UPDATED INFORMATION AS OF JUNE 1st, 2009:
Air travel to and from Canada requires a US passport book for everyone of all ages, unless you have a valid NEXUS card. NEXUS card holders can use their NEXUS card as a substitute for a passport provided you are flying to preclearance Canadian airport with NEXUS kiosk.
Land and sea travel requires a passport, passport card, NEXUS, FAST or SENTRI card in most cases. However, children under the age of 16 can use birth certificates for land or sea travel. So can children under the age of 19, provided they are on an organized trip with a school, sports team, church group, volunteer group or similar organization. Passengers on closed-loop cruises (beginning and ending in the same US port) can use a driver’s license along with a birth certificate or naturalization certificate.
US travel regulations have changed a lot over the past few years, making questions like “Do you need a passport to go to Canada?” somewhat complicated to answer.
Right now, whether or not you need a passport to go to Canada depends on how you are traveling. Our neighbor to the north is included in the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, aka the WHTI. Currently, American citizens traveling by land or sea to companies covered by the WHTI do not have to have passports. However, you will need to show a government-issued photo ID to prove your identity and a birth certificate, naturalization certificate or certificate of citizenship to prove that you are an American citizen. You do need a passport to go to Canada if you are traveling by plane.
Just when you thought you had it figured out, the rules are changing again in just a few short months. Effective June 1st, 2009, most land and sea passengers will have to have US passports to re-enter the country as well. There will be a few exceptions for certain people crossing the border by land or by sea:
- Children under the age of 16 can use their birth certificates. Either the original or a copy is fine.
- Children ages 16 to 18 can use their birth certificates if and only if they are traveling with an organized, chaperoned sports team, school group or church group.
- US citizens on closed-loop cruises that begin and end in the same US port will still be allowed to use photo ID and a birth certificate to get back in. However, you should check with your cruise ship company, as some ports may require a passport for you to get off the ship during the cruise.
Everyone traveling to Canada by plane will still need a passport. No exceptions!
Travel experts recommend that you apply several months in advance, especially considering that changes in travel regulations typically lead to increased numbers of passport applications being submitted and longer wait times for passports to be issued.
If you need to get your passport quickly and don’t have time to wait in line, your best bet is to use a private passport expediting service to submit your passport application. These companies deliver your application to the US Passport Agency and put it at the “top of the stack.”
RushMyPassport.com has a variety of different processing options to meet your needs-everything from 24-hour processing to more affordable options that take just a few days longer. Expedite your passport with us today!