Whenever I cross into Canada, I end up taking an extra ten or twenty minutes because there's some other American out there who has (A) the same first and last name as I do, and (B) a criminal record. That's not surprising; the USA has a population of almost 320 million people, and my first and last name are not uncommon.

When this becomes an issue, I have to speak calmly with Canadian border agents and explain that this other guy has a different middle name, different age, different social security number, etc, than I do. After a short discussion they invariably reach an understanding and wave me through. It's not that big a deal because I usually fly or take the train into Canada, and this processing delay always takes place at my destination city, well inside the country.

Next time, however, I have plans to take a bus. This means that my usual processing delay will take place at an actual border station in the middle of nowhere. Delay time will be arbitrarily subject to how many people are in the 'requires additional processing' group ahead of me, and whether or not the agents are at lunch. And if the delay takes too long, it's possible that the bus could leave without me. After all, bus drivers have schedules to keep.

My first question is: What happens then? What does one do if the border control people say "Welcome to Canada, sorry about the delay" just as one's bus is disappearing over the horizon?

My second question is: What can be done? Is there any way to speed up the approval process? Is there anyone in the CBSA that I can write a letter to, or any kind of form I can fill out to get my passport un-flagged?

I suspect very few people have actually experienced this. Thanks in advance for any relevant, knowledgeable replies.

  • 8
    In America you solve this problem by (once) obtaining a redress number. That might be a useful term in a search about the problem. Commented Aug 13, 2015 at 6:01
  • Have you tried contacting the Canadian Embassy in the USA to see if they have a solution to your issue?
    – user13044
    Commented Aug 13, 2015 at 6:50
  • 4
    I've never seen a full bus keep to a schedule after crossing into the USA.
    – gerrit
    Commented Aug 13, 2015 at 10:11
  • 2
    While I'm not certain of the exact details, I know my father once had to sign a waiver declaring that he was not the person of the same name listed on an active arrest warrant (from Texas, where my father has never been). It only occurred one time, and did take him an extra ~20 minutes to cross the border.
    – Richard
    Commented Aug 13, 2015 at 13:07

2 Answers 2


Hopefully you can get the mistaken identity fixed before your trip. Here's what you should do if it isn't fixed.

Tell your bus driver that you may take extra time to process. Sit near the front of the bus. The driver will make sure you're one of the first people in line, so you'll minimize the delay on the schedule.

Don't stress too much about being left behind. Neither the bus company nor the CBSA wants you to be stranded.

I frequently take buses back into Canada, with several companies. It's quite common for the bus to wait for one last person finish processing, even if it means going behind schedule. The driver is aware of the passengers who are still being processed, and goes back to check up on them and get status updates.

Over dozens of trips, I can only remember a couple of times where someone was left behind. These were people who were going to need several hours to process, not 20 minutes. The drivers made sure the passengers would be able to board the next bus. (I suspect the bus company would get in trouble with the CBSA if they ditched their passengers at the border without making plans. The CBSA doesn't want to devote staff time to dealing with stranded travellers.)

But, if it helps keep your mind at ease, bring some extra cash. Your worst-case, probably-not-gonna-happen plan can be to buy a seat on the next bus that comes through.


Actually there is a simple thing you can do - get yourself a NEXUS card. As it says, it "allows pre-screened travelers expedited processing when entering the United States and Canada". While part of the expediting means you can use dedicated lanes at borders, a NEXUS card also shows border guards that you have already been cleared, and is evidence that you are not the guy on their list. Show it at the border whenever you cross.

  • 6
    Recently, I was surprised to learn the NEXUS card isn't as expensive as I had expected — $50 for a card that's good for five years (so comparable to a passport.) If you travel into Canada often enough, it can work out to be a pretty good deal. Commented Aug 13, 2015 at 14:03

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .