Canadian border regulations, guidelines and tips -

Nothing can turn a trip south faster than a bad experience entering or leaving a country. Although Canada's border with the United States is unguarded, rules and regulations remain strict. This includes travelers from outside the U.S.

For more information, check out the Canada’s Border Services Agency website.

Passport regulations

Whether flying, driving or coming by boat, U.S. visitors need a birth certificate and driver's license or official government photo ID to enter Canada from the U.S. or any other country. A passport, although recommended, is not required. Other countries no requiring a passport to enter Canada include the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Mexico, Japan and the Republic of Korea. All other international visitors entering Canada need a valid passport.

American citizens entering Canada from a third country must be prepared to show a valid passport. Permanent alien residents of the U.S. must also present their Alien Registration Card (or Green Card). U.S. visitors returning home should note that a valid U.S. passport is required to cross back into America.

Alcohol and tobacco

Visitors entering and leaving Canada can bring with them only one of the following:
a) 1 carton of cigarettes (200 cigarettes); 50 cigars or cigarillos; 200 grams of manufactured tobacco; or 200 tobacco sticks.
b) 40oz (1.14L) of hard alcohol; 24 x 355ml beers; 2 bottles of wine (1.5L); a total of 1.14 L of win and hard liquor.

Exceeding these limits will cost travelers duty and tax, which can be quite expensive (about 50-100% of the price). You must be legal drinking age in the province or territory that you are entering. Manitoba, Quebec and Alberta have a legal drinking age of 18 years compared to 19 in the rest of Canada.

General tips

Remember, it is the responsibility of the traveler to declare what they have and the job of the customs agent to deal with it. Follow these tips to ensure a quick and painless customs experience.
a) Visitors should declare all of their possessions, including luggage, alcohol and tobacco, pets and any wood and vegetation purchases.
b) Bring sufficient ID: passports, drive license or other government photo ID, birth certificates and green card
c) Be prepared to answer questions such as "How long will you be in the country", "Reason for visiting", "How long you are staying".
d) Have your ID and any other papers (car registration if crossing by car) in hand, ready to be presented. The more prepared you are, the quicker the process will be.

Traveling with children

Parents must present the birth certificate or passport of their children. Children traveling with adults that are not their parents need a note with the name and contact information from their legal guardians giving permission for the child to leave the country.


The general rule of thumb when traveling to any country is to leave any weapon, including handguns, pepper spray and mace at home. Crossing into Canada with a gun is restricted and can be punishable by law.
Exceptions to this rule do apply. Visitors are allowed to bring in non-restricted firearms like a hunting rifle or shotgun for in-season hunting, competition purposes, in-transit movement or as protection from wildlife in remote areas.


Man's best friend won't get any special treatment at the Canadian border. All animals are subject to veterinary inspection on arrival in Canada and can refused entry if signs of disease are found. Pet owners entering Canada through the U.S. must have a certificate issued by a licensed American of Canadian veterinary that clearly identifies the animal and also states that it has been vaccinated against rabies in the last 36 months. Seeing-eye dogs do not face any restrictions. International visitors and anyone else looking for more information should visit the Canadian Food Inspection Agency website.

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