A Helpful Guide for Fan World and Pedestrian Border Crossing
Thank you for your interest in Fan World, and joining us – and many other fans – on this multinational adventure on the Niagara Falls!
Yes, it is very unorthodox to attend a fan media event in multiple nations, simultaneously! Maybe we're the first to every try this with such a fandom – we're not entirely certain. However, when you are able to bring 24-hour event programming and gaming tournaments, celebrity guests and panels, top-tier cosplay, etc. to two nations at once at such an unparalleled location – the challenge is more than justified! We can't wait to bring one of the most exciting, most unforgettable new events to fans!
Representatives of Fan World have discussed matters with the American and Canadian customs' offices at Niagara Falls regarding the event and its fans, and we are happy to share everything we now know from these communications!
Fan World does take place on both sides of the Canadian/American international border in Niagara Falls. The border operates 24-hours, year round and requires a customs check for everyone who crosses. Both Fan World venues are separated by the Rainbow Bridge (which is the international border), which allows vehicle, pedestrian, and cycling traffic. We recommend considering walking or bicycling across the pedestrian section of the bridge for several reasons, which brings us to...
Pedestrians vs. Driving
- There is only a ~12 minute walk over the Rainbow Bridge from one side's venue to the next. We jokingly refer to this as the “Rainbow Road.” Being summer, the weather is much likelier clear and warm – but anything can happen, so always pack an umbrella just in case, and watch for wind!
- The round trip cost for pedestrians is $0.50, compared to a minimum of $3.00 for drivers. Remember to bring a dollar or some quarters!
- The pedestrian section is likelier to move a lot faster than driving across because of frequent gridlock at the border with automobiles. Even borders experience rush hour! Also, whereas customs may require a vehicle to pull over for a more thorough inspection, pedestrians are less likely to experience these sorts of delays. After all, one can hide a lot more in an SUV than even the most complex of costumes! If you only have twenty minutes to cross the border to get to the next celebrity guest appearance, you certainly don't want to be stuck in a traffic jam!
- It's beautiful. Weather permitting, the walk over the Niagara Falls is a wonderful experience worthy of anyone's Bucket List. The scenery you miss crossing over in a vehicle is there for you to savor with each step. You may even stop to pose for pictures! Just watch out for wind, and please be courteous to other pedestrians!
- In the event of intoxication, walking is a FAR wiser and safer alternative to driving – and police agree. Even if you have your car parked nearby, but you've had a few drinks : Make the walk. (Whereas Fan World certainly does not recommend the consumption of any alcoholic beverages, we do ask adults to drink responsibly and make that right decision!)
- Parking is often cheaper on the American side, often even free! Why drive back and forth when you can simply park once and save at the meter?
- Pedestrians should cross with their Fan World admissions “QR Badge” (which are emailed to each attendee), which helps to identify fans as event attendees. This assists customs officers with the “motive for crossing” a little.
Please remember: While Fan World certainly does not have any authority over the international border, how their customs inspections are handled, or what decisions customs officers may make regarding luggage, detainment, access to the nation, etc. - we have been advised Fan World attendees showing their “QR Badge” (and maybe a hotel room key, eg.) will help expedite the process when they ask “Where are you going, and why are you going there.” Otherwise, it is entirely up to the discretion of customs.
New to the customs process? Please follow these simple rules:
- Be respectful. Customs officers have a job to do, and “national security” is no light matter. Give yourself a little extra time to cross just in case of delay. Be honest and forthcoming with information. Have your identification ready, and remember each officer is also a human being – on any other day they may even stop to take your picture, or maybe they're fans, too!
- Even if you stop for photos over the Falls on the Rainbow Bridge, under NO circumstances are you to use your phone, computer, or cameras (or other recording devices) toward or inside of the customs offices. Similar to how you may not photograph the security check process in an airport, please refrain from doing the same at the international border.
- Please behave, because the last thing you want is an international incident on the border. Assaults, thefts, and other criminal or malicious acts may be grounds for fines, arrests, deportation, or even incarceration on the border or in a foreign nation. This should go without saying, but be warned. Fan World has a Zero Tolerance policy against such acts, and the border and police authorities will not be any more forgiving.
- Photography over the Falls is picturesque and amazing! However, the Rainbow Bridge is not the place to take prolonged photography. Do not attempt any “photoshoots” on the Rainbow Bridge, as this could restrict travel. Under no circumstances are travelers to pay or barter for any goods or services on the border, and special permits and/or certifications may be required for any professional services or sales in a foreign nation.
- This falls under our “Use Common Sense” rule, but there is NEVER to be any horseplay on the Rainbow Bridge (or anywhere else, for that matter). It is a long, dangerous fall into the Niagara River below, and anything dropped will not be found. Secure your clothing (hats, scarves, wigs, cosplay accessories, etc.), keep hold of your belongings, zip closed or secure the content of what you're carrying, etc. Be smart!
- Turn off your data and/or roaming options on your phone when you cross over! While you will have wifi options at each venue (which is perfect for communicating with friends via Skype, Facebook messenger, etc.), you don't want to rack up additional charges because your apps want to roam and update when you're not looking! Be sure to contact your cell provider for any options, as many providers offer an inexpensive text/call package which may only be turned on for a few days. Did you know Sprint offers an “Open World” option for FREE which provides international calling, texts, and some data for no additional charge?
- Much like the warnings you see in airports, do NOT accept the belongings or luggage of another before, during, or after any border crossing. Remember the golden rule of general safety: If you see something, say something.
- By the time you have stepped on to the Rainbow Bridge, you can not turn back without having to go through customs of the nation where you began. Remember this, and please confirm you have the proper identification and are not carrying contraband before you begin the crossing.
- Use common sense. We're all attending Fan World to have a great time. Sometimes you lose yourself after meeting your favorite voice actor, or after meeting up with friends, or maybe you just won the big gaming tournament. The customs staff will be professional and courteous, so please be the same. It's probably better to leave the sarcasm behind, too!
- Do not allow children to cross without their parent(s) or legal guardian(s). Customs will allow some minors to cross when alone, but be smart and safe about such travel. For example, customs may choose to allow admission to a 17 year old with proper documentation, but a 13 year old crossing alone may send up some red flags. Call to confirm in advance.
- Be aware of your belongings before attempting to cross the border. Many things are not admissible, including certain weapons, foods, chemicals, etc. There are even limits on the alcohol, tobacco, etc. you may have on your person. Please review the following to better understand what is expected of you when cross (and please confirm in advance with U.S. AND Canada customs, as this page is a not officially representative of either):
Any questions about crossing border, or maybe you would like to confirm something stated on this page? Please call the local borders to ask an officer at the following:
Want to bring food into the U.S.? Please review:
http://www.cbp.gov/travel/international-visitors/agricultural-items Question for the U.S. Customs at Niagara Falls? Please call: (716) 282-3141
Question for the Canada Customs at Niagara Falls? Please call:
Toll-free within Canada: 1-866-335-3237 Outside of Canada: 1-204-983-3500
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)Q: Do I need a Passport?
A: In most foreseeable cases, no. There are other options including Nexus, state/provincial “enhanced” licenses, etc.
Another option is how a birth certificate and valid legal ID (state or province ID card, driver's license or permit, etc.) will typically allow pedestrian or driving travel over the U.S. And Canada borders. Please remember customs may detain or delay a traveler for a variety of reasons regardless of what identification you may provide, and this is no exception. The stipulations for using the “Birth Certificate + Legal ID” were explained to Fan World organizers by customs officers and chiefs of both sides during Fan World planning, and are as follows:
- You were born in Canada or the United States
- You have a valid birth certificate and current legal ID (photocopies may, in certain cases, not be acceptable for adults)
- You do have a legal or criminal background which could exclude your admission, which may include felonies, misdemeanors, a DWI/DWUI history, etc.
- There are no other “special scenarios” or red flags with your situation (questionable past international travel, restricted privileges, legal or criminal investigations, etc.)
Q: May I cross using my birth certificate if I was not born in the U.S. or Canada?
A: This is a situation you would need to confirm with both nations' customs in advance. Remember each nation has its own guidelines for travel, luggage, etc. - and this is no different. A foreign passport, visa, Green Card, etc. may be permissible in one nation, but not the other. Fan World will not speculate in this circumstance.
Q: May I use a birth certificate and ID if I am traveling into the other nation via air or sea transportation?
A: From what we are to understand, no. Please contact customs and airport/port authority with regards to your situation in advance, as we understand at least a valid Passport is typically necessary in this scenario. Again, Fan World will not speculate in this circumstance.
Q: What do I need to know about cosplaying across the border?
A: It is permissible – and even expected by customs at this point! (Heck, even the chairperson of Fan World has done it on multiple occasions!) Be sure to be identifiable for customs officers (have a mask which may be removed, have makeup which does not overly conceal your face, etc.). Customs needs to see the person on your identification!
Please just keep in mind what is contraband (some weapons including different types of firearms and blades, chemicals, etc.) and keep in mind customs officers may confiscate belongings which may or may not be returned when you come back. Customs is well aware of the cosplay attendance of Fan World and welcomes everyone in costume – but please respect they have a job to do and be prepared to show what's under your cosplay armor if it comes to it!
Q: May I carry a sword across the border, or buy one on the other side and return?
A: The short answer is yes, but always be aware of the contraband and restricted lists for belongings when traveling (especially if the blade is part of a costume). Fan World staff has specifically asked regarding the scenario where “Fan purchases a sword internationally,” and we were informed fans may return with it as a newly purchased belonging so long as it does not meet the qualifications of a prohibited item or contraband possession. You will likelier have much better luck if the sword is well-wrapped and secured, instead of being brandished and unsheathed, of course. When in doubt – call customs just in case for the official answer for your specific situation.
Q: What happens if I purchase goods or merchandise over the border, and then return?
A: Customs make ask if you procured any merchandise or belongings while over the border, including merchandise, art, food and beverage, etc. In some occasions at the judgment of customs officers, a “duty” may be imposed. Please contact the Duty Free or customs offices in advance for any specific questions or concerns about this as to avoid any surprises. Otherwise, Fan World will not speculate in this circumstance.
Q: What if I want to import cargo which is in excess of my personal belongings?
A: Contact customs in advance. Most - if not all - of the confirmed artists and exhibitors of Fan World are not crossing international borders with their merchandise simply because of possible additional taxes/tariffs, restrictions, limitations, customs delays, business permits and licensing matters, etc. when transporting an amount of goods. Even if you honestly own a dozen Xbox One consoles and are bringing them over the border just to set up and play with friends, this may arouse the suspicion of customs officers who may consider whether you are selling, leasing, distributing, etc. when on the other side. This may also include promotional materials, such as fliers. To be safe, please contact customs for both sides in advance. The Fan World rule for border crossing with belongings: “Keep it simple, and legal.”
Q: What if I am concerned about pedestrian crossing if I am afraid of heights.
A: The pedestrian walkway is very wide, and it is very accommodating for those who do not want to be near the edge, or even be able to look over the edge.
Q: What handicap accessibility is there for pedestrian crossing?
A: From what we are to understand, pedestrian crossing for both sides is handicap accessible. Always keep in mind the option of traveling by vehicle may be a more accommodating option, on a case by case basis. We strongly recommend you contact customs for both sides in advance to confirm their facilities and accessibility meet your specific needs.
Q: What languages are spoken at the border?
A: While there may be staff who may speak additional languages, the Niagara Falls border will happily accommodate at least English and French speakers. We have yet to receive an answer regarding Al Bedh, Klingon, Abh, or Bocce.
Q: It is legal to drink alcohol at 19 in Canada, but 21 in the U.S. What do I need to know when crossing?
A: Under no circumstance will Fan World ever encourage the consumption of alcohol, tobacco, etc. Also, please do not travel across the border with any open alcoholic container. It is certainly not abnormal for customs officers to deal with 19 and 20 year old Americans who end up consuming alcoholic beverages in Ontario. After speaking with customs officers regarding this situation, they have explained there should not be any issue if you are 19 or 20 years old and returning to the United States after consuming alcohol in Canada so long as travelers please follow these points:
- Do not be intoxicated to the point where you are a public disturbance, destructive, or a danger to yourself or others. Even if you are over 21, customs officers and local police may not tolerate such behavior. Be respectful, smart, and use common sense.
- If you are considered excessively intoxicated and may need medical attention, customs officers and/or local police may step in to act accordingly. If you choose to drink, please drink responsibly.
- If you are under 19 years of age and have been drinking regardless of in which nation, you may be in the position where local police may be asked to intervene. In addition to U.S. And Canadian federal and local law and their potential legal consequences, Fan World will also not tolerate underage drinking (or other illegal narcotic abuse) and may revoke your event admission, remove you from the venue, or even consult local police authorities. Remember: Fan World has a Zero Tolerance policy, and you may expect the same from customs and local law enforcement. Be safe, and be smart.
- Do not operate a vehicle when intoxicated. This is not only a local or federal law enforcement matter, but Fan World also has a Zero Tolerance policy regarding drinking and driving. There are taxis in the area, and the scenery is beautiful when walking in August. Take advantage of it, and make the right decision!
Q: I have another unique question which was not answered above. Who do I ask?
A: If the question regards the border crossing, the Rainbow Bridge, law enforcement, or the customs process please contact them directly for the best answer. Otherwise, please feel free to email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
All verbiage and material on this page, and otherwise communicated (verbally, via email, online, etc.), was researched and confirmed to the best of our amateur abilities with American and Canadian customs officers and agents – especially at the Niagara Falls customs office near where Fan World will be held. No member of the Fan World organization, or any of their agents, is a past or current customs officer or legal representative for U.S. or Canadian customs, the border, the Bridge Commission, immigration, local law authorities, and so forth. The information provided above was procured through official channels (customs officers and chiefs, etc.), and simply reiterated to Fan World attendees and website visitors where applicable. Fan World does not have any authority or influence over the border or the customs/immigration process, and any questions regarding these should be directed to the proper authorities and departments.
We, at Fan World, have strove to gather the most accurate and pertinent information for our website visitors and attendees to alleviate any anxieties or fears about the border and customs process; and we have attempted to best educate our staff, guests, representatives, attendees, and online visitors with the best information available to us to help everyone avoid frustrations, avoidable delays, and/or legal difficulties when crossing the international border. For the sake of legal liability, this information presented above should be considered an opinion, speculation, and/or a non-professional interpretation of the information provided to Fan World. Knowing this, as well as having the understanding policies, procedures, laws, etc. with customs, immigration, and border crossings may be changed or updated at any time; please confirm any and all information regarding border crossing requirements and limitations with the correct authorities before planning or attempting any international travel. Thank you.