Heading to the 2016 J/80 North Americans in Toronto? Preparation is the key to crossing the border with a boat!
My wife, Lisa, and I have been racing our J/80 Eagles Wings since 2002, but have always been a little intimidated by traveling to regattas. We finally decided that the 2012 LYRA at Ashbridges Yacht Club (just outside of Toronto) would be our first out-of-town (Rochester, NY) regatta. The north side of the lake J/80s (Fleet #20) were growing and we knew it would be great to race against a bunch of new -to-us boats. The welcoming crew at AYC was a great way to begin to ease our stress. They knew when we were to arrive, how to use the equipment, where to dock the boat and in general available to help.
Besides packing up and making sure we hadn’t forgotten anything, my biggest “fear” was how was the border crossing going to go? As it turned out, the border crossing was a non-event and despite the lack of wind, the regatta was a blast – we got to make a bunch of new J/80 friends and had a great time.
Just like racing, the key to success with crossing the border into Canada and (don’t forget) back into the United States is preparation. The definitive sources of information are the Canada Border Services Agency (http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca) and US Customs and Border Protection (http://cpb.gov). We’ll cover the high level items here, but if you have any questions you should contact either or both of the above agencies well before attempting to travel into Canada. For the sake of this discussion, we’re assuming that you are US citizens and will be trailering a boat across one of the US/Canadian border crossings to Toronto for the J/80 North Americans.
Both governments have two main areas of interest when you are traveling across the border: the vehicle-trailer-boat and the people.
Both governments are concerned that all vehicles are properly registered and carry current inspections. The ideal situation would be if all three (vehicle, trailer, boat) are registered to the same name and that person is you or is with you. Otherwise, there must be clear documentation that you have permission to be transporting the vehicle/trailer/boat, including the owners contact information. The other concern is that you are not buying or selling – and therefore should be paying some tax. When asked, simply state that you are traveling to a regatta in Toronto and will be returning to the US in a few days.
The documentation required for the people crossing the border is different between the US and Canada. In order to return to the US, you must have a valid passport, NEXUS, or enhanced driver’s license. You can enter Canada with a birth certificate, but that will not be sufficient to allow you back into the US. If you are traveling with a minor whose parents are not present, you will also need an original Birth Certificate and a signed consent letter from the parents. Canada may also not allow individuals with a felony conviction or DUI entrance to Canada. See the websites above if there are any concerns about the admissibility of anyone in your group.
The websites also document items that are prohibited going to Canada and back into the US:
If you are leaving your boat in Canada for any reason, you will need form E29Bfor temporary Importation. For example if you are racing the LYRA regatta in Whitby Canada the week before and you wish to go back to the US in-between the regatta's.
In our case, for the 2012 regatta, both border crossings went very smoothly. We crossed into Canada at Lewiston, NY on a Wednesday in the early afternoon and only spent 5 minutes with the Canada Border officer. I had all the vehicle documentation ready, but all he needed were our passports. A simple conversation about where we were going and when we expected to return and then we were on our way. Sunday night after the regatta, we did encounter a delay due the amount of traffic returning to the US (maybe an hour), but the interaction with the Border officer was also very straightforward and professional.
| 21 April 2016 |