JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON

Driving

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Alaska Map, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, JBER

For the adventurous, the Alaska Highway offers one of the most exciting routes north. For Soldiers, your PCS orders must specifically authorize travel via the Alaska Highway if you wish to drive. Often referred to as the Alcan (Alaska-Canada) Highway, the Alaska Highway weaves nearly 1,400 miles northwest from Dawson Creek, British Columbia, to Delta Junction, Alaska.

For Airmen driving through Canada or taking the ferry, be advised that you are not authorized to report to Alaska any earlier than the first day of your “Report No Later Than Day (RNLTD)” month since Alaska is considered an overseas assignment unless the following situation applies.

IAW AFI 36-2110, pages 193-194, and MPFM 07-34 dated May 15, 2007, pages 8-9: RNLTD Changes After Assignment Selection While Assigned Overseas:

  1. General Provisions: Personnel stationed OS must depart their current station sometime within their DEROS month. The port call for PCS travel to the new OS duty station cannot be earlier than the first day of the RNLTD month unless the Airman has leave approved in the OS area.
  2. Procedural Change: The port call for PCS travel to the new OS duty station cannot be earlier than the first day of the RNLTD month unless the Airman has leave approved in the OS area or has approval to defer his or her COT leave IAW AFI 36-3003.
  3. This change allows Airmen stationed OS to depart within their DEROS month and report to the new OS location any time prior to the RNLTD without having to request an official change to their RNLTD. MPFs may use AFI 36-2110, Table 3.9 to establish a member’s DEROS. Note 3 of Table 3.9 does not apply if the Airman meets the criteria stipulated in this paragraph.

The Alaska Highway is paved but the pavement varies considerably in quality. Road construction in the north is limited to the summer season, so expect occasional long stretches of road under repair or construction. Depending on the weather, the routing around or through these construction sites can be very muddy or exceedingly dusty.

The dust situation is only bad after long dry spells. To keep the dust out, keep some air pressure in the car by closing the windows and turning on the heater, fan or air conditioner. Finally, take it easy and take your time. Stop now and then to relax and take in the rugged north country; about 350 miles a day on the varying surfaces of northern roads is plenty. Your best source about traveling into Canada is the Canadian Tourism Commission website, http://en-corporate.canada.travel. Another good resource is the Canadian Border Services Agency website at www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/menu-eng.html.

It is important to remember Canada has different import-export laws and regulations. You should check with the Canadian consulate general’s office at http://can-am.gc.ca/seattle/index.aspx?lang=eng or call 206-443-1777 before your trip to see what you can bring into the country. Its address is 1501 Fourth Ave., Suite 600, Seattle, WA 98101.

HANDGUNS ARE NOT PERMITTED WITH ENTRY INTO CANADA.

It is highly recommended you ship all of your personal weapons with your household goods or baggage shipment. A valid state driver’s license IS NOT proof of citizenship; you MUST have a valid U.S. or foreign passport or U.S. naturalized citizenship documents in your possession at the Canadian border. In addition, any family pets must have complete shot records and a current health certificate.

According to the U.S. State Department website (www.travel.state.gov), under the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative: All persons traveling by air outside the United States are required to present a passport or other valid travel document to enter or re-enter the United States.

WHTI-compliant documents include:

  • Trusted traveler cards (NEXUS, SENTRI or FAST).
  • State-issued enhanced driver’s license (when available).
  • Enhanced tribal cards (when available).
  • U.S. military identification with military travel orders.
  • U.S. Merchant Mariner Document when traveling in conjunction with official maritime business.
  • Native American tribal photo identification card.
  • Form I-872 American Indian card.

For further information, see the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection travel website at www.cbp.gov/travel. Be sure you know what is required before you embark on a trip. Service members, unless they are traveling as tourists, do not need passports under these new rules. Family members can get no-fee tourist passports if they are on official travel, but the Department of Defense encourages all service members and family members to get regular passports. No-fee passports are not accepted for unofficial travel (going home on leave, etc.).

RE-ENTERING THE U.S.

Re-entry into the United States upon reaching Alaska is the responsibility of the traveler. Canadian immigration officers will usually caution people if they may have problems returning to the United States. Re-entry can be simplified if you list all purchases made in Canada before you reach the border, keep sales slips and invoices separate, and pack the purchases for convenient inspection.

Once you reach Tok, Alaska, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson-bound personnel should take the Tok Cutoff, traveling for 125 miles to the Richardson Highway. Continue traveling southbound for 14 miles and turn onto the Glenn Highway for 189 miles to Anchorage. It’s a long haul but the scenery is magnificent, and if you are traveling in the summer the fishing opportunities along the way are almost limitless.

Have extra cash when making the long drive north. When you reach the Canadian border, you should have at least $500 in cash, traveler’s checks or credit cards, plus $75 for each adult passenger.

The major cities along the route — Fort Nelson, British Columbia; Watson Lake, Yukon Territory; Whitehorse, Yukon Territory; and Beaver Creek, Yukon Territory — are spaced at roughly 300-mile intervals.

In between these communities, various small businesses exist to provide gas, food and lodging.

Auto insurance coverage required in Canada is higher than normally required in the United States. You should check in advance with your automobile insurance provider to ensure your coverage is adequate for Canada and complies with that country’s requirements. You should have a copy of the policy or some other proof of insurance in hand when you enter Canada. Normally, your insurance company will fax you a sheet of paper noting your insurance is adequate and in force for a trip through Canada if you ask it to do so.

Although auto repair is generally available along the Alaska Highway, it can be expensive and there can be delays if you have to wait for parts specific to your vehicle. It’s always a good idea to carry a few common items made for your vehicle such as fan belts and properly inflated spare tires.

Even if you don’t know how to install these items, any competent mechanic you contact along the road should be able to help. In addition to those items specific to your vehicle, a repair kit containing general-purpose items is a good idea, along with a tool kit of basic wrenches, pliers and screwdrivers, jumper cables and all-purpose tape (such as duct tape).

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