Do I Need a Passport for traveling to Canada?

Passport Frequently Asked Questions and AnswersQuestion: I would be traveling to Canada by car and I would like to find out what documents I may need to cross the border to Canada?

Answer: Do you need a passport to go to Canada? This is a common question and we will answer your question in detail. With the heightened national security issues in recent years, gaining access to and from foreign countries usually requires a passport.  However, the rules are somewhat more easy with our friendly neighbor to the north.  Due to its close proximity to the United States, many Americans travel to Canada on a fairly regular basis for business or pleasure.  Before leaving home, there are two things to consider for crossing the border into Canada.

Entering Canada

A passport is not required for U.S. citizens when entering the country by air, land, or sea.  However, proof of U.S. citizenship must be provided in some form, and the regulations for reentering the United States are far less relaxed.  Be sure to plan ahead.   The choices of required documentation for entrance into Canada include:

  • U.S. Passport Book
  • U.S. Passport Card
  • Valid Driver’s License
  • Government Issued Photo ID
  • Birth Certificate (original or certified copies are preferable)
  • Certificate of Citizenship or Naturalization
  • U.S. Permanent Resident Card
  • Enhanced Driver’s License (EDL)
  • NEXUS Card
  • FAST Card

Children under the age of 16 may not have a U.S. Passport or Government Issued Photo Identification.  In these cases, an original, certified copy, or photocopy of a U.S. Birth Certificate is necessary. Other options include a U.S. Consular Report of Birth Abroad or a Certificate of U.S. Naturalization.

Reentering the United States

The regulations for gaining reentry into the United States from Canada will depend on the method of transportation.  Many Americans make the mistaken assumption that a valid U.S. Driver’s License is all that is required.  This is not the case.  For U.S. citizens returning by air or sea, a U.S. Passport is required.   For those arriving by land, the following options are considered valid:

For children under the age of 16, the same forms of documentation used to gain entry into Canada apply for reentry into the United States.  For information on obtaining a valid passport, call or visit your local post office.  But plan ahead.   The application process may take several weeks.