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Horrible imigration experience

Harriburg, PA
2 posts
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Horrible imigration experience

Recent experiences with Canadian Immigration officers at Ottawa International may well cause many to rethink a visit through that airport. My friends, fellow travelers, and myself were shocked by the collective hostile attitudes displayed by numerous afficers during a recent visit.

For issues as minor as not knowing the complete name of a hotel, separate and intense interagation accompanied by a detailed luggage search followed. In a least one case, articles of clothing were held up for public viewing and a camera disabled by an officer who insisted on viewing a traveler's personal pictures without knowing how to handle the camera.

My own experience that night after a 1 1/2 hour grilling, ended with the admonition not to return to Canada unless I was better prepared to answer detailed questioning. Not to worry.

Fortunately, we found the people of Ottawa universally friendly. The museums, the city activites, and other attractions completely exceeded our expectaions. Sadly, to appreciate this wonderful city, many of us had to deal with wholly unprofesional behavior that bore no relationship to Canadian security.

Ottawa, ON
14 posts
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1. Re: Horrible imigration experience

90 minute grilling?

A friend of mine got caught smuggling in a hockey bag filled with California wines and he was there for 10minutes...

Either you are exaggerating or you did something to raise a red flag...

I have never had a problem with customs... What nationality is your passport?

Harriburg, PA
2 posts
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2. Re: Horrible imigration experience

No exaggeration....it was awful. I don't know what we could have possibly done to raise any red flags.

Passports are American.

Niagara Falls, ON
Destination Expert
for Niagara Falls
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3. Re: Horrible imigration experience

I know a Canada Customs Officer and have been told by him that, when doing Customs inspections, the officers have complete control over what they ask, how many questions, how long they take, etc. Basically, until they are satisfied, they can deny you access for as long as they want. He has also told me that if someone 'cheeses' them off, even if they are obviously not terrorists or smugglers, they will make things as difficult as possible for them. It might just be a joke or innocent comment, but it's enough to 'set them off'. This does not just apply to Canada either. I cross into the U.S. quite frequently, and my wife and I were going over for dinner one night. The U.S. Customs inspector gave me a 5 minute lecture about "you God-damned Canadians. All you do is eat and shop. Aren't there any restaurants in Canada? etc.etc." Luckily, I've been across enough to know that this was an extremely rare thing, so it doesn't stop us from going to the U.S.

The point is, one person, on one day at a any given time does not a country make. There are 35 million more of us that would welcome you back.

Ottawa, Canada
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887 posts
158 reviews
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4. Re: Horrible imigration experience

A US Customs agent said that to you?

WOW.

I'm shocked, honestly. Does he not realize that Canadians going to the US to spend money is good for his economy?

Plus if no Canadians went across the border, that guy would be out of a job.

You should've written down his name and filed a complaint. I'm sure his superiors would have had some words with him.

I understand the need for Customs officers to be in a serious mood, but they aren't allowed to be rude like that.

London, Ontario
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1,361 posts
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5. Re: Horrible imigration experience

Just a warning on carrying laptops and cameras (especially digital ones) across the border.....the border officials, as a matter of course, do 'forensic audits' looking for child ponography. As far as the reply about 'shopping and eating', I have said before, casual across the border visits to 'shop and eat' meet with a lot of hostility. As far as the US needing our 'tourist dollars', they couldn't care less. We could all stop going there tonight, and they wouldn't bat an eyelid. It's Canada that needs the tourist dollars, not the other way around.

Niagara Falls, ON
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47 reviews
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6. Re: Horrible imigration experience

Rob, I though about it and then realised that license plates are recorded at each crossing. Can you imagine the reception I would get from fellow officers on my next trip?

Ottawa, Canada
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726 posts
195 reviews
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7. Re: Horrible imigration experience

I sympathize with PAMinnie. I travel extensively and find that the Canada Customs folks are the, well, I don't even know how to describe them. It seems to me that Canada is so obsessed with tobacco and alcohol that they don't believe you if you say you don't have any. If you seem to become annoyed with their tactics they do make it more difficult or you.

Canada does have to make their front line folks take customer care courses to teach them to be a welcoming first point of contact vice overbearing bullies.

8. Re: Horrible imigration experience

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