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Amtrak Cascades to VAC, what to expect

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AC4400

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I'm taking train 510 from SEA to VAC next week. It's my first time crossing the border by train.

Does it have custom stop at Peace Arch? How fast is the immigration check at VAC station?

How bad is the on time performance of 510? I checked the history recently, it looks like 510 is running pretty much on time over the past month, but someone told me that it's always hours late in summer.
 

greatcats

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I went through there in 2011 and believe the procedure is still the same: customs are handled upon arrival in Vancouver inside the station.
 

Bob Dylan

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No stop @ the Border on the way to Vancouver, as was said everything is handled @ Pacific Central Station upon arrival!

It should go quickly if you have your Passport, the Canadian officials are generally friendly and efficient and will ask you why you are visiting Canada! If you don't have any Felonies or DUI charges, it should go smoothly!

On the way back you will have a stop @ the Border to t urn in your Customs form and possibly have your bags checked. ( the Americans arent generally as friendly as the Canadians) American Immigration will check you in the Station as you line up to board the train @ the Gate!
 

AC4400

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:hi:

Well, looks like my 510 ride would be :wub: , but my Cantrail (as Amtrak thruway) ride back might be :angry:

Besides the customs/immigration, how about the on time performance? I heard that earlier this year train 517 was blocked for more than 10 hours near BEL because of freight derailment.

No stop @ the Border on the way to Vancouver, as was said everything is handled @ Pacific Central Station upon arrival!

It should go quickly if you have your Passport, the Canadian officials are generally friendly and efficient and will ask you why you are visiting Canada! If you don't have any Felonies or DUI charges, it should go smoothly!

On the way back you will have a stop @ the Border to t urn in your Customs form and possibly have your bags checked. ( the Americans arent generally as friendly as the Canadians) American Immigration will check you in the Station as you line up to board the train @ the Gate!
 

Bob Dylan

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Stuff can happen anytime but generally your return trip to Seattle should go pretty smooth, the schedules are usually met!

I will say that riding the Train is much, much better than a bus between Vancouver and Seattle. The biggest delay I've experienced @ this Border (I used to live in Vancouver) was by far on a Bus!

If it works for you, I'd say ride the train both ways and leave the Bus to those that don't know any better!
 

AC4400

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Thanks a lot for the advice!

I'm returning to ALY (instead of SEA) from VAC, but train 513 leaves too early (6:30am), so I'll take 8907 bus (leaves 9am) which connects to 507 in SEA.

Stuff can happen anytime but generally your return trip to Seattle should go pretty smooth, the schedules are usually met!

I will say that riding the Train is much, much better than a bus between Vancouver and Seattle. The biggest delay I've experienced @ this Border (I used to live in Vancouver) was by far on a Bus!

If it works for you, I'd say ride the train both ways and leave the Bus to those that don't know any better!
 

amtrakwolverine

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Leaving vac you clear customs your bags are put through a airport style xray machine and thr y check your passport ask a few questions then your on your way. You can check your bag also if returning by train. Once at the boarder the agents come through collect the blue forms check the photo and name on the passport might ask a couple questions then move on. When I took 513 back the agents who got on the train seamed to be in a hurry one agent mostly just took the paper checked the passport photo and left maybe ask a question or too depending on the person.
 

AC4400

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If I take the Cantrail bus back, maybe I'll have custom/immigration at the border then (Truck Route).

Leaving vac you clear customs your bags are put through a airport style xray machine and thr y check your passport ask a few questions then your on your way. You can check your bag also if returning by train. Once at the boarder the agents come through collect the blue forms check the photo and name on the passport might ask a couple questions then move on. When I took 513 back the agents who got on the train seamed to be in a hurry one agent mostly just took the paper checked the passport photo and left maybe ask a question or too depending on the person.
 

white rabbitt

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customs at the train station in vancouver are

mean and the worst place to cross the border

i once had them do a strip search on me

going to vancouver for a weekend, they are not friendly
 

BCL

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customs at the train station in vancouver are

mean and the worst place to cross the border

i once had them do a strip search on me

going to vancouver for a weekend, they are not friendly
So you're saying that the stereotype of Canadians as terribly nice and polite is a myth? Seriously though, I understand that just because Canadians are outwardly polite doesn't mean they really mean it.

Back in 1986 I visited Canada for Expo '86. We arrived by ferry in Victoria, and it was almost as if they were pulling out all the stops. Instead of a regular customs agent, we had a charming and humorous RCMP officer in full ceremonial uniform. He fit all the stereotypes, with a well trimmed mustache and a mild joking nature.
 

rickycourtney

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Honestly... if you're gonna be on a bus between Vancouver and Seattle... don't book it through Amtrak.

BoltBus offers a similar or better quality of service (newer buses with leather seats, more legroom, WiFi, power outlets), service to the same areas in each city and the prices are almost always lower.
 

AC4400

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Yeah, the reason why I booked through Amtrak is because I need to go all the way from VAC to ALY with connection in SEA.

Honestly... if you're gonna be on a bus between Vancouver and Seattle... don't book it through Amtrak.

BoltBus offers a similar or better quality of service (newer buses with leather seats, more legroom, WiFi, power outlets), service to the same areas in each city and the prices are almost always lower.
 

AC4400

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I'm now in Vancouver, BC. This morning's Amtrak 510 experience was awesome! The train arrived VAC 5 minutes early! Regarding the custom, it only took me about 10 seconds to pass the custom; the officer simply glanced at my passport and took the custom form without a stamp on the passport.
 

BCL

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I'm now in Vancouver, BC. This morning's Amtrak 510 experience was awesome! The train arrived VAC 5 minutes early! Regarding the custom, it only took me about 10 seconds to pass the custom; the officer simply glanced at my passport and took the custom form without a stamp on the passport.
If you're a US citizen or permanent resident traveling by land or sea directly to Canada, they aren't supposed to stamp anything. I've seen both passport books and passport cards used crossing by land/sea, and never saw a US passport book being stamped. Obviously there's no place to stamp a passport card. They may have entry stamps available at customs, but they're probably only used for citizens of other countries. A US permanent resident only needs a green card to enter Canada and return to the US by land or sea; I think I mentioned earlier that a US permanent resident could also use a trusted traveler card. I'm not sure what Canada does for US citizens entering by air. I know an advance visa isn't required, but I'm not sure if they'll stamp a temporary visa in addition to the entry stamp. I've been to at least one country where all I got was a 30-day visa stamp, the date handwritten, and no separate entry or exit stamps.

Strangely enough, when I rode the Coast Starlight, there was someone from the National Park Service's Rails and Trails program in the sightseer lounge - a volunteer from Klondike Goldrush National Historical Park - riding from Seattle to Portland. He was passing out stamps for people's stamp passport. One person didn't have one but asked if her real US passport could be stamped. I'm pretty sure some law was broken there - the little notice that only an authorized official may make a stamp or attach a visa - and only for official travel purposes. I've heard of people asking for hand stamps at post offices or placing some souvenir stamps from tourist spots. It's supposed to be a legal working document, and it's theoretically defacing it to place a stamp that's unnecessary.
 

jebr

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Yeah, I've had mixed experiences crossing the border by land. Granted, I've only done it twice, and both times I got pulled over for secondary screening. The first time they did it I think they did a more in-depth check (only had EDL), and they didn't stamp anything. The second time they did a similar check (though it seemed shorter, probably because they didn't search my car that time) and I had my passport with that time, so they did stamp that. I don't really mind either way, but interesting that they did stamp my passport at the land crossing.
 

BCL

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Yeah, I've had mixed experiences crossing the border by land. Granted, I've only done it twice, and both times I got pulled over for secondary screening. The first time they did it I think they did a more in-depth check (only had EDL), and they didn't stamp anything. The second time they did a similar check (though it seemed shorter, probably because they didn't search my car that time) and I had my passport with that time, so they did stamp that. I don't really mind either way, but interesting that they did stamp my passport at the land crossing.
Quite a few US citizens have complained that they didn't get a passport stamp even when traveling with a standard passport book. The Candian Border Agency generally isn't supposed to for a regular entry without something like a work or student visa. I guess they might do it if asked.
 

zephyr17

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customs at the train station in vancouver are

mean and the worst place to cross the border

i once had them do a strip search on me

going to vancouver for a weekend, they are not friendly
I often do daytrips up to VAC taking 510 up and 517 down. While I've never had an experience quite as bad as white rabbitt's I will say I have been treated with a great deal of suspicion by CBSA officers at VAC, and was even sent to secondary inspection once. Much to disgust of the secondary inspector, since I had no baggage (day trip) and there was nothing to inspect. While secondary inspection only happened once, the grilling was consistent over many trips over many years. It was, in fact, the final straw that motivated me to get a NEXUS card. Now, since I have been pre-cleared by CBSA, it is marginally better. But VAC has been consistently the worst international border experience I've had.

One note, when I've gone up there as a larger trip, going east on the Canadian, and had a lot of luggage, the experience was much better.
 
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Bob Dylan

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Well, out of the hundreds of times I have crossed the Canadian/US Border, ( having lived in Vancouver and Toronto)I have yet to be treated with anything but respect and professionalism by the Canadians, but the same cant be said for the Americans Border Squads!

The absolute worst have been the cretins @ the Niagara Falls, NY Amtrak Station on several occassions!

I especially have had smooth sailing @ Pacific Central Station in Vancouver when riding the Cascade train from SEA!

( and the same @ the Toronto and Vancouver Airports)

The other Canadian officias when riding the Adirondack and Maple Leaf ( multiple times each) were slower and not as friendly, but still the expierence was seamless for me!

Like all things Government, and alas Amtrak, YMMV!!
 
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zephyr17

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BTW, returning on 517, the US guys at VAC were always friendly and very quick. Again, pretty consistently over many years. At the border in Blaine, they are fast and very businesslike. But the CBSA at VAC were always a major pain. By the way, I make it a pont to be polite and responsive and not cop an attitude.

I realize the times I got hassled was because I was a single male with no luggage, but I always had a return ticket and was very clear about my plans. Plus I live in the Seattle area, so I am "local". I never had that kind of problem when driving over for the day, but take the train up for the day, and CBSA was as rude and suspicious as any border official I've encountered anywhere. The only ones that ever beat them were German border agents when I walked back over the bridge over the Oder river from Poland into Frankfurt-am-Oder, where I inadvisedly decided to take a stroll into Poland for the heck of it. That was shortly after reunification and I got the distinct impression those border guards had been there under former regime. Those guys did beat the CBSA at VAC, but not by much.

Definitely not the polite Canadian stereotype.
 
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BCL

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BTW, returning on 517, the US guys at VAC were always friendly and very quick. Again, pretty consistently over many years. At the border in Blaine, they are fast and very businesslike. But the CBSA at VAC were always a major pain. By the way, I make it a pont to be polite and responsive and not cop an attitude.
I haven't crossed at Blaine since the 80s. However, I did enter BC at Surrey recently. Said I had prepared snack foods but no fresh produce so that wasn't an issue. Was asked where we planned on going, if we were meeting with anyone, if we had gifts, and if were staying with them. The agent was friendly, professional, courteous, and there was a minimum of fuss. I would add female and attractive (despite the gun and body armor), but my wife was in the car, so no staring.

However, this one is kind of interesting:

http://boundarysentinel.com/news/guns-booze-and-lingerie-tales-us-canada-frontier-14134

I can't say I've ever had much of an issue at US customs either. Every time returning to the US from British Columbia was fine, and we had to do it twice on the Sidney-Anacortes ferry (not sure why we needed a prescreen). Last time they really only asked if we had any fresh produce, and was told it was OK if it was US sourced and properly labeled as such. About the worst was at SFO airport bringing home something from Asia. It was kind of a cooked meat pie (which is legal), but the agent poked it with a pen before letting us through. We threw away the one he poked. I have seen a customs agent try to call back someone he waved through after he had second thoughts that her English wasn't good enough that she understood the form she had filled out. It was weird too. She had a US passport but really didn't seem to understand much English. I have heard of naturalized US citizens who barely passed the naturalization test and even some who had the English proficiency portion waived.
 

AC4400

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Thanks everyone! My trip to VAC was fantastic.
I was on Amtrak Cascades 510 with #510 (8-32BHW) hauling it! It was great experience ever!

My bus back (8907) also ran almost on time (only 20 minutes late into SEA). We had one passenger that need to pay extra duty at the border.

I was lucky to take bus 8907 instead of train 513. Train 513 was 3 hours late into SEA on Friday. It departed SEA even after train 507! Train 507 had to wait for passengers on 513 to connect in PDX for almost 20 minutes!

BTW, it was my longest ever trip on Cascades; VAC 9am - ALY 7:58pm (10 hours 58 minutes)!
 
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