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Do Canadians need a passport or other travel document to enter the USA?

Region: Ontario Answer # 1031

Canadian citizens

Canadians citizens visiting the USA for pleasure may visit for up-to six months without a visa. If travelling for pleasure and entering by air they are only required to have a valid passport or NEXUS card to enter the USA.

If coming by land or sea, Canadian citizens are required to present a Canadian passport or one the following travel documents:

  • Enhanced Driver’s License / Enhanced Identification Card (see below – programs are being phased out)
  • NEXUS card
  • FAST card
  • SENTRI enrollment cards

Canadian passport

To apply for a Canadian passport, you must be 16 years of age or older. You must submit an application to Passport Canada (part of Citizenship and Immigration Canada) along with the following:

  • two identical passport photos taken within the last 12 months,
  • proof of citizenship,
  • proof of identity, and
  • the fee.

For more information on how to apply for a Canadian passport, visit Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.


Children aged 15 years and younger

Canadian citizens aged 15 years old and younger:

  • If travelling to the USA by air must have a Canadian passport or a valid NEXUS card.
  • If travelling to the USA by land or sea, in addition to a passport, other proof of citizenship is allowed, such as an original or copy of his or her birth certificate or a Canadian Citizenship Card.

Enhanced Driver’s License / Enhanced Identification Card

Enhanced Driver’s Licenses or Enhanced Identification Cards (known as EDLs) are documents that can be used instead of a passport for purposes of cross-border travel into the USA at land and water ports of entry.

The EDL program is in the process of being phased out in the following provinces where they were originally offered:

  • British Columbia – The program will be phased out over a five-year period, ending in September of 2025, when all current cards will have expired. Active licences and ID cards will remain valid through their expiry, and existing cards will not be renewed
  • Manitoba – The program will end in June 2022.
  • Ontario – The EDL program ended in June 2019, however, those with valid EDLs can continue using them until they expire.


NEXUS membership is available to any law-abiding citizen or permanent resident of the United States or Canada. The program allows pre-screened, low risk travellers to more easily enter the USA and Canada. Travellers interested in participating in NEXUS must complete the application through the Global Online Enrollment System Website (GOES).

Nexus card holders will be processed with little or no delay by USA and Canadian officials at:

  • designated highway lanes at high volume border crossing locations,
  • at a NEXUS kiosk at Canadian airports, and
  • at certain marine reporting locations in the Great Lakes and Seattle, Washington regions.


The Free and Secure Trade Program (FAST) is only available for commercial truck drivers. A FAST pass is available to Canadian and USA citizens with commercial driving licenses. A FAST membership card acts as proof of identity and citizenship when entering Canada in all highway lanes, including regular, non-dedicated lanes, as well as by water.


The Secure Electronic Network for Travelers Rapid Inspection (SENTRI) is a program that gives pre-screened, low-risk, pre-approved travellers expedited clearance through designated vehicle traffic lanes along the Southern land border ports (Mexican border). Applicants must undergo an extensive background and criminal record check, as well as an in-person interview.


Canadian permanent residents

Whether a permanent resident of Canada requires a visa to visit the USA depends on their country of citizenship and if they have the appropriate travel documents. The Visa Waiver Program (VWP), administered by the Department of Homeland Security, permits citizens of 38 countries to travel to the USA for business (limited activities) or as tourists for stays of up-to 90 days without a visa.

To be exempt from obtaining a visitor visa, the person must:

  • be a citizen of a country that is eligible for the Visa Waiver Program (VWP),
  • have a valid e-Passport, and
  • have a valid Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) approval prior to travel



Individuals with Canadian Refugee status (convention refugees and people in need of protection) wishing to travel to the USA are subject to the same requirements as Canadian permanent residents. However, in place of a passport, they must have a Refugee Travel Document. Applications for Refugee Travel Document are made to Passport Canada, and must include proof of status in Canada.


Native American Indians born in Canada

An Aboriginal person, who qualifies as a “Native American Indian born in Canada with at least 50% American Indian blood” does not require a visa and passport to enter the USA by land. Instead, they should have their tribal identity card to present to the CBP Officer. However, if travelling to the USA by air, they do require a passport.

A criminal record will prevent you from entering the USA or obtaining your USA immigration status. To erase your Canadian criminal record, call toll-free 1-888-808-3628 , or learn more at Pardon Partners. It’s easier than you think.


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