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Old May 28, 08, 5:29 pm   #1
 
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Getting to Vancouver, BC, by car from Seattle? Problems?

Is it reasonably easy to get from SEA to Vancouver by car and back?

I'm planning an early August trip and would like to save some money by using a WN Companion Pass from MDW-SEA and then drive. Any problems with taking a rental car over the border from one of the usual companies? Will my IL driver's license suffice?

I'd be pleased to hear of any potential pitfalls in this plan. Thank you.
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Old May 28, 08, 5:38 pm   #2
 
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I'm sure that others will pop in here, but...

Streets and Trips says it's a 2.5 hr drive. Expect a lot more, and hope to be pleasantly surprised with what you get.

Expect long lines at the border. Remember that it's now a "secure" border... You might need your passport to return to the USA...but I'm not sure if that's been implemented yet.

A Google search came up with this from a FT thread about insurance:

Okay, something that I really know about. If you are leaving the USA and going to Canada, you should make sure that the car that you are driving has a Canadian Inter- Provincial Insurance Card. A card from your own personal insurance company, will NOT work. The card that you need specifically lists the VIN, year and make of the car that you are driving. I have been an insurance agent in western NY (Rochester, specifically) for the past 25 years, and I know personally of several people that were stopped and their cars impounded for failure to produce the correct card. I have overnighted the cards to clients to enable them to continue their trips. It is usually not a problem, but when there is "conflict" between the officials in Canada and the US, sometimes the rules are closely enforced.

Ask the rental company for a Canadian Insurance ID card.


And this - don't know if it applies, I'm in the middle of posting this reply and can't see your profile...

One other thing I didn't see listed here, remember that CANADIANS (I think that's Canadian residents) cannot take a U.S. rental car into Canada! Sounds unlikely I know, but if you were from Vancouver, visiting Rochester, you couldn't take that Hertz car into Niagara Falls Ontario.

One exception is one-way truck rentals, which are explicitly allowed.


Those posts were from 1999 though...

Good luck. It's been a few years since I went up there...

RFTraveler.
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Old May 28, 08, 5:42 pm   #3
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It's not a problem and yes your IL DL will be fine.

It's a 3-hour drive not counting border queues.

The only drawback is the chance of horrendous delays at the border, especially the I-5/BC 99 Peace Arch crossing, due in part to the US border post being remodeled. There are other crossings that might be quicker, but no guarantees.

One relatively surefire work-around is to drop your rental in Seattle and take the train to Vancouver, then re-rent a car there. It's a scenic and very affordable ride (one train daily, leaves Seattle 7:40 AM, leaves Vancouver 5:45 PM.) http://www.amtrakcascades.com/
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Old May 28, 08, 5:47 pm   #4
 
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I haven't done it in the last couple of years, but have driven it multipl etimes before that (after 9/11) and used to reckon on 4-5 hours including border wait.

But I endorse the train suggestion - a very beautiful ride, though not a whole lot faster than driving.
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Old May 28, 08, 5:50 pm   #5
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See this link in the Canada forum (this has been covered many times):

Driving SEA to Vancouver

It's easy but car rental taxes are exorbitant in SEA (around 28% + $4/day - a $14 daily rate for 1 day in SEA incurred taxes of $10+). 2 1/2-3 hours is about right outside of rush hour (getting through and out of Seattle can be horrendous, as is getting into Vancouver).

If you want to drive, I'd advise arriving after 7p and driving then. Traffic is a lot lighter and the border should be a breeze unless it's a long weekend (1st Monday in August).

DL isn't sufficient proof of anything these days. May not get you into Canada and may not allow you back into the U.S.

http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_p.../cis_1082.html
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Old May 28, 08, 8:33 pm   #6
 
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It will depend on what area of Vancouver you are going to, but I always allow 2.5 hours to get across the US/CN border when arriving in SEA and traveling north to YVR. Time of day you arrive at the border will have a substantial impact on your wait or lack thereof. Absolutely have passports for everyone in your traveling party.
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Old May 29, 08, 4:34 am   #7
 
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Border crossing times vary. I've tried to cross at 7am on a Sunday and waited 3 hours and at other theoretically very busy times driven straight over.
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Old May 30, 08, 8:40 am   #8
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by YVR Cockroach View Post
DL isn't sufficient proof of anything these days. May not get you into Canada and may not allow you back into the U.S.
Not "may not" get you back into the US..."will not", at least not without a huge delay and hassle. Make sure you have your passport with you.

I agree with an earlier post about taking the train, or the bus up to Vancouver and renting a car up there. In addition to the rental cost and taxes they will hit you with (thanks for paying for our sports stadiums), you'll also be looking at $60 ot $70 of gas for the round trip, depending on the efficiency of the car that you rent.
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Old May 30, 08, 8:56 am   #9
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I agree with an earlier post about taking the train, or the bus up to Vancouver and renting a car up there. In addition to the rental cost and taxes they will hit you with (thanks for paying for our sports stadiums), you'll also be looking at $60 ot $70 of gas for the round trip, depending on the efficiency of the car that you rent.
You have to weight convenience and car rental tax in B.C. (cheaper if not at the airport). Then again, you may not need a car in Vancouver. Amtrak entails having to get to/from King Street station and most likely an overnight stay in Seattle on the outbound. Quickshuttle (www.quickcoach.com) has direct service from SEA to YVR/Vancouver. I think the fare's around $80 r/t but you can get a 50% off/2fer in the Vancouver Entertainment book.
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Old Jun 2, 08, 6:04 am   #10
 
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Thanks to all for your thoughts.

I hadn't thought of Amtrak, but that might work nicely. The schedule doesn't look too convenient, assuming I'm looking in the right place.
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Old Jun 8, 08, 1:15 am   #11
 
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look at tripadvisor Seattle forum for a whole section on overview tab for trips to vanc and victoria. I cross the border often, I just did a round trip this week. There is a website called borderwaittimes.com or something similar. It was 90 minutes thursday afternoon, so yes its not that easy, but you can drive 30 minutes and cross at Lynden which will save lots of time. I've never needed a Canada Insurance card but you should see if the car company allows driving in Canada (most do).
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Old Jun 12, 08, 1:14 pm   #12
 
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Going through customs either at YVR or on the train isn't much better. Just have contigency plans if it takes awhile to get across the border. The rental car isn't usually an issue, but do check with whom you are renting from. There are HOV lanes in both Seattle and Vancouver that help a little if you are travelling with companions.
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Old Aug 28, 08, 5:55 pm   #13
 
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I thought I'd give a quick report on how this went.

No problems getting the tickets at my local Amtrak office (Homewood, IL), a few weeks ahead, except they've got to have about the most antiquated ticketing system on earth.

The agent made several errors necessitating cancellation and reprinting, and since I was using coupons from the "Chinook Book" (Seattle/Portland area $25 publication like the "Entertainment Book," which saved me $69), everything slowed to a crawl. She had to call some ticketing experts someplace multiple times to get back on track.

It took over an hour.

Anyway, the schedule necessitated overnights in Seattle coming and going, but the train ride was quite nice. It would have been nicer had it not been creeping along much of the way, and I wonder if it's really necessary for the engineer to blow his horn for 2 hours+ on the way north. Needless to say, try to get a rear-car seat if you can.

Customs was a breeze compared to what some colleagues had to go through at YVR. 90 minutes was the norm there, with many enduring much more than that. We cleared customs at the Vancouver station on the way up and on the train southbound in just a few minutes both times.

Vancouver is a beautiful place, with water on both sides and plenty going on, including lots of great Japanese food.

Thanks again to all for suggestions. It sure beat driving, from what I could tell.
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Old Aug 29, 08, 11:57 pm   #14
 
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I work in Vancouver a lot and the train is definitely way easier than driving. Someitme in October Amtrak is adding an evening train to and from Vancouver so there will two r/t per day.
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Old Sep 1, 08, 1:21 pm   #15
 
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Driving will be painful until the Peace Arch construction is finished. Too much traffic for the available space (even with people shifting to the Truck crossing or going further east to other border crossings) if you are even at moderate volume times
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