NOTICE: You will require a Passport or an Enhanced Driver's License for road travel back into the USA from Canada.
The Canada / US border is reputed to be the friendliest border in the world. Below are a few guidelines to help make your crossing as quick and easy as possible. With the current increase in security concerns it still generally takes less than 1/2 hour to cross the border. It is possible however to meet with longer border crossing delays, especially at peak crossing times. For current border crossing wait times, follow these links:
If you want to learn everything you can about crossing the border, visit the Canada Border Service Agency wesbite, but for quick facts we have collected the most common topics below.
Entering Canada with Children
Canada Customs and Immigration officers and United States Customs officers are members of (or affiliated with) Child Find Canada, Child Find of America, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children. You may be asked to produce birth certificates. Anyone traveling with children not their own may be required to show written permission from the child's parent(s) and proper identification (birth certificate).
Entering from Other Countries
Visitors from countries other than the US require a valid passport and in some cases a visitor's visa. Visas are issued by Canadian Immigration offices, embassies and consulates.
Individuals with criminal records wishing to enter Canada can apply for a waiver. This should be done a minimum of 6 - 12 months in advance of the intended visit and can take up to 6 months. It should be noted that DUI convictions are considered a criminal offense in Canada. Individuals with criminal records who do not have a waiver can be refused entry into Canada. Contact the nearest Port of Entry Canada Immigration office for more information. See contact information below.
Persons without waivers who have only DUI's or other less serious criminal convictions and have no criminal convictions in the past 10 years may be considered rehabilitated when they reach the border, but this is at the Canada immigration officer's discretion. A Remote Area Border Crossing Permit may assist the immigration officer in determining admissibility to Canada, since it requires normal background checks. This permit costs $30.00 CAD (approx. $22.00 USD).
Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco Products
For short-term visitors to Canada, the following restrictions apply per person:
- You may only import 1.14 liters (40 oz.) of liquor or wine, or 24 x 355ml (12 oz.) bottles or cans of beer or ale (8.5 liters)
- You may only import 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or cigarillos or 400 grams of manufactured tobacco or 400 tobacco sticks
You must be 19 years of age or older to import alcoholic beverages or tobacco products into Ontario.
You must declare all weapons and firearms when you enter Canada. Firearms are strictly controlled and many are not permitted in the country. Handguns and assault weapons are completely prohibited. U.S. law enforcement personnel and other persons legally carrying a weapon may check their firearms with Canada Customs and Immigration at their point of entry into Canada and the firearms will be returned to them when they leave Canada at the same border point or at another prearranged border point at their discretion.
Certain goods are restricted from entering Canada. If you are considering importing meat or dairy products, weapons, plants, vehicles, exotic animals (or products made from their skins or feathers), please contact Canada Customs beforehand for guidance.
While in Canada...
Double check that your insurance policy covers you during your time in Canada. Consider purchasing supplemental or other insurance if your own policy is not enough. You may wish to check with your health insurance company to ensure that your policy includes coverage for medical evacuations to the United States as well as escorts to the United States, hospitalization abroad, premature birth abroad, and other coverage for a beneficiary who is involved in an accident or illness outside the United States. Carry details of your insurance plan with you (and leave a copy with a relative or friend at home).
NOTICE: The U.S. Social Security Medicare Program does not provide for payment of hospital or medical services outside the United States.
Automobile Radar Detectors
It is illegal to take automobile radar detectors into the provinces of Quebec, Ontario, and Manitoba or into the Yukon and Northwest territories. The police will confiscate radar detectors, whether in use or not, and may impose fines up to $1000.
Returning to the United States...
To re-enter the United States, returning U.S. citizens need to show the Bureau of Citizenship and Naturalization Services or the Department of Homeland Security officer proof of identity and citizenship.
Articles acquired abroad and brought back with you into the United States are subject to duty and internal revenue tax. As a returning U.S. resident, you are allowed to bring back $400 worth of merchandise duty free. However, you must have been outside the U.S. for at least 48 hours, and you must not have used this exemption within the preceding 30-day period. The next $1,000 worth of items you bring back with you for personal use or gifts are dutiable at a flat 10 percent rate. Any dollar amount of an article or articles over $1000 is subject to variable duties.