Your Guide to Border Crossing

September 15, 2021

With the opening of the international border with our friends to the south, we are looking forward to seeing new faces and old acquaintances. There are a few things to keep in mind when travelling North in order to make the crossing process as easy as possible. To check if you qualify to visit Canada, head over to the Government of Canada’s Quick Screening page.


  • While government-issued photo identification and proof of citizenship may get you across, passports and Nexus cards are the preferred form of identification. 

  • Please see the Government of Canada's website for any COVID requirements.

  • When travelling with children, it is recommended to have a letter of consent prepared if one or more of their parents/legal guardians are not present. Letters should contain the date(s) of travel, full names of parents/guardians, the full name of the children crossing as it appears on their documentation, destination of travel, contact information, and signatures of the parents/guardians.

Ports of Entry 

  • Land crossings into Canada can be found along major highways, as well as seemingly in the middle of nowhere. Alberta’s only 24hr port of entry is located on Highway 4/interstate 15 at Coutts, AB, and Sweet Grass, MT. Other major ports are:

    • Coutts/Sweetgrass, Montana (open year-round) — Just over an hour from Lethbridge

    • Carway/Peigan, Montana (open year-round) — An hour and 15 minutes from Lethbridge

    • Chief Mountain/ Montana (open seasonally) — An hour and 45 minutes from Lethbridge

    • Del Bonita/ Montana (open year-round) — One hour from Lethbridge

    • Aden/Whitlash, Montana (open year-round) — 2 hours from Lethbridge

    • Wild Horse/ Montana (open year-round) — 2 hours and 45 minutes from Lethbridge

  • Click here to find your closest Port of Entry and current hours of operation.

Outdoor Adventuring 

When crossing to camp

  • Do not bring any firewood along with you.

  • Wood products containing untreated bark are inadmissible to Canada. This is to protect our natural resources from diseases like Dutch Elm and pests like Mountain Pine Beetles. Firewood can be purchased at most campgrounds or nearby gas stations. 

When going hiking in bear country

  • It is always recommended to carry bear spray.

  • While mace and pepper spray is illegal in Canada for personal use against other people, bear spray is admissible so long as on the can it directly states that it is intended for use on animals.

  • Make sure to declare bear spray when crossing and have it packed in an easily accessible spot in case officers request to examine it. 

Travelling with Aquatic Pleasurecraft

  • All aquatic pleasurecraft (paddleboards, too!) must be inspected upon entry into Alberta at one of the mobile Aquatic Invasive Species check-stops to protect Alberta’s natural resources from pests like Zebra and Quagga mussels.

  • To pass inspection, pleasurecraft must be clean of debris, dry, and drained of any residual water from bilges, ballasts, coolers etc.

  • Also, make sure that your drain plug is pulled on your boats as it is the law in Alberta, and failure to comply may result in a fine.

Ensure all gear like oars, paddles, and personal floatation devices are thoroughly cleaned as well. For more information on Alberta’s aquatic pleasurecraft, click here.


Planning to cast off on your time-off?

Phones and Funds 

  • While most major U.S. credit cards are accepted in Canada, it is still advisable to carry some Canadian currency. Some smaller towns and campgrounds may not be equipped for card payments.

  • It is also advisable to notify your bank of any international travel plans to avoid any transactions being flagged as fraudulent activity by your banking institution.

  • Most Canadian banks provide currency exchange services but will often charge a service fee for non-members. 

  • Yes, worry not, you will still have phone service! While visiting, you will automatically connect to Canadian phone towers for our service providers like Telus or Rogers.

  • Contact your service provider to learn more about roaming fees, international plans, and more. 

  • If an internet connection is all you need, again, worry not! Free wifi is available in restaurants like McDonald's and Tim Hortons, public libraries, visitor centres — like ours — malls and a variety of other public spaces. For instance, the entire Waterton townsite is equipped with free wifi! 

Travel Companions 

  • Pets need proper documentation to cross the border too!

  • Dogs and cats are required to have a signed rabies vaccination certificate indicating the date and type of vaccination administered.

  • Kittens and puppies under three months of age are exempt from the vaccination requirement. 

  • Service dogs are not subject to any importation restrictions so long as the importer is the one who requires the animal. 

  • To find out what requirements your pet needs, visit the Automated Import Reference System. Pets from certain states are subject to different requirements.


  • Whether it be for hunting or in transit, all firearms must be declared upon arrival at Customs.

  • Non-restricted firearms like rifles and shotguns may be temporarily imported for sporting or hunting, competition, in-transit movement, or for protection against wildlife in remote regions of the country.

  • Along with an oral declaration, the importer must also provide proper documentation of the firearm(s) that will be verified by a Customs officer. Along with providing the Non-Resident Firearm Declaration from the importer, there is an importation fee of $25 CAD

  • Importation of restricted firearms requires the completion of the Non-Resident Firearm Declaration form, a $25 CAD importation fee, and an Authorization to Transport (ATT) permit from the province/territory’s chief firearms officer.

  • An ATT will not be issued for hunting or self-protection purposes. 

  • Failure to declare any firearms and provide the required documentation will result in fines and potential seizure of the firearm(s)

  • Click here to find a PDF version of the RCMP’s Non-Resident Firearm Declaration form.

Food, Alcohol, and Controlled Substances 

  • All fruits, vegetables, and animal products must be declared upon arrival at Canada Customs.

  • Fruits and vegetables must be clean and free of pests and debris, along with proof of country of origin; a produce sticker or labelled bag is all you need!

  • Dried, frozen, and canned fruits and vegetables are generally admissible so long as they do not contain any meat products.

  • Meat/animal products must be labelled, identifying the type of animal and country of origin.

  • The personal duty-free exemptions for alcohol and tobacco apply to those who are entering Canada after being out of the country for a minimum of 48 hours are as follows:

    • 1.5 L of wine OR 1.14 L of alcoholic beverages OR 8.5 L of beer. Note the ORs. This means that you cannot claim 1.5L of wine and 1.14L of vodka without paying duties. 

    • 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars, 200g of manufactured tobacco, AND 200 tobacco sticks. Note the AND. You can claim 200 cigarettes and 50 cigars under the exemption, but if you declare 400 cigarettes, only 200 are covered under the exemption. 

  • Though cannabis and cannabis products are legal in all of Canada, it cannot cross international borders. Even if it is medically prescribed, it is inadmissible due to differing regulations between countries. This includes CBD, THC, and any other derivatives in any form. 

Explore Lethbridge 

Even if we can’t explore the rest of the world just yet, we can experience international cuisine within the city.

Plan ahead to make the most out of your trip

Check out what is happening around the city!

Our webpage is neither a legal document nor a complete list of current restrictions and requirements to cross the border. This Webpage is only a summary of the regulations and information for crossing the border as of 11-04-2022, published by Tourism Lethbridge to help visitors from the United States of America to Canada understand what documents and information they should have to help the border crossing go more smoothly. If you are travelling from a different country or would like more information, please check the Government of Canada website.

If you liked this article, you may like this too:

2805 Scenic Drive South, Lethbridge, Alberta
Phone: 403-394-2403
Toll Free: 1-888-384-8687