If you’ve ever crossed the border into Canada, it can be hard to believe it isn’t the same country at first glance. Crossing the U.S border into our Northern friend is an invisible line, even with a border patrol asking for your credentials. Driving into Canada in an RV is similar to driving into Canada by any other personal motor vehicle. However, sometimes RV campers can get “singled out” more often than a pick-up truck or a sedan when heading over. It’s important to know the requirements you’ll need as you make your way into Canada from the U.S. in an RV.
There are 13 states in the U.S that border Canada. Each state has more than 1 border patrol. 2 of which are currently one-way only crossings. Be sure to do your research, you might not be able to come back from the same crossing you came in.
You’ll need identification when crossing into Canada. A passport is your best bet. Make sure it is valid and not expired. You must have a valid form of ID for every person in the RV. It’s helpful to have more than one with you for good measure. Other forms of ID include a birth certificate, an enhanced license (for international travel) or a NEXUS card. Of course, the driver needs a valid license issued by a U.S. state too.
2. Pets and Children
You will need certifications required by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency when bringing your pets across the border. Some of these documents include current vaccinations issued by a licensed vet. These requirements are subject to change and they are also based on species of pet. Pets under 3 months old require proof of age.
If traveling with children, sometimes a consent letter is needed, if one or both custodial parents aren’t traveling with the child. Be prepared for questioning about children with you, as the border patrols are on the lookout for child abduction.
3. Auto Insurance and Registration
RV insurance and registration is required. This isn’t necessarily checked by border patrols. The reason is for your own protection if you come into any mishaps while traveling in Canada. The good news is that many U.S. insurance policies can also be used in Canada. Always double-check with your insurer first. Additional coverage could be required. If you are hitching a trailer to your car, it isn’t mandatory to insure the trailer separately. However, it might be wise to insure both, most policies won’t cover damage to a hitched trailer when parked.
4. Food, Alcohol, Tobacco, Plants and Weaponry
There are tight restrictions on food, tobacco, alcohol, plants and weaponry when traveling into Canada. It is easy to forget especially when vacationing in your RV. Similar to pet laws, restrictions are subject to change but can be found on the Canadian Food Inspection Agency website.
Generally, Canada has stricter rules on weaponry than in the U.S. This includes guns and other weaponry, even hunting and foraging knives. Contact the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) to find out more information on guns and weapons. If you don’t meet the requirements, you will have one or more of these belongings confiscated at the border. We hate to say it, but to save you the hassle, best to leave most of these behind and purchase the necessities once you’re there.
In many places in Canada, you can pay using the U.S dollar. We highly recommend you exchange your U.S money over at a bank or use a debit card when making purchases to get the day’s exchange rate. The U.S. dollar is considered to be worth more than the Canadian dollar. You won’t be thrilled if you need to return something that cost $20 U.S dollars and you get $15 U.S. dollars worth of Canadian money in return.
6. Road Signs and Traffic Laws
Since you’ll be traveling and living in an RV, you’ll need to know your Canadian road signs and traffic laws. Road signs such as speed limits are in the metric system. Speed limit signs will be in km/hr, instead of in mph. In some areas of Canada, road signs are in French. However, many road signs are in both French and English. Other areas include 3 languages, French, English and Cree. Additional traffic laws include, seat belts be worn at all times, children under 40 lbs must be in proper car seats and remember to put your cell phone down while driving!
Keep in mind the navigation you’ll be using. It is helpful to have 2 to 3 forms with you. Many of us use the GPS on our cell phones. Apps such as Google Maps and Waze include Canada in their GPS navigation systems.
Other GPS navigation devices, such as Garmin, if they are older models, might require you to download maps of Canada or Northern America before using. Find the newest version. We also highly recommend getting an updated paper map of Canada for your trip. Spotty service is your worst enemy, especially in a foreign country. Plan your route ahead of time.
8. RV Parks and Campgrounds
Just like the United States, Canada has a variety of RV parks and campgrounds to choose from. Many RV travel websites and park locator apps, such as iOverlander and RV Parky, are not limited to the U.S. and can help you search for an RV park and campgrounds in Canada. Do the same amount of research on an RV park in Canada as you would in the United States. This includes power hookups, weather, amenities, and cost.
Canada is divided into provinces and territories. During the winter months, the farther north you go, the colder it is. Prepare your RV for cold weather.