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Traveling To Canada For The First Time

New York
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Traveling To Canada For The First Time

I am a US Citizen traveling to Canada for the very first time. My company has a branch at Ottawa & I am going there to attend meetings & training. I have heard that sometimes US citizens are denied admission to Canada so want to get a general idea of what to expect at arrival & dealing with customs. I will be flying with Air Canada from JFK-YOW. I will surely take my US passport & printout of the hotel reservation along with return ticket. I will be there for 3 nights & 4 days only. Any feedback regarding what the Canadian Immigrations ask at the Ottawa airport will be greatly appreciated.

Also, is there is limit on cash allowance? I am thinking of carrying around $2000 to be on the safe side & will also be using my credit cards.

Final question. I use MetroPCS carrier in the USA with an unlocked Sony Xperia M. Wondering if my my own network will work or I will have to get a Canada sim card. Many thanks in advance.

SE Ontario
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20,108 posts
15 reviews
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1. Re: Traveling To Canada For The First Time

You can read through this TA article on crossing the border.

tripadvisor.com/Travel-g153339-s602/Canada:C…

Unless you've been convicted of a crime, it's unlikely you'd be denied entry. However if you are working in this country without a permit you could be denied entry. It is up to the border official. However thousands of Canadians & Americans criss-cross the border every day and few are denied on either side.

Border security will ask what the purpose of your visit is and how long you will be in the country. They may ask what your job is and what your company does in Canada. Be truthful and do not elaborate unless requested.

I can't imagine why you'd need so much cash ... and please note that you will require Canadian currency in our country - US dollars may be accepted in some places, but at an exchange rate that will not be favourable to you. If your US cash is accepted, note that your change will be given in CAD. For more info on using Canadian currency and the best way to obtain it:

tripadvisor.com/Travel-g153339-s601/Canada:B…

All major credit cards are accepted in Canada, with the exception of the American "Discovery card which is less common.

You should contact your own service provider as to whether they provide an out-of-country package for your phone. We have our own carriers in Canada.

Edited: 01 June 2014, 21:56
Toronto, Canada
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15,154 posts
768 reviews
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2. Re: Traveling To Canada For The First Time

I'd contact your HR department and ask them if you require a visa as they would have experience in helping out employees obtain the proper working documentation...

Calgary, Canada
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19,684 posts
2 reviews
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3. Re: Traveling To Canada For The First Time

Since you're just doing meetings/training you don't need a Work Visa. Since your company has a branch in Canada they must be used to sending their US employees to Canada every now and then so it should be standard procedure for your HR Department to generate a letter that states the details of your permanent employment in the US and that you are not working or receiving wages in Canada.

Immigration/Customs at an international border can be intimidating for a first timer, but remember that you have absolutely nothing to worry about... you're not entering illegally, you're not breaking or even bending any law, you're not being sneaking in any way, shape or form... you're one of thousands of Americans who are doing the very same thing on every single day, entering Canada.

Congrats on using your shiny new Passport for the first time and have fun in Ottawa.

Cheers,

Terry

Toronto, Canada
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6,858 posts
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4. Re: Traveling To Canada For The First Time

www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/business-who.asp has an outline of what business visitors can do without requiring a visa. As long as your permanent job is based outside of Canada, it's pretty broad (but do check the details).

The limit for taking cash across the border without specifically declaring it is $10,000, so $2,000 is legally OK, but you'd want to take care to find a place with decent rates for converting it.

Ottawa
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668 posts
332 reviews
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5. Re: Traveling To Canada For The First Time

Leave the cash in your bank account. Use ATMs or credit cards. Better rate. Check with your bank on fees. If you do bring cash, there are a number of foreign currency exchange places in Ottawa. Royal Bank on Sparks, World Exchange Plaza and Rideau Centre.

Ottawa, Canada
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1,631 posts
4 reviews
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6. Re: Traveling To Canada For The First Time

For official informaioin on border crossing I would check......

http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/menu-eng.html

Ottawa, Canada
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915 posts
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7. Re: Traveling To Canada For The First Time

Crossing the border either way is usually straightforward, but every once in awhile you his a border official (either Canadian or US) who has a burr under the saddle. Be patient, be cooperative and honest, and it will work out. However, since no one else has mentioned it, I'll say it: Do not bring any weapons with you - no firearms, knives, tasers - nothing. That's sure way to have a problem at the border.

Border personnel will usually ask you what the purpose of your visit is, how long and where you are staying, and whether you are bringing any alcohol, cigarettes or weapons (don't). My friend from Brooklyn was quite annoyed recently when he said he was visiting friends and the border agent found it astounding and unbelievable that he wasn't bringing any gifts. He wasn't. He just stayed calm and said we were not the kind of people who expect gifts.

I also agree with posters who said that's way too much cash to bring. Bring a couple hundred bucks and use your ATM card instead. All the Canadian banks have ATMs onsite, and there is very little risk of fraud with these machines. MasterCard and VISA credit cards are accepted almost everywhere, American Express less so.

Enjoy our city! It's very safe and walkable, and there are few areas that are not safe. As a New Yorker, you'll recognize these instantly.

New York
9 posts
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8. Re: Traveling To Canada For The First Time

Thanks for your feedback. I asked our HR & they said a letter is not required since it is a big deal for a business traveler. In worst case if I run into any issues with customs I have been told to call my colleagues @ Ottawa and that will be enough.

Thanks for your feedback again

Calgary, Canada
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19,684 posts
2 reviews
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9. Re: Traveling To Canada For The First Time

That's okay too. So long as you have a company contact who'll answer the phone (in the 1/1,000 chance that you need it) at the time you're arriving you'll be fine.

Have fun.

Cheers,

Terry

Ottawa, Canada
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915 posts
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10. Re: Traveling To Canada For The First Time

I really do not think you will have any problems entering Canada - thousands of Americans do it by road and air every day, easily.

Really hope you get a chance to enjoy our city while you are here. It is the capital city of the country and there are many national museums and a national art gallery within easy reach of downtown.

Probably not too wise to talk of the Rangers victory over the Canadiens right now. Montreal is just an hour and a half away by road, and many people in Ottawa are longstanding Canadiens fans.