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“Do I need a passport to go to Canada?” It sounds like a fairly easy question to answer, but there actually are a few differing rules for whether or not you need a passport to go to Canada, depending on what country you’re a citizen of, and actually some of the rules have changed recently.

passport-to-go-to-canada-passportDo US Citizens need a passport to go to Canada?

Since the US and Canada share the longest land border in the world, typically it’s US citizens that are wondering whether they need a passport to go to Canada. And actually the rules are different depending on how you’re crossing the border, and they also have changed recently (in June 2009)

By Air

If you’re traveling to Canada by air, US Citizens can enter Canada with either their passport or a NEXUS card, if you have one. Note that this does include children as well

By Land

If you enter Canada by land (as I did twice last month), you can show a passport, a NEXUS card, or a FAST card (FAST cards are typically used for commercial transport)

If you have an Enhanced Driver’s License (which is a special kind of driver’s license available only in Michigan, New York, Vermont and Washington), you can also use that to cross.

Another option for going to Canada (and back) by land or by sea is the passport card, which is somewhat of a cross between a driver’s license and a passport and is cheaper than getting a full passport.  Personally, unless I knew I wasn’t going to go anywhere but Canada or Mexico, I’d opt for the full passport.

Do you need a passport to go to Canada? Travel expert Dan Miller walks you through the scenarios for crossing the Canadian border

By sea

If you’re a passenger on a closed-loop course (which is defined as a cruise that begins and ends at the same US port), you can bring a passport to go to Canada, but you don’t HAVE to – just birth certificate and driver’s license is sufficient.

Children crossing the border by land or sea

Children 15 or younger, crossing into Canada by land or by sea, do NOT need a passport to go to Canada. They may present their proof of citizenship without a photo ID. If your child does not have a passport, you can bring a birth certificate (Per the CBP, copies of the birth certificate are okay) or equivalent document.

Also, children 16-18 that are traveling with an organized group (like a sports team, or a church or school group) also do not need a passport to go to Canada.

Note that if a child is traveling without both parents, it is recommended that they bring a Child Travel consent form

Interestingly, according to the Canada Border Services Agency, if you’re a US citizen, you don’t need a passport to go to Canada, but you DO need one to enter back into the United States! So the Canadian border patrol officer will check to make sure that you can properly re-enter the United States before admitting you into Canada


Do citizens of other countries need a passport to go to Canada

If you are not a US or Canadian citizen, you DO need a passport to enter Canada. There are 2 exceptions:

Residents of Greenland (Denmark) and St. Pierre and Miquelon (French overseas collectivity off the eastern coast of Canada) may present their proof of identity and citizenship when entering Canada directly from those territories. If they are entering from any other place, then they do need a passport to go to Canada

US Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs) may use their US Permanent Resident Card to go to Canada

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