(Wednesday, August 29, 2012)
Great Falls, Mont.— This weekend, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers in Montana and Idaho are reminding travelers planning trips across the border, to make sure they have proper documents and to anticipate heavy traffic during the celebration of the Labor Day holiday.
Labor Day has been observed in both Canada and the United States as a federal holiday since the late 1880s on the first Monday in September. It originated as a day off for working laborers and is the symbolic end of summer. Border traffic volumes are expected to be greatly increased at border crossings between British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan that are shared with Idaho and Montana. All travelers are reminded of a few simple steps they can employ when crossing the border:
- Plan your trip and allow extra time for crossing the border. Consult the CBP website to monitor border wait times at Sweetgrass, Montana; find out the operating hours for ports of entry in Montana and Idaho; and review the “Know Before You Go” tip sheet by clicking on "Travel." ( CBP.gov )
- Avoid peak travel times when at all possible. The heaviest traffic periods are typically between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.
- The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, implemented on June 1, 2009, requires U.S. and Canadian citizens, age 16 and older to present a valid, acceptable document that denotes both identity and citizenship when entering the U.S. by land or sea. WHTI-approved travel documents include a passport, U.S. passport card, enhanced driver’s licenses, or a Trusted Traveler Program card (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, and FAST). For more information, visit getyouhome.gov. ( GetYouHome.gov )
- Do not attempt to bring fruits, meats, dairy/poultry products and firewood into the United States from Canada without first checking to see if they are permitted. The United States Department of Agriculture restricts the entry of certain agricultural and wood products to prevent the introduction of pests and diseases which may infest crops, forests, and livestock.
USDA initiated new restrictions on pet food from Canada which states pet food manufactured in Canada containing lamb or goat is prohibited; pet food must be in its’ original container; and if the container is open, the pet must be present in the vehicle. The maximum quantity of pet food allowed is 50 pounds or less.
The USDA also prohibits the following Canadian-grown produce: green onions, leeks, chives, whole tomatoes, whole peppers, and home-grown potatoes. Fresh corn-on-the-cob may also be restricted depending on your destination and the province where the corn was produced.
CBP also reminds travelers that all citrus (oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruit) is prohibited from entering the U.S. from Canada, even if the fruit was grown in the U.S.
The presence of the very destructive stored grain pest, Khapra beetle, is known to exist in certain countries, so the USDA prohibits dried food products such as rice, soybeans, chickpeas, and safflower seeds from Afghanistan, Algeria, Bangladesh, Burma (Myanmar), Cyprus, Egypt, India, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, and Upper Volta (Burkina Faso).
Firewood, including wood and logs with bark, must be accompanied by a certificate of heat treatment. Travelers arriving at ports of entry without a heat treatment certificate for their Canadian origin firewood will be required to return to Canada to dispose of the wood. Dimensional lumber, wood that has been planed and sawed for use as firewood, does not require a heat treatment certificate.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control, and protection of our Nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.