By Dana Lynch
Vancouver, BC, is just 192km (119 miles) north of Seattle, Washington, and just 82km (51 miles) north of Bellingham, Washington. The close proximity makes it easy and routine for Vancouverites to travel from Vancouver to Seattle for day trips, shopping sprees, vacations and more.
Use this Quick Guide to Vancouver to Seattle Border Crossing to learn all you need to know about traveling between Canada and the U.S. along the B.C./Washington border, including what type of documents to bring, transportation options, and the value of goods you can bring back into Canada.
To travel across the Vancouver to Seattle border crossings, you will need appropriate travel documents. Canadian citizens must have either a Canadian passport, a NEXUS card, a Free and Secure Trade (FAST) card or an enhanced driver's licence (EDL) or enhanced identification card (EIC).
Vancouver residents who are not Canadian citizens must have a passport and any visas required for travel to the U.S./outside Canada. Check the U.S. Border and Protection site for details.
There are four border crossings you can use to travel from Vancouver to Seattle. From west to east, they are: the Peace Arch (where Highway 99 ends in Canada then becomes I-5 in the U.S.), Pacific Highway (used by buses and trucks and accessible via 99; it also leads you back to I-5 in the U.S.), Lynden/Aldergrove and Sumas/Abbotsford. All crossings have a NEXUS lane for NEXUS card holders.
If you're traveling by bus from Vancouver, you will cross at the Pacific Highway crossing.
Be sure to check Border Wait Times before deciding which border to cross.
There are three ways to travel from Vancouver to Seattle by land: train, bus or personal vehicle.
The train is the Amtrak Cascades; it's journey is scenic but longer than driving, and it only travels once a day, so you must book your tickets far in advance.
Buses are a great option for day trips or for trips where you will stay in downtown Seattle. Quick Shuttle buses leave from multiple Vancouver destinations and stop at Bellingham, the Seattle Premium Outlets, and Seattle. BoltBus offers direct buses from Vancouver to Seattle at cheaper fares but has a more limited schedule and leaves only from 1150 Station Street.
Of course, the best option is to drive your own personal vehicle, especially because public transit in Washington--with the exception of downtown Seattle--isn't very good. Having your own car will make traveling and shopping around Seattle much, much easier!
In June 2012, the Canadian Border Services Agency increased the value of goods you can bring back to Canada from the U.S. Excluding alcohol and tobacco, an individual can bring back $200 worth of duty-free goods (increased from $50) in a 24-hour-or-less trip, a 48-hour-or-more trip allows an individual $800 worth of duty-free goods (increased from $400), and a 7-days-or-more trip also allows an individual to bring back $800 worth of duty-free goods (increased from $750). (Check the CBSA site for details on alcohol and tobacco.)