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Thread: US to Canada first time

  1. #1
    Registered User tibork's Avatar
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    US to Canada first time

    We're planning a trip to Canada from the US, first time for both of us, we already have passports but do we need special driver permit due to some different road signs - which we are studying now. Any advice - besides 'watch out for those Canadian drivers!' - what to watch for? How's the border crossing process? We are planning to cross at the North Dakota station at Pembina-Emerson and go and spend a few days in and around Winnipeg. The plan right now is probably sometime in June - heavier traffic in the summer I'm sure. Thank you for any advice!
    Last edited by tibork; 04-01-2023 at 11:24 PM.
    1994 BMW R1100RS (ABS)

  2. #2
    RK Ryder
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    Easy to get across. Don’t bring any guns across the border.

    Border personnel change positions on the hour which slightly slows the entry.

    No special driver’s licence needed.

    Radar detectors are illegal.

    Always a good idea to have travel/health insurance.

    Traffic should not be too bad at that time of year.

    Winnipeg roads seem to be in constant repair.

    Have a bit of Canadian money with you but use your credit card for almost all purchases. Merchants do not always give you a fair exchange rate. You’ll be saving about 25 cents on every dollar that you spend due to your favourable exchange rate.

    Enjoy your time in Canada.
    Paul F. Ruffell
    Retired and riding my RTs, the '87 K100 & the '98 R1100 !
    Knights of the Roundel #333

  3. #3
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    Other than not using mph, it's the same as the US. They eat, sleep, and s**t just like us. They speak English, and bitch about the gov'mnt, just like us - and there are fewer mass shootings.

    Other than petrol being more expensive, and having to leave your guns and probably your K-Bar at home, there isn't all that much of a difference.

    I've never been to Manitoba, but in British Columbia, the roads are much better than in Washington State, probably because they pay more taxes to keep them nice and smooth, you can travel on mountain passes that have passing lanes and paint you can see on dark nights.

    YMMV.

  4. #4
    Registered User tibork's Avatar
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    Thank you for advice, good points Paul on health coverage and exchanging some money, we'll check on these before we go. Fortunately no firearms here at all. 'Winnipeg roads seem to be in constant repair.' .. will make us feel right at home here in Minnesota! We're excited for this trip as we only live about 4-5 hours drive to the border but neither of us have been in Canada yet. Fortunately already lived a few years in Europe so to me the metric system is also no stranger and teaching my lady some of it. Doing some research and watching videos on Winnipeg, look like a nice medium size city with good hotel and other prices.

    About gas, octane ratings are the same as US?
    Last edited by tibork; 04-02-2023 at 01:36 AM.
    1994 BMW R1100RS (ABS)

  5. #5
    One should contact their vehicle insurance provider. I use Progressive and it was quite straightforward. The proof-of-insurance Canada card was a typed buff-coloured card which easily fits in one's wallet or alongside the regular insurance card. There was no extra charge, but it is advisable to make the request a few weeks in advance. The times that I have requested a Canada proof-of-insurance card there was a date range (for which the insurance was valid) placed on the card.

    I have the supplemental US Passport card in addition to a regular passport. The passport card is supposed to be good in Canada and Mexico and can be used in lieu of a regular passport. I don't recall if I just used the passport card or carried the regular passport "just-in-case".

    Also the Canadians use km/hr and km for distance. If one is using a Garmin gps, it is pretty easy to change the units. I think the new-fangled bikes will also let one change the units, but I do not know this for certain.

    I never needed to exchange the Yankee Dollar for Loonies, Twoonies, or other Canadian currency. Mostly I used a credit card for fuel, food, and lodging.

    When I was on the northern part of Lake Superior in the summer, I found the bugs (gnats or whatever) were problematic when the wind wasn't blowing.

    Folks in Canada were quite friendly. Food and beer was good.

  6. #6
    Registered User CajunRider's Avatar
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    Seeing that you're from Minnesota, you probably already know this, but...

    Watch out for wildlife!!! Bear & Moose will do massive amounts of damage to vehicle and rider.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by CajunRider View Post
    Seeing that you're from Minnesota, you probably already know this, but...

    Watch out for wildlife!!! Bear & Moose will do massive amounts of damage to vehicle and rider.
    Depending how north of the border you are going, the bugs can do massive damage too...

  8. #8
    MOA #24991 Pauls1150's Avatar
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    I don't know if they rate the gas the same way as we do, but any time I've been uppa north, I've tried to stick with the Chevron Supreme, which their label said is 92 octane. My 1150RT loves it.

    On my first ride there, I was on my K100LT. I had to stop at a a no-name station somewhere along the way, and got their highest-octane as displayed on the pump. No problem, it ran fine. The attendant asked me why I was buying the more expensive stuff, so I told him it was because the bike had a high-compression engine (10.2:1).

  9. #9
    Registered User GTRider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tibork View Post
    and exchanging some money, we'll check on these before we go..

    About gas, octane ratings are the same as US?
    Your best option for getting Canadian cash is to just hit an ATM machine once you cross the border. Youíll get the best and most consistent exchange rates that way. And donít get too much at once as getting it changed back in the US can be problematic or expensive (one local bank here uses their own exchange rate and adds a $10 fee on top).

    For gas, just buy whatever grade (regular, premium) you buy at home. In the more remote areas of Canada the question can be gas or no gas, as in remote areas they may have only one grade and supply can be iffy. But in lower Canada that wonít be an issue.

    Have fun! I always enjoy riding in Canada.

    Best,
    DeVern
    DGerber
    1983 R80ST ó 2010 K1300GT ó 2018 R1200GS
    BMWMOA#52184, AMA#271542, IBA#138

  10. #10
    RK Ryder
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    Quote Originally Posted by tibork View Post
    About gas, octane ratings are the same as US?
    Going back and forth the US/Cdn border Iíve never had a problem using gas in either country. In Canada I try as much as possible to use Shell as the pumps are labelled stating the amount of ethanol in each grade. I use Shellís V-Power ethanol free in both my bikes, maybe not the correct octane rating but certainly no ethanol. When in rural Saskatchewan and Manitoba, donít pass gas stations without topping up as one never knows how far the next fuel stop might be. Once, in the car, I forgot to stop at the last gas station and then relied on the GPS to let me know how far the next one would be. For some reason Garmin did not know that station had obviously been closed for ages.

    A number of years ago crossing Manitoba and Saskatchewan in mid August I rode through swarms of grasshoppers. They were so large I could feel them as they hit my boots. Fortunately on the ride home I rode in an all day rain storm which cleaned the bugs off the bike.
    Paul F. Ruffell
    Retired and riding my RTs, the '87 K100 & the '98 R1100 !
    Knights of the Roundel #333

  11. #11
    slave to gravity skibum69's Avatar
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    As stated no guns and don't forget you passport. As stated pretty much everything is the same but the farther north you go the more spread out the towns and facilities so keeping track of your fuel is key and topping up wherever you are.

    1.6 km's in a mile so easy math if you feel like converting. For myself I just remember a couple of speed limits. 30 mph is about 50 kmh, 90 km's is 55 mph.

    Borders are easy, just smile and nod and do whatever they tell you. Don't bitch and whine if the want to search your bags.

    Don't try to hide anything not that you have room for anything to hide on a bike. Booze is basically one bottle of hard stuff, 2 bottles of wine or 8 litres of beer. I have crossed into Canada with well over the limit of beer dozens of times.

    Enjoy the ride!
    http://beerthief.ca
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  12. #12
    Debbie's Servant Lee's Avatar
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    Canada border crossings are usually easy and fast as long as it's not one of the big crossing points.
    I worked on a project not far from the I-29 crossing and I-29 did not seem to have much traffic near the border.
    You could cross on a two lane north of Caviler, ND. Not much activity at that crossing. Check the hours at any of the small crossings, some are only open 8 to 10 hours.
    The last two times in Canada we did not bother with exchanging money, we just used our Credit Card. A couple times we used US cash to buy something that only cost a few dollars.
    Most places would take the US cash and we did not care about the exchange rate on a small purchase.
    When we used to exchange cash we also had to exchange the Canada money when returning to the US.
    A nice thing in Canada, your Credit Card rarely leaves your hand. Places like a restaurant will bring a handheld reader to your table.
    I tried to remember to remove my ear plugs at a stop before arriving at the border but if I forgot I could usually read lips good enough to figure out the words I didn't hear. I shut the bike off when talking to the border agent.
    Lee
    2022 R1250RS
    MOA # 30878
    Past BMW Bikes: 2016 R1200RS, 2011 K1300S, 2003 K1200RS, 1991 K75S, 1987 K75T, 1984 R100RT

  13. #13
    '21 R1250 GS Adv bigjohnsd's Avatar
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    If asked at the border, Bear Spray is for bears, not self-protection.

    Radar detectors are legal in British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan.
    They are illegal in all other provinces and territories. https://k40.com/radar-detector-laws-...%20territories.

    For some reason many Canadian drivers are reluctant to pass, a long string of traffic may be held up by one slow vehicle on the highway. I've passed some long queues in BC, Alberta, and the Yukon on the way to Dawson City.
    The only dumb question is the unasked question!

    Team Pterodactyl - When we ride, we ride!

  14. #14
    RK Ryder
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    One of my sons used to work for Canadian Customs, like the person who be will letting you into the country. In the past he gave me advice for border crossings.

    When asked whatís the purpose of your trip, give only one of two answers; pleasure or business. Usually that will reduce further questions. If there should be more, follow up replies to more questions should be brief and not elaborate.

    Cheers!
    Paul F. Ruffell
    Retired and riding my RTs, the '87 K100 & the '98 R1100 !
    Knights of the Roundel #333

  15. #15
    Debbie's Servant Lee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul_F View Post
    One of my sons used to work for Canadian Customs, like the person who be will letting you into the country. In the past he gave me advice for border crossings.

    When asked whatís the purpose of your trip, give only one of two answers; pleasure or business.!
    I agree, it's best to keep your answers simple.
    Lee
    2022 R1250RS
    MOA # 30878
    Past BMW Bikes: 2016 R1200RS, 2011 K1300S, 2003 K1200RS, 1991 K75S, 1987 K75T, 1984 R100RT

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