How do the custom officials at the border detemine this...

I had driven over to the US side on Friday and was driving back into Canada yesterday. The way things are between the US and Canada, only two pieces of ID are required for Canadian citizens to enter the US by land, and even if you have a passport, the border officials do not make any entry on it. And this works both ways.

When I reached the customs officer on the Canadian side, he asked me how long I had been away. I gave him the correct answer, but it started me wondering.

Unlike what happens when travelling to other countries, where the passport is stamped at the port of entry showing the date of entry, in this case there was no record in my passport that could show when I had left Canada and gone to the US. So, how would he have known if I was being honest or not?

How do they determine how long a person has been away and in the other country?

Was your passport scanned on the trip over? Then on the way back? Or is there an automated numberplate scanning system?

Or was it just a question to gauge your reaction/response? If you appeared twitchy, he’d then start with the questioning/search process, perhaps ending with a rubber glove :eek: :stuck_out_tongue:

I don’t have the time to get into the specifics but those guys know a lot more about your travels and movement than you might think. A lot has to do with scanning the passport and license plates, what goes up on the screen, and the veracity of seemingly innocent questions.

Certainly, it’s not a perfect system, but they have their ways of raising flags and acting accordingly.

What I want to know is why they just let people from Canada come and go as they please like that. Next thing you know, our kids will be eating poutine and singing socialist songs.

Wake up, America!

Seriously, they are looking for twitches, and asking a question like that can often expose them, lickety-split.

Just hope John Pierre McCain isn’t elected.

If your question is if the passport was scanned by Canadian custom officials, then no it wasn’t. When driving out of Canada, there was not a single Canadian customs’ official in sight anywhere.

It was only when entering the US that questions were asked and my passport was scanned and some entries made in their system.

On the way back, yes the Canadian customs’ official took my passport, entered something on the terminal in his booth.

It doen’t look like there is an automatic number plate scanning system. And even there was one, I don’t think it is likely that their data processing systems could convert the scanned photographs into actual numbers for comparison on such a large scale.

WAG - Canada and the US share border crossing information. So while you were not stopped leaving Canada, the US recorded your entry. Upon returning to Canada, Canadian border authorities ran a records check on you and probably tapped into the US database to confirm you actual entry date into the US. The question asked of you by Canadian border authorities were to confirm what the database would tell them. If you lied about your travel dates, they would know.

Systems exist now that can scan plate #s from cameras mounted in police cars at rates of thousands per hour, and the data to keep the number would be tiny. I have no idea if such a system is in place but I suspect it would not be terribly difficult to implement.

What A2Steve said. No offense, but you have no effin’ idea of the scope of modern surveillance technology, and how much our governments are wanting to track us…

The fact of your border crossing, along with your personal data, will be kept in a database for 75 years, by the way.

You typo’ed the number of years. The story listed 15 years but then again you might be more right with the 75!:smack:

It’s a bit buried on the second page of the article. 15 years ‘only’ applies to US citizens. Everyone else gets a more special treatment. Yes, the DHS plans to keep complete logs of every foreigner’s movement over the US border for seventy-five years. That’s so unbelievable, one assumes it’s a typo, but it’s not.

Well, see, Americans are only held accountable here for things they may have done in the past 15 years, but foreigners? For them, we keep track of all their activities, clear back to when they were kids, so we can call them on it 40 years later.


We used to go in and out of Canada when I was a kid. The border guard into Canada would ask us, “Where are you going to exit Canada?” and “How long do you plan on staying in Canada?” We’d tell him our plans but more often than not it was wrong. We’d leaver wherever we wanted and stay longer or shorter. No one ever checked but they still asked. That was long before 9/11 though.

a lot of it also has to do with WHERE you’re entering/leaving. Americans running up to BC for a quick trip are more suspect than someone heading to/from Niagra Falls or Waterloo or something. BC being a known spot for drug traffickers, obviously