|Right from the start of my planning, I was afraid of that initial border crossing... to enter the USA. But I've been in the US at least a dozen of times without a problem... why this time? Because I was crossing the border by foot and without any return ticket to come back “home”. I knew it would not be a simple “Hi, here's my passport... have a nice day!” crossing.|
I had to cross the border by foot since
there's no ground public transportation between the Maritimes and the
US anymore. There used to be ferries between Nova Scotia and the
Maine, but that has stopped. In order to cross using a transporter I
would have had to come back to Montreal. I found that a LONG ride
back and by principle I didn't want to return to Montreal.
So, my solution was to go to a border
city and cross the border by foot. Being a Canadian citizen with a
spotless record, I didn't anticipate much problem, but I knew it
would be complex and long due to the nature of my crossing and of my
trip. It's not a weekend in New York.
So, I got off the bus in Florenceville,
New Brunswick, using the old bridge you see above. I was about 15 km
away from the border. I began walking it... and after about 2 km, I
was offered a ride. The local dropped me just before the Canadian
border and I walked the 500 remaining meters or so.
As I arrived to the US customs officer,
I handed my passport and he directed me to go inside (no surprise).
I explained my situation to the officer on duty (it was her first day
at that border office, she was a bit puzzled). Since I was an
exceptional case, I had to meet her supervisor and discuss my
project. But, I was ready for that. I didn't have all my documents
ready, but I had them all. After she examined all my documents she
went through all my luggage and wallets, making sure I wasn't
transporting any weapon or similar stuff.
Here's the list of the documents I had
prepared for that border crossing. It's basically what I will have
to present on every border crossing... but it was quite unusual to do
it at the US border:
Passport of course
Proof I don't have a criminal
record, provided by the federal police (RCMP), based on my finger
Bank statement proving I had the
resources to sustain myself while in the US (I provided it on
electronic form and they consulted it directly onto my tablet)
Itinerary for my trip in the
Americas and for the American segment
Address of my first night in the
US (standard request)
She wanted to see another piece of
ID, I showed my birth certificate
That was it. As a regular Canadian, I
have access to the US for 6 months without a visa. But since I was
in a special situation, I had to pay $6 to get a formal muti-entry
visa valid for 6 months. That will ease my other crossings when I'll
re-enter the USA in the next few months.
After all the verifications, I had
their blessings to enter. The whole process took about 45 mins,
which is not too bad. Both the front officer and her supervisor were
very friendly and helpful.
I then left on foot and walked for
about a kilometre before I was offered a lift to reach my hotel in Mars Hill, Maine.
It was the first time I was crossing a
border by foot, and the first time I changed timezone (I'm back to
Eastern Time) that way too. It was a bit stressful but overall a