Entry into Canada

Passports and Visas

International Visitors to Canada
International visitors to Canada (not US citizens or US permanent residents) must carry a valid passport and, if required, a visa. Citizens from the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Australia and some other countries do not require a visa to enter Canada. Visit the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website for a complete list of countries whose citizens require visas to enter Canada.

All other visitors should contact their Canadian embassy or consulate to learn what documents are required. Contact information for Canadian embassies around the world can be found at the Foreign Affairs Canada website.

Visitors are advised that if they are travelling through a third country, they may also need visas or other documents for that country.

United States Visitors to Canada

Effective January 23, 2007, the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) requires everyone entering or re-entering the US by air to show a passport, or a NEXUS card at a NEXUS kiosk at designated airports.

On June 1, 2009, the US government will implement the land and sea phase of WHTI. The rules require that most travellers entering the United States at sea or land ports-of-entry have a passport, passport card or other travel documents as approved by the Department of Homeland Security.

WHTI-Compliant Documents: 

  • Passport
  • US passport card: Only valid for re-entry into the United States at land border crossings and sea ports-of-entry from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean region and Bermuda.
  • Trusted traveller cards (NEXUS, SENTRI or FAST)
  • State-issued enhanced driver's license
  • Enhanced tribal card (when available)
  • US military identification with military travel orders
  • Merchant mariner document when travelling on official maritime business
  • Native American tribal photo identification card
  • Form I-872 American Indian card

For further information, please visit travel.state.gov.

Requirements for Children Entering Canada
If you are travelling with children, you must carry identification, such as a birth certificate, proof of citizenship or student visa for each child under 18 years old. Divorced parents who share custody of their children should carry copies of the legal custody documents. Adults who are not parents or guardians must have written permission from the parents or guardians to accompany the children. When travelling with a group of vehicles, parents or guardians should travel in the same vehicle as the children for border crossing.

Customs officers are often looking for missing children and may ask questions about the children travelling with you.

Immunizations and Vaccinations
No special immunizations or vaccinations are required to visit Canada. If you're travelling with children, it's always a good idea to ensure they are up-to-date on routine childhood immunizations before international travel. Contact a qualified health professional in your area for more advice. For current travel health information, visit the Public Health Agency of Canada website.

Customs and Duty Free

Prohibited and Restricted Items by Canada Customs
To learn more about Canadian customs regulations, visit the Canada Border Services Agency website.

Many agricultural items are restricted or prohibited entry to Canada. Canadian law requires that you declare all agricultural products you bring into Canada to customs officers when you arrive, whether by land, sea or air. Permission is required to import plants to Canada, with the exception of houseplants from the United States. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency provides more information.

Handguns and weapons, such as mace and pepper spray, are prohibited from being brought into Canada. Additionally, some fruits, vegetables, eggs, meats, dairy products and plants from other countries cannot be brought into Canada. For more information, please consult the Canada Border Services Agency website.

Gifts valued at $60 or less each may be brought into Canada duty-free and tax-free. If you bring in gifts worth more than $60, they will be subject to duty on the excess amount. Alcoholic beverages, tobacco products and advertising materials do not qualify as gifts.

Alcohol and Tobacco Products
You can bring in limited quantities of alcohol if you meet the minimum age requirements of the province or territory you enter Canada (see below). These items must accompany you on your arrival.

Minimum ages for the importation of alcoholic beverages are 18 for Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec and 19 for Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador.

You can import only one of the following amounts of alcohol free of duty and taxes: 1.5 l of wine; 1.14 l of liquor; a total of 1.14 l of wine and liquor; or 24 x 355 ml cans or bottles (a maximum of 8.5 l) of beer or ale.

You are allowed to bring into Canada duty free: 200 cigarettes; 50 cigars or cigarillos; 200 g of manufactured tobacco; or 200 tobacco sticks.

For more information on bringing in alcohol and tobacco to Canada, please visit the Canada Border Services Agency website.

Duty-Free Limits for International (not US residents) Visitors Returning Home
International visitors outside the US should consult with customs officials in their home countries to determine their duty-free limits.

Duty-Free Limits for US Visitors Returning Home
American residents returning to the US after 48 hours can take back $800 US worth of merchandise duty-free, every 30 days. This may include 1 l of alcohol (provided the resident is 21 years or over), 200 cigarettes, or 100 cigars, not of Cuban origin. If you are travelling as a family, you may combine your personal exemptions for visits over 48 hours.

If your stay is less than 48 hours, or if the $800 US allowance, or part of it, has been used within the previous 30 days, an exemption of $200 US is allowed, including 150 ml of alcohol, 150 ml of perfume and no more than 50 cigarettes, or 10 cigars, not of Cuban origin.

If you plan to bring back articles as part of an exemption, they must be for personal or household use. These articles must be carried with you and declared. Duty charged varies according to the country the article was made in and the type of article. No prohibited or restricted items are permitted across the border.

For more information on US border-crossing and duty requirements and limits, please visit the U.S. Customs website.

Customs Offices
You can locate the nearest customs office by visiting the Canada Border Services Agency website, or by calling the Border Information Service (BIS). Call toll free in Canada: 1.800.461.9999. Outside Canada, call 204.983.3500 or 506.636.5064 (long-distance charges apply).

Airlines and Airports
Canada's major airline is Air Canada, providing air transportation nationally and internationally to more than 150 destinations. Other airlines also offer service to and within Canada.

Vancouver International Airport (YVR), located in Metro Vancouver, is the major international airport for British Columbia and a gateway for travellers from the Pacific Rim.

Direct flights connect the major cities of the globe with the larger Canadian airports, and frequent connecting flights will help you get to any Canadian destination efficiently.

Direct flights from most major US air terminals take you to many Canadian cities including Victoria, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Regina, Winnipeg, Thunder Bay, London, Toronto, Ottawa, Montréal, Québec City, Saint John, Halifax and Yarmouth.

Air Travel and Security
For a complete guide to Canada's airlines, please visit the Transport Canada.
Use the CATSA airport search tool to search for Canadian airports from coast to coast to coast.

To learn more about Canadian airport security guidelines, please visit the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) website.

Travellers with disabilities in Canada have more options and resources for exploring the country than ever before.

Visit Canada's Persons with Disabilities Online website for information on accessibility in Canada and to use the handy Accessible Travel and Tourism Information Finder.

For details about accessible transportation in Canada and links to resources for travellers with special needs, please visit the Access to Travel website.

Embassies and Consulates
Canada hosts numerous embassies, consulates and high commissions that provide assistance to foreign travellers. If you need help with documentation (for example, replacing a lost passport or extending a visa) or assistance dealing with legal, medical or emergency matters, contact your country's diplomatic mission or consular office in Canada.

  • International Travellers to Canada ' Contacting your Consulate in Canada
    To search a directory of consular offices across Canada by country of origin, visit the Foreign Affairs Canada website.
  • US Travellers to Canada ' Contacting a US Consulate in Canada
    American travellers can access information and services regarding passports, foreign births, customs requirements, taxes and social security by contacting a US consulate in Canada or by calling 1.800.529.4410 (toll free). To search for US embassies, consulates and diplomatic missions in Canada, visit the U.S. Department of State website.