Essential Tips for Smooth Border Crossing During Black Friday Shopping

As the holiday season draws near, with American Thanksgiving and Black Friday marking its onset, anticipating increased traffic at land borders is wise. Both U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) offer valuable advice to ensure a hassle-free cross-border shopping experience.

1. Stay Ahead of Border Wait Times:

Before setting off, it’s a good idea to check the expected wait times at your chosen border crossing. This can be conveniently done on the CBP’s website or their dedicated Border Wait Time app. Opting to travel during off-peak hours, typically outside 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., can significantly reduce waiting time.

2. Documentation is Key:

For Canadians crossing into the U.S., ensure you have a valid passport, an enhanced driver’s licence, or a trusted-traveller program card, like Nexus. Participants of the U.S. Visa Waiver Program must obtain an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) beforehand.

3. Be Aware of Restricted Items:

Remember, despite its legality in Canada, cannabis is still federally illegal in the U.S. Carrying cannabis or related products across the border can lead to serious legal consequences. Additionally, certain food items, like fruits, meats, and plants, are restricted. Consult the CBP’s agricultural products guide for clarity.

4. Understanding Canadian Exemption Limits:

On returning to Canada, be mindful of the exemption limits based on the duration of your stay in the U.S. These limits determine the amount of goods you can bring back without incurring duties and taxes. Also, keep receipts handy and avoid gift wrapping items, as they may be inspected.

5. Cannabis: A Definite No-No at Borders:

Despite varying laws within Canada and some U.S. states, carrying cannabis across the border remains illegal and can result in serious charges.

6. Thanksgiving Leftovers? Leave Them Behind:

If you’re returning to Canada after Thanksgiving, be aware that homemade poultry products, including leftovers, are not allowed. Only commercially packaged and labeled poultry products are permitted.

7. Plan for Canadian Border Traffic:

Just like entering the U.S., checking Canadian border wait times in advance can save you time. Avoiding peak times, like holiday Mondays, is also advised.

As you prepare for your cross-border Black Friday adventure, keep these tips in mind. Being well-prepared not only eases your travel but also helps border agencies efficiently manage the increased holiday traffic. Happy shopping and safe travels!

For those planning to visit or migrate to the U.S. or Canada this holiday season, the VISASERVE – NPZ Law Group is here to guide you. Reach out to us at or 201-670-0006 (x204). We wish everyone safe and hassle-free travels!