Borders & Customs
Canada has one of the most advanced customs organizations in the world, and our borders and the processes we have in place to manage them are critical to our ability to provide Canadians and visitors to Canada with the security and opportunity they expect. Visitors entering Canada must clear Canada Customs border security upon entry.Entry into Canada
When you enter Canada, a Canadian Border Services Agency officer may ask to see your passport (and a valid visa, if one is necessary). If you are a citizen of the United States, you do not need a passport to enter Canada. However, you should carry proof of your citizenship, such as a birth certificate, certificate of citizenship or naturalization, as well as photo identification. If you are a permanent resident of Canada or the U.S, you should bring your Permanent Resident Card with you.
The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) requires U.S. citizens and nonimmigrant aliens from Canada, Bermuda, and Mexico departing from or entering the United States by air, land or sea ports-of-entry to have WHTI compliant documents. For more information on travel security, travel documents and border procedures, visit the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative website.
For more information on travel security and border procedures, visit the U.S. Department of State.
Meeting and Convention Attendees: You may be asked for proof that you are attending a meeting or convention and it may be useful to have a copy of the meeting agenda and/or registration on hand. This may also be useful when returning to the U.S. should a similar question be asked.
There is no requirement within the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act or Regulations making it mandatory for persons seeking entry for work or business purposes to provide a letter on company letterhead stating the purpose for their visit, duration of stay and a Canadian contact name, address and phone number. This can certainly facilitate the process, as this includes a lot of the information that a Border Services Officer would need to make an appropriate assessment on the application for work in Canada as to whether or not all requirements are met for entry, including whether or not a work permit is required.Bringing children into Canada
Children 15 years of age and under are now required to show proof of citizenship (a certified copy of their birth certificate is acceptable). They are not required to show photo ID. If you are travelling with children, you should carry identification for each child. Divorced parents who share custody of their children should carry copies of the legal custody documents. Adults who are not parents or guardians should have written permission from the parents or guardians to supervise the children. When travelling with a group of vehicles, parents or guardians should travel in the same vehicle as the children when arriving at the border. Customs officers are looking for missing children and may ask questions about the children who are travelling with you.Returning to the United States
Every 30 days, returning U.S. citizens are allowed to bring back $800 (retail value) in merchandise duty-free, provided they have been out of the U.S. for 48 hours. This amount can include:
- one carton of cigarettes
- 100 cigars (not Cuban)
- two kilograms of smoking tobacco
- one litre of liquor, provided the buyer is 21 years of age
If the length of the stay is less than 48 hours, $200 in merchandise may be taken back to the U.S. duty-free (including up to five ounces of alcohol and 50 cigarettes). The following items are not permitted into the U.S.:
- Cuban or Iranian products
- fruits and vegetables
- uncooked grains
Goods bought in Canada but manufactured in the U.S. are duty-free and not included in the basic exemption. Original handmade crafts and works of art are also exempt; however, a receipt of purchase may be required. For further information on U.S. customs regulations, please visit www.cbp.gov.