I plan to enter Canada from the US by car via the Douglas Border Crossing. I must complete the ArriveCAN form, which asks my exact day and time of arrival. I don't know the exact time yet.

Can I complete the ArriveCAN form at the last minute at the Canadian border when queuing to enter Canada? That way I can provide the exact arrival time.

I know that one has to compete the ArriveCAN form no longer than 72 hours prior to arrival, but I didn't see any instructions as to the minimum time before arrival it has to be completed.

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  • 6
    I doubt that's what they expect you to do. Common sense would suggest instead that you fill it out once you know the date and have a reasonable estimate of the arrival time (within a few hours). Commented Sep 12, 2021 at 22:29
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    For one thing, it lets them verify that your planned arrival is less than 72 hours away. For another, it may help them plan border staffing based on expected arrival volumes. Most likely of all, they have lazy programmers who used a pre-built date/time selection widget and ignored that HH:MM was more precision than they had any use for. Commented Sep 12, 2021 at 22:35
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    @NateEldredge reason 1 could be handled more efficiently without asking for the time. reason 2 was valid before covid, 72h is likely too short to change schedule, and using history would likely be more efficient. +1 for reason 3: save 10 USD on the coder and cumulatively waste countless hours of human time, which administrations typically excel at. Commented Sep 12, 2021 at 22:38
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    FWIW, I went through this procedure in July and was off by a couple hours. Nothing happened, they didn't seem to care. Commented Sep 13, 2021 at 16:37
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    @CodyBugstein: they can't refuse entry, but you can be required to quarantine after you arrive if you don't use the app, which is a huge pain in the butt. If you follow the ArriveCAN rules you will typically be exempted from quarantine (we didn't even have to do a COVID test upon arrival).
    – Ben Bolker
    Commented Sep 13, 2021 at 22:37

2 Answers 2


Logically speaking they have to allow last minute form submissions because someone living in Blaine or Point Roberts could literally be less than 1 minute away from the Canadian border. So you should be fine doing it at the very last second though keep in mind that there’s barely any cars waiting in line to cross into Canada meaning that you won’t have enough time to do it at the border and there’s nowhere to pull over once you’ve entered the final border crossing area. If you’re driving with someone in the car, have them do it roughly 10 minutes before the crossing. If you’re alone, pull over at the last gas station and get it done.

Though personally I’d just do it the night before, giving them an approximate time of arrival. The limit is only there to ensure you’re not over the 72 hour limit, there’s no actual rule saying you must arrive on that exact moment.

  • "...keep in mind that there’s barely any cars waiting in line to cross into Canada." Depends on the border crossing. When I crossed into Alberta on land in July, it took over 2h to get through, even though there was only a handful cars because of testing requirements. Commented Sep 13, 2021 at 16:36

I don't know about in the line itself.

I forgot to fill the forms out until I saw a highway sign in upstate NY reminding me to do it. Filled out/uploaded the ArriveCAN forms while sitting in a Tim Horton's in Lewiston, NY (in order to use wi-fi and A/C power) within <30 minutes of arriving at the Queenston-Lewiston border crossing. Everything turned out fine (late Sunday evening, there was no line at the border crossing itself), although obviously YMMV.

Got there about 15 minutes after the arrival time I put in the form because it took longer than expected to fuss around with power cords, internet connections, etc.

update: crossed again, this time pulled into the duty-free parking lot just before the border to fill out ArriveCAN. There were other complications, but the ArriveCAN part was fine.

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