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Aug 012013
 

The Canadian Civic Holiday long weekend is typically one of the heaviest traffic weekends of the entire year for U.S. and Canadian border crossings.   Traffic is at least 25 to 30% higher than normal and delays can run over an hour at larger ports.  The holiday period runs from Friday August 2nd through Monday Aug 5th.   Peak periods are typically Friday evening, Sunday afternoon, and Monday afternoon.

August is the heaviest travel month along the border so you will experience increased traffic backups and border crossing delays for the entire month.

UPDATE:  This has proved to be an even heavier travel period than expected.  The Peace Arch and Pacific Highway ports in Washington state saw waits of up to 5 hours on Friday.  Officials are warning that Canadians returning home could see equally long delays on Monday as the holiday ends.

  • Make sure to get gas and a restroom stop before entering a long queue at the border.
  • If there can be any silver lining to being stuck in line for hours at the border it might be that Canadian officers are frequently told to waive through travelers who owe duties on goods purchased in the U.S.  This is done to keep the line moving.  Obviously there is no guarantee this will happen and you are still required to declare all of your purchases.

Civic Holiday Border Wait Times

We will update this post if we recieve traffic projections from the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) or the Canadian Border Service Agency (CBSA) so check back regularly if you are planning to cross the border.   Also, remember that before heading out you should check current traffic conditions and border wait times on ezbordercrossing.com for the specific port you are planning to use.

In general, the larger border crossings can see huge delays during this holiday period.  Border crossing in Washington such as Peace Arch and Pacific Highway can see backups of up to 2 hours.  New York ports such as the Lewiston Bridge and Peace Bridge can see even longer delays.

Border wait times will be impacted in both directions at various points throughout the period.

Peak Periods from the Canadian Border Services Agency 

Below are projected peak traffic periods provided by the CBSA for ports in the Ontario region.  These are the anticipated wait times for entering Canada.

Lansdowne / Thousand Islands Bridge port of entry:   peak traffic volumes are anticipated between 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Friday, August 2, between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Saturday, August 3, between 2 p.m. and 9 p.m. on Sunday, August 4, and between 11 a.m. and 10 p.m. on Monday, August 5, when border wait times may exceed 60 minutes.

Prescott port of entry:  peak traffic volumes are anticipated between 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Friday, August 2, between 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Saturday, August 3, between 4 p.m. and 9 p.m. on Sunday, August 4, and between 11 a.m. and 10 p.m. on Monday, August 5, when border wait times may exceed 60 minutes.

Cornwall port of entry:    peak traffic volumes are anticipated to be between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m. on Friday, August 2, between 4 p.m. and 10 p.m. on Sunday, August 4, and between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. on Monday, August 5, when border wait times may exceed 60 minutes.

Sault Ste. Marie port of entry:   peak traffic volumes are anticipated to be between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Friday, August 2, between 12 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Saturday, August 3, between 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Sunday, August 4, and between 11 a.m. and 10 p.m. on Monday, August 5, when border wait times may exceed 45 minutes.

Fort Frances port of entry:  peak traffic volumes are anticipated to be between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Thursday, August 1, between 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Friday, August 2, and between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturday, August 3, when border wait times may exceed 30 minutes.

Rainy River port of entry:  peak traffic volume is anticipated to be between 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Friday, August 2.

Pigeon River port of entry:  peak traffic volumes are anticipated to be between 4 p.m.and 7 p.m. on Sunday, August 4, and between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. on Monday, August 5,when border wait times may exceed 30 minutes. Higher than normal traffic could also be expected on Friday evening, August 2, and on Saturday morning, August 3.

Traffic Warnings for American Ports

Blue Water Bridge port of entry:  Unscheduled repairs on the Michigan half of the westbound span of the Blue Water Bridge may still be underway over the long weekend and could add to delays entering the U.S.

How to Avoid the Heaviest Civic Holiday Traffic

Both the U.S. CBP and the CBSA typically open additional lanes for heavy travel periods but you should still expect longer than usual delays. You should therefore consider the following tips:

  • Your best chance to avoid traffic is to arrive at the border before 7 am or after 8 pm. Some ports will open additional lanes at earlier times than usual.
  • Be aware that traffic is especially heavy when it mixes with normal commuter traffic on Friday or Monday
  • If possible, use a smaller alternative port rather than the major ports.
  • Use NEXUS if everybody in the vehicle is a cardholder.
  • Make sure to get gas and a restroom stop before entering a long queue at the border.
  • Customs typically opens all available lanes and adds staff to handle the heavy traffic over the weekend. You should be prepared to move into lanes that might not normally be open.
  • You should always check our page for the specific port you are going to use to see if there are any traffic alerts or updates on wait times.
  • Visitors and returning residents should prepare for the inspection process before arriving at the inspection booth. Make sure you are prepared for your border crossing by reviewing ezbordercrossing.com pages on the border crossing experienceprohibited items, and required documentation.

Increased Civic Holiday Police Activity

Across both countries, you should expect to see an increased police presence including many more unmarked patrol cars and random roadside drunk driving stops. The bottom line: drive safely, don’t drink and drive, no texting while driving, and make sure you know if you are travelling in a province or state that requires hands-free cellphone use.

Prepare for your Border Crossing

To reduce delays, make sure you are prepared for your border crossing by reviewing ezbordercrossing.com pages on the border crossing experience, prohibited items, and required documentation.  You should also check our page for the specific port you are going to use to see if there are any traffic alerts or updates on wait times.

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