What Is Needed to Cross the Canadian Border?


Canada is a beautiful country that provides numerous destinations for business or leisure travel. Canada is home to world-class cities, a diverse population, beautiful natural scenery, great restaurants, shopping and the country is an outdoor sportsman’s paradise. However, Canada is an international destination and there are a few necessary documents that must be presented to gain entry into the country.

Requirments for U.S. Citizens

The Canadian government requires that all U.S. citizens entering Canada carry proof of identity and proof of citizenship. For U.S. citizens, a valid U.S. Passport, NEXUS Card or Passport Card is valid for entry into Canada.

NEXUS cards are available to citizens that travel between the U.S. and Canada on a frequent basis. They allow frequent travelers to join a trusted traveler program that facilitates expedited border crossings. (Visit http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/travel/trusted_traveler/nexus_prog/ for more information on NEXUS cards.)

State-issued Enhanced Driver’s Licenses (EDLs) are acceptable as well. EDLs are currently offered to residents of New York, Washington, Michigan and Vermont.

U.S. citizens who do not have a valid U.S. Passport, Passport Card or NEXUS card can use alternative documents to gain entry into Canada. Travelers must present a government-issued driver’s license and proof of U.S. Citizenship. One of the following can be presented to show proof of U.S. Citizenship: a U.S. Birth Certificate, naturalization certificate or an expired U.S. Passport.

Children under age 16 only need to show proof of U.S. Citizenship.

Entering Canada from a Third Country

U.S. citizens entering Canada from another country are required to present a valid U.S. Passport to gain entry. For example, if you are a U.S. citizen and you fly from Paris to Toronto, you will be required to present a valid U.S. Passport to enter Canada.


Visas are not required for anyone visiting Canada for 180 days or less. However, citizens traveling to Canada to immigrate, work or study are required to qualify for the appropriate entry status. If you are traveling to Canada for any reason other than a visit, you should contact the Canadian Embassy for a list of required documents. The Canadian Embassy in Washington D.C. can be reached at (202) 682-1740.

Criminal Records

Anyone with a criminal record may be barred from entering Canada. This includes persons that have been charged with misdemeanors or Driving While Intoxicated (DWI). Persons with criminal records are required to obtain a special waiver and should contact the Canadian Embassy or visit the Canadian government website for clarification on the ways to qualify for entry.

The Canadian consulate can also provide additional information on this matter. There are several Canadian consulates located throughout the U.S. in the cities of Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, New York and Seattle. Check the Canadian government website to locate the nearest Canadian consulate.


All U.S. citizens traveling by air are required to present a valid U.S. Passport or NEXUS card to gain reentry into the United States.

For land border crossings, a valid U.S. Passport, U.S. Passport Card, Enhanced Driver’s License or NEXUS Card can be used for reentry into the U.S.

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