Remote Area Border Crossing (RABC) Permit is Available Again

NW ANGLE SCENERY, Lake of the WoodswThe RABC, or, Remote Area Border Crossing Permit facilitates the border clearance process for travelers who want to cross the border into Canada in certain remote areas, such as Minnesota’s Northwest Angle.  The program was halted because of COVID, but is now again available with a few slight changes.  This permit is great for those who cross often in remote areas where a Canada Border Services Agency office is not available.

Do I need an RABC to boat into Canada if I am not touching land?

The short answer is no.  Currently, if you are a guest staying in the NW Angle and you enter Ontario via water and will not be touching land, touching a dock, anchoring or exchanging goods or services, then you don’t need to clear customs upon entering Canada.  You can boat in and as long as you stay on water, no check in is necessary.

If you want to travel into Canada and touch land, then an RABC might be for you.

Who should apply for an RABC?

If you cross into Canada in a remote area listed as a qualifying area by Canada Border Services Agency on a frequent basis, then this permit might be helpful.

  • RABC permits are valid only for the remote areas listed below:

o    from Pigeon River through to and including Lake of the Woods

o    the Canadian shore of Lake Superior

o    Cockburn Island

o    Sault Ste. Marie (upper lock system)

o    Northwest Angle Area

The habitual residents of the NW Angle will retain their current status for this purposes of the RABC program. This group is exempt from pre-arrival and on-arrival testing, and is eligible for reusable receipts for ArriveCAN submissions.

To become a RABC permit holder, all applicants will need to submit an application to the CBSA, including proof of vaccination or medical contraindication. Please expect that there will be delays in processing applications.

Should the definition of fully vaccinated change, permit holders would be required to resubmit their new proof of vaccination, and upload it to ArriveCAN. Permit holders must remain aware of and compliant with current reporting and entry requirements, as they are subject to change.

Changes with the new RABC Permit

In order to meet the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) requirements, new program conditions are being introduced as below:

  • NEW All persons enrolled in RABC with the exception of children under the age of 5, medically-contraindicated travelers, and habitual residents of the Northwest Angle (NWA) who are already exempt from public health measures, are required to be fully vaccinated. Proof must be submitted at the time of application.
  • NEW All members will be required to complete an ArriveCAN submission for each trip.
  • NEW Permit holders are not eligible to enter Canada if they have tested positive for COVID-19 within the last 10 days or have symptoms of COVID-19.
  • The permit fee will remain at $30 CAD. The fee includes the principal applicant plus qualifying family members.

Who is Eligible?

To apply for a Remote Area Border Crossing (RABC) Program permit, you must be a citizen or permanent resident of Canada or the United States or have a right of entry under the Indian Act.

If you are are a citizen or permanent resident of the U.S., you must meet normal Canadian visitor legislative requirements, as described in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

Visit Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada for more information on immigration requirements for visitors to Canada.

You may not qualify for a program permit if any of the following applies:

  • you have been previously charged with a contravention of customs or immigration legislation
  • you have a criminal conviction for which you have not received a pardon
  • you have provided false or incomplete information on the program application

Family permits

A family may consist of:

  • a principal applicant
  • a spouse (includes a spouse/common-law partner who has lived with the principal applicant for one or more years)
  • children under 18 years of age

Children under 18 years of age must be the applicant or the applicant’s spouse’s children. Children under the legal guardianship of the applicant are also eligible for a permit.

Applicants under 18 can be a principal applicant with a written authorization from their parents/legal guardians.

Please list all children under 18 years of age that may be travelling to Canada in the next year.

Dependents cannot be added after the permit has been processed.

What you need before your start

What to include in your application

  • A completed and signed Remote Area Border Crossing (RABC) Permit form (BSF386)
  • A copy of valid identity documentation
  • A copy of your proof of vaccination or exemption
  • Supporting documents (documents you will need)
  • Processing fee (complete the credit card authorization in the application form)

How long it will take to process your application

Processing time depends on many factors, such as:

  • method of submission
  • number of applications in processing

At this time, the CBSA cannot estimate the processing time.

To apply for a permit to use in the Northwest Angle area of Lake of the Woods, please email your application package to: cbsa.rabcapplicationsnwa-applicationsnwaprfe.asfc@cbsa-asfc.gc.ca

To apply for a permit to use in any other area, please email your application form to:

The CBSA recommends that you password protect your documents before submitting the application. Remember to include the password in the email.

Other ways to apply

By regular mail

If you are unable to email your application, you may send a printed copies of your application form (BSF386) and supporting documentation to:

Canada Border Services Agency
RABC Processing Centre
201 North May Street, 1st Floor
Thunder Bay, ON  P7C 3P4

You will receive a decision by mail, unless an interview is deemed necessary.

In person

If you are unable to email your application, you may schedule a time to present a copy of your application form (BSF386) and supporting documentation in person to a Border Services Officer at one of the following Canada Border Services Agency offices:

Pigeon River Port of Entry
  • Monday to Wednesday, 8 am to 8 pm
  • Call 807-964-3000 to make an appointment (availability is limited)
Sault Ste. Marie Port of Entry
  • Tuesday and Wednesday, 8 am to 8 pm
  • Call 705-941-3044 to make an appointment (availability is limited)
Fort Frances Port of Entry
  • Monday to Wednesday, 7 am to 7 pm
  • Note Walk-ins are available, clients are not required to make an appointment

Wait times at ports of entry may vary. During peak travel times and holidays, line-ups can result in significant delays.

Payment options

  • The CAN $30 per application processing fee includes the principal applicant plus qualifying family members
  • The processing fee is waived for principal applicants under 18 years of age
  • The processing fee is not refundable
  • CAN $30 payable by Visa, MasterCard or American Express only

In person at a CBSA office:

  • The processing fee may be paid in cash, credit card, debit card, or a check drawn from a Canadian financial institution
  • Please note that checks drawn from United States bank accounts are not acceptable

Contact Canada Border Services Agency for Questions

CBSA Border Information Services

Email: Contact us using our Client support contact form

Progress.  The RABC Permit being reinstated is again, another sign of progress from our COVID chapter.  Is the RABC right for you?  Well, the answer to this is different for everyone, but one thing is for sure, if it is, it will make your life a lot easier.


Helpful Links…

How to fill out ArriveCan

Updated info for unvaccinated travelers under 18 entering Canada

Info about Lake of the Woods

Info about Minnesota’s NWAngle

Lodging around Lake of the Woods


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