Come prepared, expect long waits at border

  • Thu Feb 11th, 2010 4:21pm
  • Sports

By Andy Rathbun Herald Writer

BLAINE — If you’re driving to the Winter Olympics, you need to remember more than a ticket to the games.

To get back home, United States citizens need to show border officials a passport or the equivalent of a passport, such as an enhanced driver license or Nexus card.

Without that level of documentation, travelers may be delayed on their return trip as officials verify their citizenship.

The documentation issue can get a bit confusing, since Canada and the U.S. now have different requirements to cross the border.

The U.S. changed its requirements for drivers in June. Canada, however, kept its requirements the same. Drivers can still get into British Columbia with a driver’s license and birth certificate.

Travelers can learn more about the U.S. requirements at www.travel.state.gov/travel/cbpmc/cbpmc_2223.html.

U.S. citizens also should remember that Canadian laws are different. For instance, travelers can be turned away if they have been convicted for driving while intoxicated. Firearm laws also are stricter in Canada — it’s best to leave the guns at home.

Both sides of the border are expecting heavier than usual traffic during the Olympics. Officials say the wait may match the height of the travel season, with wait times equal to a busy summer day.

Canada Border Services Agency posts the wait time into British Columbia online at apps.cbp.gov/bwt.

Additional lanes will be open and more officers will be on duty to deal with increased traffic. However, visitors still should include extra time in their travel plans, in case they run into a line.

“Nobody has a crystal ball for what the traffic will be,” said Tom Schreiber, a Customs and Border Protection spokesman in Blaine.

Andy Rathbun: 425-339-3455, arathbun@heraldnet.com

Learn more

On passports: www.travel.state.gov/travel/cbpmc/cbpmc_2223.html

On border wait times: apps.cbp.gov/bwt