eBent Recumbent Cycling

A Bent Look at Self Contained Touring

Crossing the Canadian Border on a Bicycle

with 7 comments

Stanstead, Québec  border crossing.jpg

The Route I have been laying out crosses the border from the US into Canada and returns. So what do I need to do to be prepared for that crossing?

I have crossed the US-Canadian Border on a bicycle in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and New York and it has always been uneventful. With the exception of Nova Scotia entry to Canada has always been easy. In 2002, when we entered Nova Scotia my riding partner and I both had long hair and beards (2002) and there seems to be a bias against folks with beards, we had to unpack our bikes and it took about an hour but not a real problem. In 2005, I was scheduled to present at a Governor’s Council Meeting in Halifax and was held at the airport until they verified I was attending that meeting (could have been beard and French surname again). But otherwise I have just declared and ridden across.

Returning to the US has always been more involved and often required some form of identification. Those Rules changed at the end of January.

Here is the latest form the US Customs and Border Protection Web Site:

Q: What is the change beginning January 31, 2008?

A: Currently, upon entering the United States at a land border port of entry, an individual without documentation can verbally claim to be a U. S. citizen. On January 31, DHS is ending this practice such that oral declarations alone to prove identity and citizenship will no longer be sufficient. Travelers will be asked to present certain documentation from a specified list when entering the United States at land or sea ports of entry. (use the links below to see a complete list of what documents are acceptable).


I am planning to bring my passport with me when I think I might cross the border, that seems like the simplest solution.

Another question that often comes up:

When you look at a map you see lots of roads crossing from the US into Canada, can I cross at any of those points. The answer is generally yes. Most of these roads have a 24 hour crossing, but some are only manned during the day. I have occasionally tried to cross and found the crossing closed but that is rare during the day.

I called the Vermont Department of Tourism (1-800-vermont) today to verify if the above is still true. In fact it sounds like more crossing are manned 24 hours now.

Enjoy the Ride … Roland


New Land Crossing Rules – January 30, 2008

US Customs Web Site

Border Wait Times

NPR: What the New Border Crossing Rules Mean

AP- Tighter US Border Rules Begin


Written by Roland

February 22, 2008 at 10:55 am

7 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. […] nick wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerpt The Route I have been laying out crosses the border from the US into Canada and returns. So what do I need to do to be prepared for that crossing? […]

  2. That happened to me in 1973 at a Michigan point of entry (exit?). Got thoroughly inspected, if you know what I mean. Coming back, US customs had to paw through all my food looking for drugs. The long hair and beard definitely is a red flag for them. Did they ask you how much money you had? That was a big thing with Canada during that time period as they were tired of US citizens going on welfare in Canada.


    February 22, 2008 at 5:07 pm

  3. Nice picture O’Maolchathaigh and interesting name.

    My mother’s family was from Kerry so your name piqued my interest.
    The name Mulcahy originally appeared in Gaelic as O Maolchathaigh, which means “a descendant of a devotee of St. Cathach.” The surname is not, as is often believed, derived from “Cathach,” meaning “warlike.”

    This is where I hit a dead end = who was St. Cathach ?

    So instead I’ll go with:

    The Cathach of St. Columba (Dublin, Royal Irish Academy, s. n.) is an early seventh century Irish Psalter. It is traditionally associated with St. Columba (d. 597), and was identified as the copy made by him of a book loaned to him by St. Finnian, and which led to the Battle of Cul Dremne in 561. Paleographic evidence, however, dates, the manuscript to the seventh century. The 58 folios in the damaged and incomplete vellum manuscript contain the text of Psalms 30:10 to 105:13 in Latin (the Vulgate version). Rubrics written in Old Irish appear above the text of the Psalms. It may be the oldest known Irish manuscript and may contain the earliest examples of a written Goidelic language apart from Ogham inscriptions. The maximum folio size is 200 by 130 mm.[dubious – discuss]

    The decoration of the Cathach is limited to the initial letter of each Psalm. Each initial is in black ink and is larger than the main text. They are decorated with trumpet, spiral and guilloch patterns and are often outlined with orange dots. These patterns are not merely appended to the letters or used to fill spaces. They instead distort the shape of the letters themselves. The letters following the enlarged initials gradually reduce in size until they reach the same size as the main text. Although the motifs of the Cathach decoration are not similar to decorations in later manuscripts, such as the Book of Durrow (which followed the Cathach by as many as seventy years), the ideas of decoration which distorts the shape of the letters and the diminution of initial letters are ideas which are worked out in great detail in later Insular art.

    The Cathach was enclosed in a shrine in the eleventh century by Cathbar O’Donnell head of the O’Donnell Clan and Domnall McGroarty Abbot of Kells. The shrine was carried into battle by the McGroartys as a talisman (hence the name: Cathach = “Battler”). The manuscript was rediscovered in 1813, when the shrine was opened. The Cathach was entrusted to the Royal Irish Academy in 1842 by Sir Richard O’Donnell. The O’Donnell family has since claimed ownership of the Cathach but the manuscript remains in the custody of the McGroartys, its official “Keepers”. The Cathach’s shrine is now in the National Museum of Ireland, Dublin.

    I’d enjoy hearing your story and being straightened out of this.


    OK, back to your comments on my crossing experiences:

    No how much money we had never came up. This was just a few years ago. Things were a bit different for Americans in Canada during and just after Vietnam. I was living in Syracuse and working on the ABM at the time. Americans going to Canada had become a problem.

    When my problems happened, early 2000s, I was late 50s and my riding companion was in his late 40s. He was riding a Waterford with expensive gear and I was riding a Ryan. Both of us were wearing mostly Patagonia gear. I don’t think how much money we had was a negative.

    I’ve had no problem crossing into Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and British Columbia

    I think this is a Nova Scotia issue with beards and folks that might be French.

    But I don’t mean to blow things out of proportion, we didn’t have to have a multi-cavity body search just empty our bikes and bags of all gear.

    I guess I would not recommend saying you are going to or coming from Quebec for Medical Reasons … lol.


    February 22, 2008 at 5:34 pm

  4. Ah. Cool response. I complicated my entry at the time by having a bayonet type knife with me, for camping. They told me it was considered a deadly weapon as it was over the legal liit of 6 inches, which always called to mind images of men who exceed inches in the penis department, so I wondered if they would be considered to be carrying a deadly weapon? I also had a few non-legal herb seeds on me, so I was told I was facig a stiff jail term for both smuggling a deadly weapon and narcotics! However, they let me go but refused me entry. I rode to the next point of entry, and there they searched me again, but finding nothing, told me I didn’t have enough money to live on. Fortunately, I hada friend in Toronto, and he came down to vouch for me, or I might never have gotten in.
    AS far as O’Maolchathaigh, I know next to nothing. I was told it’s the Gaelic root of my name: Mulcahy. You can hear the reemblance in the pronunciation. I like the Gaelic spelling better. There used to be O’Mulcahys too, but I don’t know if that spelling persists anymore. O’s were forbidden by the Brits for a long time, and many family names lost it forever.


    February 24, 2008 at 9:27 pm

  5. Roland,
    I’m currently enjoying relatively short bike rides (<100miles) on my recumbent and have only done multi-day trips by staying at friends’ houses. However, I’m ready to start doing long distance trips for the purpose of transportation.

    I’m going to school in Montréal, but would like to visit my parents in New Jersey. I’m looking for safe routes between the two places.

    You mentioned in this article that you’ve gone between the New York/Québec border. Which border do you typically use? On the few trips by car that I’ve made (costing just under $100 in gasoline), I’ve seen “No bikes allowed” signs, especially on AuT-15.

    Although I’m very hesitant to apply for the permits necessary to ride on highways legally, I’d be willing to use highways for short distances.

    Any advice for my route across New York, and especially across the NY/QC border, would be appreciated.

    Thank you in advance,
    Nicholas Asch

    Nicholas Asch

    July 4, 2008 at 6:47 pm

  6. Nicholas

    The first part of your trip should be straight forward. La Route Verte from Montreal to the Lake Champlain Network along the Richelieu River would look like the best start to me. But this depends somewhat on what part of NJ you are headed for.

    Take a look at https://ebent.wordpress.com/2008/02/21/planning-your-own-bicycle-tour-part-6-first-route-map/, (Planning Your Own Bicycle Tour Part 6 Post)

    Getting to New Jersey is a much tougher question. I don’t know much about bicycling in southern New York or New Jersey. However, if you can give me a rough idea of where in New Jersey you are headed, I’ll take a look on the Adventure Cycling Maps and see if they have anything to offer.

    I have planned but not completed trips to Hershey, PA and Florida so some of that planning might be useful.

    Please stay off of the major Auto routes, they are both dangerous and unpleasant for a bicyclist.


    July 6, 2008 at 10:45 pm

  7. Ah, thank you for that link. I should’ve found that on my own! That’ll get me easily into New York.

    Apparently, all of route 9 is a bike route according to https://www.nysdot.gov/portal/page/portal/divisions/operating/opdm/local-programs-bureau/biking
    I’m going to give them a call and get the maps (free of charge!) soon.

    After doing some research on my own, I think I could plan a safe and enjoyable route, but if you have any specific tips for the area:
    I’m headed for Short Hills, NJ in Essex County. I can stop in Plattsburgh, Albany, and possibly Poughkeepsie. It’s nice knowing people along the route 🙂

    And yes, I’ll be staying off of highways. I have no idea why NJ would even offer permits for biking on them. http://www.nj.gov/transportation/commuter/bike/highways.shtm

    Nicholas Asch

    July 23, 2008 at 10:12 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: