Entering Canada could be harder than you think

Posted Sep 25, 2014 by Greta McClain
Post 9/11, travel restrictions have become much more stringent, making "issues" that once seemed insignificant a potential obstacle, even when traveling between the United States and Canada.
United States boarder crossing into Canada
United States boarder crossing into Canada
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The "war of terror" has forever changed the way we travel, whether it is for business or pleasure, whether an individual is visiting from halfway around the world, or taking a Sunday drive from a neighboring town, Canada's tourism-related Immigration regulations, and those of the vast majority of the world, have become much more complicated.
Earlier this month, Canadian tourism ministers met to discuss various ways to draw more tourists.
One of most popular measures was calling on the Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC) place more focus on the U.S. tourist market. Maxime Bernier, federal minister of state for tourism, small business and agriculture, told the Journal Pioneer:
“It is an important market … they are our neighbors. The economy is going well. They still have some challenges, like other countries, but it’s going well. So, it’s time, I think, for the CTC to be back in this market and that was the consensus around the table.”
Before American's begin to pack their bags and head to the "Great White North", there are some important things to keep in mind. According to Canadian Government's tourist requirements, in order to visit Canada, the individual must have a valid travel document, such as a passport, and be in good health, which may require proof of a recent medical exam. The individual must also be able to show substantial ties to the country they are from, such as family, a job, home or financial assets that would indicate a strong likelihood of leaving Canada and returning to your home country after your visit.
These regulations seem logical and relatively easy to navigate. However, it is often times the mundane, seemingly insignificant things that can bring a family vacation or business trip to a halt before it even begins. One important thing to consider is knowing exactly what you have in your vehicle. Peter DeMarco, a correspondent for the Boston Globe, recently told readers how his honeymoon nearly ended before it began.
Following the wedding, one of DeMarco's friends placed two tiki torches in back of his SUV. Not realizing the torches were in the vehicle, Demarco and his new bride headed towards Quebec City. Thankfully, the tiki torches are not considered firearms, however if the boarder guard had seen that they contained fuel, he could have been stopped, the car inspected and potentially refused entry into the country.
Having a criminal record can lead to someone being considered “criminally inadmissible". Most people would agree such a restriction is appropriate when the crime involves violence or illegal drugs, however many don't think about other criminal offences.
I was recently asked if a person can visit Canada with a Driving Under the Influence (DUI) arrest on their record. The answer is both yes, and no.
If someone has been convicted of a DUI, chances are good they will be considered criminally inadmissible. Even if an individual has not been convicted of DUI, simply having a DUI arrest and a pending court case can result in being denied entry into the county. However, there are some exceptions and procedures that can be followed that will enable someone to enter Canada, even with a DUI arrest.
If a person plans on visiting Canada, whether for business or pleasure, fairly frequently, the easiest way to enter Canada is by having a legal opinion letter. This letter will explain to authorities why the individual is not criminally inadmissible even with a DUI charge on their arrest record. Obtaining a legal opinion letter can also be less expensive and time consuming then attempting to go through the criminal rehabilitation process especially if the arrest occurred within the past five years.
Canada offers a wonderful variety of tourism options, whether someone is interested in exploring the natural wonders Canada has to offer, the wonderful cultural experiences, or the fantastic music scene. But, it is important to plan ahead and have all the documents required needed to insure your visit isn't halted at the boarder.