(Answers to Frequently Asked Questions)
1. Passports: Passports or an enhanced drivers license/ID card are now required to drive across the border and back, as well as to fly. In the state of Washington, information on how to obtain an enhanced driver's license can be found here. According to the government website, the process takes about 2 weeks, but please do not leave it to the last minute, just in case!
2. Crossing the border with rats: There are no rules prohibiting taking domestic rats across the border in either direction and you do not require a veterinary health certificate. Unfortunately you don't always get a border guard or customs agent who knows this. Your entire border crossing experience can vary greatly depending on whether the border guard turns out to be a rat fan or a rat hater. To avoid delays coming in to Canada, I always print up the page on the Canadian government website that states "" and I highlight that sentence with a highlighter. You may never need to show it, but for me this page has come in handy many times! At the very least it can save you having to waste valuable time waiting in the customs office while they call someone to find out what the regulations are. You can find that page here:
Crossing the Canadian border with rats
For crossing the border into the USA, similar pages can be found here:
Crossing the US border with rats
I find that US customs officials are less inclined to even want to look at the printed pages though, and often insist on a secondary inspection anyway. Never argue. Only once in hundreds of crossings have I ever heard of someone being turned back, and there was arguing involved. This was also someone travelling with a lot of rescue rats, who admitted they were all going to new homes in the US. I've found that the more rats you are travelling with, usually the more likely you will be pulled over for inspection. Travelling with a few pets is usually not be a problem.
Also, make sure that you have the packaging, or a photocopied list of ingredients, for any rat food or other pet food you might have with you. If you don't, it can cause considerable delay while they try to figure out whether it contains any banned substances. If you can't convince them that it doesn't, it could all be confiscated. For cage itter, avoid straw, hay, grass or other natural bedding. I'm not sure whether hard woods such as aspen fit into this category but I use a pressed paper type just in case.
If you are attending a show or other RatsPacNW event, you might also want to print up the page on the RatsPacNW website with the basic information about the show. Again it can save a lot of time, especially if you get a border guard/customs agent who doesn't believe there is such thing as a rat show. (It happens!)
3. Money: When paying show entry or registration fees, in order to save time and brain melt down (mine!), American money will be accepted at par. Exchange rates have been fluctuating wildly of late, so you will probably get a much better deal in local stores, say for buying lunch, if you convert at least some money to Canadian funds. If you have a bank card, you can use it as you normally would in any ATM in Canada. This is probably the easiest way to get Canadian funds, at the best possible exchange rate, and with the least amount of service charges. As at home, you will find ATMs in almost every gas station, grocery or convenience store, and of course at any bank.
4. Travel times: It's about a 3 hour drive from Seattle to New Westminster. New Westminster is on the BC Mainland about 20 minutes north of the border, so unlike some past BC Shows, you don't need to take a ferry to get there, nor do you need to drive all the way to Vancouver. You should be prepared for a border line up though. Peak weekend travel times often have a wait of 45 minutes to 2 hours at the border. It's not usually too bad in winter though.
5. Have a question that you don't see answered here? Please email Lizzy.
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