Documents needed to enter Canada from the US

U.S. citizens who want to enter Canada will be required to present proof of citizenship as well as photo identification.

  • Valid passport
  • Birth certificate
  • A certificate of citizenship or naturalization
  • Certificate of Indian Status
  • NEXUS Card or other pre-approved cards

American citizens who are members of a trusted traveler program such as NEXUS or FAST may also use their membership cards as proof of citizenship and identity, depending on the mode of entry. A Trusted Traveler Program pre-screens applicants (including doing a complete background check) to allow them expedited processing through the borders of participating countries. Approval must be granted by all participating countries such as US and Canada.

Returning Canadian Citizens

Canadian citizens requesting re-entry into Canada are recommended to always travel with a valid Canadian passport whenever they visit abroad. A passport is the only identification document that is universally accepted. A Canadian passport is proof of your citizenship and that you have the legal right to enter Canada.

Without a valid passport, you will need to provide proof of citizenship and a photo identification document/card. These identification documents include a Canadian birth certificate, certificate of citizenship, a Certificate of Indian Status, an Enhanced Driver’s License (EDL), or a Canadian Permanent Resident Card.

For certain modes of entry, citizens and permanent residents may also use a NEXUS card or a FAST card as proof of identity and citizenship.
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Required documents for traveling by air

traveling by air

Anyone, regardless of age, traveling to Canada by air is required to have a valid passport or a travel document that’s considered its equivalent like the NEXUS card. Travelers will also be given a Canadian Customs Declaration Card that they will need to fill out. The information required includes the full name, address, flight number, reason for visiting, the length of visit, and items that need declaring.

Foreign nationals that are exempted from getting a Canadian visa are required to present an Electronic Travel Authorization to enter Canada via air. For example, US permanent residents are required to present an ETA if they wish to travel or transit through Canada by air. To learn if you are required to apply for an ETA, check here.

Canadian citizens and permanent residents cannot use their NEXUS card to enter Canada by air.
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Required documents for border crossing by land

border crossing by land

To enter Canada by land, Canadian and US citizens, as well as permanent residents of both countries, are required to present proof of citizenship and a government-issued photo ID. Examples of acceptable documents are a valid passport, a certificate of citizenship or naturalization, a birth certificate, a Certificate of Indian Status, and a US Permanent Resident Card. US and Canadian citizens who are members of the NEXUS or FAST programs can present their membership card as both proofs of citizenship and identity. Permanent residents of the US who are members of these two trusted travelers programs should also bring their passports and proof of residence with them as they may be asked by the border officials to present them.

International travelers, on the other hand, are required to present a valid passport as well as a valid visa to enter the country. This is required even if you’re entering through a US – Canada border crossing.

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Required documents for traveling on water


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Small boats and ferries

travel by water

Canadian citizens and permanent residents entering Canada by water are required to provide the following information: full name, date of birth, citizenship, and your length of stay outside Canada. They will also be required to provide one of the following documents: a valid passport, enhanced driver’s license (EDL), a Permanent Resident Card, a Certificate of Indian Status, a NEXUS card, or a Free and Secure Trade (FAST) card.

US citizens and permanent residents are required to present proof of citizenship and photo identification. Acceptable documents include a passport, birth certificate, certificate of citizenship or naturalization, a Certificate of Indian Status, or a NEXUS card.

NEXUS cards can also be used to apply for remote clearing, but only if ALL passengers on board the boat have a NEXUS card. Otherwise, you will need to present your documents in person at a designated marine port of entry.

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For US and Canadian citizens, entry into Canada during a cruise stopover will require you to present proof of citizenship as well as a government-issued photo ID. Acceptable documents include a valid passport, a birth certificate issued by a government agency, a certificate of citizenship or naturalization, a Certificate of Indian Status, or an Enhanced Driver’s License. If air travel into or from Canada is part of the cruise, a passport is required.

For international travelers, a valid passport and a visa is required in order to enter Canada. For visa-exempt foreign nationals, you will need to have an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) in order to be able to fly or transit through Canada.

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Useful information for travelers

On your way to crossing the border hotels are available, compare best hotels prices available on the US side and Canadian side. Bed and breakfast can be found here and here. If you are looking to find cheap cars for rent check this website for comparision of car rent prices. Check best car rental deals from Hertz, Avis, National Car Hire and Alamo.

Are you heading for camping, check for this fantastic campgrounds, or search for the best RV parking places. Need an RV hired, check this website. Boats and canoes are available for rent if you are crossing the border for some fun and hiking check these accommodation options. Are you going for golf – see the top golf courses and tee times here. Hiking options.

Did you car break down middle of the road, call for car help get emergency services. Do you need travel insurance – visit our partners here. You pets can be insured as well here. Visiting Canada for medical reasons, check this website.

Documentation needs to be all ready, for find the necessary legal forms here.

For Lawful Permanent Residents

Permanent residents of Canada and the US are required to have a valid passport and proof of permanent residence before they can enter Canada via land, air, or water.