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I plan to enter Canada from the US by car on a certain day, via the Douglas Border Crossing. I must complete the ArriveCAN form, which asks me to declare not just the date, but the precise time of arrival, to the specific minute.

But I don't know when exactly I will arrive. Lots of things can make me arrive a few hours earlier or later when I drive myself to the land border: chatting after dinner, traffic jams, border line-ups, and more. I am very confident about my 12-hour period of arrival. I have moderate confidence about a 1-hour window of arrival. I have no confidence about the exactly minute when I will arrive.

How greatly may the actual arrival time at the Canadian land border differ from the ArriveCAN form's declared time? What accuracy limits are published Canadian government policy? What about our experiences? What differences have people had success with — or problems? Is the answer different for different categories of travellers, e.g. Canadians returning home after less than 72 hours in the US, vs US or other citizens visiting Canada?

(This question applies to the rules for entering Canada in effect from November 30, 2021, and onwards. As long as those rules are substantially unchanged, this question and its answers remain valid. But because of the pandemic, the rules will probably change, and that may require a different question and different answers.)

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  • The question travel.stackexchange.com/questions/168656/… starts from a similar premise, but asks something different. They ask about lead time of filling out the ArriveCan app. I ask about allowable difference between one of the declared times and actual time. Dec 8 '21 at 9:19
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The ArriveCAN Help page says this under "Your time of arrival":

For land entry, try to estimate your arrival time within a few hours.

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    The arrival times I predicted for arrive can wear off by +3 (i.e. I arrived three hours late), -4 and -12 hours, at several different land crossings into Quebec. I usually tried to arrive early, so that worst case I would just park and/or turn around and go to the nearest US town and shop for duty-free, but I did not need to do that. I asked the order agent, and they said it was not important. I get the impression that it is mostly an issue with respect to them ensuring that there are enough officers on duty. And if you are crossing at non-busy times as I was it was not an issue.
    – Krazy Glew
    Dec 9 '21 at 1:46
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    @KrazyGlew, This sounds like a helpful answer. Thank you! Post it as an answer rather than a comment, and I will upvote it. Dec 9 '21 at 6:35
  • Thanjs, Jim, I may converted into an answer, although I will double verify my numbers. But also note that all of the crossings I mention pre-dated November 30, 2021, and we’re at border crossings that are considerably less busy than the Peace Arch. Things may differ there.
    – Krazy Glew
    Dec 9 '21 at 6:49
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    I was off by about 3 hours (late) when crossing at the Lewiston–Queenston Bridge (NY -> Ontario) several days ago - they didn't even mention it. Their main goal with that form is actually to get you to pre-vet yourself by filling out your vaccine and answer questions about symptoms, if I were to guess. Afaik it was implemented purely as a COVID measure.
    – VSO
    Dec 9 '21 at 13:59

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