Canadians Employed In The U.S. Traveling Across The Border This Summer Will Be Subject To CBP's Enhanced Requirements

CBP (U.S. Customs and Border Protection)'s Detroit Chief, Ron Smith, recently stated that "travelers are reminded that as of Jan. 31, 2008, CBP stopped accepting an oral declaration of citizenship and now all individuals entering the country have to present documentary proof of citizenship." Given the present state of U.S. immigration laws, HR Managers, at least as a precautionary measure, would be better served by making employees traveling on company’s behalf aware of documents required by CBP to gain entry into the U.S.  These documents include: official passports, passport cards, visas, copies of birth certificates along with government-issued photo identification, enhanced driver's licenses, NEXUS or FAST cards. Although U.S. or Canadian citizens who travel without the correct paperwork will have the requirements explained to them, receive a tearsheet explaining how to become compliant with the rules and then be able to proceed into the U.S., my suggestion is that these traveling employees be informed. CBP officers still exercise discretion with those who fail to comply with the enhanced requirements. Since the standards for entry were increased earlier this year and the compliance rate among travelers crossing the border has been in the 90 percent range, according to U.S. Department of Homeland Security officials, I would not leave an employee’s entry to the whims of “discretion.” In addition to having the proper documents, planning ahead can expedite the crossing. Canadian employees traveling to the U.S. should:

  • Check border traffic conditions to help facilitate their crossings.
  • Have travel documents ready before stopping at the inspection booth.
  • Be prepared to declare merchandise purchased or acquired in Canada.
  • Declare "duty-free goods", even if purchased at "duty-free" stores.
  • Do not attempt to bring unauthorized fruits, meats, and dairy products into the country.
  • Do not attempt to bring Cuban cigars in as they are a prohibited item in the U.S.
  • Even before leaving for the trip, obtain a Know Before You Go brochure available on the CBP Web page. ( Know Before You Go )
  • Don’t rely on friends and shopkeepers for advice on what items "will clear inspection"; instead, obtain this information directly from U.S. Customs and Border Protection. 
  • Understand that, CBP officers have the authority to conduct enforcement examinations ranging from a single luggage examination up to and possibly including a personal search.

For individuals traveling back and forth over the bridges this summer, CBP has suggested their enrollment in the NEXUS program which allows prescreened, low-risk travelers to proceed with little or no delay. Applications are available on the Canadian Border Services Agency Web site at and the Customs and Border Protection web site, or by calling (866) NEXUS 26 [866-639-8726]. However, for employees, before registering them in NEXUS, HR managers should check with an immigration attorney.