Heading South (or North) of the Border

One of the fun things about driving around the United States is being able to drive over the border into Mexico or Canada whenever you please. Unfortunately, rules and regulations have become stricter over time, and you’ll have to work a bit harder to cross the border legally today. Make sure that you understand the procedures before you attempt to make a border crossing today, to avoid running into any issues.

Bring Your Passports

Every person in your group is going to need a passport to leave the United States, and to return. That means you have to take excellent care of your passports while out of the country, and you have to make sure that you bring them with you before you leave. If you happen to lose your passport while across the border, you will have to head to the local embassy to sort out the paperwork before being able to travel back home.

Children Need ID, Too

If there are children with you on your trip, you have to do two different things. The first is make sure they have passports of their own. After that, you need papers proving that you are the legal guardian and that you have the right to bring the child across the border. If you are divorced from the other parent, or you aren’t married, you will have to bring a notarized letter of consent from the other parent proving that you have the right to leave the country with the child.

Traveling to Canada

There are restrictions that you must be aware of before you make your way into Canada. If you aren’t careful, you will have items confiscated or not be allowed back into the U.S.

  • Firearms are often restricted upon border crossings, but it’s possible to bring them in some instances if you declare them.
  • There are limits on tobacco; you can bring up to 200 cigarettes and 50 cigars in with you.
  • When bringing pets, you must be sure they are up to date on their vaccines, and that the vaccines are not going to expire before you leave the country.
  • If you must bring along prescription medications for a medical condition, make sure to keep them in the original bottle and bring along a number for your doctor and your pharmacy
  • There are strict laws about liquor, you can only bring 40 ounces of hard liquor, you can bring in 53 ounces of wine or a total of 24 cans of beer. To bring these over the border, you have to be of legal drinking age.

Heading to Mexico

Making your way into Mexico is a bit complicated if you aren’t familiar with the procedure. When driving into Mexico, you’ll need to purchase Mexican insurance for your vehicle. In many locations, you’ll also have to pay a permit fee. You will also be required to sign a document stating that you won’t travel beyond 25 miles of the entry point and that you'll be returning to the states in the same vehicle. A few other items to take note of would include the following:

  • No weapons are allowed to cross the border, and if you plan on staying more than 72 hours, you’ll need to obtain a tourist card. These cards are free for everyone.
  • You should register all your valuable belongings when you cross into Mexico; this makes it easy to prove that the items are yours when you head back to the United States again.

Getting into the United States

When it’s time to make it back to the United States, you must avoid bringing over any plants, narcotics, or any food or animal products. You’re allowed to bring back up to $800 in purchased items from bordering countries, just make sure you don’t bring back medications or other disallowed items. If you do they will be confiscated and, depending on what they are, you could face fines and even jail time. Make sure to play by the rules and enjoy your out of the country get away.