Going through customs in a foreign country can be a stressful and scary process, even when you know you have everything in order. Perhaps it’s just the idea of being judged at the gates, perhaps it’s because you know that if something is wrong, you can’t simply go home and come back again in a few days time.
So, you’ve just landed, you’re tired, excited and wondering what direction you should be heading in. Follow the crowds, join the queue. Then you come face to face with a bored/happy/stern looking immigration officer. These seem to be their three standard presets. You hand over your passport which they take from you, glancing from you to the jailbird style picture of you in your passport and then start typing away. Why do you feel anxious all of a sudden, you haven’t done anything wrong?
Customs is designed to make people nervous, it’s a way of more easily rooting out those who really have got something to hide or are doing something illegal. If you’re ready and well prepared, then that won’t be you. Familiarise yourself with what to expect at customs when you arrive in Canada, and have a much more pleasant experience.
What to Expect
Upon landing, you will have a choice of two queues; one for Canadian/US citizens and permanent residents, the other, for you, me and everyone else. Wait patiently and when you reach the immigration counter, hand over your passport, customs declaration and have your supporting documents ready. Supporting documents may include:
- Proof of accommodation;
- A copy of your return flight ticket;
- Proof of medical aid cover for your stay;
- A copy of your Canadian job offer if you are visiting on a Young Professionals, International Co-op Internship or immigration program visa; and
- Any other supporting documents you may be asked to provide such as proof of funds.
Before your documents are returned you will likely also be asked if you are carrying any food items. Don’t lie, they can tell and may ask you to move into the random search queue.
If you are immigrating to Canada, you will be asked to go to the new immigrants area where you will be asked a few additional questions which you will already be familiar with such as: have you ever been convicted of a crime? Express Entry applicants may receive their Certificate of Permanent Residency at this stage. Most new immigrants and travellers who have followed the channels of Canadian immigration correctly speak of this part of the experience in a very positive light.
Tips For Going Through Customs
Treat the Process Like an Interview
Be prepared to answer questions such as where do you plan to stay, who do you plan to visit, even what are you planning to do during your visit/stay in Canada. Be as prepared as possible, have copies of all your documents and be as presentable as possible after a long haul flight.
Don’t Do Anything Illegal
If you’re thinking about smuggling food or animal products, know that it will likely be found. Aside from the sniffer dogs who are trained to find food products too, scanners and random searches greatly reduce your chances of sneaking anything through. So don’t give yourself anything to feel nervous about, and you won't be nervous!
A Return Ticket
Unless you are legally immigrating, you may be asked to show proof of your return flight to show when you will be leaving. Your entry and exit dates are tracked so if you overstay your visa period, you will become an illegal immigrant.
Be Honest and Truthful
Always be polite and give answers to the best of your ability. Customs agents are trained to identify lying and people who are trying to hide something. Getting aggravated or giving short answers will never help. Don’t try to be funny, you probably aren’t and it makes you look like you’re hiding something.
How We Make Immigration Simple
When you arrive in Canada, you want to arrive with your sanity intact and your hair still it’s natural colour. We know how stressful the immigration process can be and that is why we are all about preparation, preparation preparation. By using our accredited Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants (RCICs) you will not only improve your chances of success in the visa application process, but you will get expert advice on which program is best for your specific needs. Our RCICs are highly qualified and are granted permission by the ICCRC to assist you with your eligibility evaluation, review all your documents and application forms and submit them to the Canadian government for you. Have peace of mind knowing your process has been handled by professionals who will have you prepared for anything and everything.
Let us take care of the fine print while you choose your dream destination in Canada for you and your loved ones. All you have to do is complete our application form to receive your eligibility assessment today. It's just that simple.
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