US Passport for Travel to Canada?

Apr 10th, 2003, 05:05 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 26
US Passport for Travel to Canada?

Hi. I've gotten varying advice on this. I'll be travelling to Vancouver in one month. I just realized my US passport expired in February. It would take me 2-4 weeks to get a new one, unless I pay for expedited service. Maybe it's paranoia on my part, but I'd feel better having it with me when I travel. Anyone have any recent experience of travelling to Canada without their passport? People just say it's "easier" to have it with you. All advice appreciated. THANKS! Sue
smp916 is offline  
Apr 10th, 2003, 07:51 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Sue I cannot really answer your question about not having your passport because I have not traveled between the US and Canada since 9/11 without my passport. I will share with you my experiences in hopes they help you reach a decision.

Before 9/11 I took my passport along because I knew airport crossings both coming and going were much easier with it. Although legally I was not required to have my passport, presenting it sure precluded a lot of questions.

During my trip last summer I noticed a distinct change in attitude and procedures since 9/11 when entering the USA. We rented a car in Calgary and drove back into the USA to visit Glacier NP. At the highway crossing, I was asked for my birth certificate and a government-issued picture ID. Instead I handed the INS/customs official my passport. He looked at it and asked me more than a few questions before waving me on.

This quizzing and checking was a new procedure compared with pre 9/11 crossings. Usually I showed nothing except my appearance.

When returning home last summer from Calgary, the US official asked me staightout for my passport. I presented it to him and there were no more questions. The man behind me did not have a passport; he had a birth certificate and a driver's license. As a result, he was getting a thorough round of questions as I walked on toward my flight. I think that is what people mean when they say "Having your passport makes it easier."

So if you are entering and returning at an airport, my risk averse advice is have a passport. A new one is good for 10 years. If you prorate the cost over 10 years it will not seem quite as expensive. Think of it as an investment in future travel and peace of mind.

I, too, am interested in hearing advice from recent American visitors to Canada.
bob_brown is offline  
Apr 10th, 2003, 08:40 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
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Hello Smp916

Why don't you call the canadian consulate just to be sure. Or do a search for going through canadian customs. On the other side of the coin, my son goes fairly often to the US(drives a lot)only with his birth certificate although I still feel better about having my passport.
pattysuericia is offline  
Apr 11th, 2003, 04:53 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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You need a certified copy of your birth certificate and photo id or a valid passport to return to the US. Otherwise you will experience a major hasstle.
gocats2002 is offline  
Apr 11th, 2003, 05:21 AM
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As stated above, a passport is NOT required for travel to and from the United States into Canada. That being said, it is up to you if you want to have one or not. You MUST have the required photo ID and birth certificate however. Certified or orginal, not a photocopy. The questions they may or may not ask, the time taken to clear customs or return to the US is entirely up to the officials at the time. Does it make travel "easier" to have a passport, one would assume so. So I think its really up to you if you want to get another one. Many people travel without passports, actually the number of people carrying one is in the minority I believe, according to immigration officials. Happy travels, and enjoy your trip to Canada!
Sherry is offline  
Apr 11th, 2003, 05:41 AM
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Sorry, just wanted to clairfy one point. It may have sounded as if I was saying that having a passport doesnt make a difference in the amount of time you may spend being questioned. Thats not what I meant. Having a passport will "usually" allow you to get through immigration and customs quicker. I was saying that the questions and time will ALSO depend on the official you confront. Hopefully, its less because you are carrying a passport. I personally have travelled many times without one, and it has varied in the amount of time it takes to clear.
Sherry is offline  
Apr 11th, 2003, 07:07 PM
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I traveled by air with a colleague from Canada to the US and back recently (January). She has no passport and had no trouble. You need proof of citizenship (birth certificate) and government issued photo ID (drivers licence). Since I switched to using a passport I find entry to the US to be very slightly easier, perhaps a 1 minute saving because the US imigration officer has to type in numbers rather than be able to scan the passport.
Gavin is offline  
Apr 15th, 2003, 07:18 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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We traveled into Canada twice (2 different locations) last summer (July 2002) and never were asked for any ID other than our driver's licenses although we had brought our passports just in case. I think you'll be fine with just a driver's license-we didn't have our birth certificates either.
stragic is offline  
Apr 15th, 2003, 07:28 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Getting into Canada is no problem.
At highway crossings I have never shown a document of any type.
The problem come when entering or re-entering the USA. I would not try it with only a driver's license. That has no status at all. Anyone who can drive a car between two posts can get a US license.
bob_brown is offline  
Apr 16th, 2003, 07:01 PM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 223
This is redundant with other recent messages. But you do NOT need a US passport to enter Canada. Like the others said, you DO need a certified birth certificate and a picture ID. I just returned 2 weeks ago with no problems at all. On average, it takes no longer passing through inspection with these documents than does a passport. Security is tighter going and coming, but you'll be eyeballed more closely returning to the US than entering Canada. Have a great time.
waltd is offline  
Apr 19th, 2003, 12:36 PM
Join Date: Apr 2003
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We just returned from a car trip to Toronto from Wisconsin, two adults and two teens. We were fully prepared with birth certificates and photo IDs for everyone--and were not asked to present anything for anyone either going in to Canada or returning to the U.S. Apparently two middle aged adults and two teen-aged girls in a minivan do not fit the profile for people to be overly concerned about. For what it's worth, we entered/returned at Port Huron. Our wait for returning to the U.S. was three cars--but it was late morning on Good Friday so it wasn't a prime travel time (and there were very few trucks traveling so the truck line also was very light).
geekymom57 is offline  

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