How to avoid delays at US border?

May 2nd, 2013, 04:14 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 323
How to avoid delays at US border?

My wife & I have UK passports. We plan to fly to Canada in June and then go by car to New York state. I know we don't need an ESTA if we enter US by land, but is there anything we can do before we go to save time at the border? Also we'll be with our son (Irish passport, Canadian resident), Daughter-in-law (Canadian passport) & 2-year-old granddaughter (Canadian passport), all travelling by car. We want to avoid any long delays at the border.
Ricardo_215 is offline  
May 2nd, 2013, 05:53 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 25,368
Sorry. No. Just be polite and cross your fingers. Crossing by car used to be a breeze, but these days, who knows?

You will get more advice if you post this on the US and Canada boards. You might ask about using ESTA anyway, even though you don't officially need to.
thursdaysd is offline  
May 2nd, 2013, 10:26 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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There are many Canadian/NYS border crossings. Sometimes there are smaller or less busy crossings nearby. Sometimes it takes 10 minutes, sometimes it's well over an hour. Allow enough time if you have to be somewhere at a certain hour.

Are you traveling on a major US or Canadian holiday or vacation period or is there a special event (e.g. Grand Prix racing)? Double check.

An hour or so before you leave, check to see if there are any unusual delays at the crossing you're taking.

Make sure everyone's paperwork is in order. I'm assuming that the granddauighter is the child of both your son and daughter-in-law, not a step parent situation which might require additional paperwork.

Are you driving a personal car or a rental? Make sure you have proper paperwork including insurance info, up to date registration and inspections, etc.

There's not much you can do at the border other than being polite and answering any questions you might be asked, and doing what's asked--maybe opening the trunk of the car for inspection.
nyer is offline  
May 4th, 2013, 10:12 PM
Join Date: Apr 2013
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My family frequently cross from Ontario to New York State. We have found it best to cross early in the morning - before 0700 - when there is less traffic. Unfortunately there is no way to expedite the process. Politeness definitely helps in that it does not add to the delays. Flip or curt answers often have the opposite results. Also if you are taking a picnic be careful what you pack. Citrus, including grapes, are banned, as are several other products. Check the web-sites before you cross. If they find one banned item, they might be extra thorough in searching you and your car. Make sure everyone has their passport ready for presentation. Questions you may be asked include: the purpose of your trip, how long will you be away, where are you staying, what are you bringing in, any duty free, where do you work, how much money do you have with you, do you have credit cards, etc.

I once had my luggage checked. Since I was going for an overnight visit only, I had packed minimally, change of undies and t-shirt, basic toiletries. The Immigration Official decided I did not have enough luggage for this trip and detained me until I could convince them I was going to watch a horse show -- this was at the Windsor / Detroit Tunnel Crossing).
Worldnomad is offline  
May 6th, 2013, 10:29 AM
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 2,585
Depending on the crossing point, Homeland Security may send you to secondary inspection to fill out an entry form. The guards may also take your photo and fingerprints as is required at airports. Some British citizens, I have read, use ESTA, a visa-waiver system. Here is a link to Homeland:
I enter the US at the busiest Canada-US frontier and make sure to be polite and, just as important, brief in my interview. I answer only what is asked and never volunteer information that is not requested. And I try to relax, which is easier said than done.
Southam is offline  
May 8th, 2013, 08:42 AM
Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 11
Thanks for sharing your story,
jamesonridley is offline  
Jun 13th, 2013, 01:24 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 323
First, apologies, I see it's 5 weeks since these comments came in. I wasn't on the site since. Thanks to all for your suggestions, especially re all the paperwork. It'll be my son's own car, & it's his & his wife's daughter. She already has a passport because she came here to Ireland as a 3-month old. But maybe Canadian citizens do not even need a passport to visit US (?) I'll make sure I bring my driving license in case I share the driving. I would never have thought grapes are not allowed or other citrus. We are heading from London ON to Troy NY so we'll probably cross at Queenston-Lewiston (following the route suggested by google maps. It'll probably be about 9:00pm. We plan to visit friends in Troy for 2 nights and then stay in one of the Finger Lakes parks (which all look magnificent), for 4 nights camping, so the car will be loaded, so I hope they don't search us!
Ricardo_215 is offline  
Jun 13th, 2013, 06:23 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 25,368
You might want to reconsider that crossing:

That posting looks a bit out of date, but if the waits are due to GPS systems sending people there, and yours just did that, the problem may well persist.

Carry your passport - see (I know the URL says "to Canada" but it includes the other direction).
thursdaysd is offline  
Jun 17th, 2013, 05:15 PM
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Perhaps I should bring a good book. Fahrenheit 911 maybe?
Ricardo_215 is offline  
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