Border crossing between Seattle and Vancouver

Jul 14th, 2008, 02:50 PM
  #1  
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Border crossing between Seattle and Vancouver

Our plan was to fly into Seattle, although Vancouver, BC is our final destination, because the cost difference is huge.

I was talking to a friend today who traveled (by car)between the 2 cities last year, late Aug-early Sept. and said the line at the border was hours long.

Is this typical? Or a late summer problem? We'll be traveling the second half of Sept. and mid-week. Any idea what we can expect?

~Liz
elberko is online now  
Jul 14th, 2008, 02:56 PM
  #2  
 
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Northbound is seldom as bad as southbound, especially as the US border post is being renovated with some traffic restrictions.

There are several alternate crossing points - the "truck crossing" (cars allowed) a mile east of the main I-5 Peace Arch crossing, or farther east at Lynden or Sumas. I wouldn't change plans dramatically, just be aware that things can be slow.

If you'd like to spend the night before in Seattle, the train from Seattle to Vancouver is cheap, scenic, and avoids all customs hassles as you're screened on arrival in Vancouver. http://amtrakcascades.com/
Gardyloo is offline  
Jul 14th, 2008, 03:04 PM
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Just to add to what Gardyloo said, if you do end up driving, go as early in the day as you can (or very late). Mid-day is generally the worst for waits.

Here's a website that you can use to see what the wait is (Peace Arch, the main crossing, is towards the bottom of the list, and Pacific Hwy, the truck crossing, just above it). It's probably a good idea to check the site to see what things are like a week before your trip or so, to have an idea of what to expect.

http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/general/times/menu-e.html


NWWanderer is offline  
Jul 14th, 2008, 03:07 PM
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I have crossed several times in Sept with maybe a 30 min wait.
It wasnt bad in my opinion- but of course anything can happen.

Shortly after I crossed last time, there was a terrorist alert
All the guards left their stations on the Canadian side because they dont carry guns, and so the line up was hours long- of course I dont think that kind of thing happens very often.



sunbum1944 is offline  
Jul 14th, 2008, 03:14 PM
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We always use the Lynden or Sumas crossings...you will connect quickly with Canadian Highway 1, and it's easy to get into central Vancouver by heading west. As others have said, it's generally quicker crossing into Canada than it is heading back into the US.
azzure is offline  
Jul 15th, 2008, 08:36 AM
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Thanks for the website, and the calming responses! I feel better about this detail now!

~Liz
elberko is online now  
Oct 15th, 2009, 03:47 PM
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Good to know about the Lynden or Sumas crossings.

Does anyone know what the deal is with the Duty Free Shop at the Pacific Crossing? I had the impression that if you went in and bought something you could bypass most of the line. If so, that is very annoying but might be good to know in future.

It took us 5 min northbound, 45 min back into good old USA. Lots of fossil fuels get burned in that short stretch of road.
stokebailey is offline  
Oct 16th, 2009, 07:51 PM
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Stokebailey, I'm a frequent traveller with a Nexus Card for a fast border crossing but our friends and family do take the Duty Free/Nexus lanes north and southbound at Pacific (Truck) crossing to the Duty Free shops, buy something (can even be a bag of candy) and this usually saves a lot of time. BUT on very busy long weekends you can get stuck in the Duty Free lots trying to get back out to regular lanes.

Northbound there are 2 Duty Free shops, the 1st offers more products but I prefer the smaller Pac-Can Duty Free shop closest to border to get in and out. Southbound there's just one and in busy times often has someone to direct traffic.
jojo46 is offline  
Oct 16th, 2009, 08:01 PM
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PS Noticed the earlier comments were from 08 when both US and Canadian Peace Arch Crossings were under construction with various lanes closures as they prepared for 2010 Olympics in Vancouver/Whistler. Situation much better now! But when Canadian $ is close to par like now you will encounter more Can. cross border shoppers on the weekend, especially Sat am.
jojo46 is offline  
Oct 17th, 2009, 09:37 AM
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The situation last week was still on the annoying side southbound on a Sat. afternoon when we zipped through going north and burned 45 min worth of gas and unbudgeted for time going south.
stokebailey is offline  
Oct 18th, 2009, 06:43 AM
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Agree, crossed yesterday at Pacific for day, a very busy Sat southbound in spite of rain. Our Nexus lane was diverted right to truck area. Cross Border shoppers? Can $ is near 97 US.

Another frustration in the 2 southbound regular passenger lanes can be placement of pylons. Last month right lane moved quickly because it split into three, whereas left lane led to only one customs booth.

Again, you could try going down clear Nexus/Duty Free lane to Duty Free shop, quickly buy a small item ie candy, you re-enter close to booths, always seems to work for my daughter.
jojo46 is offline  
Oct 18th, 2009, 07:50 AM
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Another frustration in the 2 southbound regular passenger lanes can be placement of pylons. Last month right lane moved quickly because it split into three, whereas left lane led to only one customs booth.

Yes, we got stuck in the left lane and when we discovered the people bearing to the right were moving more quickly, we shifted over, and went through the wicket long before the (glaring) people in the left lane.
Gardyloo is offline  
Oct 18th, 2009, 09:50 AM
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It would seem that whatever nexus cost it would be worth it after a couple of trips/year. I suppose everyone in the vehicle must have one? We had a gas-guzzling rental car, and the fuel level dropped a surprising amount as we idled.
stokebailey is offline  
Oct 18th, 2009, 03:00 PM
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It costs $50 but good for 5 years and yes everyone in car would need one. Was worthwhile for us because we have property both sides of border.
jojo46 is offline  
Oct 24th, 2009, 02:07 PM
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These comments are helpful.
NWWanderer, thanks for the link.
I will be staying in Blaine during the Olympics and will be crossing a few times throughout the week.
Kasualkat is offline  
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