[twitter]“documents you need to cross border from Canada to US”

I typed that phrase in to Google this morning. I was making a list of things I needed to pack for our trip to Sandpoint, Seattle, Vancouver, and beyond. I scribbled down ‘passports’ at the top of a list that included iPads, beach toys, chargers, headphones and more.

I went to hunt for the family passports. I flipped through them, just to make sure I had the latest edition of each and I flipped through mine. I got my passport in the spring of 2009, just before my wife and I headed off to Easter Island with Team Diabetes. That was 5 yrs ago. Passports are issued for 5 yrs. My passport expired in May of 2014.

documents you need to cross border from Canada to US

You need a passport to cross into the US via air from Canada came the first return, and I heaved a small sigh. I checked the land crossing requirements. A longer list of items including passport, enhanced drivers’ license, and a Nexus card was included, but nowhere did it mention I could cross a land border into the US with a birth certificate and drivers’ license.

I asked Twitter.

While one person says he played dumb and got across with a license, it was 2 years ago. Everyone else chimed in with the same ‘passport is needed’ answer.

I called 1-800-O-Canada, the number for Service Canada. It was 10a on a Saturday morning. A Saturday morning of a long weekend. I got ‘our office is closed’ notices. I checked online and found the office wouldn’t be open until Tuesday because of the long weekend.

We were supposed to be heading to Sandpoint, Idaho on Monday.

So, what do you do when you have 3 nights booked on the shores of Lake Pend’Oreille in Idaho, and another night booked in the shadow of a Nordstrom’s in Bellevue?

You cancel them. That’s what you do.

I called the hotel to confirm my cancellation. I had to give 48 hours notice. I had 51 hours until check-in. I cancelled our reservation at the Best Western Edgewater in Sandpoint. That hurt. It is a hotel right on the lakeshore, next to a State park. The plan was to shack up for 3 nights and let the boys play in the water while my wife and I stared at the sand.

No more.

I mean, we could have chanced it, but without the cushion of being able to cancel our hotel, it would have been a nearly $1000 bet on the kindness of a Border Security officer.

Would you make that bet? I couldn’t.

So instead of Fernie – Sandpoint – Seattle – Vancouver, we will instead travel to the coast via Fernie – Nelson – Osoyoos. Scrambling last minute does not always score one the best deals, but I promised my wife just as much lake time (but not nearly as much Nordstrom’s time).

We will stay in Fernie, the next day have lunch and swim at Moyie Lake before driving along Kootenay Lake and staying in Nelson.

The next morning we will drive to Christina Lake, have another lunch and swim, before settling in to the Holiday Inn Osoyoos in a suite on the beachfront.

The documents you need to cross the border from Canada to the US are a passport. Plain and simple. To stay in Canada, and explore the gorgeous Kootenays, and heat of the Osoyoos desert, you just need a back up plan.

Vacation begins now.

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  1. Chris (@lyteforce) August 3, 2014 at 8:19 pm

    I get not wanting to chance it, but have heard of many people in a similar boat get across both land and air borders with expired passport. In fact, it’s often coming back to Canada where most of the trouble happens to be.

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