9 fascinating things you may not have known about the Canadian border

Sep 8 2021, 3:03 pm

The Canadian border might be a nerve-wracking experience when you’re crossing it, but there’s usually a lot going on behind the scenes that you might not have realized.

Ex-border services officer Patrick Lalonde, who is also a criminology instructor at Douglas College, which is based in BC, has put together a list of things you probably didn’t know about the Canadian border.

Some of the items on the list might actually help you the next time you’re crossing it.

1. Cheese is one of the most smuggled items

Douglas College points out that due to the Canadian government’s protection of dairy farmers, travellers who are bringing cheese back to Canada may have to pay a hefty tax, which makes it a popular item to smuggle.

Some companies who import cheese have been hit with taxes and duties of up to 245%.

To avoid this “cheese tax,” sneaky Canadians have attempted to smuggle cheese across the Canadian border.

Douglas College also says that the industry is sometimes referred to as the “Canadian Cheese Cartel.”

2. Detector dogs aren’t just looking for drugs

If you’ve ever had your car sniffed at the border, those well-trained pooches aren’t just looking for illegal drugs. Those dogs can also detect food, plant, and animal products. There are also currency detector dogs, who are trained to detect large sums of money.

3. Beagles and Labrador Retrievers

Labrador Retrievers and Beagles are the most popular detector dogs.

Labradors are generally used to detect drugs, firearms, and currency, while Beagles are trained to detect food, plant, and animal products.

4. Importing a coffin

Coffins, believe it or not, are exempt from the harmonized sales tax and other duties, under what is known as the Coffin or Casket Remission Order.

5. Foreign nationals

What do celebrities and foreign nationals who have a criminal past have in common?

They can sometimes allowed entry into Canada, despite laws concerning criminal inadmissibility, if they apply for Ministerial Relief.

This is usually done on a case-by-case basis, and they’re usually only permitted if the person entering is not a threat to the security of the country.

6. Foreign nationals can also be turned away

While foreign nationals can sometimes skirt the rules, they can also be turned away just like anyone else. Particularly if it has been deemed that they’re not being honest about the nature of their travel into Canada.

7. Am I being detained?

Border officers are technically not entitled to ask you where you were or what you did outside of Canada.

This is due to the guaranteed mobility rights in Section 6 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The same rules don’t apply to foreign nationals or people from other countries.

8. You can come in, but your goods cannot

According to the law, Canadian citizens and permanent residents have an unconditional right of re-entry into Canada after travelling abroad.

However, this doesn’t mean that your goods won’t be examined, or detained altogether.

9. Being searched

The Supreme Court of Canada rules that you should expect a lower degree of privacy at the border. You can be searched without a warrant if there is a level of suspicion that a violation of the law is occurring.

Officers can also conduct random exams in the absence of reasonable suspicion.

According to Lalonde, a CBSA computer can randomly generate referrals of people and vehicles, and it might just happen to be your lucky day.

Amir AliAmir Ali

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