Customs and the Border

Rainbow Bridge between New York State and the Province of Ontario, Niagara Falls

THE INTERNATIONAL BORDER BETWEEN THE US AND CANADA IS CLOSED FOR NON-ESSENTIAL TRAFFIC.

Face coverings are required at all Niagara Parks attractions and indoor public spaces. Guests are encouraged to bring their own, but disposable options are also available. Timed attraction reservations can be made at any Niagara Parks attraction or Welcome Centre. Attraction pass-holders receive priority access to capacity-limited locations. Guests are encouraged to make frequent use of hand wash and sanitizer stations. For information on what is open/closed, check out this page.

This bridge has been the main crossing for tourists between Niagara Falls U.S. and Niagara Falls Canada since the early 1940’s. This is not the truck route between Canada and America, those Bridges are at Buffalo and Fort Erie, the Peace Bridge, about 30 km south, and at the Queenston-Lewiston bridge crossing about 12 km north.

There is another bridge within a mile of the Rainbow Bridge, called the Whirlpool Bridge. It is the bridge used by passenger trains travelling between Canada and the U.S. It’s an upper and lower style bridge, trains on top and cars on the bottom. No foot traffic, only cars and passengers that have Nexus border clearance.

For those arriving from the U.S. into Canada, the Border Services Agency officers may ask to see your passport and a valid visa, if one is necessary. If you are a citizen and over the age of 16, you will need a passport, a Passport Card or an enhanced drivers license to enter Canada. When arriving by air, you need a passport regardless of age.

If you are foreign nationals who fly into Canada or transit through Canada, you need an Electronic Travel Authorization. Customs and Immigration authorities may ask you questions about your national origin, purpose of travel and other personal data.

Those who are inadmissible to Canada for a number of reasons will be immediately turned back. Those who have received an impaired driving conviction, human rights violations, are involved in organized crime and other issues will not be admitted. The Canada Border Services Agency’s website provides more detailed information.

If you’re bringing your family into Canada, minors age 15 and under must have proper identification, such as a birth certificate, passport, citizenship card, permanent resident card or Certificate of Aboriginal Status. While passports are recommended, they are not required for American minors age 15 or younger crossing the border by land – a birth certificate will suffice.

If a minor is travelling alone or with an adult that is not their parent or guardian, they should carry a letter from their parents/ guardians. This letter should authorize the person meeting them or travelling with them to take responsibility for the minor while visiting Canada. The letter should also include addresses and telephone numbers where the parents or guardian can be reached.

Divorced or separated parents should carry custody or legal separation documents and a letter of authorization from the other parent to facilitate their entry into Canada.

Depending on the length of stay, American citizens are entitled to take goods back to the U.S. duty free. Be aware that goods purchased in a duty free shop are not automatically free of duty upon your return to the U.S.

The Niagara Falls Bridge Commission is entirely separate from Customs and Immigration agencies on both sides of the border.
The NFBC’s responsibility is to collect your toll. If traffic is heavy around toll and/or Customs booths, NFBC staff members might direct vehicles toward shorter lanes to reduce congestion.

Real Time Traffic Information: 1-800-715-6722

Border Traffic Conditions

Traffic Cameras for web enabled cell phones and other mobile devices here.

For border crossing information including travel advisories, closures and special event information, go here.

The Highway Advisory Radio on the AM dial at 1610, you’ll hear about significant border delays, travel advisories and other current traffic conditions.

The Canada Border Services Agency offers a complete list of all requirements and regulations needed to travel to Canada. The toll-free number in Canada 1-800-461-9999 or outside of Canada you may call 1-204-983-3500.

The United States Customs and Border Protection Agency offers a complete list of all requirements and regulations needed to travel to the United States. The telephone number is 1-703-526-4200.

Generally crossing the border is straight-forward and will include going through immigration customs both ways. The biggest hassle is usually the length of the queues as the Niagara Region is very popular.

Ensure you have the necessary papers.

Passports are required. There are alternative such as Nexus ID and Enhanced Drivers Licenses.

Customs inspectors do have the power to ruin a vacation. If you come under strong scrutiny for any reason, answer questions directly and politely. Tempting though it may be, wise-cracking and rudeness will only be to your own detriment.

When crossing the border on public transportation such as trains and buses, you will if necessary, be reunited with your luggage in order to take it across yourself. Transport companies take the inspection time into account in their schedules, and while mass transit is usually treated efficiently, the companies have no power over delays. Vehicles may be searched at the discretion of the customs officials, whether or not the traveler feels that he or she has complied with customs requirements.

Driving a rental car across the US-Canadian border is usually not a problem, so long as you have made this arrangement with the car rental company. Make sure you have a copy of the rental agreement with you, and that is states you have permission to take the vehicle across the border.

Close to the time you intend to cross, it might be worth asking locals about the comparable prices of gas in each country (factoring in exchange rates), in order to make a budget-conscious decision as to which side to “fill up”.

NOTE: This page discusses the Buffalo-Ft. Erie border crossing (Peace Bridge), the Niagara Falls border crossing (Rainbow Bridge) and the Queenston-Lewiston border crossing between Canada and the United States. For detailed and up-to-date information should you have concerns, be sure to check the various links provided above. This information is made available as a service to our visitors and no guarantee is made as to its completeness or correctness. All information should be independently verified with the relevant authorities.

Other information you may require is available at the following websites:

Canada Immigration & Citizenship    |    Canada Customs Border Services.