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Can you rent a car in Canada and drive it into the US?

Can you rent a car in Canada and drive it into the US?

Old Feb 8th, 2002, 01:37 PM
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Can you rent a car in Canada and drive it into the US?

We're flying into Calgary this July, renting a car, going to Banff and then down to Glacier National Park and then back to Calgary. Is there any problem with the rental companies letting you drive one of their cars across the border? It just occurred to me that this might be a problem. Any help would be appreciated!!
Old Feb 8th, 2002, 01:52 PM
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Don't trust any opinions here. Ask the rental car company!
Old Feb 8th, 2002, 05:15 PM
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Anne: We rented a car from National in Vancouver,British Columbia & drove across the border to Seattle & then dropped it off in Portland, NO PROBLEM.
Old Feb 8th, 2002, 05:54 PM
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Check with the car rental company is correct. If you took a car across the border and didnt return it, (example only) the car rental company would spend way more than its worth to attempt to get it back over the border, re court fees, etc. A contract doesnt necessarily have any binding authority in another jurisdiction. Check first would be my advice, see if a company will let you do it, and rent from them.
Old Feb 8th, 2002, 08:31 PM
Bob Brown
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Hi Anne, this is not an opinion, I actually did the exact same thing Anne you are asking about. I rented a car from Hertz at the Calgary Airport and drove to Glacier and Yellowstone and back to Calgary.

I urge you in the stongest terms possible to take your passport with your for two reasons.
1. Entering Canada and returning to the US via air subjects one to much more rigid screening than if you enter by car. Since Sept 11, going to Canada and returning from Canada no longer seems to enjoy the special status it once did. Too much has happened.

2. You will be crossing the border with a Canadian car driven by an American. Expect to be quizzed.

Both situations argue strongly for the passport. You can argue that legally an American citizen does not need a passport to enter Canada or to return home. That may be the de jure situation, BUT the de facto situation is that your life will be a lot easier both coming and going if you have your passport.

As I said earlier, you can indeed take a Canadian rental car into the US, but I have your passport and rental car contract handy at the American checkpoint. And based on my experience, you should have your airplane ticket where you can easily find it.

Here is a more detailed account of my experience. We left Calgary with our Hertz car and drove to Banff, Lake Louise, and Field, in Yoho Park.
Then we headed south to Yellowstone and Glacier, crossing the border at Coutts. At the border, the American officer proved hard to deal with. He asked all kinds of questions like
"Why is an American driving a Canadian car? Whose car is this? What are you doing with it? Where are you going? [Yellowstone] Oh Yeah? Why did you fly into Calgary? How are you going to return the car? Where are you going to return the car? How are you getting home?" And so on.

I was caught a little by surprise because in previous crossings in earlier years, I had gotten no such hassle. After about 60 seconds of this nonsense, I reached for my passport, and my wife pulled the rental contract out of the glove compartment.
At that point the officer waved us on through without actually looking at either document. But until he saw that I had a passport and a rental contract, he was firing questions without letup. I think it wise to be prepared.

In this post Sept 11 world, life is much simpler flying into and out of Canada if you have a passport.

Even in prior years, airport customs and immigrations officials were much more rigid in their procedures compared with highway crossings.

The only time I ever saw a real nasty inspection was in 1987 when some wiseacre in front of me in a van smarted off to the Canadian border officials about carrying firearms and liquor. He must have said more than the magic word because as I was driving away, I could see the van in the rear view mirror. The insides of the van were rapidly becoming the outsides, even the luggage and spare tire were on the pavement.


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