Smooth Sailing – Crossing the Canadian Border

Our quick guide to make sure your next trip across the US/Canada border is, "Smooth Sailing!"

(Article Originally Posted on: North American Fishing Club )


Not long ago, a Canadian fishing trip was a simple proposition. Empty your coolers full of beer…fill them with fish and head home! Life was good. 

Or was it? Yes, possession limits have been reduced so it’s a pretty small cooler if it’s full of fish. And a tighter border means you’ll likely pay duty on any beer over your one-case limit going in.

But, the good news today is most anglers don’t travel to Canada with the sole purpose of drinking beer and filleting fish. Most of us head to Canada to share exceptional fishing with our best friends and family – but first you have to get across the border!



I’ve crossed the Canadian border close to 75 times in the past 25 years and even though a passport is now required, crossing is simple if you follow a few rules:


Border Crossing Tips:


1.) Know the Basics - The border crossing agent will ask: where are you from, where are you staying, for how long, and how much alcohol and tobacco are in your possession?  Respond quickly and accurately.

2.) Look the Part - Show the border agent you know what you’re doing: have your passport in hand, take off your sunglasses, look the agent in the eye, only give them the information they ask for in the simplest terms. 

3.) Driving Across - Before pulling your vehicle up: roll down all windows facing the border agent, turn down your radio, have the passports for all vehicle occupants in your hand and only the driver answers the questions. You don’t want two people blurting out conflicting answers. 

4.) Transgressions -  If you have a drunk driving in your past, it doesn’t have to prevent you from experiencing the best freshwater fishing in the world. There are people out there who specialize in assisting those with a DUI in crossing the border. Check out Canada Border Crossing Services 

5.) Know your Fish Limits and Verify - On the return trip, double and triple check your fish counts before you get to the border, you do not want to be in violation of possession limits because someone miscounted the fish.  


Duty Free Limits -

(You can exceed these limits, but they will be subject to tax and duty) 

  • Alcohol – One case of beer, or 1.5 liters of wine, or 40 oz of liquor (Per Person)
  • Tobacco – 10 packs of cigarettes, or 50 cigars (Per Person)
  • For a complete list visit Canada Border Crossing 


Prohibited Items - 

  • Live bait-fish of any kind including minnows and leeches (minnows and leeches are reasonably priced in Canada)
  • Nightcrawlers in dirt – you can take them in artificial bedding
  • Dog food with meat byproducts 
  • Firewood
  • Radar Detectors 


Here are some websites to visit before crossing the border this summer:

Canada Welcomes You – Answers to all of your border crossing questions

Border Wait Times – Real time border traffic information

U.S. State Department – Passport requirements 


Joel Prunty - President of Fishulo, LLC.


Editors Note: Joel Prunty is the president of Fishulo,llc and is passionate about using his expertise in Canadian wilderness travel to assist anglers and hunters in planning adventures. Over a 20 year association with a Canadian fishing and hunting sport-show producer, Joel visited over 300 of Canada's BEST lodges, resorts and outfitters. He currently sits on the Marketing Advisory Council for Tourism Saskatchewan and was previously named the Northern Ontario Tourist Outfitters Association‘s (NOTO) member-of-the-year.


To begin planning your next Canadian excursion, visit our Adventure Match to find the perfect lodge to suit your personal fishing or hunting preferences.


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