Newbies - Geographic Anomolies
The most important preparation to crossing the border is getting your paperwork in order. You must have all the information concerning the load including who it's from, where it's going, what the cargo is, how much it weighs and how much of it you're carrying on your trailer.
If possible, have all import permits in hand. Call ahead to the broker (and make sure you know who the broker is) and have them arrange permits, getting any missing information before you arrive at the border. Even if the shipper says you don't need certain information, check it out for yourself. You can end up sitting a long time for missing paperwork.
Your logbook will be thoroughly perused. Have your beginning and ending mileage written in for each day. The officials are very picky about this.
Answer all questions with complete honesty. Anything you say can be verified on their computer system. Don't lie, especially about a criminal record. And no handguns--you will go to jail for this violation. You can be refused entry for many different reasons and these are some of them.
Attitude plays another role in your experience at the border. Since the officials hold the power to pass you on through or to detain you, it is a good idea to treat them respectfully. You will still run into cranky, disgruntled officials, but keep a good attitude anyway. It may save you time and extra hassle.
Even with having your paperwork in order, your logbook up to date and acting respectfully, you may still have a delay. Plan your schedule with this in mind, and realize that most truck stops near the border crossings get crowded at night.
Not all ports of entry are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Check ahead of time. Also, make sure you're crossing at the right crossing point. If you're carrying HAZMAT, be double sure.
You will have to pay a toll to cross any bridge going into the country. This toll is based on your truck's weight. You may want to pick up a copy of TRUCKNEWS, which is compiled and updated yearly on crossing information (like times, phone numbers of brokers and tolls costs).
Canada uses kilometers instead of miles. When you see a speed limit sign for 100 kph, it's the same as 60 mph.
The exchange rate can be somewhat confusing. American money is worth anywhere from 40% to 58% more than Canadian money. To avoid any problems use your credit card instead of cash. The exact exchange rate, to the minute of each day, will be figured by computer.
English is the primary language in Canada. The only province considered French, or bilingual, is Quebec.
Though most road signs are well laid out and easy to follow, preplan your trip. Get a new map, especially if you're going into any cities. Many of them have amalgamated. Toronto now includes about five of the previously surrounding cities, as does Hamilton and Ottawa. Many of the streets have the same names and you can really run into a problem without a good map.
Highway 401 between Detroit and Toronto is one of the busiest sections of highway in North America for truck traffic. Be prepared for this if it's in your route.
Most highways are kept in good condition during the winter, but snowstorms can pop up and cause whiteouts. If you're coming from the southern parts of the U.S., be aware of this. It gets very cold in Canada and you need to pack appropriate gear. Buy winter grade fuel before you cross over.
Remember, you're a guest in that country. Act like it.
Let us know about what its like to drive in other parts of North America by emailing us at layover.com