Traveling over the US/Canada border in a conversion van! Any tips?

Hi there! Currently completing my first build with my partner and heading from Pennsylvania, USA into Canada! We are super excited but also would love some tips on crossing the border… our vehicle is not insured as an RV but has a bed, stove, DC fridge, etc. basically all the stuff to be a camper van.

Does anyone have experience crossing the US/Canada border?
If you have no real travel plans and just a general idea of how long you’ll be there, do you face issues?
What can and can’t you have?

Thanks in advance!

2 Likes

They’re definitely going to ask you where you’re going/what your plans are/how long you’re staying. You could easily just say something along the lines of “we’re going for an extended camping trip in general area” (maybe like a national park) And you’re allowed a maximum of 6 months, but then you just have to cross the border back into the US for like a day, and then you can go back if you wish. But if you plan on staying that long, you could just tell them you’re doing a roadtrip and you’ll probably be fine.
You cant bring in any weapons. No guns, mace, I don’t even think hatchets or anything. (but I’m not totally sure on that one) If you do have a gun, it has to be registered before you head in and it’s like a 25 dollar fee that is only good for like 2 months, and then you have to renew it. And that’s only for things like rifles/shotguns. You also can’t bring animal products (I’m a bone/animal collector, and I technically can’t bring them in, but I have my prized raccoon bones hidden in a box, but I could get in trouble if it was found.)
And sometimes they’ll take your produce. Like fruits and veggies. If you have like an apple or two, they typically don’t care, but if you’ve got a bunch of stuff they might take it

3 Likes

Thanks so much! This is all super helpful. I read that sometimes they are uptight about bringing specific types of wood in - does this include wood that is used for the ceiling or cabinets? Or do they typically not care if it’s apart of the build? Also I looooove my succulents and really want to bring them but I know there’s restrictions on bringing plants in… any knowledge about that?

3 Likes

I don’t think they should care about the wood if it’s a part of your van (I’m assuming it’s finished wood)
Restriction on wood it typically for firewo/raw wood because it can bring bugs and bettles and kill local trees and stuff.
And I’m really not sure about the succulents, maybe someone else has some answers on that

2 Likes

Have a great fun there man. But don’t forget to know all legal requirements. Check all parts of your van that they are enough fit because prevention is better than cure. You should also get [van insurance] before traveling anywhere. Keep all of your required stuff in van, my best wishes are with you.

2 Likes

Unless it’s firewood, you shouldn’t have a problem with wood, especially if it’s pressure treated lumber. Plants will be a problem. I recommend leaving them with a friend, since you wouldn’t want to lose them!

As for your plans and time frame, you will definitely want to create an itinerary to show the border guards. Like, “Banff, August 10-28” and a reasonable travel schedule for several months out. I would even make a couple of actual reservations, if possible, even if you don’t really plan to keep them. The more official, the easier it will be for you. Oh, and don’t take any pot. Even though it’s pretty much legal, just keep everything very squeaky until you are safely across the border. I’ve experienced some pretty scary shakedowns crossing the border, and I hear it’s worse now. So keep it clean, keep it official,and don’t give them any reason to search you. Even more so when crossing back into the U.S., especially since Canada will be legal by the time you return.

3 Likes