If you are counting your sleeps until you get out of town, make sure you have the proper travel documents to make your spring break getaway as carefree as possible.

A passport is still the document of choice according to Canada Border Services Agency.


CBSA officers at Winnipeg's airport get help from Marley to find contraband. (CBC)

"It's always best to have the passport in hand returning home," says Jean-Paul Savoie, a spokesperson for CBSA. "Documentation for young children, particularly if it is one parent travelling alone without the other spouse or other children, is also key," he added. 

The NEXUS card is an alternative piece of identification that allows travellers to bypass long lineups with customs officers, he said.

Meet Marley

Don't be surprised if you see a high energy dog near the baggage area at the airport. Marley is a purebred English Labrador trained to do controlled searches for contraband who works at Winnipeg's Richardson International Airport.

When Marley picks up a particular scent, he follows it to the source. When he finds it, he sits down.

Sniffer dogs like Marley are trained to find guns, drugs and food at airports and land borders.

If in doubt, declare

Savoie says it is best to be honest, straightforward and thorough when declaring your souvenirs and other items you are bringing back to Canada.  .  

"The focus of a properly filled out declaration card is to help us make a quicker decision," said Savoie. "If you have the box checked 'yes' for food, we can quickly determine if you are allowed to bring it into the country or not. If the box is checked 'no' then we can move on," said Savoie.

If you aren't sure about the value of an item, tell the officer.

"If the dollar went up or down while you are on holidays, and you aren't sure [of] the exact value in Canadian currency, put down the currency you purchased it in, such as $200 U.S.,"explained Savoie.

Exotic souvenirs

CBSA says some travellers coming back from the Caribbean or Mexico may buy wood or coral sculptures for souvenirs. Savoie says check ahead of time on the Environment Canada website before shelling out for an item that may be on the endangered species list.

Travellers could be disappointed and out of pocket if they find out an item isn't allowed into the country. He says wood products could be of concern as pests or insects could contaminate Canadian soil.