The Detroit-Windsor crossing sees heavy traffic all year round. Detroit and Windsor are just a few miles apart. The Detroit River separates the two cities. The communities integrate in many ways. Canadians visit Detroit for shopping, baseball, Broadway shows and special events. Americans visit Windsor for sightseeing, museums, hunting, fishing, casinos and live music.
What to Know
The state of Michigan has 10 border crossings, but the two Detroit-Windsor crossings are the busiest points due to trade and tourism. There are two ways for citizens of either country to cross — the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel or the Ambassador Bridge. Both passages require proper documentation and charge a toll fee. Apply for NEXPRESS Toll. Toll collectors will wave you through with the windshield tag or card. U.S. citizens can cross into Canada without a passport, but those without full citizenship must show one. Anyone coming into the U.S., citizen or not, must present either a passport, passport card, enhanced driver’s license, NEXUS card or documentation from a certified traveler program.
If you have a mark on your record, Pardon Services Canada can help you obtain a waiver for crossing. Keep in mind that border crossing agents in both directions might ask you questions about your visit and will search your car if they think there’s a reason to do so. At times, traffic through both the bridge and tunnel can slow down because of searches. Use the webcams on the crossings’ websites before leaving to avoid delays.
Thousands of people drive across the Ambassador Bridge every day. As the busiest crossing for trade between the US and Canada, the one and a half-mile long bridge (2.25 km) over the Detroit River is populated with tractor trailers and passenger vehicles. Driving across in either direction provides inspiring views of the city lights on each side and the shimmering water below, but some complain the bridge is in poor condition and is perhaps even dangerous to drive on. Many residents would like to walk or ride a bike across, but it is not allowed.
The one-mile (1.25 km) tunnel is slightly less busy than the bridge. Some commuters prefer to use it for safety reasons and because the toll is slightly less expensive. You can travel in both directions, check conditions on a webcam, pay with a phone ahead of time or pay when crossing. The border agents might ask questions or search your car when you cross. Be prepared with the proper paperwork and answers about the reasons for your travel. Those without a car can use the Windsor bus to cross, but bikes are not allowed. Some travelers have concerns that water leakage affects the tunnel’s safety.
Trains can use the Michigan Central Railway Tunnel to cross the border and truck drivers can cross by riding the Detroit-Windsor Truck Ferry. There’s no ferry for visitors and tourists, but the idea is one the area is exploring. In the meantime, a new bridge called the Gordie Howe International Bridge has been approved for construction by both governments and is projected to include a pathway for pedestrians and cyclists. Due to much contention and lawsuits, the US side of the bridge is not yet as developed as the Canadian side.
North of Detroit, you can cross the Saint Clair River via ferries in Algonac and Marine City or travel across the Blue Water Bridge in Port Huron to Sarnia. These crossings are usually not as busy as those in the metropolitan area.
Commerce and tourism keeps US and Canadians crossing the border in the Windsor-Detroit area. Don’t be left out. Do you need a US Entry Waiver to cross the border? Contact us today for a free consultation at 1-866-972-7366.