What to Expect at Customs

Jay Dodge in Photog, a Boca del Lupo production

Arriving in Canada

Questions at Customs

VERY IMPORTANT: All attendees, especially those exhibiting, must print out a copy of WAA’s Recognition Letter and carry it with you across the border. This letter states that our conference has been officially recognized by the Canada Border Services Agency. Among other things, it means that they know we’re coming and are expecting travelers to enter Vancouver in order to attend. The Border Services Officer may request such documentation from you at the Port of Entry.

Generally, you can expect your customs interview to be quick. A typical exchange with a customs officer will be little more than:

“What brings you to Canada?”
“A conference.”
“What kind of conference?”
“An arts conference.”
“You’re an artist?”
“No, I’m a presenter.”
“Where are you staying?”
“The Westin Bayshore.”
“Enjoy your conference.”

When you arrive, be prepared to answer why you are in Canada, what your line of business is, and how long you will stay. Some officers will drill a bit deeper wanting to you to answer more specific questions about your work. Technically, a customs officer can ask you anything, and the interviews can go in any direction. It is possible you may find yourself answering 50 questions about your work, but for a routine entry such as this, you can reasonably expect the line of questions to be brief and basic.

If you are traveling with your promotional and advertising materials, know that these items are considered "Commercial Goods" and that you MUST check the box on your Declaration Card indicating that you are bring in commercial goods into the country. For more information, visit "Self-Shipping" section of the Exhibiting in Canada page.

What are some Red Flags?

It is true that if you have a criminal offense on your record of any kind, you may not be able to cross the border into Canada. If you do have such an offense, you may be allowed to enter depending on the crime, how long ago it was and how you have behaved since. Rather than delve into specifics here, you can go straight to the source for questions about Inadmissibility and Rehabilitation.

Our contacts at Canada Border Services Agency, Kathryn Kazun and Mark Bourne, are also available to confidentially answer any specific question you might have.