|Traveling by Car
- U.S. citizens do not need to obtain an
international driver's license to drive in Canada. Your valid U.S. license
is good for trips in Canada as long as you are a visitor and are actually
resident in the U.S. Should you wish information on provincial traffic
laws, please contact the Department of Transport, Motor Vehicle Division
of the particular province you wish to visit. You may also contact the
American Automobile Association (AAA) or Canadian Automobile Association (CAA)
if you are a member. AAA members are covered by the CAA while traveling in
Canada. Be sure to carry proof of your car insurance.
Visas and travel documents
- Visas are not required for U.S. tourists
entering Canada from the U.S. for stays up to 180 days. You will, however,
need (1) proof of your U.S. citizenship such as (a) your U.S. passport or
(b) original or certified copy of your birth certificate and photo
identification. (For information on obtaining a U.S. passport, check with
the nearest passport agency located at 13 locations throughout the U.S.)
If you are a naturalized citizen and do not have a passport, you should
travel with your naturalization certificate. A driver's license or Social
Security card is not valid proof of citizenship. All U.S. citizens
entering Canada from a third country must have a valid passport. Alien
permanent residents of the U.S. must present their Alien Registration
Card, commonly called the "Green Card." If you are a dual U.S./Canadian
citizen you should always present yourself as a Canadian citizen when
entering Canada. However, U.S. citizens should use their U.S. passports
when entering or leaving the United States.
Due to international concern over child
abduction, single parents, grandparents, or guardians traveling with
children often need proof of custody or notarized letters from the other
parent authorizing travel. (This is in addition to proof of citizenship as
explained above.) Any person under the age of 18 and traveling alone
should carry a letter from his/her parent or guardian authorizing the
trip. Travelers without such documentation may experience delays at the
port of entry.
For further information, including
information on student or business travel, visitors can contact the
Embassy of Canada at 501 Pennsylvania Ave, NW, Washington, DC 20001, (202)
682-1740 or the nearest Canadian consulate
- It is important to respect the laws of
Canada while you are a guest in their country.
- Firearms are strictly controlled and
generally are not permitted in Canada. While handguns are prohibited,
hunting rifles are allowed into Canada with advance permission. Anyone
wishing to take a hunting rifle into Canada can contact the nearest
Canadian consulate in advance for detailed information. In all cases,
travelers must declare any firearms in their possession to Canadian
authorities when entering Canada. If a traveler is denied permission to
take the firearm into Canada, in some cases there are facilities near the
border where firearms may be stored pending the traveler's return to the
United States. For example, in Alberta, the Wy Moberlie Company operates
such a facility at duty free shops on the U.S. side of the border. They
accept items for storage (including weapons) and either forward these
items to the traveler's home address in the United States or store them
until the traveler picks the items up upon returning to the United States.
Canadian law requires that officials confiscate weapons from individuals
crossing the border who deny having such weapons in their possession.
Confiscated firearms are virtually never returned and are destroyed. A new
firearms act slated to take effect in l998/l999 will include a license and
registration requirement through Canada Customs for all guns, including
hunting guns, before entering the country. Please check with your nearest
Canada Customs office for further information.
- Pepper spray, mace and similar defensive
weapons are prohibited under the Criminal Code of Canada. Travelers who
declare prohibited weapons are allowed to abandon them or export them
- Penalties for possession, use, and dealing
in illegal drugs are strict in Canada. Convicted offenders can expect jail
sentences and fines.
- Driving under the influence of alcohol is
a serious offense. Penalties are heavy, and any prior conviction (no
matter how long ago or how minor the infraction) is cause for exclusion
from Canada. A waiver of exclusion may be obtained from a Canadian
consulate in the United States, but several weeks are required. There is a
processing fee for the waiver.
Automobile Radar Detectors
- It is illegal to take automobile radar
detectors into the provinces of Qubec, 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.
- Section 19 of Canada's Immigration Act
prohibits the admission of people who pose a threat to public health,
safety, order, and national security. Prior to attempting a border
crossing, American citizens who have had a criminal conviction in the past
must contact the nearest Canadian embassy or consulate well in advance to
determine their admissibility as visitors into Canada. If found
inadmissible, an immigration officer will advise whether a waiver
(Minister's Permit) is possible.
- There are currently over 100 American
citizens incarcerated in Canadian prisons. An American citizen who is
arrested in Canada will be informed by the police of his/her right to
contact the American Embassy or one of the Consulates General. When
notified, a consular officer will contact the citizen by phone, and
subsequently make a personal visit. Collect calls will be accepted by the
U.S. Embassy or Consulates General if coming from a U.S. citizen for the
initial notification of arrest.
- U.S. consular officers can provide lists
of lawyers from each local area, but cannot recommend a particular lawyer
and can not act as a legal representative on behalf of the arrestee.
Arrestees are responsible for their own legal fees. Legal Aid programs are
administered by the provinces, and may not cover individuals who are
visitors to Canada. There are no public defenders as we know them in the
United States. As a foreigner, under Bill C44, work release programs, day
parole or bail may be difficult to obtain or refused in view of the flight
risk involved. Under the Treaty on the Execution of Penal Sentences signed
by the U.S. and Canada 1977, prisoners may request to be transferred to an
Customs Restrictions for U.S.
Visitors to Canada
Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco
- For short-term visitors to Canada, the
following restrictions apply per person:
- -- 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 must be 18 years of age or older to
import alcoholic beverages into the provinces of Alberta, Manitoba, and
Quebec. To import alcoholic beverages into all other provinces and
territories, you must be 19 years of age or older .
- -- 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars or
cigarillos, 400 grams of manufactured tobacco, and 400 tobacco sticks
- You must be 18 years of age or older to
import tobacco products into the provinces of Quebec, Manitoba,
Saskatchewan, Alberta, the Yukon Territory, and the Northwest Territories.
To import tobacco products into all other provinces, you must be 19 years
or older .
- Certain goods are restricted from entering
Canada. If you are considering importing meat or dairy products, weapons,
plants, vehicles, or exotic animals or products made from their skins or
feathers, please contact Canada Customs beforehand for guidance. (See
phone number listed below.)
- Obscene materials, hate propaganda, most
weapons and firearms, and goods harmful to the environment are prohibited
from entering Canada.
- If you have any questions about what you
can and cannot bring into Canada, call Canada Customs. Customs officers
are available from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday to answer
your questions. If you're calling in Canada, dial 1-800-461-9999 for the
Automated Customs Information System. Outside Canada, call (613) 993-0534.
- To bring your dog or cat into Canada, you
will have to present Canada Customs with a valid Rabies Certificate,
showing that your dog or cat has been vaccinated between 30 days and three
years ago. For information on importation of other pets, contact Canada
Customs at (613) 993-0534.
Where to find consular assistance
while in Canada
- The State Department maintains a number of
diplomatic offices in Canada. The U.S. Embassy is located in Ottawa, and
there are U.S. Consulates General in Calgary, Halifax, Montreal, Quebec,
Vancouver, and Toronto. At each of these offices, there are U.S. consular
officers available to help you with problems.
- These offices, in cooperation with the
Office of Overseas Citizens Services at the State Department in
Washington, D.C., provide a range of services to resolve problems during
your visit to Canada. The services include: