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Do Canadians need a visa to visit the USA?

Region: Ontario Answer # 1030

Canadian citizens, short–term visitor – Visa Not required

Canadian citizens travelling by air to the USA for purposes of pleasure, 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
  • NEXUS Card
  • SENTRI Enrollment Card

With any of these accepted travel documents, Canadian citizens may visit the USA for up-to six months without a visa.

Longer-stay, and other circumstances – Visa required

Canadian citizens do require a visa to enter the USA if they are going to visit for longer than six months, or if their visit is for reasons other than pleasure, such as to:

  • engage in business
  • work
  • marry a USA Citizen
  • invest in the USA
  • study in the USA

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 certain countries to travel to the USA for business 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.

For more information, visit the US Department of State website.

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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