WINCHESTER — Farmers hoping to drive across the border to scope out an equipment auction can forget it. The only way they’ll get across is if they already have proof of purchase.
Tyler Como crosses the border heading for Illinois, Iowa and Indiana a few times each month to buy small machinery for his family’s equipment sales and repair business at Winchester. About 50 per cent of the equipment they sell comes from the U.S., he said, so crossing the border is a business necessity. But border restrictions have gotten tighter since COVID-19 hit, he said, and it’s fully closed to anyone without the proper paperwork.
In fact, to get through Como needs proof-of-purchase of whatever he’s heading down to get and the paperwork has to be spick and span. He’s been turned away for having an incorrect pickup date to an incorrect dealership address. He also needs a $200 permit that gives him limited time in the United States.
Como’s run into a situation where he tried crossing back too early (U.S. customs needs 72-hours to check the serial number of purchased equipment for liens or police notices of theft). He had to leave his trailer and purchased equipment at the New York state dealership, go home, get a new $200 permit, and come back. It’s not unusual for him to spend a night in the States, since one dealer he buys from is a 1,500 km drive away. That’s doable in a day, “a long day,” but a bit much to do more than once, he said.
Como relies on a broker to prep all the paperwork but controls at the border have gotten so tight that they triple-check everything. He’s on a first-name basis at the Cornwall border checkpoint and in a normal year, a minor error wouldn’t be a problem. This year, the tiniest error is enough to send him packing without his purchase.
It’s not impossible to buy equipment from the United States but you have to buy based on a photo and supplied specifications said Como, who buys from trusted dealers.
Como added that border security sometimes give him a hard time even when all paperwork is in order, so having some self-assurance can be necessary to make it through. Passing through is at the officer’s discretion, so it’s important to play nice. “You can’t give it to them too much: even if you have your ducks in a row they can still turn you around.”
Asking for a supervisor or manager is useless, as is trying another border crossing, he said. Before the digital age that could’ve worked, but they’re all connected these days, and as soon as they scan your passport it’ll come up that you were turned away elsewhere.
“It’s not something for everybody,” he said, but “it is possible. That’s how we make our living.”