“As a citizen of Canada or the USA who lives or works in the area of the 1000 Islands on the St Lawrence River, I call upon our political representatives on both sides of the border to harmonize the rules that apply to boaters”.
Since the tragic events of September 11, 2001, crossing the Canadian US border on the St Lawrence River by boat has changed to the detriment of all. Originally, borders were tightened to deal with a perceived terrorist threat. There was a common misconception in the US that the 19 militants associated with the extremist group al-Qaeda, had arrived in the US from Canada. That was not the case … they were all in the US without coming through Canada.
The US and Canadian governments have an agreement in place to work together on a perimeter defence of North America to identify “bad guys” when they arrive in North America, at any port of entry whether it be Canada or the USA. Intelligence and biometrics are shared.
The huge and ongoing investments in border security along the St Lawrence River, for what is essentially an “internal border within the North American perimeter” seems excessive and ineffective.
With upwards of 5 law enforcement agencies on the River, the intertwined economies on and around the River, are all noticing the drop in visitors from the other country. Economic studies identify it as “over enforcement”. The Canadian federal government is wisely investing millions in advertising to attract American visitors, but current border crossing regulations are at odds with that.
The easy back-and-forth of border crossing that neighbours on both sides of the “longest undefended border in the world” had enjoyed for years, is gone.
The Trusted Traveller Program … or Nexus … was set up to speed the identification and movement of Canadian and US citizens who were prepared to undergo a security background check and provide biometric information. The Nexus program has been a good start in identifying pre-cleared individuals as being part of the solution and NOT part of the problem. However, more needs to be done.
The US government allows Canadian Nexus card holders with a Boat Reporting Number, to call in and report their landing spot in the US. As Trusted Travellers, this makes perfect sense.
The Canadian government however insists that everyone report to one of a number of locations on the Canadian border to call in. This is often very inconvenient with many extra miles of River to be crossed simply to speak by phone to an immigration officer in some distant office. This is exactly the same process as required for those with just a passport including the same list of questions regarding importing firearms, plants, animals or $10,000 in cash. Currently there is next to no value in having a Trusted Traveller designation (Nexus) when reentering Canada.
Canada and the US have different rules for reporting in to each respective country, when entering their waters but not “landing, anchoring or meeting another boat”. These are extracts:
If your boat has anchored or tied up, you are considered to have entered the United States.
Recent statements by Canadian authorities that “any boat entering Canadian waters must check in”, is seen as very problematic and an attack on tourism. Tacking a sailboat, paddling a kayak or enjoying a simple sight-seeing cruise can easily cause a boater to criss-cross the international border. As it stands now, a US boat (even a canoe) that enters Canadian waters would have to immediately head to a Canadian reporting station and call in which of course would trigger a need to report “back in” on the US side.
US and Canadian authorities need to harmonize their approaches to how this will be enforced and make a clear statement to the community and media before further damage is done to tourism.
What Our Supporters are Saying
Aug 17, 2017
The process of entering either Canada or the USA should be simplified if you are a Nexus card holder. This helps the card holders but it also helps free up scarce border and customs protection resources so that they can watch for the bad guys! Legislators on both sides of the border should simplify and standardize the process on both sides of the border.
Jul 14, 2016
In Saut Ste. Marie, We can't stay in the channel leading into our city marina without crossing the U.S. Border. We need common sense to be applied to this legislation when you are not landing, anchoring or mooring on the U.S. Side. In our case, call it in to customs or likely run aground!
Jul 05, 2016
Please align Canadian regulations and practices with USA's.
Tupper Lake, NY
May 02, 2016
Apr 08, 2016
As Canadians we used to enjoy almost weekly trips by boat to U.S. towns and restaurants with neighbors . Now it is way to much hassle.
Sep 14, 2015
Sep 10, 2015
Sep 01, 2015
Aug 24, 2015
Aug 24, 2015
The regulations and policies should be the same for both sides of the border. As a Nexus card holder the process and policies to cross into US water are very clear and simple, they are not as clear and simple coming back into Canada.