How to Travel to the U.S. in an RV (Without Being Sent Back)

By: South Thompson RV   |   10 Mar 2017
Crossing the boarder

Spring road trip planning is in full swing, and since Kamloops is roughly a three-and-a-half hour drive from the U.S-Canada border, some of us might be looking to visit our Southern neighbours.

Crossing the American border from British Columbia in your RV is easy enough, but fluctuating travel entry requirements dictate that you should have all of your necessary paperwork and identification ready ahead of time.

Canadians can enter the United States from British Columbia using the Washington State border crossing (a 687 kilometre border with B.C), the Idaho border crossing (a 72 kilometre border with B.C), the Montana border crossing (a 877 kilometre border with B.C) and through Alaska (it’s an ongoing dispute, we know).

Thousands of vehicles cross over to the United States every day, and if you’ve ever been through the customs line, you can understand how frustrating the experience can be. Long lineups, annoyed drivers, and, worst of all, maybe a U.S Customs Officer who could be having a bad day.

So, how do you successfully cross the border into the United States, without being sent back?

Have Your Documents In Order

Crossing the border in a motorhome or travel trailer is a lot like boarding an airplane. Unless you’ve got dual citizenship, you’re not a legal resident of the country and therefore, you must identify yourself. Adults and children must possess a valid Canadian passport to enter by land. Since you’ll be driving through the United States, you’ll also need to have your driver’s license and vehicle insurance papers on hand. It’s a good idea to bring any RV paperwork, like your RV warranty, with you and have access to it so that, if asked, you may present it to border agents in a timely manner. You might be asked by border agents what the purpose of your trip is, how long you intend to stay for, and what your residing address is back in Canada. These questions are all part of a normal procedure and are done for cautionary measures.

Declare Everything

Whether you're going to the U.S. in a Travel Trailer or a compact car, one of the major reasons people complain about crossing the border is their unwillingness to declare goods (because who likes paying duty, anyways). It is your responsibility, and also the law to declare any outlined item when crossing the border into the United States. Weapons aside, one of the most major concerns for customs officers is foreign food entering the United States. It sounds strange, but certain products, especially dairy and meat, have different regulations in Canada than they do in the U.S and therefore, they’re prohibited. Many of our new travel trailers or luxury RVs, like the 2017 Cedar Creek Silverback, or the 2017 Surveyor come fully-equipped with stainless steel refrigerators. RV owners should always consider what’s in the fridge before hitting the road, especially because nothing would be worse than having to throw out your new groceries during the border crossing.

U.S officials might also ask to inspect your RV. Again, this is a common procedure and you should fully cooperate. Vehicles are randomly selected every day, and let’s face it, a big motorhome definitely draws attention, because it’s filled with much more than passengers and road maps.

Be Friendly

Road trips in your RV to our southern neighbours should be fun, not stressful. As long as you have nothing illegal on board, have your identification ready, and are fully-cooperative with the U.S authorities, your border crossing should be a breeze. When it’s your turn at the customs window, present your passport with a smile. Respond to any and all questions politely, the Canadian way. Don’t be overly chatty or come across as nervous, for that might warrant an inspection. Be yourself, be honest and have your passports and related document in plain view and you’ll be fine!

Are you planning a trip to the United States soon? On top of everything else, make sure your new RV or used motorhome are legally allowed to enter! Book a service appointment to ensure all parts are working and performing as they should. If you’re feeling super bold and patriotic (or just want to impress customs) add some stars and stripes to your RV with a few custom RV accessories. Call us today at 1-(888) 871-4058 or contact us online for further assistance.

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2449 Trans Canada Hwy E, Kamloops, BC V2C 4A9