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Dotting the “i’s” & Crossing the “t’s” When You’re Moving Across the Border

Border Hopping: A guide for those moving across the border

Moving across the border from Canada to the U.S. involves a unique set of circumstances for those that have never changed residences from one country to another. You can’t simply show up at the nearest border crossing with a van full of household possessions, clothes, mattresses and kitchenware and expect to slide through as if you were taking a weekend shopping excursion. If you want to avoid unloading every item on your truck and a potential full body cavity search from border patrol then we suggest securing the services of a professional moving company with vast experience in Canada to U.S. household relocations.

Below are a few considerations to take into account when planning your exciting new move:



It’s all about the paperwork. It doesn’t matter how well you’ve prepared for everything else in the process if your documentation isn’t in line. Whether you are a U.S. citizen moving back to the U.S. from Canada, a Canadian citizen moving to the U.S. to work/live, or a Landed Immigrant moving to the U.S. to work/live, you will need to complete the necessary forms for moving to the U.S. from Canada.

Prohibited Goods

For many it is obvious what you can and cannot bring across the border on a short trip but there can be some confusion when moving for the long term. For example, pianos made three decades ago may have Ivory keys, in which case, a letter from the Canadian Parks Board will be required to make sure it clears customs. Otherwise, the rules remain about the same but as a refresher we have listed them here:

  • Protected wildlife
  • Explosives
  • Ammunition
  • Fireworks
  • Goods made from endangered species


Even with all of your documents and forms in order you may still be required to “pull over” for a complete inspection. In fact, expect it. The easier you make it for border patrol to inspect your possessions the easier it will be to get back on the road to your new life, literally. If you are packing your own goods for shipping across the border you will need to make sure that every box, crate, and carton has been identified with its contents in big bold letters on the most visible portion of each encasing. If it’s a box of silverware, label it “silverware” and so forth. If it’s fragile, be sure to mark it so. Don’t place anything on the top that may scratch or get cut if customs has to slice open tape for a closer look. They will not exercise the same care in opening as you have in packing.


The bottom line is that if you are moving from Canada to the U.S. the smart choice is to use a reputable moving company with experience in cross-border re-locations. To attempt such a task on your own is unnecessary when there are professionals available that have been providing such a service for decades. Contact Great Canadian Van Lines to start planning your Canada to the U.S. move now.