When to avoid the U.S. / Canadian Border
Over 30 million vehicles drive across the U.S. / Canadian border every year. As a very general rule, the northbound wait to enter Canada is generally less than that of the southbound wait to enter the United State.
While truck traffic remains very consistent throughout the year, auto traffic clearly rises significantly in the summer months. As you can see from the statistics below, passenger vehicle traffic is relatively low in January and February and then rises steadily until it begins to drop as summer vacations wind down. Although the US Customs and Border Protection and Canadian Border Services Agency put more border agents on duty during the peak periods, border crossing times will be significantly longer at most major ports during the summer months.
|Month||Number of Passenger Vehicles|
|January||1.8 million vehicles|
|February||1.8 million vehicles|
|March||2.1 million vehicles|
|April||2.2 million vehicles|
|May||2.4 million vehicles|
|June||2.5 million vehicles|
|July||3.2 million vehicles|
|August||3.2 million vehicles|
|September||2.6 million vehicles|
|October||2.5 million vehicles|
|November||2.3 million vehicles|
|December||2.3 million vehicles|
Weekend Border Crossing Traffic
As a general rule weekends are much more congested than weekdays and wait time can be substantial. Northbound traffic at the border on weekends tends to peak later and be busiest between 6 pm and 10 pm. If you are going to use a busy port you should travel as early as possible or later in the evening.
Weekday Border Crossing Traffic
Weekday rush hours – 7am to 9am and 4pm to 7pm – can be jammed. You will definitely want to dodge these hours during a normal work-week.
When people have days off they head to the border and can overwhelm border crossing stations. We have prepared special posts which give you advice on how to avoid the biggest traffic nightmares for major holidays.
- March / April – Easter
- May – Victoria Day and Memorial Day Holidays
- July – Canada Day and July 4th
- August – Canadian Civic Holiday Long Weekend
- September – The Labor Day Long Weekend
- October – Canadian Thanksgiving / U.S. Columbus Day
- November – Veterans and Remembrance Day Border Traffic
- November – U.S. Thanksgiving Holiday and Black Friday
- December / January – Christmas & New Years
Traffic From Special Events
Even seemingly small local events can jam border crossings. For example, hundreds of vehicles may try to cross into Derby Line, Vermont on Hwy 5 after a hockey game in nearby Stanstead, Canada. You should always examine our Border Traffic Calendar to determine if the time you plan to cross the border falls on a day that could have heavy traffic due to special events. If it does, you will want to give serious consideration to leaving very early in the day to beat the crowds and reduce your wait time.
What should you do to avoid the worst traffic?
- Examine our Border Traffic Calendar and the holiday posts above to determine if the time you plan to cross the border falls on a day that could have heavy traffic due to special events. If it does, you will want to give serious consideration to leaving very early in the day to beat the crowds and reduce your wait time.
- Review the ezbordercrossing.com page for the specific border crossing you intend to use for your trip. We often have specific information for that port that will help. We also have current traffic conditions on each of these pages.
- If you are travelling during the spring, fall, or winter months, you will want to keep an eye on our road conditions page as you near trip time to make sure you know what you will face on the roads.
- Before you head north into Canada, check out our page with the Projected Wait Times for Canadian Ports. You can use this forecast of backups to avoid the worst of the traffic.