Windsor woman faces frustrations at the border after not filling out ArriveCAN

A Windsor woman is warning cross-border travellers that failing to submit all the required information via the ArriveCAN app can have consequences.

Fartumo Kusow says CBSA wouldn't allow her to fill out information at crossing, sent her back to the U.S.

Fartumo Kusow says she wasn't allowed to fill out the ArriveCAN app at the border. (Jason Viau/CBC)

A Windsor woman is warning cross-border travellers that failing to submit all the required information via the ArriveCAN app can have consequences.

What was supposed to be a quick, 36-hour visit to Ann Arbor, Mich., to visit family turned into a much longer ordeal for Fartumo Kusow.

Kusow made the trip on the weekend, planning to visit her sister in Michigan and then return home Sunday night to care for her mother.

But things went awry when Kusow — who's double-vaccinated and had her passport — arrived at the Canadian side of the Ambassador Bridge border crossing.

"I came to the booth, and the officer there asked me ... if I had any illegal products, ammunition, alcohol, money," Kusow said. "All the usual questions."

But the officer then realized Kusow hadn't filled out the ArriveCAN app.

A Canadian Border Services Agency spokesperson told CBC News that border officers can allow travellers to fill out the app at a border crossing, when operations allow. (Sanjay Maru/CBC)

All travellers entering Canada must submit their contact, health, and travel information through the app prior to arriving in Canada. A Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) spokesperson said the process protects the health and safety of travellers, and allows for faster processing at border crossings.

Kusow told the officer she forgot, but had her passport and vaccination record.

"He complained about how that has been a challenge, because a lot of people are coming in, Canadian and non-Canadian, without filling out the form, and it takes a longer time [at] the booth," Kusow said.

Kusow said she was given two choices: continue on and quarantine for 14 days at home, or return to the U.S. and fill out the app properly.

"I said please don't send me back, because the line getting in was about half an hour already," she said. "By then, it's getting to 6:30, 6:45, and I need to be with my mother at 8:00."

"So I told them, 'why don't you just send me in for a second ... to the customs and immigration, and then I could fill out ArriveCAN.' He said 'we've stopped that, we are sending people back.'"

When asked about the incident by CBC News, the CBSA spokesperson said border officers have the ability to "allow the traveller to complete their ArriveCAN submission upon arrival at ports of entry" when operations make that possible.

Kusow wasn't given that option, however, and didn't want to quarantine. So she decided to turn around.

"Then when I'm on the bridge, I'm just getting mad at myself," Kusow said. "Thinking 'why did I come back? What's the point?'"

At the American booth, a border agent then told Kusow that since she didn't enter Canada, she had to undergo a secondary check, which included searching her car.

Kusow said the American border agents were "more understanding" than their Canadian counterparts.

"When I told them I really need to get home, they were trying to get me through as fast as they could," she said. "But they had to do a process."

Kusow found someone to care for her mother for a bit longer, and eventually got home at about 9:45 p.m.

She said she was frustrated by the experience, and doesn't know why she wasn't allowed to fill out the app at the Canadian border entrance.

Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said in the House of Commons Monday that guidance is being given to CBSA officers so that Canadian travellers can provide the necessary information in person at the border if they don't have the app.

With files from Jason Viau, Afternoon Drive and The Canadian Press