Driving to Alaska is the ultimate road trip. Just the thought of it should conjure up ideas of wide-open freedom, unbounded exploration, and nights spent sleeping next to cool glacial waters. If it sounds like perfection that’s because it is. But like with all things there’s a catch- why is there always a damn catch? Lol

So, you want to drive from the Lower 48 to Alaska. You’re probably thinking the roughly 1,390 miles of driving to get there is the hard part, we’re here to tell you it’s not.

The hardest part of any Alaska road trip is undeniably crossing the Canadian Border.

 

 

This wasn’t our first time or even second time crossing international borders in an RV, and as much as you’d think it would get easier every time, that just isn’t the case.  In fact, nearly every other American we crossed paths with making their way North to Alaska, went through the same stress we did.

So many questions pop up when you’re taking your home across the line, “ What can I bring”,  “What can’t I bring”, “Oh shit, did I accidentally bring something I know I’m not supposed to bring, but forgot to get rid of before getting to the border?” The stress is real people.

But worry not! We’re here to help, as best we can!

What You Need To Know About Crossing The Canadian Border In An RV

Keep Things Simple

Anyone who has ever dealt with bureaucratic red tape knows that what seems like straightforward guidelines can get murky very, very quickly. That’s why we strongly believe in the simple approach when it comes to considering what you can and cannot bring across the Canadian border.

The General Rules Of Thumb To Follow Go Like This-

What You Can’t Bring Across The Border:

  • Eggs and dairy products
  • Potted plants, and or anything that could possibly contain soil (this is to prevent invasive species from spreading into new areas, makes sense)
  • Firearms, and ammunition
  • Explosives (this includes fireworks and sparklers)
  • Excessive Alcohol ( limit, 2 750ml bottles per person in the vehicle )
  • More than $10,000 in cash- that just screams shady! 
  • Drugs- this should be obvious

What You Can/Need To Bring:

  • Passports
  • Driver Licenses
  • Vehicle Registration
  • License Plate Number
  • Canadian Insurance Card For The RV, and any tow vehicles (in most cases your insurance provider will send you a copy of this free of charge, Progressive was even kind enough to overnight it!)
  • A copy of our travel plans with confirmation of our reservations for campsites, etc., just in case the border agent requests it.
  • Vaccination paperwork and health certificates if you’re traveling with pets. 

We’ve actually published this list in a previous post on, Crossing The Canadian Border In An RV, and while we still feel that keeping it simple is the best approach, we have since learned that like with all things there are loopholes and exceptions to what you can and cannot bring.

If you’re inclined to really dive in deep on all the details here are some great resources to get you started on your fact-finding mission- but don’t say we didn’t warn you, it gets complicated… fast.

Additional Resources For The Do’s & Don’ts Of Crossing The Canadian Border:

Keep in mind, you can do everything right to prepare for your border crossing, have all your paperwork perfectly in order,  roll up to the station, pull down your sunglasses, answer the questions you’re asked, and you still may find yourself in the search line. Remember it’s not personal, sometimes your number just comes up. Be patient, keep in mind you’re a guest in someone else’s country, and the border agents are just doing what they have to, to keep their citizens safe.

Where Can You Cross The Border?

The US and Canada share 3,987 miles of the border, along that line there are a total of  119 border crossings, giving you plenty of options to chose from.  For travelers heading North to Alaska via the Alaskan Highway the most popular border crossing locations are:

  • Sweetgrass, Montana
  • Eastport, Idaho
  • Sumas, Washington
  • Blaine, Washington
  • Oroville, Washington

Wait times for each of these border stations vary constantly. You can find the current wait times, for each station posted here: https://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/bwt-taf/menu-eng.html

Border Crossing Stations By State

For a full list of state by state, border crossing location click here.

Our Route + Canadian Border Crossing

We debated several crossing locations for our trip North to Alaska, and ultimately settled on crossing at the Sumas, Washington- Abbotsford, BC station. One of the major contributing factors for this decision was food.

As silly as it may sound, because of our ultra-conservative approach to what we did and did not bring with us across the border,  we had close to nothing in the fridge, and with the next leg of our travels taking us through resort towns like BANFF with inflated prices and way out there locations like the Icefields Parkway, we chose a crossing that allowed us quick and immediate access to a Costco just minutes after crossing the border to fill our fridge to the brim with enough food to last us most of the way to Alaska.

A quick bit of advice for anyone shopping at Costco in Canada, they only accept Mastercard and cash, a lesson we learned the hard way. No biggie, most Costcos have ATM’s inside of them but it’s worth noting all the same so you don’t share the same surprise

In total, our border crossing took 11 minutes to start to finish. The questions the Canadian Border Agent threw our way mostly pertained firearms, liquor, cash, and marijuana- none of which we had. We rolled on through without a search. All in all the crossing went as smoothly as it possibly could have.  Was it still stressful, yes. Could it have been a whole lot worse? Hell yes.

This Is Just The Begining…

We’re just getting started! Step one was getting across the border, and now our real adventures North begin! We cannot wait to share it all with you! If you’d like to follow along and haven’t already, make sure you’re following the blog, and pop on over and subscribe to our YouTube Channel, so you can get instant updates when we post next!

Thanks For Adventuring With Us

Questions? Comments? Thoughts? We’d love to hear them! Drop us a few lines below!

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