5 Tips for Hassle-Free Border Crossing Riding into the U.S.

Paul McGeachie


Check waiting times in advance goes without saying. These tips can help too.

 U.S. Customs and Border Protection will generally ask questions related to your citizenship and your destination. (Where are you going? How long are you staying?)

There are special considerations for motorcycle travellers.


#1: I.D. is Required.

Customs and Border Protection will accept: Canadian passport, Enhanced Driver’s License/Enhanced Identification Card, NEXUS, FAST/EXPRES and SENTRI enrolment cards. A NEXUS lane pass is best. It allows pre-determined low-risk Canadians expedited border crossing to and from the U.S. Most border crossings have a Nexus line. It gets you in the fast lane and that usually means less stop and go clutch work and perhaps overheating. You are still going to have to pull it out of the metal holder and stop to scan it, (in a car you can get away with a slow drive by). It can often be worth the time saved.

The regular lanes will ask for I.D., such as a valid passport, Enhanced Driver’s License or Tribal Card, so it is best to have it ready to hand over in prompt fashion. This is where tank bags are handy, but any place so that it’s obvious for the officer, and quick to grab, can be helpful. Be creative. And remember to put it away securely when the officer returns it to you.

#2: Be Respectful

For those of the mindset, loud pipes do not save lives in a line up. Take it easy on the throttle. Also, to a lesser extent on a motorcycle, idling wastes fuel and can generate heat. Turn off the engine when you can. When you get to the officer, turn off your motorcycle and remove your eyewear. Some suggest taking your helmet off, which can’t hurt, but that may not be necessary. An officer being able to look you in the eye goes a long way in keeping things friendly.

#3 One at a Time

If you are in a group, everyone goes one at a time. If you are travelling as a pair, the officer may wave the other rider up, but wait for their signal.

#4 Let Them Look

They have the right to inspect your vehicle. They also have the legal right to open and review your electronic devices. Motorcycles are no different. Most times they will let you open and close the compartment/saddle bags. Owners generally know how best to jiggle open and close latches and closures. Also, if you close them, you can’t blame anyone if they pop open down the road.

#5 A Stylish Exit

You have been waved through. Take a second to collect your thoughts and belongings. Check for anything you might have dropped. (You don’t want to have to walk back for that glove.) They do not expect you to leave as quick as a car. If you have lots of stuff, or you want to change your gear, check for a pull out area. Use it to put your self back together. Finally, leave quietly. This is no time to put on any sort of show.

Leave a Comment