Prairie Cross-Border Shopping

May 1 2012

Recently released stats from the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) for March indicated a nine per cent increase in travellers across Saskatchewan’s border with the United States compared with March of 2011. The CBSA report stated that their officers processed 24,697 travellers in 6,259 personal vehicles and 11,326 commercial trucks at the province’s main international border crossing at North Portal during the reported time period.

Skimming through the yawning data with its reported border crossing incidents, it became obvious that the CBSA is concerned that the increase in border traffic could represent an increase in criminal activity.

During the one month period, CBSA officers at North Portal refused 47 travellers entry into Canada, five for serious and 19 for less serious forms of criminal activity.

For example, on March 5, a U.S. resident was refused entry when it was discovered that he had prior convictions for murder and attempted murder. A week later, another U.S. resident was turned away because of his convictions for sexual assault and being a registered sex offender.

Then there were the Canadians returning from their shopping trips down south. Several instances involving undeclared goods were included in the CBSA report. In all instances penalties were applied.

One Saskatchewan resident who was returning to Canada riding an ATV appeared to have been drinking and was subsequently handed over to the RCMP when he failed a roadside alcohol screening test.

A U.S. resident arrived at the North Portal crossing on March 10 claiming that he wanted to visit a friend in Saskatchewan. In the back of his pickup truck was an ATV that was in showroom condition. Questions about the ATV led to claims by the U.S. resident that it was a gift to him from a Canadian friend. After further investigation, the CBSA determined that the Canadian friend had in fact purchased the vehicle in the United States and had asked the American to bring it into Canada in an attempt to evade paying taxes on his purchase. The ATV was seized, but was later returned after a $1,500 penalty was paid.

In a similar case, two U.S. residents who arrived at the border towing a motorcycle claimed that they were going hunting in Alberta and that the motorcycle would be returning with them to the United States. An investigation into their claims revealed that a Canadian had conspired with the Americans to have the motorcycle imported into Canada without paying taxes. The motorcycle was seized, but released after the $4,000 penalty was paid; the import taxes, had the motorcycle been declared, would have amounted to a little over $1,000.

The CBSA requests that if you have information regarding suspicious border activities that you use the Border Watch Line at 1-888-502-9060. For general information regarding cross-border travel and shopping, call 1-800-461-9999.


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