Canada and the US have a long tradition of being good neighbors to each other. At one time, US citizens could cross the border with nothing more than a driver’s license. However, in recent years the laws have changed, leaving many confused.
Do you need a passport to go to Canada? In all likelihood, yes. Since June 1, 2009, the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) has required that Americans traveling to Canada by land or by sea carry one of the following documents as proof of citizenship:
- A US passport book
- A US passport card
- A NEXUS, SENTRI or FAST card
- An enhanced driver’s license (only available in certain states)
The only exceptions are for children and people on “closed-loop” cruises. Children under the age of 16 can use their birth certificates, naturalization certificates or certificates of citizenship instead of a passport if they are traveling by land or by sea.
Children under the age of 19 can use birth certificates, too, provided they are traveling with an organized group such as a school group, church group, sports team, volunteer group or cultural organization. The group must be supervised by an adult and carry a letter on organization letterhead that contains the name of the group, the names of the supervising adult and the children, and a signed statement certifying that parental permission has been obtained for all children on the trip.
Americans traveling to Canada on a closed-loop cruise (one that begins and ends in the same US port) can travel with their driver’s licenses or state -issued ID cards and their birth certificates or naturalization certificates.
Now, if you traveling to Canada by plane, the rules are different. You need a passport book (the passport card won’t cut it), and there are no exceptions, even for children. Even if you are traveling by land or by sea, it’s a good idea to use a passport book in case you have to fly home unexpectedly.
RushMyPassport can make applying for a passport much easier and faster. We’ll help you with your application and hand-deliver it to the US Department of State, resulting in processing times as low as 24 hours.