This year we experienced a milestone in our RV travel. We crossed the border in our RV for the very first time! With so many beautiful sights to see, we wanted to explore Quebec City, Canada, and New Brunswick.  So, we made several trips across the border this year.  And, we learned a few things we thought we’d share. Our first time crossing the Canadian border in an RV was nerve-wracking and memorable! Here’s how it went.

As we approached the border our nerves increased.  My heart rate went up. And to make things worse, we looked guilty of something.  Dave was sweating, and I was fidgeting. For two law-abiding citizens like us, it was silly to be so nervous. And we had done our research, so we felt confident. It should go well. We had the proper documents and followed the Canadian Border Agency guidelines. Well, we were about to find out. We were close to the checkpoint and were up next!

We approach the designated RV lane with passports out, ready for our turn.

Dave took our border crossing so seriously, he forgot to smile. Smile Dave, a friendly smile at the border always helps.

A few questions from the border agent and we were through with no problems. It was our first border crossing in the RV, so we pulled over to get a photo of the welcome to Quebec sign and our Tiffin motorhome. Canada here we come!

Quebec City, Quebec.

If you plan to visit Canada, here are a few tips for crossing the border in an RV.

Plan Ahead-Obtain the Proper Documents

Plan ahead. You need to allow enough time to obtain all the appropriate documents, such as passports for identification. See the passport website here.  Additionally, you will want to allow enough time to obtain any records needed for pets. For more information about pets, click here.

The time it takes to process a passport can vary.  It can take up to six to eight weeks for a new passport, therefore, allow plenty of time. Additionally, if you have time constraints, you can request an expedited passport.  The expedited processing time is two to three weeks. However, be aware there are additional fees associated with this. Check out the website here.  

Generally, a valid passport is all that is needed for proper identification and proof of citizenship. However, review the Canada Border Services Agency website below and confirm what is needed for your situation.

Utilize the Canada Border Services Agency Website

The source we used for travel requirements from the US into Canada was the Canada Border Services Agency website.  This was our “go-to” site for our travel. We found all the information we needed on the site.  It is loaded with helpful information. You can review it here

Comply With What’s Required, Limited and Prohibited

The Canada Border agency website contains critical information about entering the country. Follow the rules for what is required in all areas and you should be fine. Importantly, follow the requirements for proof of citizenship, and adhere to the laws regarding drugs, alcohol, tobacco, and firearms. Similarly, follow restrictions and prohibitions about food, plants, firewood, and pets. The CBSA website breaks down the information you need by category as below.

Be Prepared With Documents and For a Few Questions

As you enter the RV lane at the border patrol, have your passports and documents ready. Additionally, you will be asked a range of questions. The border agent asked where we were from and our current address. Also, he asked where we were going and what we planned to do there. Similarly, the agent wanted to know where we would be staying. We were almost caught off guard by this question since we had made so many reservations, we almost forgot the name of our campground.  Know the name of your campground and also your date of departure.

Declare What You Have On Board

After the questions, we were asked what we had onboard the RV. Then, we were asked to declare what we were bringing into Canada.   The agent may or may not board your RV and inspect your vehicle, but they usually do. In our case, the agent did not board and inspect the RV. We suspect this was because the lines for the border patrol were terribly long that day.  Be honest about what you have on board. If you comply with requirements on the Canada Border Services web site and follow the law, you should have no problems. If you don’t, you may be held up for a while, fined, or worse not allowed to enter the country.

Did All Our Border Crossings Go Well?

Not exactly.  So, what happened on our way from Canada coming back into the U.S?  Of course I was driving and things didn’t go quite as smoothly as our first trip.  I was nervous as I drove up to the checkpoint.

The border agent followed the same process as before. After several questions and review of our passports, the agent indicated he was going to board and inspect the RV. Yikes. We weren’t really expecting that. We had nothing to hide, or so we thought.

Mistakes Happen and When They Do…

As the agent boarded the RV, he asked several questions, including if we had any fresh fruits, vegetables or plants on board. My eyes flew open wide.  Oh no, I remembered we had fresh fruits and vegetables in the fridge.  In my haste to pack up, I forgot to get rid of these.  My face told all, the agent knew we had something we shouldn’t have. Mistakes happen, so I answered honestly.  I had forgotten to get rid of them. After a thorough inspection of the fridge, the agent confiscated the food items. Then, Dave and I sat there and waited. We waited for the consequences. And hoped we would not get a big fat fine. After an inspection of the rest of the RV, the agent informed us that we were in violation. And he could issue a fine.

Honesty is the Best Policy

We waited to hear how much the fine would be. And here is the best part, because I was honest about the items on board and did not skirt the truth, the agent said he would not issue us a fine. Instead, he gave us a warning. What a relief!  My first border crossing as the driver of the RV was not a complete disaster. And, we got through with no fine! Furthermore, honesty does pay. Our best advice, follow the law and the Canadian Border Agency website requirements. If you make a mistake, tell the truth. Honesty really is the best policy.

Wishing you safe travels, smooth border crossings and lots of great adventures! Follow our full-time RV journey and you can read more blog posts from Outdoor More to Explore here.

Campobello Island, New Brunswick. Head Harbour Lightstation.

Visit Canada. From lighthouses to waterfalls and more, there are so many beautiful places to explore!

Montmorency Falls, Quebec.