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Crossing the U.S. Border in a Rental Car

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Cross-country road trips are quite popular in the United States because it shares international land borders with Canada and Mexico. If you have your own vehicle, then it is quite easy to cross the borders as long as you provide all the proper documents. However, there are some people who prefer renting a car when going on a cross-country adventure in America. This option requires major planning because of the restrictions, but it is definitely worth it.

Can I cross the Canadian border with a rental car?

Yes. Most rental car companies in the USA, including Budget, Dollar and Hertz, allow their vehicles to cross the Canadian border, but make sure to inform your provider in advance and read their terms and conditions carefully. Once everything’s settled, you now have to prepare all the documents you need for your cross-country road trip.

For more information, read our guide on Driving Across the U.S. Border Into Canada.

Can I cross the Mexican border with a rental car?

Yes, you can drive a rental car from the United States into Mexico, but you must pay for a Mexican Automobile Liability Insurance which is only available in specific U. S. states such as Arizona, Texas and California. Some car rental companies also allow drivers to take their cars into Mexico if rented in certain states and may charge an extra fee.

For more information, read our guide on Driving Across the U.S. Border into Mexico.

Important

Before you drive your rental car across the U.S. border…

It is best if you would notify the rental staff where you intend to rent a vehicle as some suppliers will provide written authorization. If you are granted permission by the renting location, additional rental qualifications may apply. You will need to have proof of citizenship, the car rental agreement and your driver’s license with you when you cross the border.


  • Driving Across the US Border into Canada
  • Driving Across the US Border into Mexico

    Crossing country borders by car

    To get from one country to another it is usually necessary to cross checkpoints or international automobile checkpoints. There are separate lines for inspections of trucks and cars at all big road checkpoints. Therefore if you see a “tail” of cargo trucks, you should pass by and get in line behind the nearest passenger car.

    Next you have to choose between a green and a red corridor. The difference between the two corridors are as follows: all that is subject for declaration, requires special permission, or has items that are prohibited for import/export (large amounts of cash, plants and animals, weapons, goods which are subject for taxation, etc.) are sent through the red corridor. The rest of the cars cross borders along the green corridor. But since this division is conditional, customs officers have the right to send any car to the red corridor because a vehicle is also subject for declaring. If a person does get into the green corridor, he also might be asked to fill out a customs declaration, in spite of the fact that there is nothing to declare.

    At certain automobile checkpoints, citizens have priority over other automobile travelers, so you can go around cars with foreign numbers. But this is an unspoken rule, so it is impossible to require a mandatory pass. Sometimes there are separate lanes for citizens.

    If there are passengers traveling in a car, then they have to show their documents after their driver. Usually everyone will have to exit the car and go to a checkpoint window. It is necessary to be prepared to open the trunk or tell what things are in the car, which is standard procedure. After customs officers give out documents to the last passenger, you can assume that the first checkpoint was passed.

    Then begins a neutral buffer zone territory, an area of “no man’s” submission, where you can visit a retail duty-free shop. As a rule, goods in duty-free shops are much cheaper than inside a country.

    Right after a duty-free shop there will be an another customs post in your destination country. Further traffic flow is divided into buses, cars and lorries. Each type of car follows only its own lane and stops before a traffic light. In rush hours some lanes might be open for all vehicles. Traffic lights usually allow 5 to 10 cars, and it’s useless to move on a prohibiting signal, as your car will be sent back.

    After passing a traffic light a driver should approach the customs point, stop the car and muffle the engine. Drivers and passengers should exit the car and show all documents (ID, visa, driver’s license, car documents, green insurance card, medical insurance) and cash to a passport control officer. Be prepared to answer simple questions about the purpose of your trip and the length of your stay in the country, or even show hotel reservation or invitations. Sometimes an automobile tourist is asked to prove financial solvency and show cash (but this now happens less often because almost everyone has credit cards). If an officer has no further questions, he returns all documents and you can get back into the car.

    Now you are in another country. Follow the rules of the road adopted in a particular state.

    If you need to re-enter your home country, then the reverse process looks pretty much the same. Always remember about your car insurance and its length of validity, since your home authorities might give a fine for an outdated insurance policy, even if the latter will be overdue for only a few hours. So if you drive to a border and understand that you do not have time to pass it before an insurance period expires, it’s better to go straight to a border guard and explain your situation. If you purchased anything abroad tax-free and have an invoice, do not forget to get a stamp at a customs office or at a tax-free issue point if it is available at a border.

    Remember that the number of barriers, traffic lights, and documents vary depending on the country and even different border posts of the same country.

    Thank you for reading, and don’t forget to obtain an international driving license when you are going to cross borders by car. Our IDL will help you do this confidently wherever you are.

    Who will have to register when crossing the border by car.

    Everyone should know this :: Autonews

    Photo: Igor Petrov / RIA Novosti

    adv.rbc.ru

    Read also

    Russian motorists were puzzled by the news from the State Duma: they proposed to introduce electronic queues at the country’s borders, choose the time and date for travel and register each vehicle. It was planned to establish such a procedure for crossing the border before March 1, 2024, and the changes should take effect from March 1, 2023. Appropriate amendments to the law “On highways and road activities in Russia” were proposed by the head of the committee on transport and the development of transport infrastructure Evgeny Moskvichev.

    Initially, in the text of the explanatory note and in the bill itself, it was not clear who exactly the innovation would affect – only the concept of “road transport” appeared there. As a result, the drivers decided that every motorist would have to register. The same data was disseminated by popular publics dedicated to the topic of leaving Russia by car, which gained popularity at the end of 2022, when many kilometers of traffic jams formed on the borders of Russia with Georgia , Kazakhstan and other countries. As a result, both Moskvichev and the Ministry of Transport had to explain what was happening.

    adv.rbc.ru

    What is indicated in the draft law on electronic queues for vehicles

    On Tuesday, the document disappeared from the portal of the State Duma. As the author of the document pointed out in an explanatory note to it (Autonews.ru got acquainted with this data before they were deleted), in connection with the introduction of sanctions restrictions on the Russian Federation, there are significant changes in the logistics routes for the delivery of goods by road and the reorientation of transport and logistics routes to other directions. For this reason, deputy Moskvichev noted, it became necessary to create an act regulating the specifics of the passage of vehicles on sections of roads adjacent to automobile checkpoints from Russia in order to cross the state border of Russia.

    👉 “The situation got worse every minute.” To Kazakhstan by car: personal experience

    “Currently, a difficult situation remains at checkpoints, including the introduction of restrictive measures aimed at preventing the spread of coronavirus infection (vehicles temporarily do not cross the border, freight road transport is carried out by Russian vehicles to a limited extent). These circumstances lead to the accumulation of vehicles in anticipation of passing to checkpoints, ”the explanatory note says.

    Which vehicles will have to be registered

    On Tuesday afternoon, Evgeny Moskvichev told RBC that the proposal to oblige to book the date and time of crossing the border by car applies only to trucking.

    “This applies only to freight road transport, which is carried out on a commercial basis, transporting goods. We remove traffic jams that are 10–15 km long. Drivers see no water, no food, no toilets – nothing. And they [drivers] have families — wives, children, so we are eliminating this problem,” said the author of the amendments.

    Photo: Hristo Rusev / ZUMA Press / Global Look Press

    In turn, the Ministry of Transport told Autonews.ru that the main goal of the bill is to streamline the movement of trucks passing through the checkpoint, reduce the accumulation of trucks near the checkpoints.

    “The list of checkpoints for which a reservation is established will be determined additionally based on the situation at the entrance to them. As necessary, this list will be adjusted (increased or reduced) taking into account the creation of the necessary infrastructure,” the Ministry of Transport said.

    They added that date and time reservations will be made using the state information system of electronic travel documents free of charge. To wait for the reserved time, the bill provides for the creation of parking areas for vehicles (waiting areas). Requirements for such waiting areas will also be approved.

    Classes of vehicles for registration will be established by law

    SoftTelematics (part of the Telematics concern) will implement a unified system of electronic queue booking for the Ministry of Transport. This information was confirmed to Autonews.ru by the organization. According to an earlier press release from the company, it was aimed specifically at registering “cars”, without being tied to freight transport. Dmitry Kazarinov, CEO of SoftTelematics, told Autonews.ru that the system will be regulated, among other things, by the future law “On highways and road activities in Russia”.

    Photo: Concern “Telematics”

    “The first pilot point where a serial model was tested – MAPP “Chernyshevskoye”. The service will become available after the approval and entry into force of the regulatory framework. The classes of vehicles that will be able to pre-reserve the date and time for crossing the Russian border by car will also be regulated by law,” he said.

    As expected by the organization, a single electronic queue booking for the Ministry of Transport will significantly reduce the waiting time for drivers and carriers at checkpoints.

    “Depending on the international destination, waiting in line at the border can range from several hours to days. The unified queue booking system being created will dramatically speed up the time it takes to cross the border and increase the throughput of international road checkpoints (IBCs),” the release says.

    The company added that the service will be provided free of charge for individuals and legal entities. After registering on the portal of the queue booking system, the driver will only need to select a free date and time for travel, confirmation will be sent to e-mail and via SMS notification. It will also be possible to use the service through the website of the State Service or upon arrival at the checkpoint by taking a ticket with a QR code from the operator.

    “Digitalization of the queue will streamline the process of crossing the border, have a positive effect on the development of trade, generally strengthen the country’s transit potential, and also speed up the processes of import and export in strategically important areas. Thanks to the system, the predictability of the timing of the arrival of goods will increase and the costs of transport companies associated with the loss of time in queues will decrease,” the company believes.

    Photo: Autonews.ru

    The effect, in this case, as follows from the statement of the organization, will spread to all road users. So, the developers promised that kilometer-long queues of cars at the borders would disappear. Early check-in is expected to reduce the waiting time at the checkpoint by at least 25%, as the transport will arrive at the appointed time.

    According to Anton Shaparin, a representative of the National Automobile Union (NAU), the question of the need to regulate traffic on the border with Russia arose at the end of 2022. At the same time, he noted that the main problems were still associated with trucks.

    “The State Duma really faced the task of solving problems with trucks and this bill appeared. But the explanatory note turned out to be one thing, and the law another. The law turned out to be crude, and I would not pawn political background and hidden meaning. I hope that all this does not turn into complete control over the exit and entry of all drivers. And an electronic queue for trucks is simply necessary to solve the problem with traffic jams,” the expert concluded.

    In the future, it is planned to scale the technological solution to other international checkpoints in Russia. The electronic booking system includes a security information loop and a strict procedure for the formation of individual time slots, which will provide a high level of protection against DDoS attacks, fraud activities, as well as fraud with the purchase of seats in the queue.

    • “The situation got worse every minute.” To Kazakhstan by car: personal experience
    • There is a huge traffic jam on the border between Russia and Georgia. What’s going on
    • Traffic jams stretched on the borders with Russia: where they stand and what to fear

    The State Duma proposed to change the rules for the passage of cars across the border – RIA Novosti, 01/24/2023

    The State Duma proposed to change the rules for the passage of cars across the border

    The head of the State Duma Committee on Transport Evgeny Moskvichev prepared amendments requiring the reservation of the time for the passage of cars across the Russian border… RIA Novosti, 01/24/2023

    2023-01-24T00:22

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    MOSCOW, January 24 — RIA Novosti The head of the State Duma Committee on Transport, Yevgeny Moskvichev, has prepared amendments requiring a reservation for the passage of cars across the Russian border. The corresponding document was made available to RIA Novosti. “The passage of vehicles belonging to Russian carriers, foreign carriers, citizens of the Russian Federation, foreign citizens, stateless persons and other users of highways <…> in order to cross the state border of the Russian Federation is carried out on a reserved date and time in accordance with the procedure established by the government of the Russian Federation,” the text emphasizes. The amendment also requires streamlining the control of the arrival of vehicles at the reserved date and time. In addition, the document refers to equipping the control point with means of forcibly stopping the vehicle. According to Moskvichev’s idea, the control point should be located on a section of the road in the immediate vicinity of the entry point to the territory of the automobile border crossing point or in the waiting area. As stated in the document, the changes should take effect from March 1 this year.

    https://ria.ru/20230118/kazakhstan-1845724905.html

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    Society, Russia, State Duma of the Russian Federation, Evgeny Moskvichev, auto, news – tourism

    Society, Russia, State Duma RF, Evgeny Moskvichev, Auto, Tourism, News – Tourism

    MOSCOW, January 24 – RIA Novosti. The head of the State Duma Committee on Transport, Yevgeny Moskvichev, has prepared amendments requiring a reservation for the passage of cars across the Russian border. The corresponding document was made available to RIA Novosti.

    “The passage of vehicles belonging to Russian carriers, foreign carriers, citizens of the Russian Federation, foreign citizens, stateless persons and other road users <...> in order to cross the state border of the Russian Federation is carried out on a reserved date and time in accordance with the procedure established by the government of the Russian Federation,” the text emphasizes.

    The amendment also requires streamlining the control of the arrival of vehicles at the reserved date and time.

    In addition, the document refers to the equipment of the control point with means of forced stopping of the vehicle. According to Moskvichev’s idea, the control point should be located on a section of the road in the immediate vicinity of the entry point to the territory of the automobile border crossing point or in the waiting area.

    As stated in the document, the changes should take effect from March 1 this year.