It’s one of the most frequently asked questions we get: “Do I Need a Passport to Go to Canada?” And the answer is yes, if you are a U.S. citizen then Canada passport requirements state that you do need a passport to go to Canada.
Canada Passport Requirements
Okay, now that the obvious answer is out of the way, let’s get into some details. First of all, the reason this question even gets asked is simple: Not long ago you didn’t need a passport to enter Canada if you were an American citizen, and so some confusion lingers about Canada passport requirements for U.S. travelers. So let’s lay out the basic requirements U.S. citizens have to meet before visiting Canada:
- Passport: Yes (or passport card or NEXUS card)
- Visa: No, for stays under 180 days
- Vaccinations: No
Since many people have passports, this is really all you need to know. That said, there are some additional options for returning to the U.S., per the State Department:
Entry into the United States: When traveling by air from Canada, U.S. citizens are required by U.S. law to present a U.S. passport book.
For entry into the United States via land and sea borders, U.S. citizens must present either a U.S. passport, passport card, NEXUS card, Enhanced Drivers License, or other Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI)-compliant document.
Visitors over the age of 16 must provide proof of citizenship and proof of identity, while minors under 16 must only prove their citizenship. These distinctions are mostly academic since a passport, passport card, or NEXUS card will work in both cases.
The simplest thing is to just bring your passport, since it’s the only document that works in every scenario. Even with a NEXUS card, you’ll need your passport to reenter the U.S.
At the risk of getting very granular, here are some additional non-paperwork requirements the Canadian government considers when admitting visitors:
- Be in good health,
- Have no criminal or immigration-related convictions,
- Convince an immigration officer that you have ties—such as a job, home, financial assets or family—that will take you back to your home country,
- Convince an immigration officer that you will leave Canada at the end of your visit, and
- Have enough money for your stay.
One note regarding minors, per the State Department: “If you plan to travel to Canada with a minor who is not your own child or for whom you do not have full legal custody, [Canadian border officials] may require you to present a notarized affidavit of consent from the minor’s parents.”
If you happen to be traveling with a pet, keep in mind that you will need various paperwork depending on the animal.