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Patience, Planning and Paperwork will Enhance Border Crossing on Memorial Day Weekend

Detroit - Planning ahead for getting across the border this weekend -- the traditional start of heavy summer cross-border travel -- may spare motorists the unwanted angst of a traffic jam. That's the advice from U.S. Customs & Border Protection officials who are gearing up for the upcoming Memorial Day weekend.

"Travelers are reminded that as of Jan. 31, 2008, CBP stopped accepting an oral declaration of citizenship and now all individuals entering the country have to present documentary proof of citizenship," said CBP Chief Ron Smith in Detroit.

Documents that can be used to gain entry into the U.S. include official passports, passport cards, copies of birth certificates along with government-issued photo identification, enhanced driver's licenses, NEXUS or FAST cards.

Those U.S. or Canadian citizens who travel without the correct paperwork will have the requirements explained to them, receive a tearsheet explaining how to become compliant with the rules and then be able to proceed into the U.S. CBP officers are still exercising discretion with those who fail to comply with the enhanced requirements in order to ensure that everyone knows what is required.

Since the standards for entry were increased earlier this year, the compliance rate among travelers crossing the border has been in the 90 percent range, according to U.S. Department of Homeland Security officials.

"CBP will staff inspection booths commensurate with traffic flow throughout the holiday weekend at all of our ports of entry. CBP reviews historic crossing data, monitors real-time traffic conditions and makes necessary changes in staffing based on that information,Ē said Chief Smith. "Our goal is to facilitate the crossing process for all of our legitimate travelers while still maintaining the security of our borders."

In addition to having the proper documents, planning ahead can expedite your crossing.

  • Travelers should check border traffic conditions to help facilitate their crossings.
  • Have travel documents ready before stopping at the inspection booth.
  • Be prepared to declare merchandise purchased or acquired in Canada.
  • Declare "duty-free goods", even if purchased at "duty-free" stores.
  • Do not attempt to bring unauthorized fruits, meats, and dairy products into the country.
  • Do not attempt to bring Cuban cigars in as they are a prohibited item.
  • Even before leaving for the trip, obtain a Know Before You Go brochure available on the CBP Web page. ( Know Before You Go )
  • Donít rely on friends and shopkeepers for advice on what items "will clear inspection"; instead, obtain this information directly from U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
  • Understand that, CBP officers have the authority to conduct enforcement examinations ranging from a single luggage examination up to and possibly including a personal search.

For individuals who plan to make the trip back and forth over the bridges frequently this summer, CBP suggests that they enroll in the NEXUS program which allows prescreened, low-risk travelers to proceed with little or no delay. Applications are available on the Canadian Border Services Agency Web site at and the Customs and Border Protection web site, or by calling (866) NEXUS 26 [866-639-8726]. ( Canadian Border Services Agency ) ( Know Before You Go )

A traveler who knows how to cross the border not only facilitates their own crossing but also that of the other travelers as well as helping CBP be efficient and effective in securing our border.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.