one wants you to have a difficult border crossing.
It’s all about being prepared and knowing in advance what to expect when you arrive at the Canadian Border. Canada and the U.S. have many similarities, but they are separate countries with their own laws and regulations. Doing a little bit of research takes out the fear of the unknown and makes your entry into Canada practically seamless. Once you cross that border the opportunities for an adventure is limitless. Welcome to Canada.
Resources - How to Cross the Border into Canada
- Canada Border Services Agency – Border Crossings
- Canada Border Services Agency – Visitors to Canada
- Canada Border Services Agency – Inadmissability
- Canada Border Services Agency – Secondary Inspection
- Canada Border Services Agency – Bringing food into Canada
- Canada Border Services Agency – Food Products allowed into Canada
- Canada Border Services Agency – Maximum quantity food limits
- Canada Border Services Agency – Importing firearms and weapons into Canada
- Canada Border Services Agency – Health Canada
- Canada Border Services Agency – Traveling with Children
- Canada Border Services Agency – Traveling with Pets
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