New York really does have it all for those who love variety when they travel. One train ride into New York City will have travelers reeling with fast-paced fun, while a drive upstate will offer all the peace and serenity one seeks from the mountains. A trip east out onto Long Island provides a suburban oasis that also doubles as a beachside paradise. However, it’s also the gateway to the north and offers many routes from which one can get from one country to another.
Visiting Canada is a fairly easy process with help from either an enhanced driver’s license, also known as an EDL, or a passport book or card. The border-crossing process is as simple as answering some questions pertaining to a traveler’s country of residence, the intent of their trip, and how long they’re going for, along with proof of each answer. The hardest part comes down to determining where to cross into Canada, and which cities are closest to one another. And, luckily, we’ve got answers.
At the time of writing, the U.S. – Canada border still remains closed due to COVID-19 restrictions. Please check the border status before attempting to cross from one country to the other.
Montreal Points Of Entry
New York State is massive in size and not only borders several other states, but shares a wide northern border with Canada, as well. And, luckily, much of this border is also home to most of Canada’s major cities which bode well for those expecting a worthy experience. The most popular city and port, by far, is the Champlain–St. Bernard de Lacolle Border Crossing into Montreal. This port is located in Champlain, New York, and will lead travelers straight into St. Bernard de Lacolle, Quebec. From there, it’s only about a 40-minute drive to the center of Montreal. This is the most-used port of entry from Quebec into the U.S, and it’s also the fifth-busiest port from the U.S. into Canada, in general.
This port is open 24/7 which is great news for those who wish to cross during off-peak hours. Those who have a NEXUS pass will be able to use the NEXUS lanes from 6 AM to 12 AM; for anyone who plans on visiting Montreal (or Canada) regularly, this is a great option and keeps passengers from waiting in mondo traffic. Speaking of which, traffic and line wait times can be found on CBP and CBSA websites, or through the CanBorder App.
The Chateaugay – Hinchinbrooke border crossing, which is further to the west still, is open 24/7 and offers a great alternative for those looking to cross the border after 4 PM or before 8 AM during the off-season. This border is also far less used and wait times will not be nearly as long, and the drive into Montreal is comparable to that of Cannon Corners, with the exception of an extra ten minutes or so of travel time. Fort Covington – Dundee Border Crossing is also open 24/7, and is somewhat popular with travelers thanks to its proximity to attractions on the way to Montreal; however, it is a bit of a drive to the city – roughly an hour and a half.
Only about 20 minutes to the west of Champlain, New York, sits the Cannon Corners – Covey Hill border crossing which is a far less-traveled, smaller entry point in Mooers Fork. This border crossing will take travelers into Havelock, Quebec, which is only about an hour outside of Montreal’s center. However, travelers can only cross to Canada between the hours of 8 AM and 4 PM, with travelers able to cross from Canada to New York between the hours of 8 AM and 12 AM from May 1st to October 31st, and from 8 AM to 4 PM between November 1st to April 30th.
Additional ports include the Mooers – Hemmingford crossing which is very lightly traveled, is open 24/7, and sits about an hour outside of Montreal. The facility itself is also a registered historical site. The Ogdensburg – Prescott Bridge has been a border crossing since 1800, and travelers heading into the U.S. from Canada need to undergo a customs inspection before being granted entry. However, the wait time to cross this bridge is usually no more than 20 minutes on weekends, and it’s open 24/7 for those wishing to visit Johnstown, Ontario.
The Overton Corners – Lacolle border crossing is very small and uncrowded and is a recommended alternative to Champlain’s border crossing when the wait time is too long. The crossing is open 24/7, however, it does take travelers along more backroads than the major Champlain crossing. Rouses Point and Trout River border crossings are open 24/7, however, Trout River is very rural and is one of the furthest from Montreal, with an hour and a half drive to the city center.
Ontario Points Of Entry
The Lewiston – Queenston border crossing is a bridge that connects the two points of entry, and this is the first point of entry that takes travelers into Ontario rather than Quebec. It’s exactly 30 minutes outside of the main city of Buffalo and is open 24/7, with accompanying NEXUS lanes. The closest attractions to this bridge crossing are Niagara Falls and St. Catherines, making it a great gateway but also one that ranks the fourth-busiest in both countries.
Seaway Bridge and Thousands Island Bridge both bring travelers to Ontario, with Seaway Bridge starting on the Rooseveltown side of New York and ending on Cornwall Island in Ontario. The bridge is now called the Three Nations Crossing in honor of the Akwesasne Mohawks, and it’s one of the busiest land crossings in both countries. It’s important to note that those using this crossing for Cornwall Island must go all the way down to the North Channel Bridge to undergo an inspection, lest they face a fine of up to $1,000.
Thousands Island Bridge starts crosses the St. Lawrence River and starts in Alexandria Bay before ending in Lansdowne, Ontario. Just like the Seaway Bridge, this bridge (rather, a system of bridges) is also open 24/7 but also has NEXUS lane options, which are open weekdays from 7 AM to 5 PM and weekends from 10 AM to 2 PM. The only downside of this border crossing is that travelers can see a wait time of up to two hours depending on the time of year, so it’s best to check prior to driving down.
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