For Mosaicers who will be crossing the Canada-US border here are some reminders of stuff to bring along and to check out in advance of your trip. A few minutes of preparation could save you some major aggravation during this year’s trip to the Laurentians in Quebec, Canada. Even if you last visited Canada for the International Event in Haliburton Forest in 2002, times have changed since then!

PASSPORT - This is now an essential document when crossing the border. Some drivers’ licenses or other cards (eg NEXUS) with encrypted data may be an acceptable substitute for a passport. Canada customs and US customs have different requirements. While you might make it into Canada without a passport, we can’t tell if your own country will take you back! If you are not a citizen of the US or Canada, please check to see if additional documents, such as a visa, are required.

Cross border travelers should be familiar with the goods that be brought across the border in both directions. Some good places to start gathering this information is:

It may also be helpful to have a receipt for the Mosaic Labour Day event to confirm where you are heading, in case the Canadian border officer asks about the purpose of your trip.

HEALTH INSURANCE - Does your health insurance cover accidents and illness in Canada? Often supplementary coverage should be purchased for a few dollars per day. This can be obtained at travel agents including the American Automobile Association and at financial institutions.

CELLULAR TELEPHONES - Will your phone work in Canada? Check with your local provider to confirm that your phone will connect to a Canadian network and also confirm the cost to make local and long distance calls. Some phone plans that are very cheap at home could charge $2 to $3 per minute when used outside your home territory. Don’t rely on your cell phone to be your alarm clock- you might not have reception at all!

CANADIAN CURRENCY - It is always best to arrive at your destination prepared with some local currency. Many stores, especially those in tourist areas, will accept US currency from their customers, but the exchange rates are higher than banks and change is given in Canadian currency. Most Automated Teller Machines (ATM) will work with your credit or debit cards, but expect a transaction charge from the Canadian bank in addition to a charge from your home bank. Credit card issuers often advise their clients to call in to add a note to your file with your travel dates and location. A first ever charge from a Canadian business can flag your card as a possible stolen card. Then you must call in to have it reactivated.

Particularly if you will be visiting sites before the event, say the pre-trip in Montreal for example! - Try to obtain Canadian coins before traveling, as exact small change is required for some transactions such as a pay phone and transit fares. The smallest denomination available at your home bank may be a $5 bill so ask your friends and family if they have left over Canadians coins from a previous trip.

METRIC SPEED LIMITS - For most units of measure Canada uses the metric system. This is most important for those of you who are driving to the Laurentians. Highway speed is generally 100 kilometres per hour (approx 60 miles/ hr) , and in cities the speed limits is usually 50 kilometres per hour (approx 30 miles/hr). These speeds are similar to those in the US. Pleases watch for the posted speed and avoid the fines.

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