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Do You Need a Passport to Go to Canada?

Do You Need a Passport to Go to Canada

Are you planning to travel to Canada?

Well, before packing your bags, make sure you have the right travel documents. 

A passport is the most widely accepted travel document for entering Canada, but depending on your nationality, there may be other requirements you need to fulfill. But, Do you Need a Passport to Go to Canada?

Well, I’ve decided to take an in-depth look at the Canadian passport requirements for citizens and non-citizens, visa requirements, travel requirements for children, passport alternatives, and special circumstances for entering Canada without a passport.

Let’s get straight to it to ensure a smooth entry into the Great White North.

Passport Requirements for Entering Canada

Canadian Passport Requirements for Citizens

Canadian citizens must have a valid Canadian passport to enter Canada by air, land, or sea. Having a valid Canadian passport makes it easier for you to re-enter Canada and prove your Canadian citizenship if needed.

If you are a dual citizen, you must present a valid Canadian passport to enter Canada. If you do not have a Canadian passport, you may be denied boarding for your flight to Canada or be delayed at the border.

Canadian Passport Requirements for Citizens

Canadian Passport Requirements for Non-Citizens

Non-Canadian citizens must present a valid passport or other approved travel document to enter Canada. The passport must be valid for the entire length of your stay in Canada, and must not expire within six months of your planned departure date. It is important to note that a visa or an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) may also be required, depending on your country of origin.

Visa Requirements for Foreign Nationals

You could need a visa to enter Canada, depending on your country of origin. A visa is a document that is issued by a Canadian visa office abroad and allows you to enter Canada for a specified period of time. The type of visa that you need will depend on the purpose of your visit, such as tourism, work, or study. 

Traveling with Children: Passport and Other Documentation Requirements

If you are traveling with children, it is important to ensure that you have the appropriate documentation. Children under the age of 18 who are traveling alone or with only one parent may be required to provide additional documentation. This could include a letter of authorization or a court order. It is also recommended that children have their own passports, even if they are traveling with a parent who has a passport.

If you are a parent or guardian traveling with a child who has a different last name than yours, it is recommended that you carry a copy of the child’s birth certificate or a letter of authorization from the child’s other parent or legal guardian. This can help to avoid any potential issues at the border.

Passport Alternatives for Entering Canada

While a passport is the most commonly accepted travel document for entering Canada, there are other alternatives that may be accepted in certain circumstances. These include…


The NEXUS card is a trusted traveler program that is jointly operated by Canada and the United States. It allows for expedited processing at border crossings for pre-approved, low-risk travelers. To be eligible for a NEXUS card, you must undergo a background check, an interview, and pay a fee. The NEXUS card is valid for five years and can be used at designated airports, land crossings, and marine ports of entry.


Enhanced Driver’s License

Some Canadian provinces and U.S. states offer an enhanced driver’s license, which can be used as a travel document for entering Canada by land or sea. An enhanced driver’s license includes additional security features, such as RFID technology, and can be used in place of a passport. However, it is important to know that not all provinces and states offer enhanced driver’s licenses, and they are not accepted for air travel.


The Free and Secure Trade (FAST) card is a trusted traveler program that is designed for commercial drivers who frequently cross the Canada-U.S. border. The FAST card allows for expedited processing at designated border crossings and is only available to pre-approved, low-risk commercial drivers. The card is valid for five years and can be used at designated land ports of entry.


In addition to the standard NEXUS card, there is also a NEXUS Air program that is designed for travelers who frequently fly between Canada and the United States. The NEXUS Air program allows for expedited processing at designated airports and is only available to pre-approved, low-risk travelers. NEXUS Air is currently available at over 20 major airports in Canada and the United States.

Special Circumstances for Entering Canada without a Passport

While a passport is generally required for entry into Canada, there are some special circumstances where travelers may be able to enter without a passport. These include…

Native Americans

Native Americans who are members of a tribe that has historically lived on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border may be eligible to enter Canada without a passport under the Jay Treaty of 1794. Under the treaty, Native Americans are allowed to cross the border for the purpose of trade, employment, or education. 

To enter Canada under the Jay Treaty, Native Americans must provide proof of tribal membership and a government-issued photo ID.

Refugees and Asylum Seekers

Refugees and asylum seekers who do not have a passport may be able to enter Canada with a special travel document issued by the Canadian government. This is called a Refugee Travel Document (RTD) and is issued to refugees and protected persons in Canada who are not able to get a passport from their home country. The RTD allows them to travel internationally and return to Canada.

Applying for a Passport

If you’re planning a trip to Canada, it’s important to make sure you have the right travel documents. As mentioned, a passport is the most common and easiest form of identification to allow you to enter. If you do not have a passport, let’s have a look at the process for applying for one.

Step 1: Gather Required Documents

You’ll need to gather a few documents to prove your identity and citizenship before you can apply for a passport. These include your birth certificate, a driver’s license, or other state-issued identification.

Step 2: Submit Your Application

Once you have all of your documents in order, you can submit your application. This can be done in person at a Passport Acceptance Facility, which can be found at most post offices, courthouses, and libraries. Alternatively, you can submit your application by mail.

Step 3: Wait for the Processing

After you submit your application, you’ll need to wait for it to be processed. Although processing periods can change, you can typically expect to receive your passport in the mail in four to six weeks. If you need your passport sooner, you can pay an additional fee for expedited processing.

Step 4: Check Your Passport

Once you receive your passport, it’s important to check it carefully to make sure all of the information is correct. Check your name, date of birth, and expiration date to make sure everything is accurate. If there are any errors, contact the passport agency immediately to have them corrected.

Renewing Your Passport

If you already have a passport, but it’s expired or will expire soon, you’ll need to renew it before your trip to Canada. The process for renewing a passport is similar to applying for a new one, but you usually do not need to provide as many documents. You can renew it by mail or in person at a Passport Acceptance Facility.

Passport Fees

There are fees associated with applying for or renewing a passport. These vary depending on whether you’re applying for a new passport or renewing an existing one, and whether you’re getting a standard or expedited processing. Currently, the fees for a standard adult passport application are $145 for a first-time application and $110 for a renewal.

Want to Know more about Passports?

Well, if you need a new or replacement passport, you’re going to need a photo that complies with the regulations. So, it’s well worth knowing Does Walmart Take Passport PhotosDoes Target Take Passport PhotosDoes Costco Take Passport Photos, as well as Does Walgreens Do Passport Photos, or Does CVS Take Passport Photos?

Or maybe you’re also considering other slightly warmer destinations than Canada? If so, find out Do You Need a Passport to go to HawaiiDo You Need A Passport To Goi To St. ThomasDo You need a Passport to go to the Dominican RepublicDo you need a Passport to Go to Cabo, or Do You Need A Passport To Go To The US Virgin Islands

You may also be interested in knowing What happens if your Passport Photo gets RejectedDo You Need a Passport before making Flight Reservations, or Do Babies Need Passports in 2023?

Final Thoughts

If you’re thinking about visiting Canada, be sure you have the right travel documents, either a passport or passport substitute. This will guarantee a trouble-free and delightful holiday in amazing Canada.

Safe travels, and enjoy Canada!

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