Expect another busy long weekend at the Coutts Border Crossing as thousands of Albertans will flock to the U.S. for the last long weekend of Summer.

Mylene Estrada-del Rosario with the Canadian Border Services Agency says with all the talk about cannabis becoming legal in October, you need to remember until then it's still illegal.

"So, despite the fact cannabis will become legal and regulated in Canada in the near future, it will remain illegal to take cannabis across Canada's borders. So whether you're entering or leaving Canada."

She says once it becomes legal in Canada, it will still be illegal to take it with you to the U.S., or return into Canada with Marijuana.

Estrada-del Rosario says coming back through after your trip to the U.S. can be a breeze if you remember two simple things.

Be honest in your declarations, and don't panic if you get pulled over for further examination.

"Don't panic about the secondary examination. It's standard procedure and sometime's it's just a random check and if travellers don't have anything to hide they really don't have to worry about anything."

She also says the best time to go through the border is in the morning, make sure your ID is ready when you get there and if you have any concerns about what you can and can't bring back from the U.S. check with the CBSA before you go.

Here's six tips from the CBSA:

  1. Consider crossing in the morning

Arriving at the border in the morning, rather than in the afternoon or evening, gives you the best chance of avoiding lineups. In Alberta, the CBSA recommends using the Coutts border crossing during peak travel times, as it is open 24-7 and has the greatest capacity to process large volumes of traffic. Visit the CBSA website or download the CanBorder App to monitor wait times.

  1. Keep your ID handy

Don’t you hate that sinking feeling of not being able to find your passport? Here’s a tip: Have it out and ready well before you arrive at the border. Don’t have a passport? Check our website for a list of other valid travel documents.

  1. Do your homework

Not sure whether an item is allowed into Canada? Save the hassle by checking before you buy it. Still not sure? Call our Border Information Service at 1-800-461-9999 (toll-free within Canada) and just ask. Keep your personal exemptions in mind, and remember to save and tally all your receipts – an officer may ask to see them.

  1. Don’t sweat it

Making a full declaration is easy. We know that most returning Albertans want to follow the rules, and honesty truly is the best policy. When you declare any purchases or goods you’ve acquired while in the U.S. at the first opportunity, you eliminate the risk of penalties and charges. Say no to smuggling and make a full and accurate declaration.

  1. Don’t take it personally

Being sent inside for further examination is no reason to panic. In fact, it’s a completely normal part of the border-crossing experience, and does not mean you have done anything wrong. You could be referred for further examination for any number of reasons, even for a random check.

  1. Cannabis. Don’t bring it in. Don’t take it out.

Despite the fact that cannabis (marijuana) will become legal and regulated in Canada in the near future, it will remain illegal to take cannabis across Canada’s national borders, whether you are entering or leaving Canada. For more information, consult cannabis (marijuana) legalization.


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