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Passport Requirements for Canada?

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!

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16 Responses to “Passport Requirements for Canada?”

  1. CINTHIA HERNANDEZ

    Hi my name is Cinthia Hernandez, i live in Mexico i would like to know what kind of documents do i need to travel to Canada i have my mexican Passport. i that all i need or do i need a Visa ?

    Regards,

    Cinthia Hernandez

  2. Alison Kroulek

    Hi Cinthia,

    Good question! I did a little bit of research for you, and it seems that Canada’s entry requirements vary greatly depending on why you’re visiting and possibly also on where you’re from. This tool may help:
    http://www.goingtocanada.gc.ca/CIC/display-afficher.do?id=0000000000079&lang=eng

    Just to be on the safe side, you may also want to contact the Canadian Visa office in Mexico City:
    http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/information/offices/missions/mexico.asp

  3. reza

    Dear manager of this wb adn this program!

    thaks of yuor programming to help and be as the guider between the people.
    i want get some more info about th ehow can i get the passport of canada
    and i am fianance officer of mof office
    have nice time

  4. heba

    Hey my name is Heba
    My brother has a green residency card and he wants to travel to Canada
    by land for about a week. will he be able to get back to the U.S.A with
    the green card or does he need a passport or something?
    thank you

  5. Scott

    ok for starters i have a passport, my sister does not. i was wondering
    if she needs a passport to cross into windsor ontario canada by car.
    we are just going for a concert and its directly across the border.

    also will she be let back into the us?

  6. Alison Kroulek

    He can get back into the US with his green card, but check here to see what kind of ID he needs to get into Canada:
    http://www.goingtocanada.gc.ca/CIC/display-afficher.do?id=0000000000079&lang=eng

  7. Kaurin

    me and my aunt are planning to go to canada. me 15 and my cousin 2 months dont have a passport. what do we need to get inorder to enter canada and come back into the US.

  8. mayowa

    what do i need to do for a canada visa and working permit from Nigeria,

  9. Chad

    I have a question,

    I am currently a legal alien in USA serving in the armed forces,
    I have a Canadian passport but it is expired,
    does this leave me unable to fly to Canada and back on the states?

    V/R,

    Chad Thomas

  10. John B

    If My 10 month old is traveling from Canada by plane, after crossing the border in a car, do they still need a passport co come into the USA?

  11. Alison Kroulek

    Hi John,

    Yes, entering the US from Canada by plane requires a passport. My sympathies-I know it can be difficult to get a passport photo at that age! :) These tips might help: http://www.rushmypassport.com/blog/2009/01/180/

  12. Rachel

    I am a Canadian citizen with and American green card. I need to fly back to Canada. Do I need a passport to get into Canada or to get back home to the States? Travelling by Land, all I have needed was my green card.

  13. admin

    Hi Rachel,

    Your green card should be fine both to enter Canada and to re-enter the US, as per the Canadian Border Services Agency http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/whti-ivho/pr-rp-eng.html. Have a great trip!

  14. Brenda

    Hello, My best friend is getting married in Winnapeg and we are in MN. My 6 year old child, husband and myself will be going. I was told we only need passport cards since we are driving. Is this true and can you apply for and pay for only the card which is cheeper or do you still need to pay the full $140+ for both book and card. Also how often does my six year old need to renue her passport if its only good for 2 years I want to wait since the wedding isnt for 18 Months. I also had a passprt that is older then 15 years old and have since married and changed my name Do I reapply or renue? one is cheeper then the other and $ is an issue.

  15. Alison Kroulek

    Hi Brenda,

    Yes, as long as you’re driving you can just get a passport card- though it’s recommended to have a passport book just in case of an emergency that requires you to fly back to the States, it isn’t required for travel from the US to Canada by car.

    Yes, you can just apply for the card. Your child will need to apply for a new passport every 5 years. If your most recent passport is more than 15 years old, you are not eligible to renew by mail and need to reapply at the post office or another passport office. Hope this helps!

  16. Louise

    I am A Canadian Citizen who is a lawful permanent resident of the US. I want to go visit my family in Canada via land. Do I need a passport to go to Canada? I have a US Green card. Do I need a passport to come back to the US?

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