How to Cross the Canadian Border Towing a Boat

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Canada offers a vast array of water sports and outdoor activities, including kayaking, boating and hunting. For boat owners who are traveling to the land known as the "True North Strong and Free," towing a boat into Canada requires a knowledge of border rules and regulations. Before attempting to cross the Canadian border with a boat in tow, it is essential to understand what will be expected of you as a Canadian visitor.

Things You'll Need

  • Photo identification
  • Proof of citizenship
  • Obtain the necessary documentation for entering Canada from the United States. As law, Canada requires all entering persons to have both proof of citizenship and identity. For United States citizens, these requirements can be met by carrying either a passport card, valid U.S. passport or NEXUS card. NEXUS cards (see References) are primarily meant for those who travel between the U.S. and Canada frequently.

  • Acquire the necessary documentation for both your boat and passengers. A valid state boat license is required when towing a boat across the border by car as well as when crossing by water. If on water, boat passengers will need to provide their full names, proof of citizenship, dates of birth and home addresses. Travelers who are going to be in Canada less than 45 days are exempt from nearly all of the Canadian Coast Guard's Office of Boating Safety regulations for foreign recreational water vehicles, as long as they can prove their boat is licensed in America.

  • Identify what mode of entry you want to use. When towing a boat in by car, ensure you have the necessary proof of citizenship and identity as well as the state boat license. When entering Canada by boat, the vessel's captain is required to report to the Canadian Border Services Agency immediately. This reporting must take place at eligible stations. To assist Canadian visitors, many border marinas function as reporting stations. For convenience, these marinas have instructions with toll-free numbers available. Entering Canada by boat without reporting to the Canadian Border Services Agency is illegal. Canadian visitors who have CANPASS permits have the option of calling 1-888-CANPASS and reporting their entry anytime from 30 minutes to four hours before their arrival to an eligible marina or dock.

  • Place your national flag at the stern of your boat when crossing the border by water or when towing the boat by car. As a courtesy to Canada, consider flying a small Canadian flag as well.

Tips & Warnings

  • Double check before leaving to cross the border that you have all of the necessary documents so you do not show up at a border crossing without them.
  • Make sure that your boat has a competely waterproof storage area where your documents can be stored.

References

  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images
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