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Entering the USA from Canada - Orlando / Florida Guide

Florida Guide > Travelling

The majority of UK visitors to the USA will enter by air or sea, and those who are eligible for visa waiver will have completed an ESTA prior to embarking on their journey. (For details see articles on this site)

What many people do not realize, however, is that if you are entering the USA by land then an ESTA is not required, you need to complete an I 96, remember the old green visa waiver form?

Canada is probably the most likely place you will cross a land border, and this is exactly what we had to do when we had flown into Toronto and wanted to cross the border into Michigan.

We knew we needed to complete visa waiver forms and a bit of research had told us that the system was electronic, we had also found out, by visiting the Orlando Villas forums ( a great source of information) that the process was easier if you had a current ESTA but that an ESTA was not mandatory.

We queued across the bridge at Saulte -Sainte- Marie in Ontario to enter the US and found there were several booths at the border but no indication of where to go if you needed to complete paperwork so we chose what we thought was the shortest queue. . . . . . it wasn' t! !

When we finally reached the border guard and handed in our passports she asked that the back door of the car be opened so she could view inside, I suppose to see that it was only the two of us who hand surrendered our passports who were sitting in the back. She asked a few minor questions about where we were going and the purpose of the trip and then directed us to an area where she told us to park our car and proceed inside to the immigration officers.

We had a short wait inside before we were called to a window where the officer was so friendly and helpful, not at all intimidating like some of the immigration officers at the airport.

He asked us where we were going and the purpose of our trip but he was very clever as he just chatted away to us asking about our lives in general, getting all the information he needed without asking direct questions. We talked about everything from Brexit to pensions!

We then found how useful it was to have a current ESTA, as the system is now electronic he simply entered our passport numbers into the computer and transferred the ESTA information to an I 96. Two of our party did not have current ESTA' s so they had to complete forms, the officer then had to enter the information into the computer for an I 96 to be generated, so the process was slightly more long winded. Like the old green visa waiver a portion of the I 96 is stapled into your passport and you must surrender this when you leave the US.

The cost of the I 96 is $6. If you wish to have a copy of your electronic record you can apply online for this. The information is on the US embassy website.

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