19

I am a French citizen with a B2 visa and I plan to stay for ~6 months in the US.

As I'll be hiking the Continental Divide Trail, I'd like to leave North America from Calgary Airport. I know that US and Canadian citizens have a simplified procedure to cross the border at Glacier National Park:

There is a US ranger station and customs post at Goat Haunt for south bound people into the US. It is a Class B Port of Call, which just means it is for US and Canadian citizens and permanent residents only. Northbound there is an RCMP post in Waterton townsite. Because of the twin park structure you do not seem to need to check in with the Mounties, as people take the boat down to Goat Haunt and walk back all the time. So, as a short answer I think you are ok just walking across.

(source)

Or this Reddit topic.

But I can't find reliable sources for a non-US/Canadian citizen.

I'd prefer to cross the border at Glacier NP, because if I have enough time I'd like to continue hiking in Canada, taking the Great Divide Trail to get closer to Banff and Calgary.

I think I'd stay between up to 2 or 3 weeks in Canada, maybe less if I'm late on my hiking schedule.

  • 1
    Just to note a potential confusion. If you're talking to Canadians about "Glacier National Park", they might think you mean the one in British Columbia, which is about 300km from the American one. – David Richerby Dec 12 '17 at 14:11
  • @DavidRicherby Good point. The combined entity is called Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, and would be the less ambiguous way of referring to them. It is a few hours' drive between Glacier N.P. (MT, US) and Glacier N.P. (BC, CA). – Jim MacKenzie Dec 12 '17 at 14:39
14

https://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/do-rb/offices-bureaux/658-eng.html

This is the customs and immigration office, if you cross inside the park. (There is a highway border crossing along the east margin of the park, at Chief Mountain, that would be a perfectly suitable place to cross for certain.)

If you are going to be hiking when you cross into Canada, it looks like you can submit to inspection here. You should call the boat operator (you'll be arriving by boat, it appears) to see if this is a problem, and to inquire about how to secure tickets. (I think they normally provide a round trip from Canada.)

If you want to talk to Canada Border Services Agency to check first (and I recommend you do), you can contact them via numbers listed here https://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/contact/bis-sif-eng.html . At the time of posting, there is a toll-free number that will only work in Canada and the US, and two numbers you can dial from overseas - the area code 204 number is in Winnipeg, much closer than the other (New Brunswick) and would probably be the more suitable one.

To clarify, the Canadian customs office is not really an office; you report by telephone. If CBSA wants to inspect you, they will have you wait on the boat for their arrival. You will not be allowed to disembark until approved or inspected.

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    Thanks for the answer. I'll be by foot (there is a path left of the lake ; the official end of the CDT is right at the border. The first village I will encounter in Canada is Waterton. – Shan-x Dec 11 '17 at 15:39
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    Note that all services of the Canadian federal government are supposed to be offered in French as well as in English, so you can request to speak with a francophone agent when you call if you prefer. – Michael Seifert Dec 11 '17 at 16:02
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    @MichaelSeifert Good point, and if the 506 number rings to Moncton or francophone New Brunswick, the odds of a bilingual agent there are pretty good, although there is a pretty sizable francophone community in Winnipeg, too. – Jim MacKenzie Dec 11 '17 at 16:08
  • @Shan-x This crossing is a water crossing only, so if you are on foot, you are best to call CBSA and ask if that is acceptable, and if so, how to report. – Jim MacKenzie Dec 11 '17 at 16:09
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    Please get all your ducks in a row before you try to cross. You do not want to have to say that you were ever denied entry to a country! – corsiKa Dec 11 '17 at 21:01
10

Jim MacKenzie's advice to contact the CBSA directly is probably the best course of action. If you do so, please come back and post their advice as an answer to your own question so that other people can see it in the future.

That said, if it turns out to be impossible to cross the border at Waterton Lake, you have another option. The Continental Divide Trail (on the US side) branches into two forks near Lake Sherburne (as can be seen on the map here.) One fork goes to Waterton Lake; the other goes to the highway border crossing at Chief Mountain. Moreover, Tamarack Mountain Outfitters offers a daily shuttle service between the Chief Mountain border crossing and the Waterton, AB townsite. The Chief Mountain border crossing is a "normal" border crossing, and is open during daylight hours during the summer.

Of course, the spirit of thru-hiking is generally that you don't want to get off the trail if you can avoid it; however, there are other options available should they be necessary.

4

First from your quoted info

It is a Class B Port of Call, which just means it is for US and Canadian citizens and permanent residents only.

This doesn't appear to be true. From the CBP site:

Class B means that the port is a designated port of entry for travelers who at the time of applying for admission are lawfully in possession of valid Permanent Resident Cards or valid non-resident aliens' border-crossing identification cards or are admissible without requiring a waiver of inadmissibility.

So it is not just for US and Canadian citizens.

The National Park Service pages on Glacier have several pages on international crossings, but they deal more with travel south into the US. Even so, they reference crossings here by foot and confirm that normal procedures should be to call the Canadian folks after crossing.

https://www.nps.gov/glac/blogs/international-hiking.htm

Welcome to the first International Peace Park in the world! Glacier National Park in the United States and Waterton Lakes National Park in Canada combined in 1932 to become the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park. This designation allows backpackers to hike continuously from one country into the other through an area known as "Goat Haunt."

When entering Canada from the U.S. you must call Canadian Customs at (403) 653-3535 for acceptance/rejection by Canadian authorities as soon as you arrive in Waterton Townsite. Read all the details under "Entry and Exit Information for Goat Haunt" on our trail status page!

Trail Status Page (https://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/trailstatusreports.htm)

Entering Canada at Waterton Townsite

Waterton Townsite is NOT a Canadian Port of Entry therefore all arrivals to Waterton Townsite must phone Canadian Customs without delay at (403) 653-3535 or (403) 653-3009 for acceptance/rejection by Canadian authorities. More Information on contacting Canadian Customs is available at the Waterton Lakes Visitor Centre or the Waterton Station of the Royal Canadian Mounted.

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    Note that the last page you link to says this about entries at Goat Haunt: "Citizens from countries other than Canada or the United States must present a valid passport and a current I-94 or an I-94W." The CBP page is probably saying this too, just in obscure language. Not that it matters since the OP is going north. – Dennis Dec 12 '17 at 1:51

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