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Old 09-02-2013, 08:44 AM   #1
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Default Food into Canada from the U.S.

We have only crossed into Canada a handful of times in the Roadtrek, and were very careful (paranoid?) about having much food with us as we had heard some horror stories about border crossings and problems. We made sure we had no fresh fruit, nuts, meat, poultry, dairy, vegetables, etc. I think all these can be an issue at the border, either into Canada, or into the U.S. if they are open and/or missing a factory label. All we really had was in cans when we crossed.

But, how does it work on some of the other things?

Packaged meats, like brats in a sealed package from Johnsonville frozen or refrigerated

Nuts in a labelled, sealed bag or can

Cheese, Cottage cheese or yogurt in a sealed container or bag

Fresh bread or flatbread in a labelled, sealed bag

Various open condiments in the frig like mustard, ketchup, salsa, etc

Bagged salads

I tried going to the Canada and U.S. customs websites, and they seem pretty vague on a lot of things and more toward importers than tourists.

We will be doing a quick one day in and out to Canada in a couple of weeks, so we really don't want to have to get rid of everything and shop twice in two days as we cross in and out.
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Old 09-02-2013, 03:00 PM   #2
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Default Re: Food into Canada from the U.S.

The "Travelers bringing food into the U.S." resource is here: https://help.cbp.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/82

The "What Can I Bring Into Canada in Terms Of Food, Plant, Animal and Related Products?" resource is here: http://www.beaware.gc.ca/english/brirape.shtml

Canada's Automated Import Reference System http://www.inspection.gc.ca/plants/i.../1300127627409 lets you get into very specific detail provided you know the origin of the product.

Condiments look to be permissible (Spices, tea, coffee, condiments).
So do dairy products (cheese, milk, yogurt, butter)
Baked goods are listed as being allowed.

Fresh fruits and vegetables have lots of restrictions / rules that vary by State and Province. Try the "Automated Import Reference System" linked above.
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Old 09-02-2013, 07:29 PM   #3
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Default Re: Food into Canada from the U.S.

In our border crossings, fresh fruits and vegetables seemed to be the main concern. Even at that I don't think they get too excited about it as long as it appears to be minor and for personal consumption. I suppose if you were bringing in huge supplies like crates and more than you can consume in a day or two they might.

There is also a limit on alcohol. I think for beer it was a case. At least that is what I had and told them and they let it go.
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Old 09-02-2013, 08:54 PM   #4
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Default Re: Food into Canada from the U.S.

I couldn't make much out of the automatic info link, but the others appear to indicate as Marko said. Fruits, veggies no. Packaged nuts, cottage cheese, cheese, yogurt OK. I think the packaged sausages are OK too as long as the are properly labelled. We will give it a try and see how it goes.

thanks to all
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Old 09-02-2013, 09:54 PM   #5
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Default Re: Food into Canada from the U.S.

You may or may not get the "long version" of the questions at the border from the CBSA people which usually include the "fresh fruits or vegetables" part.
Don't ask, don't tell, works, if you aren't asked about what food you might be bringing in.

They'll be more concerned about your citizenship, purpose of visit/where you're going, how long do you plan to be in country, and how much alcohol and tobacco you might have. Might even ask you about firearms and weapons, depending on the agent. Davydd was right on the case (24X355ml cans or bottles) of beer, 1.14L of liquor, and 1.5L of wine are allowed per person.

If you do get asked and you have fresh fruits and vegetables either loose, or in those tear off plastic bags that you use to gather and weigh them in the grocery stores, they might be refused. Unless they have those little product code # labels that say "product of USA/Canada" still on the individual pieces. Things like a package of baby peeled carrots, or packaged salads, packaged fruit, and so on are probably OK, on the same basis, labelled with point of origin. Almost anything else that's packaged is probably good to go. As I've said before, it does depend on the CBP/CBSA agent you happen to be dealing with when it's your turn to cross. Calm and polite always go a long way.

We've noticed some labels on both sides of the border, on some freshly packaged meats, like your sausages, ground beef, pork loins, etc. - have "dual citizenship" comments on the labels. They state that the meat is good in the US or Canada. I can't remember where we saw it, unfortunately. It's possible it was a situation where Canadian beef cattle were transported to the US, and processed there, making the product good in either country.

Update: I found this website while looking for something else, and it's an amusingly good read.
http://www.immigroup.com/news/border-cr ... -and-donts
Most of it is valid, based on what we've experienced in a year's worth of weekly border crossings. Except the suggestion about losing the receipts for whatever you're bring back or across in either direction, even if you've owned the items for a while. Keep them handy, if asked. It does happen. Found out the hard way on that one with the generators.
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Old 09-02-2013, 11:09 PM   #6
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Default Re: Food into Canada from the U.S.

I crossed the border from Minnesota into Canada and the agent asked me if I had any firearms. I said no. He then asked me if I feared for my safety. My retort was I thought I was crossing into Canada, not Mexico.

I suspect they have a lot of trip questions. They know an awful lot about you through their computers. I did the Lake Superior Circle Tour one year entering Canada from Michigan's UP and returning into Minnesota. When I approach the USA border on returning, the agent blurted out, "Hello David" on the loud speaker when I was still approaching.

I learned another time on entering back in the USA that they do random searching. I crossed the border up by Lake of the Woods early in the morning and they apologized to me because the random search number came up. I watched from the building they made us stay in. It looked like a perfunctory routine but disinterested search.
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Old 09-02-2013, 11:21 PM   #7
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Default Re: Food into Canada from the U.S.

That was our "random" search experience at Buffalo in 2008. Sat quietly in a little foyer in their office building while they opened a few cupboards and the wardrobe and bathroom. Odd that we'd only crossed in to the US together once before that particular episode, about 2 months earlier. Before that, it had been years since either of us had crossed the border. There must be some artificial intelligence logic built into the software routine that picks you out of the crowd. I can't believe it's entirely random, but I could be mistaken.
We got a more thorough search crossing the Hoover Dam a few years back - made me open up the external storage, as well as most of the inside cupboards and flipped up the covers for the under bed accesses. We must have set off some red flag, although iirc we probably looked tired and scruffy after many hours on the road.
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Old 09-03-2013, 05:40 AM   #8
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Default Re: Food into Canada from the U.S.

One time going through, coming back to the U.S., we got a major search. They went through our luggage and went around the van with mirrors and "tap sticks" to check for hidden compartments. The required us to stand at a "safe distance". It was not a pleasant experience.

..........Rocky
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Old 09-03-2013, 02:40 PM   #9
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Default Re: Food into Canada from the U.S.

I wonder if the agents at the kiosks/booths have the authority to overrule/dismiss a "random search" popup if the vehicle is so flagged? Perhaps they're allowed some leeway in who gets searched and who doesn't, probably based on their first impressions of the vehicle and it's occupants. They certainly have the authority to initiate one, if they have any doubts as to your credibility. You have to assume you are being instantaneously visually and psychologically profiled at the border, whether unintentional or otherwise. It's their job.
We've gone quite a while between being told we were being randomly searched in the US a few years back, and then being searched returning to Canada a month or so ago over the gensets in the truck bed (they're still there, btw). Pretty much nothing in between, except an occasional "long form" of questions by a zealous border agent. We did get the thorough questioning a few times after I purchased some firearms in the US last Fall. Got asked straight out if I had any with me at least 3 times upon entering both the US and Canada. I said, "No, sir", they said, "Have a nice day".
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