US customs more invasive than Canadian?

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Old Sep 6, 17, 10:03 pm
  #1
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US customs more invasive than Canadian?

We drove to Quebec City last weekend. The Canadian customs lady at the rural Vermont crossing was professional and quick. She just asked a few questions, didn't leave her little booth, and waved us through.

Coming back to the USA at the Jackman, ME crossing, we were descended on by three CBP guys in bulletproof vests. They asked the same few questions multiple times, while one of them watched and the other opened our bags and went through everything. They even had us turn the car off. We both have Global Entry, and even without that I'm surprised. Is this the new standard? Or is it just an artefact of crossing at a small rural point?
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Old Sep 7, 17, 1:55 am
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Canadian customs sound almost as laid back as NZ customs...

got any fruit?
nope...
welcome home

Unlike going thru LAX where it feels kinda like an interrogation with the same questions asked different ways
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Old Sep 7, 17, 2:08 am
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Originally Posted by gfunkdave View Post
We drove to Quebec City last weekend. The Canadian customs lady at the rural Vermont crossing was professional and quick. She just asked a few questions, didn't leave her little booth, and waved us through.

Coming back to the USA at the Jackman, ME crossing, we were descended on by three CBP guys in bulletproof vests. They asked the same few questions multiple times, while one of them watched and the other opened our bags and went through everything. They even had us turn the car off. We both have Global Entry, and even without that I'm surprised. Is this the new standard? Or is it just an artefact of crossing at a small rural point?
I've run into this at both a smaller rural crossing and a much-used crossing when I had NEXUS. I prefer to cross in the very early morning hours when traffic is light. I chalk it up to boredom - or practice. Never encountered anything like it driving into Canada.
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Old Sep 7, 17, 8:33 am
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I've never had a problem driving into Canada (only 5 times so small sample size).

I've always had a problem driving back into the US.
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Old Sep 7, 17, 10:19 am
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I don't think you can make a blanket statement based on one encounter at one station.

Driving back to US from Canada as NEXUS at the same US PoE, I've had experiences ranging from "Anything to declare?; No; Have a good day." to "Turn off engine, open trunk."
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Old Sep 7, 17, 12:49 pm
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We had a random secondary going north in the NEXUS lane one time - we had to get out and answer questions and wait while our car was searched. The first time we went north together, right after my wife's PR interview, she had just the stamp in her passport and not the card, and the fool at the booth didn't know what it was and sent her to secondary. They asked her questions directed toward figuring out whether our marriage was legitimate (which made no sense, because the US had given her the stamp already, and because Clinton was still president and there was no reason for someone with PR status in the US to sneak into Canada with the intention of overstaying).

The only other (minor) flack we've gotten has been in answering the questions about stuff we brought back, in which we always wonder do they want a comprehensive list or what.

Mostly I just show my card and they wave. One time we bought a new car and didn't have the real plates yet, so they asked questions about that. I told me wife they wanted to make sure it wasn't stolen, because at our first NEXUS interview the lady told us that entering the NEXUS lane with anything that doesn't belong to you is strictly prohibited, so of course if we entered the NEXUS lane with a stolen car, we'd be kicked out of the program.
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Old Sep 7, 17, 2:31 pm
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Originally Posted by Dweeb007 View Post

Unlike going thru LAX where it feels kinda like an interrogation with the same questions asked different ways
LOL I thought I was the only one who felt that way.

Where did you go?
Japan
Is it for business?
No, Vacation.
Which part of Japan?
Tokyo
Where else did you go?
Korea
North Korea?
No. South.
Which city did you visit in Japan?
Tokyo....
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Old Sep 7, 17, 2:39 pm
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Originally Posted by seawolf View Post
I don't think you can make a blanket statement based on one encounter at one station.

Driving back to US from Canada as NEXUS at the same US PoE, I've had experiences ranging from "Anything to declare?; No; Have a good day." to "Turn off engine, open trunk."
US CBP is more paranoid at Canada-US land border crossings than their Canadian equivalents are at US-Canada land border crossings. The paranoia of the US CBP is in a league of its own when it comes to land border crossings between friendly countries with relatively comparable socio-economic development levels.
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Old Sep 7, 17, 6:10 pm
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I've never had a bad experience going into Canada by land, often I'm not even asked any questions. About 75% of the time I'm interrogated when going into the US (even with GE) by land, I've even had personal insults from a clearly homophobic CBP officer (which pissed me off so much that after the interrogation, I did a uturn in a gas station and went back to Canada. I haven't crossed the land border since).

Crossing into the US by land is such an ordeal now, I'd rather spend my money in Canada. Fortunately it's not much of an inconvenience for me as I don't live that close to the land border anyway. What makes it more laughable is that when I enter the US by air I'm not asked a single question.

While the figures don't support it yet, the unwelcoming attitude of the US (and in particular CBP) is bound to effect tourism in the long term. I know so many people who have had bad experiences.
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Old Sep 7, 17, 8:12 pm
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Well, OP lists PWM as his location, so I'm presuming that he at least a resident in the US if not a citizen. So, I don't think that tourism is much of a worry.

The tiny POE's can be like that (or not). Nothing going on and 3 Officers, so all 3 make a big deal about OP.
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Old Sep 8, 17, 5:35 am
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Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
Well, OP lists PWM as his location, so I'm presuming that he at least a resident in the US if not a citizen. So, I don't think that tourism is much of a worry.

The tiny POE's can be like that (or not). Nothing going on and 3 Officers, so all 3 make a big deal about OP.
Land crossings by "tourists" are a key part of keeping border communities in rather rural states (or parts thereof) from becoming less economically vibrant. Being able to easily shop for gas and other cheaper stuff across the border and return without being harassed for it benefits the communities on both sides of the border. And yet due to US CBP's excessive paranoia and the governmental staffing to enable such paranoia, we have US CBP undermining the legal economic interests of US persons by frustrating legal cross-border trade.

Legal cross-border trade by day-tripping tourists too is in the collective interests of US persons. And yet CBP is undermining such collective gains from legal cross-border trade because of its paranoia and staffing enabling such undermining of US interests. Welcome to the situational irony whereby "security" undermines economic security and more.
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Old Sep 8, 17, 6:37 am
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The only reasonable comparison of the CBP and CBSA can come from a citizen of a third country who has visited both several times. I know that the CBP is under no obligation to permit entry while the CBSA has no choice but to let me in eventually and vice-versa for a U.S. citizen.
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Old Sep 8, 17, 7:55 am
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Originally Posted by Badenoch View Post
The only reasonable comparison of the CBP and CBSA can come from a citizen of a third country who has visited both several times. I know that the CBP is under no obligation to permit entry while the CBSA has no choice but to let me in eventually and vice-versa for a U.S. citizen.
Canada-US dual-citizens aren't non-existent.

Last edited by GUWonder; Sep 9, 17 at 5:42 pm
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Old Sep 8, 17, 6:26 pm
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Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
Well, OP lists PWM as his location, so I'm presuming that he at least a resident in the US if not a citizen. So, I don't think that tourism is much of a worry.

The tiny POE's can be like that (or not). Nothing going on and 3 Officers, so all 3 make a big deal about OP.
And, IIRC, the Jackman crossing has a lot of commercial traffic (logging trucks to processing plants) so I could see the officers being more curious.

Then again, a few years ago, I was still able to drive into New Brunswick from Presque Isle and use the videophone at the border crossing.
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Old Sep 8, 17, 7:58 pm
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In most circumstances, it feels to me like being a "trusted traveler" on the land border going into the US is basically just a way to shorten the line. I can point to basically one or two times where I flicked my NEXUS card at the sensor on the US side and was waived through, and that is coming as a US citizen. I've actually had my trunk checked and bag opened more than getting a simple "good to go." Meanwhile, other than at LAX, using GE/NEXUS at airports is a generally seamless experience.
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