USA band playing in Canada - What happens at the boarder?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by zac2944, Mar 22, 2011.

  1. zac2944


    Dec 28, 2004
    Rochester, NY
    Anyone have any experiences taking gigs in Canada if you're from the US? My band got a great offer to take a wedding gig in Quebec City, but I'm not sure how it would work at the boarder. I've been told you need some sort of permit to work there, but I've traveled for my day job to Canada without any questions.
  2. Anthony Fury

    Anthony Fury

    Jan 20, 2009
    You absolutely DO need a permit. I know a band which was stopped cold at the Canadian border and turned away. And we're not talking like professional bands or anything, we're talking goofball punk bands. Their name is Counterpunch; search for them on myspace or the like and see if you can read any of their blogs about it. Real bummer.

    Anyway, I'm not sure how you go about getting one, but beware....
  3. waynobass


    Feb 27, 2008
    Fingerprinting, strip search, body cavity probe, and truth serum injection.
  4. seanm

    seanm I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize! Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    You'll need a permit, same as a Canadian band would need a permit to work in the States. I don't think they are hard to get.

    I also believe you will need a passport.
  5. scotch

    scotch It's not rocket science!

    Nov 12, 2006
    Albany, NY USA
    Please see Profile for Endorsement disclosures
    You DO need paperwork if you're planning on being honest at the border (which I highly recommend). Counting on 'getting lucky' is poor planning. 10 years ago, I would have advised differently, but these days you want to play it straight! Obviously, you will all need passports!

    I've been a hired contractor for a Canadian recording artist for about a year (as well as touring Canada with U.S. acts for over a decade). Management takes care of most of the paperwork, but I have seen the following documents regularly (not a comprehensive list, but could point you in the right direction?):

    -T1261 like a U.S. w-2
    -Reg. 102 or 105 Waiver so you don't have to pay CA income tax
    -A copy of the engagement contract is recommended
    -If you have a booking agent, they should have applicable paperwork (Canadian Worker Recruitment and Protection act protects foreign contractors) If you can get this, you don't need to file for a work permit!
    -If you need a permit: Application to Work in Canada: Work Permits
    -"Performing Artists" are generally exempt from work permits, but I'm not sure about a wedding band.
  6. panama


    May 26, 2009
    You need a temporary work VISA if you wanna do it legit, and if people at a wedding are counting on you then you wanna do it legit.

    If you were a punk band wanting to play in Toronto I'd say wing it. You can often get through by saying you're recording some songs and won't be making money, but you can't bring any merch with you.
  7. scotch

    scotch It's not rocket science!

    Nov 12, 2006
    Albany, NY USA
    Please see Profile for Endorsement disclosures
    I should note that I've played probably 50-100 shows in Canada over the last 15 years. A pretty wide variety of clubs, theaters, festivals, television and radio appearances.

    I have never had to apply for a personal work visa. Everything was done legit as far as I know.

    There is other paperwork to be aware of other than work visa's or temporary work permits. There are also lots of exceptions for the performing arts - you just need to educate yourself on current laws & procedures.

    I'd recommend the link I posted above over any hearsay.

    Cheers! :)
  8. scotch

    scotch It's not rocket science!

    Nov 12, 2006
    Albany, NY USA
    Please see Profile for Endorsement disclosures
    Good advice!
  9. aqsw


    May 28, 2006
    Do you have an agent?
    I do agree with Scotch !!
  10. michael_atw


    Feb 28, 2009
    Jamestown, NY
    Just call the Department at the location you plan to cross and request papers that will allow you to do it. That way, it will be more fluent. I date a girl from Canada I get raped every time I drive across the border - these days they will verbally beat you senseless like you committed a crime if you do anything slightly unusual.
  11. scotch

    scotch It's not rocket science!

    Nov 12, 2006
    Albany, NY USA
    Please see Profile for Endorsement disclosures

    My last trip North all of our paperwork was forwarded ahead of time to the crossing we would be driving through. Saved a lot of time! (We were still sitting there for 45 minutes....)
  12. panama


    May 26, 2009
    Kindly leave that kind of language off these boards.
  13. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    My experience in 1982, crossing into Canada with my cello in plain view:

    Guard: Where are you going?

    fdeck: Concert.

    Guard: Okay.
  14. michael_atw


    Feb 28, 2009
    Jamestown, NY

    Guard: What's your name? How old are you? Where do you live? Why do you live there? Who lives there with you? Who's the landlord? Do you have a job? If so, where? When do you need to be back? Why are you wearing that Red Sox cap? Sir, please remove the Red Sox cap so I can see your hair. Who are you visiting? How did you meet them? What are you carrying? Do you plan on leaving it in our country? How much is it worth? Who owns your car? How many fingers am I holding up? What is the square root of 839? May I search your car? May I search your cell phone? Empty your pockets. Fan them out like rabbit ears. I found this receipt for condoms in your car - are you planning on having 'relations' with this person you are visiting? Are you planning on illegally immigrating to this country? Do I need to strip search you? Are you carring weapons? Get your hands out of your pockets, please! Get up against the vehicle WITH YOUR HANDS BEHIND YOUR BACK.

    You: Uh...are you gonna take the passport out of my hand first?

    Guard: I already know who you are.
  15. A little planning beforehand saves a lot of trouble further on down the road. And sometimes, it can depend on who you get working the crossing that day. I've worked with CBSA on inter-agency stuff, and like any law enforcement, there's cool guys and there's jerks. The same holds true for US Border agents - some are great to deal with, some are absolute dicks.

    The link Scotch posted above is likely helpful, and I'm going to re-iterate that you should absolutely place a call to the CBSA at the crossing you're planning on using - if only to determine when a good time to cross will be, and when traffic volumes are lower.

    Anecdotally, you're more likely to get by without being hassled when the border agents don't feel like they have their nuts in a vice because there's a line of folks waiting to cross a mile long.

    (And speaking as an RCMP officer... "Band" raises "pot-smoking hippies" stereotypes in my evil lizard hind-brain, despite everything I do to quash the stereotyping and profiling.)
  16. michael_atw


    Feb 28, 2009
    Jamestown, NY
    I feel like the opposite is true. I feel like they hassle less when they're busy (or at least, they hassle white Anglo-Saxon Protestants less). The border I cross is empty and desolate and rural (although still an important artery) and I always end up there alone and getting ram-rodded for 30 minutes just because I'm staying with my girlfriend for 5 days. I tried to make a joke on a couple occasions and almost got refused because of it. And I'm not joking with that one.

    I think it also relates to which border crossing and what time. Do it early in the morning and it's easier than late at night (everyone's just getting their coffee kickin' at 6 a.m. while at 10 p.m everyone has fought with their husbands and wives all day and is pissed at their life).
  17. Anthony Fury

    Anthony Fury

    Jan 20, 2009
    P.S. Might want to contact Jacob Stein.

  18. Before doing anything...

    Check with your band to verify nobody has a criminal record... A DWI is considered a felony up there.


    It's rare to find a band with a clean criminal record.


    Yes you need a passport.
  19. Don't worry about the border crossing into Canada. If you go through late at night, chances are when you get to the Canadian border, the Customs agent will be sleeping!!!!!!! Happened to me.......when I got to the booth, all I saw were two feet on the desk :rollno:

    Make you feel safe don't it?
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    Primary TB Assistant

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