Niagara Gazette

Opinion

July 2, 2014

EDITORIAL: Preparation key when crossing the border

Niagara Gazette — With Canada Day on Tuesday and the Fourth of July this Friday, we’re right in the thick of things when it comes to holiday traffic at the local international bridges.

With the Niagara Gazette offices stationed a stone’s throw from the Rainbow Bridge, we’ve seen firsthand just how bad bridge backups can be this time of year.

We are happy to report that this past Canada Day weekend was relatively free of the long lines of cars stretching down Niagara Street.

In an effort to keep the traffic flowing, here are a few tips to those planning a trip into Canada from U.S. Custom and Border Protection officials:

• If traveling with children less than 16 years of age who are not part of your immediate family, obtain and carry a parental note of permission regarding cross-border travel. The note should include each child’s parental contact information and telephone numbers.

• Other than essential luggage or vacation supplies, empty your trunk before the trip. Additional belongings in your car may add time to your crossing, as border officers may perform a visual inspection of the belongings in your car. 

• Turn off radios and cell phones when approaching the inspection booths and speaking with officers.

• Remember to roll down the driver and rear passenger windows, remove sunglasses, and make eye contact with border officers.

• Be sure to declare all goods acquired while out of the country including fruits, vegetables, plants and plant products, animals, birds, eggs, meat and meat products, as well as items acquired for personal use.

• Allow for extra time and check border wait times in case of exceptionally heavy traffic. Travelers should check traffic conditions at the four border crossings within the Buffalo/Niagara region and select the crossing that is least congested. Travelers can easily obtain current border traffic conditions at the Advisories and Wait Times section on CBP.gov.

• Cross-border travelers are encouraged to participate in the NEXUS program.  NEXUS allows pre-screened, low-risk travelers to proceed with little or no delay into the United States and Canada. Application forms can be downloaded or you can apply online at the CBSA NEXUS web site or USCBP NEXUS. Additionally, NEXUS information is available toll-free at 1-866-NEXUS 26 (1-866-639-8726).

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