us border black friday

Ontario-New York borders could be a nightmare on Black Friday so here are some tips

Spending season is upon us, and countless Canadian shoppers are expected to travel south of the U.S. border to take part in the annual peak of capitalism on Black Friday this week, clogging up international crossings with trunks full of discounted outlet mall goodies.

Crossings between Ontario and Western New York are some of the busiest borders during the Black Friday spending drive, and the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) is advising travellers on how to best navigate the headaches of cross-border travel during the busy U.S. Thanksgiving and Black Friday week.

Plan ahead

The CBSA's most important tip is to plan ahead and check border wait times, suggesting that "travellers crossing the border by land are encouraged to cross during non-peak hours, such as early morning," with the added warning that "the Mondays of holiday long weekends tend to be the busiest, with longer border wait times."

Know your exemption limits

With shopping expected to be one of the main draws for cross-border traffic this week, the CBSA is reminding travellers of personal exemption limits, suggesting you "check the CBSA duty and taxes estimator to calculate taxes on goods purchased in the United States and to help make informed decisions when shopping abroad."

Declare your shopping haul

You'll have to declare all goods purchased abroad, and the CBSA says it's probably not a good idea to gift-wrap anything before crossing the border, as it might just need to be unwrapped again for inspection. Returning residents should "have your receipts readily available for goods purchased or received while outside of Canada."

Air travel won't be any better

Airports are also going to see higher volumes of passengers this week, and the CBSA urges travellers using Canadian international airports, including Toronto-Pearson, to use advance customs and immigration declaration to save time at the border.

It's legal here but not everywhere

This one goes without saying, but you should not — under any circumstance — try and bring any cannabis products into the U.S..

The CBSA warns that "transporting cannabis across the border in any form without a permit or exemption authorized by Health Canada remains a serious criminal offence subject to arrest and prosecution, despite the legalization of cannabis in Canada."

Other prohibited goods

If you are thinking of trying to save time by bringing groceries across the border for a dinner to celebrate the Americans' month-and-a-half-late Thanksgiving, you should probably reconsider, as several food items are prohibited.

"There are currently restrictions on imports of live birds, bird products and by-products from U.S. states affected by Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza. It is recommended you not bring poultry products – including a turkey, eggs, and/or chicken – into Canada," reads a statement by the CBSA.

Lead photo by

Matt Barnard


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