Taking a kayak across the border

Just a quick check on behalf of a family member - they are talking about going up to Quebec in August and bringing their Otters. (as in rec boats) I vaguely recall dialogue on this board about proof of ownership being helpful in getting out or back into the US. Assuming that if this is something to consider the border guys aren’t going to care whether it’s a rec boat or a sea kayak - should they get the rental place where they got them to write up a bill of sale for them?


Celia, you of all people should know
they’re going to want a bigger boat. Real sea kayaks with real flotation. Something they can grow into as their skill set grows. If the Canadian border guards take their boats, they’d be doing them a favor.

Kayaks to Canada
We have taken our kayaks to Canada every year for the past 5 years. We have never been asked to show proof of ownership, but we are always asked if they are going to be left in Canada or coming home with us as we cross the border. On the way home, we are asked if we purchased the kayaks in Canada. That has been our experience every time.

We have just been asked going north if we plan to sell the kayaks in Canada, and going south, if we bought the kayaks in Canada.

Our word was all they needed.

The actual question is usually

– Last Updated: May-04-10 9:51 AM EST –

are you bringing anything to sell in Canada? Its for the tax man to get his due.

Going home you are asked what you bought in Canada. Generally if the boat looks used thats the end.

I have brought boats for sale to people in Canada and occasionally one I bought up there.

Coming home even if your boat is looking new there are no duties on paddlecraft under NAFTA if it was made in North America.

You will probably only be queried about your boats if the number of boats is way more than the number of users in the car. I sometimes get asked when I have one me and one solo and a tandem.

I go over the border several times a year. My auto insurance company automatically gives me my Non Resident Proof Of Insurance Card each May and November. Make sure you have yours. If you have an accident even if its not your fault, your car can be confiscated.

Here is a link to tell you more


Now Thats interesting
I am originally from Canada (dual citizen now) and we are always asked questions although we only brought a canoe over once and they were so busy trying to figure out about our citizenships, they forgot to ask about the new canoe on the roof!

I don’t know about confiscation but i need to check that out. I have never heard of that.

I’ve never been asked for anything
in the the times I have taken kayaks across to Canada. Citizenship, where are you headed, for how long, any guns, any alcohol and go ahead. On the return they want either a passport or enhanced licence, ask if you have anything to declare, what did you purchase in Canada and have a nice day. If they have kids with them make sure they have an original birth certificate or passport. Pets need the papers showing they are current on shots.

Paddling to Canada
On a related note, does anyone know what the procedure is if you paddle your kayak to Canada? Mind you, this is in a state that doesn’t require registration for kayaks. I know when I take my power boat, I used to just call 888-CAN-PASS and give my registration #, name, birthdate, and if I had anything to declare.

I’ve always thought about paddling over for lunch and then paddling back. But I wasn’t sure what to do about not having a registration number.

Thanks all
I remembered being asked then… and there is no problem with these boats looking used.

(As to this pair, longer boats would just make it easier for them to get into trouble. They can’t be convinced to act safely with what they have, but at least the Otters are so damned slow that they can’t get too far away from land.)

its a little more complicated
now than just a phone call.


never had a problem
We have never been questioned about our kayaks. We were searched several years ago but I think that was because our car was packed (kayaks, camping gear, etc…) and the car in front of us was a Canadian trying to sneak some expensive US purchased electronics across the boarder. They probably thought we had some of their stuff since the car was so full.

Canadian customs was incredibly friendly, I asked what they saw on the x-ray, if it was just shapes, if they could see details, etc… and I was invited to take a look. I watched all of our bags get x-rayed and we pointed out what was in the bags, occasionally correcting what they said the items were. “That’s your phone, and water bottle” “Nope that’s my weather radio and fuel for the camp stove”.

The only problems I’ve had were reentering the US, I said we had been visiting a friend instead of saying “vacation” and we got the third degree. I guess the guard couldn’t understand how someone from Mass could know someone in Canada.

We took two to Alaska via Canada and
were never questioned in either direction, but would you believe that our wonderful protectors against terriorists, confiscated the bologna out of of our travel trailer freezer on our return.

They said we couldn’t bring any beef into the US.

I told them that I hoped they would have a good lunch, and all I got was a grumpy reply.



Not too different
Under “Telephone Reporting Centers”/private boat, it doesn’t appear to be any different other than they require you to land at a designated reporting marine site. Now that might be a little much to require a kayaker to go 20 miles out of their way just to report. So I’d call it an emergency landing. :slight_smile:

It does say if you have any questions to just call 888-CAN-PASS, so maybe I’ll do that this summer if the urge strikes to have lunch in another country.

Upon reading further, it looks like Duffy’s Tavern is a marine reporting site. So I’m all good. That’s where I was planning to go for lunch in the first place.


It looks like I can go to Boblo Island as well.


get a bill of sale
seems foolish to me to not have a bill of sale or invoice of some kind ?

likely, they have never written down the serial numbers, so if those kayaks were ever lost or stolen, they have no proof of ownership.

I do take copy of bill of sale for my boats when I go to Canada, even though I’ve never been asked for one.

My thinking is, its a lot better to have something you likely will never need, than to not have something that if you ever needed it, and were asked to produce it, would delay your border crossing (what if a similar boat had been reported stolen, and the border gurds or police were keeping their eyes open - likely, border crossing guards don’t do that, but who knows? what if your boat was stolen while you were there for a two week stay - do you know the S/N by heart?) - its never hurt me to have that copy of the bill of sale.

and I usually remember to ask my car insurance agent for a Canadian card - have never needed that either, but if I remember to do it, I fugure its better than just my regular card.

have one on me!
but don’t get stopped for BUI!

the difference is that

– Last Updated: May-04-10 11:00 AM EST –

your regular insurance card says you have insurance to your state standards at least.

But Candian officials dont know your policy limits and the yellow card that you get for trips to Canada demonstrates you have insurance to the minimum at least for Canada.

Its free too

Maybe OT too but in the last couple of years your credit cards may cease to work unless you contact your cc company aforehand. Particularly at gas stations and other places that you do not have to sign the receipt.

Watch those credit cards
some charge not only the exchange rate but an additional fee on top of that!

Better safe than sorry

– Last Updated: May-04-10 1:04 PM EST –

If they can bring the bill of sale, do it. The two kayak trips when I went between Canada and the U.S., we were only asked where we had bought our boats, how much money we were carrying, etc. Didn't need to show proof. But I suspect they could make life difficult if they wanted to. Why risk that when all you need is the bill of sale?

Warning: Make sure that all your other documents are spic and span, too. In 2004 the guy who was driving us to Prince Rupert discovered at a podunk crossing town that he had forgotten to bring his current auto insurance card. He had the expired one. He had paid for the renewal but never received it in the mail, then forgot to pursue the matter. I thought our trip was over right there! They eventually let us go (after asking me some very, very strange questions) but he had to get the insurance company to fax the proof on the next business day or we'd have trouble later on.

You never know when you'll get an officer who is just plain bored and has time to waste: namely, yours. I did a long bicycle tour when I was 21 and I got stopped in the Adirondacks by a cop who checked my driver's license (good thing I actually had it), then asked lots of questions. When I asked why he had stopped me, he hemmed and hawed and said, "I thought you might be a runaway." Yeah, right, in April in upstate New York with snow on the ground! On that same trip, border guards made me unpack and display EVERYTHING in my panniers.

mine charges one percent
your cc may vary.

And I have no idea the justification for International Transaction Fee…

We also try to remember to bring proof of ownership when we go up there,not just for the kayaks but for the more expensive optics we might have with us. Hard to claim something is lost or damaged if you can’t show you have it to begin with.

We most always cross at the same location each trip and we’re registered as having a place up there so it goes pretty smoothly each time.

It’s true about credit cards…it helps to notify them. With the ATM’s …we made a couple of mistakes entering our numbers and our card was shut down…We were in the Isles of Madeline at the time…it was a bit awkward resolving it and our french was rusty…

(by the way the U.S dollar is less than the Canada dollar, so good easier to have some Canadian money with you…if you hit Tim Horton’s for some coffee etc.

Also this was the 1st trip we remember when a few places didn’t take the Visa card…they wanted Mastercard instead…seems somethings has changed along those lines.