What Do I Need to Visit Canada for the Day?

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The requirements for entering Canada for a day trip depend on the nation of origin of the visitor. Begun in June 2009, Americans traveling to Canada who wish to re-enter the United States must travel with either a passport or an approved form of enhanced identification. Whether for a family visit, a business trip or a shopping day, a photo ID or birth certificate are no longer acceptable forms of identification for making a trip to (and a return form) America's friendly neighbor to the north.

Legal Requirements

  • Americans traveling to Canada, even only for a day trip, are required to carry a U.S. passport, a U.S. passport card and an Enhanced Driver's License, a NEXUS, SENTRI or FAST enrollment card, or a special qualification for groups of children. A U.S. photo ID or birth certificate is no longer acceptable for re-entry into the United State. For the full list in details of approved identification forms, please refer to the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative website of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency (see Resources). This regulation took effect in June 2009. The new enhanced identification rule for re-entry into the United States was part of a two-year plan that included new passport laws for Americans returning from travel from previous passport-free destinations, including Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and the Caribbean.
    Application process for a U.S. passport (or other enhanced identification form as listed above) can be lengthy, therefore if you are within border distance to make day trips to Canada plausible, it would be wise to apply for a passport (or other document) as soon as possible.
    For those planning a day trip to Canada who are non-Americans living/visiting the United States, a U.S. visa will suffice for re-entry into the United States. However, a U.S. visa does not guarantee entrance into Canada. Canadian immigration and tourist laws concerning visas differ for each country. Consult a Canadian embassy to find out if your country is one that requires a visa to enter Canada.

Transportation

  • Day-tripping implies that you are in close enough vicinity to the border that a car ride would not be out of the question. A car would be the most practical mode for a day in Canada, but depending on the destination (the length of the U.S.-Canadian border is 5,525 miles long, after all) buses and other forms of transportation can be used. However, public transportation should only be considered if the Canadian destination is a major urban center such as Vancouver, Toronto, Ontario or Montreal. A day trip to Saskatchewan, for example, may prove severely different.

Pockets and Purses

  • Unless one is backpacking through the Okanagan, very little gear is needed other than what fits in a purse or pocket. However, as it is North America, chances of a chilly wind and sudden cloud burst are very likely. So when in doubt, take along an umbrella or rain jacket.
    Cash for currency conversion will be needed, though most major credit cards are accepted; but like in any country, credit card acceptance depends on the business. So it is wise to carry at least a little Canadian cash, just in case.

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