To travel to Canada by car, do you need a passport?

aipassportphoto.com / 2022-10-05

Can you drive to Canada without a passport? New rules for entry

The Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) requires all international travelers over 16 years old to present a valid passport (or a passport card, such as an enhanced driver's licence) to enter Canada at any of its or crossings.

Only Americans who have NEXUS passes and US citizens who have FAST passes are exempted.

For land crossings at Canada's border, an Electronic Travel Authorization is not required. If you are entering Canada by car, both U.S. citizens and U.S. residents will be exempted from ETA obligations.

Your passport must be valid for at most six (6) months when crossing the Canadian border via car.

If a person is travelling through Canada to reach Europe, however, the validity requirements are shorter. The validity requirement for a U.S. passport in this situation is three (3) months from the date of departure from the Schengen area.

Driving to Canada with children

Minors below 16 years old can only enter Canada with a U.S. Birth Certificate. Canadian border agents recommend that all Canadians, regardless of their age, have a valid passport. Parents should not sign their children's passports, as it will cause the document to be invalidated. If a young traveler is unable to sign their passports properly, the CBSA advises them to leave the signature page blank.

Parents who share custody should also have copies of any custody documents they need to cross the border into Canada with them. It is recommended that the second custodial parent sign and date a letter of consent confirming their knowledge about their child(ren's) trip to Canada.

If you are traveling to Canada with a minor, the matter becomes more complicated. This applies even to minors who do not have legal guardianship.

The CBSA recommends that the child's legal guardians or parents sign a letter consenting to the request. The letter should contain the full name, address, and telephone number of the guardians or parents. 

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Who can cross the Canadian border in a car?

A valid passport, card, NEXUS or FAST pass are all required for most U.S. citizens to enter Canada through one of its many land borders. Border entry may be denied for those with criminal records, particularly if they have been convicted of multiple offenses.

When considering multiple crimes, the CBSA doesn't make distinctions between felonies and misdemeanors. Therefore, even two charges of loitering can be grounds for refusing entry to Canada.

A single minor offense that is not indictable in Canada can not be used to prevent entry. This will be determined by the border service officer at the point of entry.

Do I need a passport to travel to Canada by car? FAQ

The following sections will answer some of your most common questions about the need to have a passport for entry to Canada via land crossings.

Is a passport required to enter Canada?

U.S. citizens do not require a passport to go into Canada. To gain entry, U.S. citizens must have a valid passport (such as an Enhanced Driver's License, NEXUS card or FAST pass/card).

What age do you need to have a passport in order to travel to Canada?

For U.S. citizens 16 years and older, a valid passport is required to travel to Canada by land, sea, or air. Young travelers can use a U.S. Birth Certificate to enter Canada before they reach 16 years old.

Are you required to have a passport in order to visit Niagara Falls, Canada?

To visit Niagara Falls, Canada, you will need a valid passport or passport card. U.S. permanent citizens must also present a Green Card or similar document to confirm their legal stay in America when crossing the border.

Summary: Do you need a passport in order to travel to Canada by car?

Canadian border service officers recommend that you have a valid passport to prove your citizenship and identify yourself when entering Canada. No matter what land crossing you use, U.S. citizens must have a valid passport, card, NEXUS or FAST card in order to travel to Canada by car.

A valid passport is your best choice for making the border crossing smoother.

Under 16-year-olds can enter Canada by presenting a U.S. Birth Certificate and a consent letter signed by all guardians and/or custodial parents. U.S. citizens who have a criminal record may be allowed to enter Canada, provided that the offense was minor and isolated.

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