Air travel is, undoubtedly, one of the most restricted forms of travel: security check-up of each passenger, identity verification by the plane crew and immigration officers–and don’t even get me started on the luggage limitations!
Given all of the above, we are used to the fact that travelling by plane comes with many procedures to follow and documents to show. Thus, having a passport with you seems like a natural and logical consequence. But is it, though? Can you fly within Canada without a passport?
Whether you can or cannot fly within Canada without a passport depends on your citizenship. And no, the Canadian government is not xenophobic in the matter of travel. Read our article to get behind the scenes of domestic air travel in Canada and verify whether you need to carry your passport with you or not.
Can I fly within Canada without a passport?
Regardless of who you are, what you do, and what citizenship you have, in order to board a plane in Canada you must present a valid form of government-issued identification. It can be a passport, but it can also be a different document—as long as the document:
- has your picture in it;
- indicates your date of birth;
- certifies your full name (matching the airline ticket);
- is still valid.
However, whether you will be allowed to board your plane to Toronto, Quebec, or Ottawa without a passport (using a different document) depends on what citizenship you bear. Simply said, the breakdown could be made into (1) having a Canadian identification and (2) not having a Canadian identification.
Flying domestically in Canada when you have a Canadian identification
If you bear Canadian citizenship, there is no need for you to carry a valid Canadian passport when boarding a domestic-flight plane. You can have the passport with you, but it may very well be any other form of government-issued identification document, such as a driver’s licence, firearms licence, or a health card. You can find a complete list of accepted documents here.
Moreover, if you are not a Canadian citizen but you live in Canada and have any form of Canadian identification, you can also board a domestic flight without a passport. In such cases, a permanent resident card or a driver’s licence is sufficient. In fact, you can identify yourself using the same set of documents as Canadian citizens (as long as they are issued by the Canadian government, not your national equivalents).
It is important to remember that the document you decide to identify yourself with should have your photograph, and it must be government-issued. If you lack an ID with a picture, you may also use documents without the image—but in that case, you must bring two (2) different documents (a double verification).
Flying in Canada when you do not have a Canadian identification
Not having a Canadian identification probably means you are a tourist visiting the country. If you are a citizen of the U.S. or a permanent resident of the U.S., in addition to your passport you can use your NEXUS card, Green Card, or Enhanced Driver’s License.
However, if you are coming from someplace other than the U.S., you will have to present your valid passport or travel document, including a valid visa. Your national driver’s licence, health card, or other documents will not be recognized as an acceptable form of identification, and you will be denied entry to the aeroplane.
Got the travel bug? Try reading these articles for more ideas:
Do children need a passport to fly nationally in Canada?
If you have a Canadian identification and you wish to travel with your children below the age of 18 (eighteen), they do not have to carry a passport with them. In fact, the document requirements for minors are noticeably less restrictive than for adults, and identification documents are not mandatory whatsoever.
Although there is no obligation, it is still recommended to equip your child with some ID—the good news is that it can be a non-government-issued document, such as a student card.
The regulations mentioned above apply only if you have a Canadian identification and you are the child’s guardian (you do not have to be a parent). If you are an international tourist visiting Canada with children, they must always have their passports or travel documents (visa) to board a domestic flight in Canada.
Passport Photo Online
A government-issued ID with your current photograph is the most convenient way to certify your identity when boarding a plane flying within Canada. If you lack one, or are in the process of obtaining it, we have a tip on how to take a photograph for your new official document.
Passport Photo Online is a professional photo-generating app for official Canadian documents, such as passports, driver’s licences, etc. With this program, you can upload a picture taken with your smartphone and receive a set of ID photos that are guaranteed to get accepted by the government.
Here’s how Passport Photo Online works:
Order your photographs with home delivery, and we will stamp them to confirm their authenticity (a requirement of the Government of Canada).
Get your Canadian passport photo in less than a minute with Passport Photo Online—save yourself the time and hassle needed to search, schedule and visit a photo studio. Instead, snap the picture from your own couch—taking as many tries as you wish—and get a passport photo that you feel proud of.
Fly in Canada without a passport: FAQ
Find answers to the frequently asked questions about domestic flights in Canada without a passport.
Do you need a passport to fly between provinces in Canada?
You do not need a passport to fly between provinces in Canada if you carry a Canadian identification document. In that case, a Canadian driver’s licence, firearms licence, or a health card is sufficient. For foreign nationals, a passport or other form of travel document will be required.
Do I need a passport for a domestic flight?
Suppose you use a Canadian photo identification document, such as a driver’s licence or a health card. In that case, you are not required to carry a passport when flying domestically in Canada. For international travellers, however, a passport or another form of travel documentation will be required.
Do you require a passport for domestic flights?
For Canadian citizens and Canadian permanent residents, a passport is not required for domestic flights within Canada provided they have a government-issued photo ID such as a driver’s licence, firearms licence, or similar. For travellers coming from outside of Canada, a valid form of travel document will be required, e.g., a passport.
Can you fly domestically in Canada without a passport: closing thoughts
Domestic air travel is not as restrictive as the international one; therefore, a passport is not required to board a plane flying between Canadian cities. However, this does not mean that no form of identification is required. On the contrary, each adult passenger is obliged to present a valid form of a government-issued ID before boarding a plane. The good news is that it can be any Canadian identification, such as a passport, driver’s licence, health card, or even an Old Age Security card.
For U.S. citizens, a NEXUS card or a Green Card can also be used, alternatively to passports.
If you are a citizen of a country other than Canada or the U.S., however, a valid form of a travel document will be needed, and this can be a passport or a visa.
Adam is an SEO & Digital PR writer with a child’s curiosity about the surrounding world. His superpower to dig out juicy facts got him citations in Forbes, Social Media Today, and 90+ other news outlets. Adam enjoys snapping pictures and won the national Huawei Next Image Award.