Do you need a passport to go to Canada? Yes, a passport is now required for all international travel. However, there are some exceptions for minors and certain cruises. While there may be some circumstances where a passport is not required, the smart and safe traveler will carry a valid passport for all travel outside the country.

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. 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:

Passport Validity Requirements

Does Canada have passport validity requirements? Fortunately, no. Canada’s validity requirements are only that your passport is valid on the date entering the country, however, it is generally a rule of thumb for your passport to be valid through 6 months after, in case of any complications or unexpected delays while on your trip.

Do You Need A Passport To Drive to Canada?

Yes, a valid U.S. Passport is required for all U.S. Citizens traveling to Canada by car. For citizens that live in, or work near the United States and Canadian border the passport card can be permitted. A passport card is similar in size to a drivers license and can fit conveniently in your wallet. A US passport card can only be used for land and sea travel to Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean. It can also be used for domestic air travel in the USA. It cannot be used to travel to any other countries, and it cannot be used for international air travel at all. Click here to learn how to get a passport card.

Exceptions to the Passport Requirements for Canada

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. However, this is not recommended by the US Department of State. If there is an emergency and you need to fly home, you will not be allowed to board an airplane without a passport book.

Children under the age of 19 can use birth certificates too. Birth certificates are accepted 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. The letter must contain 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, as the passport card won’t cut it. Unfortunately, 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. Check with the U.S. Department of State anytime you plan to leave the country.

Passport Processing Times

Standard passport processing times when applying directly with a passport agency or post office can average 8-11 weeks or longer. If you’re planning to leave the country in the next 8 weeks, you’ll need some type of expedited passport service. If you need a passport to go to Canada and you’re traveling soon, can help. We make getting a passport quick and easy by providing a helpful checklist and personal assistance with the application. Then, we deliver your paperwork to the Department of State for processing, as quickly as 1 business week.

Get your passport for Canadian travel

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 quick as 7 business days. Standard processing times are currently 8-11 weeks. For travelers that need their passport faster, we are here to help!