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My story: in July 2009 I already wanted to come to the USA from Vancouver, I didn't get a permit to enter and had to turn. The reasons? I would not have any ties to Germany any more after 14 months of travelling! So they told me to bring evidences that I want to go back. Unfortunatelly I didn't understand quite well. And yesterday I wanted to cross the border again. I had a unworthy (like a criminal) procedure of 4 hours and then the customs sent me back again. Now I have to bring this evidences for applying for a visa to travel through the USA. I just want to go to South America.
I want to warn everybody that it is not so easy as it seems to travel through the States. Does somebody have similar experiences? I'm absolutely shocked about this arrogance of the costums. After 14 bordercrossings on this trip it was my worst experience.
As a Canadian living close to the border me and my buddy would often go over the border for a ride. We've been doing so for years then all of a sudden they decided my bud couldn't cross anymore - something to do with a charge over 30 years ago that had long been cleared. It amounted to a paper work error on their side but short story is they can get pretty prickly at the US border.
In general, most borders have a great many similarities. Rude customs officials, long line ups, arcane regulations and procedures conspire to make it a potentially difficult process. Usually we get to skirt a lot of the worst of it because we are tourists and they want our money. The people who are crossing regularly for commerce or other reasons aren't usually as fortunate to be treated acceptably.
Sorry to hear about your experience crossing into the US, sounds like you may have encountered an overzealous border guard the first time and as a result you were flagged. They have tightened the border considerably post 9/11, for all, even Canadians who previously were perhaps treated a little better due to proximity and frequency of border crossings. Now, everyone is a foreigner and treated as such.
I doubt there is anything you can do about it now, other than go through the visa process. It's a good warning to other long distance riders to be prepared in their stories if they have been away for a while. Might be better to state that you just starting or are returning back home once you reach x destination. A full fare airline ticket in your possesion (that you can cancel later for a full refund) might be a useful thing to show at the right time.
If the visa process takes a while, and you need to a place to crash, you are welcome to ride a short ways into the interior of BC and drink cold here while you wait.
Mountain Man, that was one of the most clear, balanced and informative posts I've seen in a long while (from anyone but myself, I mean!).
To the OP and others: US customs can be tremendous jerks. Tread cautiously and you may improve the odds, but never forget that they are as often as not precisely the sort of power-mongering, irrational, armed-and-dangerous uniformed folks who inhabit border posts throughout the world. As an American, I can only apologize for their unpredictability and (often) unprofessionalism.
And yes, I think you're stuck going through the visa process. FWIW, Mountain Man has a few good stories to tell....
Thank you for your informations and experiences, it just helps to stay calm and not to go crazy.
This story isn't over jet...
The shortest way from the border was to go to Calgary and get my visa there from the Consulate. It's unbelivable but the next free appiontment for an interview (what you have to do) is in November! Now I have to drive to Vancouver where I got an appointment for the end of September. And still, even if you have the visa, it is not sure, that you can cross the border.
And by the way, where could I get a nice cold ?
Sir Mark, thanks for the kind comments. Unfortunately clear writing is an art form honed from years of practice and produced easily by those of you smart enough to pursue an area of study where it is emphasized. The rest of us have to fake it and rely on being tired or hungover enough to keep our answers short.. And as for border crossings, now there's a memory I have been trying to suppress. Enjoy your Ghanian holiday.
Axel, if you are killing time until the visa process kicks in, you are welcome to stay and scrub some of the road grime. I can also map out some interesting rides for you if you want to fill some of the time. BC is a pretty good place to be laid up for a while. I'll email you with my contact details, feel free to drop me a line.
I cannot believe I am reading your thread that you posted just one week ago. I have done research for nearly a year without reading about this difficulty. I can assure you how shocked I am. I have just posted a thread, please read below. I am stuck like you. What are you up to now? I would be most grateful for any advice. Looking into visas and contacting the consulate now.
As some of you know, we were meant to cross the Canada-USA border yesterday. After a 12-hour exhausting day driving and sitting in border agencies, we were thrown away from the USA, twice!
The main issue seems to be that we don't have a return ticket and we don't have jobs. Now of course, we had to leave our jobs in the first place to have enough time ahead of us to cross the Americas. The return ticket (back to the UK) is also impossible as we don't have a specific location (Chile, Argentina, or before if we get sick?) or date of leaving.
They do not understand what a temporary import of a vehicle is (which we had to do in Canada when we shipped our car from London as a proof that the vehicle would leave the country with us), they do not want to believe we are doing a private expedition for tourism purposes, and are obviously concerned of us staying in the US. They are worried of us being illegal immigrants because we don't have return tickets, nor jobs, and the car is loaded with stuff. They asked us about our bank account details, our money. We told them we had enough savings, but they obviously thought it mean't we would have enough to start a new life in the US.
When we were received entry in the first border, we were so shocked, we didn't see it coming at all. The officer dealing with our case even kindly suggested that we tried a different border (or even come back within a few hours) where somebody perhaps would understand better. To our horror, at the second border, we were horribly treated and threatened. We were shouted at, saying that this was our second warning (was there ever a first one?) and that if we tried this again without proof of empolyment and return tickets (+ financial proofs), they would confiscate the car and deport us back to the UK, and bar us from the US!!! They registered us in the US Justice Dptmt system, asked for our addresses, DOB, parents' addresses and DOB, old jobs' details, fingerprints, photos, ect. I was so shocked I could only cry on my chair, realising that this was over before it had even started; meanwhile, they were entering our details in their database and checking I would not move.
So after all this, we are back at my parents house in Montreal, and our question is: how is it possible that so many other overlanders have done the Americas and not reported this problem, did we miss something in our extensive research?
We have a family wedding in Texas (and John was supposed to meet his sister from the UK there in a few days, and she was bringin extra filters for the car). We have spent nearly a year planning, preparing, saving for this trip. We have quit our jobs and spent money on our car and expedition equipment. We have put so much efforts into realising our dream. I am Canadian and French, my husband is British and Filipino. We have lived and worked together in London UK for our respective governments for the past 5 years, and have spent the last three months in Montreal with my family to kit up the car and prepare for the adventure down south. Obviously, they don't care about this and don't want to know. We had so many documents that they did not even want to see (travel inventory, 1yr tax return form UK, marriage certificate, worlwide travel insurance, inoculations, bank statements, proof of house in the UK. ect). Now, John and the UK registered car only have 6 months in Canada, only 3 left.
Any advice asap would be appreciated because we are now in limbo.
We cannot believe the dream ends here. It would be ridiculous to ship the car to Chile to be told the same thing again on our way up. I will try to contact officials today to get a clear picture.
I hope some of you can help out. This forum has been amazing for us throughout our preps and I'm sure someone out there must know something. Thanks in advance.
Thank you for all the offers.
I got my visa now and tomorrow we try to come into the States again.
Maybe we need another place to stay in Canada. But fingers crossed. We let you know, what is going on.
Hi all. I just finished a WTT in New York after crossing Canada from Vancouver to Quebec. I had no problems at the US border. I crossed in a small point, Armstrong, few miles away from Ste- Teophile and in the straightest way from Quebec City to Portland, Maine. All the proccedure took me 10 minutes and when they asked me the pourpose of my visit to Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Syria, and etc, I answered: the trip. They let me go in. I just said I want to fly back from NYC but I didn´t have to show them the tiket flight.
The point is before I arrived USA by plane and got the inmigration card and then ride the bike, so I can leave the country and come back the times I want till that card expires. So maybe you should buy a tiket flight to the nearest city in US, enter the country by an airport and then get the inmigration card, go back to Canada and ride the bike. A lot of problems and wasting time, but it is better than doing nothing. Have luck.
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