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Hello, I am a US Resident and will be travelling into BC this summer for a week of riding with friends (all US Residents). There are 20 of us going on the trip and we plan on flying from California with the exception of 3 people who will be driving into Canada with all of the bikes in a trailer. My concern is there will be $100K+ of bikes in the trailer that is being driven across the border. And of course the people driving the bikes across the border only own their own bikes and the rest of the bikes are owned by the people flying in.

I called Canadian customs and was given a very short response of "make sure the declaration forms are filled out and your case will be reviewed at the border". This seems like a big chance to take, that could potentially ruin our week of riding if for some reason the bikes aren't allowed in or are held in some sort of customs control.

Does anyone have experience traveling with multiple bikes to/from Canada? Any tips?

Thanks!
 

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I've done a much smaller version of that (it was like 4 bikes in a truck) and I'm Canadian going the opposite way and it was no problem. I'm no immigration lawyer but I think as long as you have nothing to hide it should be ok
 

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Getting into Canada the major issue will be a guarantee that no one will be selling the bikes when you're here, so you want everyone to have a bill of sale or a document that identifies the s/n and value of the bike, and the name/address of the owner of each bike, and you may be asked to sign a declaration that they are not for resale.

If this is part of an organized paid tour, you may have some issues related to working in Canada as a US tour operator.

You may need to post a cash bond that would be refunded when you pass back through the border with the same bikes. If that happens you want to plan to cross back through the same border crossing as it simplifies the review and refund process. 2-4 bikes on a vehicle generally aren't a problem if the owners are in the vehicle, but as you say, $100K worth of bikes looks like a import business, unless there is a person per bike in the tow vehicle.

Depending where the trailer is licensed you may find they want to strip search the trailer and the bikes looking for drugs (not marijuana, but other more compact drugs), that would be seat posts out, tires off the rims, any removable frame hatches or ports opened, bar end plugs out. And similar things for the trailer. And make sure there are no firearms in the trailer or vehicle.

And they won't give you any tip off or heads up about what might happen, as that defeats the purpose of surprise searches.

Getting back into the US, the major issue is proving you already owned the bikes, so that manifest and all the bills of sale will be useful.
 

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I've done the drive as well, albeit with less bikes and the bike owners are in the car with me. I'm no expert and don't pretend to be and would have never though this would be an issue so you were smarter than me to think ahead. I'd be willing to bet my house that all 20 guys don't have bill of sales or receipts for their bikes. Based on comments above, I think I might have have each friend forward me a copy of their flight plans, have them write and sign a one paragraph note about you having their bike to deliver and lastly, have a photo of each of them with their bikes.

I will say this. I travel all over and Canada has BY FAR has the most inquisitive, nit-picky, difficult Customs/Border agents I've experienced.
 

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Speaking of weaponry, I met a guy who had a taser in his car and didn’t declare it at the border. I don’t recall the details but they ended up pulling everything out of his car for a very complete search. He said it took several hours and then he became persona non grata. Now if he wants to go to to Canada it’s a major ordeal. Apparently small personal sized pepper spray also is forbidden. Bear spray cans are okay though.
 

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Speaking of weaponry, I met a guy who had a taser in his car and didn’t declare it at the border. I don’t recall the details but they ended up pulling everything out of his car for a very complete search. He said it took several hours and then he became persona non grata. Now if he wants to go to to Canada it’s a major ordeal. Apparently small personal sized pepper spray also is forbidden. Bear spray cans are okay though.
After the standard "where are you guys headed" question to which I answered "Squamish & Whistler". He then asked what we're going to be doing up there. I guess the mountain bikes on the back of the car weren't an obvious clue. After circling my car, he then started to give me the 3rd degree about firearms...do I have any with me? any ammo? He asked me if I owned any and I said "yes, several". He then wanted to know what kind and I said "I'm a retired police officer. You name it and I probably own it". He immediately became nicer and let us go with no further questions.

I'm not exactly sure what they have access to when they run your passport in their computer. I've been given so many answers that I just assume they know exactly what I own anyway so there's no reason to give them any questionable answers.
 

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After the standard "where are you guys headed" question to which I answered "Squamish & Whistler". He then asked what we're going to be doing up there. I guess the mountain bikes on the back of the car weren't an obvious clue. After circling my car, he then started to give me the 3rd degree about firearms...do I have any with me? any ammo? He asked me if I owned any and I said "yes, several". He then wanted to know what kind and I said "I'm a retired police officer. You name it and I probably own it". He immediately became nicer and let us go with no further questions.

I'm not exactly sure what they have access to when they run your passport in their computer. I've been given so many answers that I just assume they know exactly what I own anyway so there's no reason to give them any questionable answers.
Last summer heading to Fernie I was the only car and the interview was like "Where ya goin'?" "Biking in Fernie." "K cool have fun!" A couple of years ago on the way to Whistler I got questioned a bit more thoroughly (but it still was pretty minor).
 

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Much like tax audits, things usually only get squirrely if there's things that seem unusual to the border agent. 20 bikes and 3 people would be one of those things. Two people in a vehicle with 2 bikes on the back of the car, no big issue. The trick is to think like the most paranoid and suspicious person you can imagine being and then prepare for all the raised eyebrows with an answer.

One thing that would likely help is to have the list of the guys who are flying in, a contact number and a flight number so that the border crossing guys can cross check with the customs guys at the airport when those guys arrive.

The CBSA regularly catch people driving to Alaska with an RV full of weaponry who aren't even aware that Canada has different gun laws than the US.
 

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Much like tax audits, things usually only get squirrely if there's things that seem unusual to the border agent.
On my way back from Fernie I passed through the checkpoint early morning before dawn. The US agent asked, "What were you doing in Canada?"

I replied, "I was mountain biking in Fernie.

"Did you buy anything to bring back with you?"

"Just a bag of candy."

"Candy?"

"Yep. For my kids."

"Stuff we can't get in the States?"

"Yeah. Caramilks, Reese, Kit-Kats..."

"We have Kit-Kats in the States..."

"Ummmm. It tastes different."

[long pause with him giving me a suspicious stinkeye]

"Yeah, you're right. Welcome home."


For a moment I though I was about to get stuck at the border for a stupid candy bar!
 

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When driving across the border stop at a identifiable road sign and take pictures of everything.
We travel with all our gear and my modified Jeep, from Canada to the US and back. One of my concerns and a question I have been asked is if I have had any work done to my vehicle and if I bought a bike while on my trip. Because they want you to pay Tax. If I pull out my phone and can display a picture of all my gear and Jeep at one of my local road signs or say some place like a Canadian tire then I am good to go.
 

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We vacationed in Oregon and we traveled from Canada to Oregon and back with our truck and camper. No issue going into the US but coming back into Canada we were asked lots of questions about our truck and its modifications, asking if we had the work done while in the US. Never checked the camper, could have smuggled anyone and anything back in it, they were only interested in the truck. After much questioning we were finally let back into Canada.

I remember reading a facebook post awhile back on people having an issue coming through with their bikes and having to show receipts for the bikes to prove they hadn't purchased them in the US.

I would have the paper work and proof of your plans in hand when you get to the border because there is a good chance they'll question you. Canadian border guards seem more strict than US ones.

And definitely don't bring any guns.
 

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Went to Campobello Island one late Sept., it’s the small Canadian island where FDR’s family had a vacation home. You get there either on the bridge from Lubec, Maine, or a seasonal ferry from somewhere else in Canada. As the ferry closes down around US Labor Day the only way on/off is via the bridge. The US Customs gave us the third degree on return, having I’m certain monitored that we went over to Campobello and now seemingly hoping we were smuggling something. We visited the home, went to lunch. That’s about all you can do, maybe play golf at the park. We were like - Really ?, this huge complicated Customs station with uranium sensors and the like. Amusing to think about today.
 

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Canadian border guards seem more strict than US ones.
Yep, no question....and every other country I have visited. I was surprised how nonchalant they were in Germany this year. Didn't ask a single question and entire contact was less than 15 seconds. I have Global Entry when I fly back into the US and that can't get any easier nowadays.
 

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At the rate things are going, getting bikes across the border won't be the major issue this summer. If the covid-19 social distancing issues continue, it is possible that all outdoor clustering of more than a couple of people will be outlawed. They have closed parking lots at trail heads and provincial parks because hundreds of people were going to hang out in the same outdoor locations. They have started talking about months and not weeks of physical distancing.

This was the parking lot of one of the popular climbing areas in Squamish on the weekend when people were supposed to be staying away from other people.

murrin-parking-lot-saturday-afternoon-1.jpg

And this was a popular hiking destination in North Vancouver on the weekend.

quarry rock.jpg

City of Vancouver just introduced a new fine of $1000 for individuals who are not maintaining the 2m distance between people in parks and outdoor spaces. So it may take a while to re-open the US border.
 

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ignoring the current virus issues, my riding buddies have been doing Whistler trips for past 5+ years with no problems bringing our bikes. We all have high end bikes. Never a problem, we flew a few times but most of the time drove from Seattle. Our experience has been the US agents were worse, but really as long as you have nothing to hide and are up front and normal with them, there hasn't been a problem. I'm pretty sure much of the questions they ask are to judge your responses. Half the importance is not what you say, but how you say it.
 

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Given what you are planning on doing, I would recommend contacting both border agencies and get direction in writings as you don’t want to have the trip wrecked for a big group.

I hope by the summer the quarantining is over, but I would recommend making sure you have wiggle room to get out of your accommodation arrangement if need be.

Lastly, if the trip happens, go over the top with security on those bikes, even if they are in a trailer.
 
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