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Advice for travellers crossing U.S. border this weekend

The CBP strongly encourages people to plan ahead
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Take plenty of time and plan ahead if you're crossing the Canada-U.S. border this long weekend.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is reminding travellers planning trips across the border this Easter weekend to make sure they have their proper documents and to plan ahead.

Border traffic volumes peak at various times during this period, especially on weekends and the CBP strongly encourages people to plan ahead.

In particular, they recommend having an Enhanced Driver’s License/Enhanced Identification Card, or Trusted Traveler Program card (such as NEXUS) to expedite entry and make future border crossings more efficient.

“We encourage all travellers to follow the simple steps outlined below to help facilitate their travel into the United States during this holiday weekend,” said area port director Kenneth L. Williams.

For travellers with the above identification, “Ready Lanes” are open at:

Peace Arch: 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday – Friday;

Lynden: Noon to 4 p.m. Monday – Friday;

Sumas: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday – Friday and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

To avoid delays, border crossers may want to use the nearby and less travelled Sumas crossing in Abbotsford and Aldergrove crossing.

To avoid potential delays at the border, CBP is also urging all foreign travellers requiring I-94 or I-94W (visa waiver) entry document processing to obtain the essential document early, instead of waiting until the day of their travel.

Those people can obtain the required document as much as a week in advance by logging onto the I-94 website prior to arriving at a land port of entry.

A provisional I-94 is issued after submitting their application and paying online.

In order to finalize the I-94 issuance process, a traveller must present themselves at a land port of entry within seven days of their application and submit biometrics, if applicable, and be interviewed by a CBP officer. Full details can be found online at CBP.gov.

Other tips to beat the border rush include:

*Cross during off-peak times, such as between the hours of 6 and 8 a.m. or after 5 p.m. A free CBP Border Wait Times app is available at the Apple App Store and Google Play;

*Make sure each passenger has the correct travel document accessible and ready to give to the CBP officer;

*Know the contents of your vehicles and be prepared to declare all items. Travellers are required to declare all items being imported into the United States from Canada. If you are not sure about what to declare, do not hesitate to ask the CBP officer.

*Travellers are reminded that specific requirements must be met to import or export firearms and ammunition to/from the United States. For more information on the importation or exportation of firearms and ammunition, visit the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; State Department; and Commerce Department websites or contact CBP at 406-453-7631.

*Many fruits, meats, dairy and poultry products are prohibited from being imported into the United States from Canada. For more information, view prohibited and restricted items and foods permitted into U.S. for personal use;

*Although medical marijuana is legal in many U.S. states and Canada, the sale, possession, production and distribution of marijuana all remain illegal under federal law.