Who Needs and Doesn’t Need a Passport to go to Canada?

August 1, 2020

by Hillary Anne

hermes rivera ahHn48 zKWo unsplash 1200x700 - Who Needs and Doesn't Need a Passport to go to Canada?

If you found this article, one thing is for sure, you are planning to travel to Canada. And, you’re also wondering, whether you need a passport to go to Canada even if you’re just driving from Seattle to Vancouver.

 

Based on the 2019 year-end review, there was an increase of 3.8% of tourists coming from the U.S. To illustrate, this makes up two-thirds of the entire tourist arrival in Canada. This may be because Americans would like to enjoy a less crowded outdoor trail, a more affordable vacation budget, or a quick getaway by crossing the Canadian border. 

 

Whatever the reason may be, read on to find out if there is a Visa requirement for U.S. citizens or if you need a passport to go to Canada!

 

Who needs a passport to visit Canada?

Does an American Citizen need a Passport to visit Canada?

When it comes to international travel, all travelers are required to present proof of identity and all essential travel documents upon their arrival for custom checks. These documents could be your travel visa, identification cards, border crossing permit, and of course, your passport. A passport is considered a universally accepted identification for anyone who travels abroad. However, if you’re an American citizen or a U.S. Passport holder, you’re free to access the privilege of visa-free access to 185 countries, including Canada.

 

There is no Visa requirement for U.S. citizens, or an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA). Same with children below 16. However, if the minor is not your child, you need to secure a notarized Affidavit of Consent from the minor’s parents.

 

Does a U.S. Permanent Resident need a Passport to visit Canada?

Yes, but you no longer need to get a Visitor Visa. You just need to secure an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) before you go to Canada. Finally, when you travel to Canada, just present your Green Card along with the passport that you used in your eTA.

 

Here are the easy steps on how to apply for an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA):

1. Before you start, make sure that the applicant’s passport is on hand. You can only access the application in a limited time. Also, you cannot save and exit the application once you start too.

 

2. In the application, they will ask if you are applying for yourself, or someone else. Applying for someone else may mean:

– Your child
– A minor under your full legal custody
– An elderly
– A handicapped
– A member of a non-governmental or religious organization
– Another member of the Immigration Consultants Regulatory Council (ICCRC);
– Or, from the Canadian provincial or territorial law society
– A beneficiary or member of The Chambre des notaires du Quebec
– Your client as a Travel Agent.

 

3. Go to Canada’s eTA application page.

 

4. When keying the passport number, make sure to key in the numbers found at the top of the passport information page (the page with the photo, name, and birth date). Most of the passport numbers are only 8-10 characters and a combination of alphanumeric characters. Incorrect passport numbers may cause being denied to board the flight to Canada.

 

5. Pay CAD 7 or approximately USD 5 for the eTA.

 

6. Check the registered email for the confirmation of receipt from the Canadian Government. They will inform you that your application is being reviewed and they will give you further instructions within 72 hours.

 

7. After a few minutes, you may receive another email notifying that they approved your application. However, for some applicants, they may ask you to provide additional requirements.

 

8. When you receive an email on your eTA approval, don’t forget to double-check all the details for any error. No need to print them, just bring the passport you used in accomplishing the form when you travel to Canada.

 

a girl with a Canadian flag draped on her shoulder looking at the mountains

A photo by Andre Furtado from Pexels

 

Who doesn’t need a passport to go to Canada?

With the horror of terrorist attacks occurring everywhere in the world. The USA and Canada created joint programs that pre-approves the travelers’ entry to/from Canada, and commercial shipments to/from Canada. They sift through low-risk violators of any international security measure. In return, travelers experience fewer travel delays and expedite security screenings.

 

All travelers need a passport to go to Canada, but American citizens can be exempted from this. By becoming a NEXUS and/or FAST member, you can now enter Canada without a passport– which means less travel time and fewer security screenings!

 

American citizens who are NEXUS members may enjoy the benefit of not presenting their passport. Either through any Canadian airport or border crossing by land or sea. But if you are a FAST member, you are only required to show your passport if you travel to Canada through a Canadian airport.

 

On the other hand, U.S. Permanent Residents still need to present their Green card together with the other requirements such as a valid passport, and a proof of residence upon arrival in Canada. However, if you become a NEXUS and/or FAST member, you can travel to Canada with less hassle through expedite security screenings.

 

a bridge crossing the canadian border

A photo by Wojtek Witkowski from Unsplash

NEXUS

NEXUS is a program that speeds up the United States-Canada border crossing of travelers. Through becoming a member of this program, travelers may skip the queue through the use of designated self-service kiosks or special security lanes on certain U.S. and Canadian airports, speed up their border crossing with minimized immigration questionings, and use of NEXUS-only lanes at borders.

Who can apply for NEXUS?

U.S. Citizens and U.S. Permanent Residents who lived in the U.S. or Canada for a minimum of three years from the day of application are eligible to apply for NEXUS. But you may be exempted from the three-year residency requirement:

 

– If you are serving the American armed forces in a foreign country;
– A family member of someone serving the American or Canadian armed forces in a foreign country;
– Or, a family member of someone serving at an American or Canadian diplomatic mission or consular post in a foreign country.

 

How to apply for NEXUS?

For American Citizens:

Here are the steps on you can travel to Canada from the U.S. without a Passport and just with your NEXUS Card:

 

1. Secure either: a valid Passport, Birth Certificate, U.S. Citizenship certificate, or a Certificate of Naturalization, or a Border Crossing Card.

 

2. Provide either: a valid driver’s license, another provincial identification card, another federal identification card, or a current bill, invoice, or bank statements with your current address.

 

3. Apply online through Trusted Travelers Programs (TTP). There will be 5 programs to choose from, choose “NEXUS” (the one in the middle) and click “Get Started”. Create an account and proceed with the application. If you already have an account, you may skip this part and continue signing in.

 

4. After the application, pay the non-refundable fee of USD 50 for a 5-year membership through a valid credit card. Children below 18 are free.

 

5. Then, they will send you an invitation for an interview through your Trusted Travelers Program (TTP) account.

 

6. A CBSA and/or US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer will interview you, and they will verify the information that you stated in your application, review your original documents such as proof of citizenship, residency, work permits, and Visas, and they will get your biometrics.

 

7. If they accept you to the NEXUS program, the officer will explain all the information about the NEXUS membership. Also, they will take a photo of you for your card and your irises that will verify your identity in self-serve kiosks.

 

For U.S. Permanent Residents:

U.S. Permanent Residents may follow the same steps in applying for the NEXUS Program. However, you only need your valid Permanent Resident Card or Green Card to apply as proof of identity.

 

When you are traveling to and from Canada, the officer may require you to present your passport and proof of residence upon arrival at the border. This will be an additional requirement for your Green Card and the eTA.

 

For children under 18 who would like to apply for NEXUS, even if their parents or legal guardians are not members of NEXUS they are still eligible to apply. If both of the child’s parents have legal custody over him or her, and only one parent or legal guardian is present, the absent parent or legal guardian should write a Letter of Consent. If the parents or legal guardians have a custody agreement, they require a Custody Agreement that allows the child to leave for Canada.

FAST

The Free and Secure Trade (FAST) is another program that was established after the 9/11 terrorist attack. This program aims to avoid a potential breach of international safety measures by conducting background checks on companies, drivers, and carriers. In return, FAST members will enjoy expedited cross-border commercial shipments through being subject to fewer delays, and exclusive FAST members-only lanes and booths.

 

To become part of the FAST program, it is mandatory for the suppliers, drivers, and importers to secure a certification under the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) program.

 

How to apply for FAST?

For American Citizens:

Here are the steps on how to travel to Canada from the U.S. through border-crossing by land or sea, without a Passport and just with your FAST Card:

 

1. Identify what kind of membership you are applying for. If you are applying as a carrier or importer, there is no FAST application for you. You just need to become a member of Partners in Protection (PIP), or Customs Self Assessment (CSA), and you’re already a FAST member. But, if you are applying as a driver, you may continue with the following steps.

 

2. Before starting your application make sure you have proof of citizenship. This may be a valid passport, birth certificate, Canadian citizenship certificate (with photo) or card, or a Certificate of Indian Status.

 

3. Moreover, you need proof of the current place of residence. This may be a valid driver’s license, other provincial identification cards, or other federal identification cards.

 

4. Apply online through Trusted Travelers Programs (TTP). There will be 5 programs to choose from, choose “FAST” (the one the far right-hand corner) and click “Get Started”. Create an account and proceed with the application. If you already have an account, you may skip this part and continue signing in.

 

5. After the application, pay the non-refundable fee of USD 50 for a 5-year membership through a valid credit card.
Then, they will invite you for an interview through your Trusted Travelers Program (TTP) account. You need to schedule and attend your appointment at your nearest Enrollment Center.

 

6. If your application gets approved, they will give you a 5-year membership.

 

For U.S. Permanent Residents:

U.S. Permanent Residents may follow the same steps in applying for the FAST Program, along with your valid Permanent Resident Card when applying for the program.

 

When you are traveling to and from Canada, the officer may require you to present your passport and proof of residence. This will be an additional requirement aside from your Green Card and the eTA.

To wrap it up:

Everyone needs a passport to go to Canada, but for U.S. Citizens who are members of either NEXUS and FAST program, do not need a passport to go to Canada.

 

 

NEXUS Member

FAST Member

American Citizens

You don’t need to present a passport.

You don’t need to present a passport if you are only traveling by land or sea.

U.S. Permanent Resident

You need a passport, Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA), your Green card, and proof of residence.

You need a passport, Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA), your Green card, and proof of residence.

 

Now that you already know if you need or don’t need a passport to go to Canada, you are now ready to plan your visit to Canada. You can read our various travel guides for Canada to help you decide on the best time to travel to Canada and the tourist destinations you can visit!