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 Crossing the border 
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Joined: Fri Dec 27, 2013 12:30 pm
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Location: New Jersey
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Hi all, first post. Starting to think about a race schedule for this year and considering the “Canadian Historic Grand Prix” up at Mosport in June. Never been there and never crossed the border with a race car in tow. That leads to my question, is it a hassle at the border. Do you need a itemize list of all your tools and spare parts. Does the log book work as proof of ownership. You know, stuff like that. I would be leaving from NJ. Anyone who could share their experience it would be greatly appreciated. Thanks


Sun Jan 26, 2014 2:13 pm
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Location: Pittsburgh, Pa
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Kurt - great question! I've not traveled north with a car, though I know more than a few here have gone to Mt. Tremblant and elsewhere. Once we get some replies on this thread, I think we'll make a sticky of it so that we can refer to it and update.

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Ian
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Mon Jan 27, 2014 2:36 am
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Location: MA, Boston Metro-West
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Maybe someone could contact VARAC to see if they have a DIY on the topic?
I know they reach out to American competitors for events in Ontario and assist American owners with some how-to advice on bringing their cars in to race.

I have a different and perhaps much simpler issue of how to bring my Elva into the USA after the restoration in Canada is finished. It must be fairly common for race cars to be sold back and forth across the border.

John

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John Feng
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Mon Jan 27, 2014 9:39 am
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Kurt:

It used to be that when you registered for a VARAC event from the US they would send you a sheet that had recommendations for how to do the border crossing with your race car. I think there was also a link to a letter that attested to the fact that you were registered to attend the Festival. The first time I went I followed all the instructions including making copies of the title and an inventory of all the parts and tools in the trailer with photos of everything. Then just before crossing into Canada I stopped at US Customs and gave them a copy of my inventory and also had them stamp and sign my copy. They were like.. "huh?"..., but did it anyway.

When I got to Mosport I spoke with several other drivers who had been going to the Festival for years and found that none ever did that. I have since not done it. The photo inventory is a very good idea for insurance purposes, however. I do cross the border every year to flag the Canadian GP in Montreal. I have found that a passport really smooths out the crossing both ways. It makes the crossing guard's job much easier. They just scan your passport.

Once coming back from Grattan, Michigan via Canada we crossed at the Peace Bridge in Buffalo, NY.
The guard said, "What's in the trailer?".
I said , "A race car"
Guard, "What kind"
Me, "Vintage Mini Cooper"
Guard, "OK, open the trailer!"
Now I am thinking, "Oh boy, here we go" so I opened the trailer and the guard looks in.
Guard, "Nice Mini, thanks for the look"
Turns out the guard is an SCCA club racer who drives an RX7 and he just wanted a look at the car, but he really had me going there.

Primarily what both countries are looking for is someone who is moving cars across the border illegally, or moving a car or parts to sell, and they want their customs duty. It is your job to convince them that you are just going racing for the weekend and will be bringing your car back home (hopefully in the same condition). The fact that they see other competitors doing the same thing on a given weekend must help.

Of course they will also ask all the usual questions about cash, firearms, explosives (including fireworks), fruit and vegetables, alcohol, etc. If you bring a dog, make sure that you have proof of a recent rabies vaccination from your vet or they could quarantine your dog for 3 months.

That's all I can think of. Many of our members have made the crossing so I am sure there will be more good advice. BTW, Mosport is awesome and they have made many recent improvements, especially to the paddock. You will love it.

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Mack


Mon Jan 27, 2014 10:15 am
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Mack:

Thank you, that’s all real good information, and it doesn’t sound to complicated.

Kurt


Mon Jan 27, 2014 2:31 pm
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Location: Burlington, Ontario
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This is the entry form from last year, if you scroll down to Travel Instructions you will find some hints for border crossing. I expect the 2014 to be the same. http://varac.ca/varac/documents/festiva ... ackage.pdf

Bob H.


Mon Jan 27, 2014 6:36 pm
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Hi Kurt. Bob Harrington has passed the info concerning Border Crossing onto you and that is great. You will find that most of your preparation will be directed towards getting back into the US. Coming into Canada is a breeze for Americans. The reverse situation plays out for Canadians going to the US. Canadians need to prepare for coming back into Canada.

It really isn't a hassle at all and I hope that you do come visit us. I know that you won't regret it and chances are, you'll be back in 2015 because the experience will be just that good.

If you have any questions at all, you can contact me directly at bob.deshane@varac.ca

Cheers!
Bob DeShane
Organizer, 2014 VARAC CHGP


Mon Jan 27, 2014 7:00 pm
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Hi Bob:
Yes, I followed the link provided by Bob H. That's a great source for information. With Mack's trip description and the CHGP web site, it should be no problem.
Thank you all for the help.

Kurt


Mon Jan 27, 2014 10:33 pm
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Kurt,

It's been a few years since I've raced in Canada, but I've probably gone to Mosport, Tremblant, and Shannonville about 10 or 12 times. Never had any hassle at the border going either way. One year I made a written inventory of tools & spares and tried to get it stamped, or something, at U.S. Customs when I was leaving the U.S. -- as advised by numerous sources -- and they Customs officers just looked at me like I had three eyes or something. So I never bothered to try that again. In my experience, crossing at 1000 Islands (I-81) or at Rock Island (I-91) is a little easier than the Peace Bridge. I agree with Mack, definitely bring your passport, it seems to give you more credibility. My race car is actually titled and registered in Pennsylvania, so I used to take the registration card and a copy of the title, but nobody ever asked to see it. I have heard that some racers have used their log book as evidence of ownership -- after all, it is signed & dated and has a photo of the car (not foolproof, but would a crook really know how to make one up?) In fact, nobody ever asked to look in my trailer (I have a small enclosed trailer).

You can call it profiling, but I believe the immigration & customs people are mostly looking for people who don't give straight answers -- consistent, plausible answers -- to their 4 or 5 questions. I also believe that many of them know exactly what & where "Mosport" is. So when they ask you what you have in the trailer (vintage race car), where you are going (Mosport for a vintage race), how long you are staying (until Monday) -- it all makes sense, and the typical smuggler would not know those details. My tools and spares are mostly visible in the back of my SUV, and never once have they asked me for any proof of ownership, nor have they ever asked me to open the tailgate of doors to look at my stuff. I guess maybe I have an honest face.

Don't try to joke around with them, make direct eye contact, take your sunglasses off, hand them your passport as soon as you pull up to the booth, make sure your passengers keep quiet (unless spoken to) ... I believe all those things help to minimize their concerns.

Good luck, Mosport is a fabulous track!

Mark Palmer


Wed Jan 29, 2014 10:37 pm
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Second what Mark said. In addition to removing your sunglasses, turn off the engine on your tow vehicle...especially if it is a diesel. A small courtesy that goes a long way.

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Mack


Thu Jan 30, 2014 8:27 am
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