Do You Need a Passport to Drive to Canada? [2023 Guide]

Do You Need a Passport to Cross the Canadian Border by Car?

A road trip to Canada.

The sound of that just screams adventure.


Before maple syrup-dipped pancakes become a reality, there’s one important question to answer: do you need a passport to drive to Canada?

Scroll on to find out.

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Do you need a passport to drive into Canada? Updated rules of entry

According to the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA), all international travelers above the age of 16 are required to show a valid passport or passport card (such as an enhanced driver’s license) when entering Canada at  any of its and crossings.

The only individuals exempted from this law are American citizens who hold NEXUS passes or US nationals who are FAST pass holders.

Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) is not required for land crossings at the Canadian border. Both US nationals and US permanent residents are exempt from ETA obligations at Canadian airports if entering Canada by car to fly out of a Canadian airport.  

When crossing the Canadian border by car, your passport must be valid for at least six (6) months.

However, the validity requirement is shorter if a person is traveling through Canada on their way to Europe. In this case, the US passport must be valid for at least three (3) months after the planned date of departure from the Schengen Area.

Do you want to learn more about passports? Check these out:

Driving to Canada with children

At present, minors under the age of 16 can enter Canada with only a US birth certificate. Canadian border agents, however, recommend all visitors, regardless of age, present a valid passport at all entry points into Canada. Furthermore, it is important that parents do not sign their children’s passports as this will invalidate the document. The CBSA instructs young travelers to leave the signature page blank if they are unable to properly sign their passports.

Additionally, parents who share custody of their children should carry copies of all custody documents when crossing the Canadian border. A signed and dated letter of consent from the second custodial parent expressing their knowledge of their child(ren)’s trip to Canada is also recommended.

The matter is a bit more complicated if you plan to drive to Canada with a minor who is not your child. This also applies to children for whom you do not have full legal guardianship.

In such a case, the CBSA recommends a letter of consent from the child’s parents or legal guardians. Said letter should include the parents’ or guardians’ full name, address, and phone number. More information on supplemental documents for minors who are not your children can be found here.

Passport Photo Online—amazing passport photos on your smartphone

If you do not have a valid passport, have a look at our US passport photo maker, to get a top-notch snap in seconds. Also, if your passport is set to expire in the next three to six months, Passport Photo Online can remove the hassle of getting the perfect photo for your passport renewal application.

With our convenient smartphone application, take as many snaps as you want, choose your favorite one, and we’ll take care of the rest. No need to worry about finding a white background or glare in your photos; our intelligent AI will take care of any issues to make your passport photo 100% compliant.

Need a passport photo for your child to travel to Canada? Please be aware that travelers ages 16 and up are required to present a passport, passport card, NEXUS or FAST card at all Canadian border crossings. Passport Photo Online allows your teenager to take as many photos as they like and choose their favorite one. 100% satisfaction guaranteed.

Who can’t cross the Canadian border by car

For most US citizens, a valid passport, passport card, NEXUS, or FAST pass is all that is required to enter Canada via one of its numerous land borders. However, for individuals possessing criminal records, border entry will be denied, especially in the case of multiple offenses.

The CBSA does not make any distinction between felonies or misdemeanors when considering multiple crimes, so even two loitering charges are grounds for refusal of entry at Canadian borders.

Single, minor offenses that are not indictable in Canada may not prevent entry in specific cases and will be evaluated by the border services officer at the time of crossing.   

Do you need a passport to go to Canada by car: FAQ

In the following section, you will find answers to some common questions regarding the necessity to provide a passport when entering Canada via land crossings.

Do you need a passport to go into Canada by?

US citizens do not require a passport to  go into Canada. However, they must present a valid passport card (such as an Enhanced Driver’s License), NEXUS card, or FAST pass/card to gain entry in its stead.

Do you need a passport to go to Niagara Falls, Canada?

Despite its proximity to the US, you still need a valid passport, passport card, NEXUS, or FAST card to go to Niagara Falls, Canada. US permanent residents must also provide a Green Card (or similar document that confirms their legal stay in the US) when crossing the border.

At what age do you need a passport to go to Canada?

US citizens ages 16 and up need a valid US passport to go to Canada via land crossing, sea, or air. Prior to reaching the age of 16, a US birth certificate can be used by young travelers entering Canada.

Do you need a passport to go to Canada by car—summary

Canadian border services officers recommend the use of a valid passport for identification and proof of citizenship when driving into Canada. It doesn’t matter which land crossing you use to enter Canada, US citizens, ages 16 and up, must present a valid passport, passport card, NEXUS, or FAST card to go to Canada by car.

To simplify the process, a valid passport should be your go-to choice to make the border crossing as smooth as possible. 

Minors, under the age of 16, can enter Canada with a US birth certificate and consent letter from all custodial parents and/or guardians. US citizens with criminal records may be able to enter Canada provided their offense was an isolated incident and minor in nature. 


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