UNITED STATES - Exercise normal security precautions
There is no nationwide advisory in effect for the United States (U.S.). Exercise normal security precautions.
The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The purpose of this Travel Advice is to provide up-to-date information to enable you to make well-informed decisions.
The possession of firearms and the frequency of violent crime are generally more prevalent than in Canada. Within large metropolitan areas, violent crime more commonly occurs in economically disadvantaged neighbourhoods, particularly from dusk to dawn. Verify official neighbourhood crime statistics before planning an outing.
Robbery and assault can also occur in wealthy residential or commercial districts. Exercise caution, particularly at night. Violent crimes, particularly assault, are often connected to alcohol and drug consumption. Remain alert and discreet while in entertainment areas.
Canadians have been the victims of crime such as break-ins, assaults and pickpocketing in the Miami area, sometimes during daylight hours. Theft occurs in the North Miami Beach area, at South Beach and at airports, particularly from trunks of parked cars. Be alert, as criminals use a variety of techniques to steal personal belongings.
Passport theft is on the rise. Ensure that your travel documents are secure at all times.
Driving to Mexico
Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada currently advises against non-essential travel to the Mexican side of the border region with the U.S., and does not recommend crossing the U.S.-Mexico border by car, due to continuously high levels of violence linked to organized crime in those areas. For more information on travel to Mexico, please consult our Travel Advice for Mexico.
It is the sole prerogative of each country or region to determine who is allowed to enter. Canadian consular officials cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet entry requirements. The following information on entry and exit requirements has been obtained from the authorities of the United States. However, these requirements are subject to change at any time. It is your responsibility to check with the Embassy of the United States of America or one of its consulates for up-to-date information.
Official (special and diplomatic) passport holders must consult the Official Travel page, as they may be subject to different entry requirements.
Canadians entering and leaving the U.S. by different modes of transportation must carry documentation appropriate to each mode of transportation.
Canadian citizens travelling by air to, through, or from the U.S. must present one of the following valid documents:
- A passport, which must be valid until the date of expected departure from the U.S.; or
- A NEXUS card when used at kiosks in participating airports.
This requirement applies to all Canadian citizens, regardless of age, including children.
Canadian citizens intending to fly to, through, or from the U.S. should apply for a passport, keep it up to date, and carry it with them when travelling.
The NEXUS program offers a simplified and expedited border clearance process to low-risk, pre-approved travellers.
There is also a US$5.50 border crossing fee when travelling to the U.S. by air. This fee is normally included in the ticket purchase price.
Land and water travel
Canadian citizens must present one of the following valid Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative-compliant documents when entering the U.S. by land or water:
-a passport, which must be valid until the date of expected departure; or
- a NEXUS card;
- a Free and Secure Trade (FAST) card;
-an enhanced driver’s licence (EDL) or enhanced identification card (EIC) from a province or territory where a U.S.-approved EDL/EIC program has been implemented; or
-a Secure Certificate of Indian Status.
Canadian citizens aged 15 and under require proof of citizenship, such as an original or a copy of a birth certificate, or an original Canadian citizenship card. Canadian citizens aged 18 and under who are travelling with a school or other organized group, under adult supervision with parental/guardian consent, may present proof of citizenship alone.
The most important formality on entering the U.S. is providing proof of your Canadian citizenship. Your Canadian passport is the best document to prove your Canadian citizenship and your right to return to Canada.
The U.S. Visa Waiver Program requires visitors from various countries to have machine readable passports to enter the U.S. Canadian citizens are exempt from this program.
Non-citizen permanent residents of Canada (and their children) as well as a list of other people require a non-immigrant visa to enter the U.S. Additional information is available from Passport Canada and from the Embassy of the United States of America in Ottawa.
Furthermore, travellers carrying electronic equipment (laptop computers, portable media players, digital cameras, etc.) when travelling by air or by land to the U.S. should be aware that such equipment may be subject to security checks by the U.S. border authorities.
Children and travel
Any adult travelling with children may be required to show evidence of parental/custodial and/or access rights, or to provide evidence that he or she has the consent of the parents, legal guardian, and/or the court to travel with the children. Children may be refused to enter or, in some cases, leave the U.S. without proper documentation such as a consent letter or a court order.
If there is a possibility of a custody dispute arising over your child while you are away, you should consult a Canadian lawyer before leaving.
Under U.S. law, foreign nationals do not have the same rights as American citizens. When attempting to enter the U.S. (border crossing or airport) and while a determination is being made by U.S. authorities on your admissibility, you could be held for an extended period of time. If you are deemed inadmissible, there may be delays before you are returned to your point of departure or country of nationality.
Providing additional information at borders
The requirements of U.S. authorities for identification upon entering the U.S. have become much stricter. Travellers entering the U.S. by air or by sea are required to provide additional information, such as their address while in the U.S., including Puerto Rico. They may also be asked for evidence of residential, employment or educational ties to Canada; proof that the trip is for a legitimate purpose and is of a reasonable length; and proof of financial support while in the country. All carriers (notably airlines, but also rail and bus services) have become much stricter about requiring proof of admissibility to the U.S., as a result of the heavy fines they face for carrying inadmissible passengers.
Non-U.S. citizens must provide biometrics—such as digital fingerprints and a photograph—upon entry into the U.S., according to the implementation of the U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology (U.S. VISIT) Program. Canadian citizens are exempt from this program, unless they require a waiver of ineligibility or if they must obtain an I-94 visa to document dates of entry/exit from the country. A complete list of exempt and non-exempt travellers is available from the Department of Homeland Security. However, there have been reports of random screenings of exempt Canadians occurring at border crossings and airports, even when the visiting Canadians were just transiting through the U.S. Canadians who feel that their information has been wrongfully collected can address the issue directly with the Department of Homeland Security.
More information on border security programs currently in force in the U.S. is available from the CBP.
Some Canadians may have U.S. as well as Canadian citizenship through birth in the U.S. or through naturalization or descent. Under the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, U.S. citizens are required to present a valid U.S. passport to enter or re-enter the U.S. by air. Although U.S. authorities do not formally require dual nationals to carry both a U.S. and a Canadian passport, carrying both documents as proof of citizenship may facilitate both entry into the U.S. and returning to Canada. For more information, consult the Dual Citizenship section of the website of the Embassy of the United States in Ottawa, as well as our publication entitled Dual Citizenship: What You Need to Know.
Registered Indian Status (Jay Treaty)
If you have registered Indian status in Canada, you may qualify for special U.S. immigration procedures, derived from the Jay Treaty of 1794, that enable you to live and work in the U.S. without undergoing the normal immigration process. The presentation of a valid Indian status card or certificate alone may not be sufficient to meet the entry requirements. U.S. law requires that applicants possess at least 50 percent North American Indian blood to meet the entitlement. Inspectors may therefore request additional proof of the requisite blood quantum, such as band records or birth certificates. More information is available from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and Indian and Northern Affairs Canada.
Canadian retirees seeking to winter in warmer climates will likely receive a maximum admission period of six months. Those who wish to stay longer may apply for an extension with the nearest office of USCIS once they are in the U.S., but before their authorized stay expires. They may be asked to demonstrate that they are only remaining temporarily in the U.S.
CBP preclearance facilities are available at eight Canadian airports: Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal-Trudeau and Halifax. This service provides clearance for entry into the U.S. for persons and their luggage at a Canadian preclearance airport instead of on arrival in the U.S. To allow sufficient time for the preclearance process, you should be at the U.S. customs and immigration desk at least two hours before your flight departure time.
When using U.S. preclearance facilities at a Canadian airport, you are obligated to meet U.S. entry requirements. You will be interviewed by a U.S. preclearance officer. It is an offence under Canada’s Preclearance Act to knowingly make a false or deceptive statement to a preclearance officer. American officials are authorized to inspect your luggage and can refuse you entry into the U.S. While you are in a preclearance area, you are subject to Canadian law, including the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Canadian Bill of Rights, the Canadian Human Rights Act, Canada’s Preclearance Act, and Canadian criminal law, including those laws governing drugs and guns. You may withdraw your request to enter the U.S. and may leave the preclearance area at any time unless a U.S. preclearance officer suspects on reasonable grounds that you have made a false or deceptive statement or obstructed an officer. The officer may then detain you for violations of Canadian law.
If you have a criminal record, no matter the severity or the date of the offence, you may be refused entry to the U.S. You may also experience problems when travelling through U.S. airport facilities. A pardon for an offence issued by Canadian authorities is not recognized under U.S. law for the purpose of entry into the U.S. If you have a criminal record, you should contact one of the USCIS ports of entry by telephone well in advance or contact the Embassy of the United States of America or one of its consulates. If you are ineligible to enter the U.S., you may apply for a waiver of ineligibility. This will involve completing Form I-192, "Advance Permission to Enter the U.S. as a Non-Immigrant." There is a fee and it may take several months to process your application. Waiver application forms are available from any port of entry to the U.S., any preclearance site in Canada, the Embassy of the United States of America, or one of its consulates in Canada. A list of designated ports of entry that accept filings of waiver applications as well as the application form are available from the CBP.
U.S. ports of entry are computerized and connected to a centralized database. Information is readily available on criminal convictions in both Canada and the U.S.. Even though you may have entered the U.S. without hindrance in the past, you could run into difficulty if your record shows a criminal conviction or a previous denial of entry. Attempting to gain entry without a waiver could result in several weeks of detention and a permanent bar from entering the United States.
If you are an American citizen that left the U.S. to avoid military service and have not since regularized your status, there might be an outstanding warrant for your arrest or you might be ineligible for U.S. entry. If in doubt, check with the nearest USCIS port of entry. If you need information about regularizing your status with the U.S. military, contact the Embassy of the United States of America.
The expedited removal procedure, part of comprehensive reforms intended to control illegal immigration, allows an immigration agent, with the concurrence of a supervisor, to bar non-citizens from the U.S. for five years if, in their judgment, the individuals presented false documentation or misrepresented themselves. Lying to a border official is a serious offence.
There is no formal appeal process under expedited removal, but if you believe the law has been misapplied in your case, you can request a supervisory review by writing to the USCIS district director responsible for the port of entry where the decision was made. Cases of possible misapplication should also be brought to the attention of the Consular Affairs Bureau of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada at 1-800-267-6788 or 613‑944‑6788 (in Ottawa), or to the attention of the nearest Canadian government office.
Boating in U.S. waters
Canadian boaters travelling frequently to the U.S. in pleasure craft smaller than five net tons, for visits of less than 72 hours within 25 miles of the shoreline along the border with Canada, can obtain a Canadian Border Boat Landing Permit (Form I-68) from USCIS, allowing them to report their arrival by phone to U.S. CPB. This permit is not mandatory, but boaters who choose not to obtain it must report for inspection by a Customs officer at a port of entry in person, every time they enter the U.S. Failure to do so may result in arrest, a fine or removal from the country.
Many Canadians enter the U.S. to join sea cruises to other countries. You must have a valid Canadian passport for such a trip. Some of the countries you may be visiting will not permit entry without a passport. A passport is also important to re-enter the U.S. at the end of the cruise. Ship authorities may retain your passport during the cruise, in accordance with their own administrative regulations and to facilitate clearance with U.S. Immigration. Passengers should obtain a receipt for their passport, and the passport should be returned at the end of the cruise.
Working in the U.S.
Canadians relocating for employment should contact the appropriate Canadian and U.S. agencies to ensure that they are fully informed regarding their entitlement to social benefits, including pension plans, in their new jurisdiction of employment, as well as to determine if they continue to be eligible to participate in pension schemes or to claim other social benefits in Canada.
Most Canadian business travellers may apply for admission at a U.S. port of entry without first obtaining a non-immigrant visa. However, travellers entering the U.S. in certain business-related categories are required to present specific documents to establish eligibility for admission. Please refer to the Embassy of the United States of America for detailed information.
Studying in the U.S.
Canadian students are no longer allowed to begin study in the U.S. without a valid Certificate of Eligibility (Form I-20). This document is issued by the U.S. school and sent directly to the applicant. Students must have their Form I-20 in their possession each time they enter the U.S. for presentation to CBP officers. They should also have documentary evidence of sufficient funds to cover travel, tuition and living expenses in the U.S. for at least the first year of schooling, such as a notarized bank statement or letter from a parent/guardian attesting to the funds.
If you have an unusual situation concerning entry into the U.S., you should obtain authoritative information from the U.S. authorities immediately before your visit. For more information, consult the Embassy of the United States of America or CBP.
American border officials collect a US$6 per person fee, payable only in U.S. dollars, to issue an Arrival-Departure Record (Form I-94). The fee does not apply to Canadian citizens and landed immigrants from member countries of the Commonwealth and Ireland who are entering the U.S. on temporary visits for business or pleasure, or to travellers arriving in the U.S. by air. More information and instructions are available from CBP.
U.S. immigration policy
For more information about changes in U.S. immigration policy, consult the USCIS.
The U.S. zero tolerance policy imposes severe penalties for the possession of even a small amount of an illegal drug.
Even prescription drugs and syringes used for legitimate medical purposes come under intense scrutiny. Carrying medicines in their original containers and carrying a duplicate of your original prescription, listing both the generic and trade names of the drug, is recommended. Never carry a package or luggage for someone else unless you have been able to verify the contents completely.
Personal medication may be subject to U.S. drug importation laws and regulations. In general, personal importation of a 90-day supply of medication is allowed, but only if the drug is not available in the U.S. Prescription drugs imported through the mail from Canada are carefully scrutinized. For further information, please consult the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
A serious violation of the law may lead to a jail sentence or, in some states, a death sentence. The jail sentence will be served in a local prison. Canada and the U.S. do, however, have a treaty that permits a Canadian imprisoned in the U.S. to request a transfer to Canada to complete the sentence in a Canadian prison. The transfer requires the agreement of both Canadian and American authorities. Canadian citizenship confers no immunity, special protection or rights to preferential treatment.
Imports and exports
A non-resident may bring merchandise worth up to US$200 free of duty for personal or household use into the U.S. On visits of 72 hours or more, you may carry an additional US$100 worth of merchandise free of duty as gifts for other people. Certain items are prohibited. More information is available from the U.S. CBP.
Residents of the U.S., including Canadian citizens, are subject to U.S. law regarding travel to Cuba. They are prohibited from spending money (in any currency) relating to Cuban travel unless they are licensed by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).
When examined at a port of entry, cats and dogs must show no signs of diseases communicable to humans. If there is evidence of poor animal health, an examination by a licensed veterinarian might be required, at the expense of the owner. The U.S. authorities may also require a health certificate. Vaccination against rabies is not required for cats. Dogs must be vaccinated against rabies at least 30 days before entry, except for puppies under three months of age. Other animals are also subject to controls or quarantine requirements. Additional information is available from the U.S. CBP and local authorities.
When you return to Canada, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency will require proof of vaccination against rabies for all cats and dogs over three months of age. For detailed information, contact the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
If you are entering the U.S. by personal automobile, you should check with your insurance agent to verify that your existing coverage is valid or sufficient for the areas you will be visiting and for the duration of your visit. If you are going to remain in a specific location in the U.S. for a considerable period of time, verify with the local authorities that your vehicle registration and driver’s licence will remain valid.
Many states have mandatory automobile insurance requirements, and many require motorists to carry appropriate proof of insurance. Each state’s motor vehicles department can give you more specific information. The American Automobile Association and the Canadian Automobile Association can provide detailed information to their members.
If you are in the U.S. and wish to drive to Mexico in your personal vehicle, you may need to purchase liability insurance as well as additional auto insurance. Contact your insurance agent and the local Mexican tourist office for further information. See our Travel Advice and Advisories for Mexico.
Never cross the border with a hitchhiker or as a hitchhiker. Though you may not be carrying anything illegal, the hitchhiker in your vehicle might be, and you could be implicated.
Be equally careful about who and what you carry in your vehicle. As the driver, you could be held responsible for the misdeeds of your passengers, even if committed without your knowledge or involvement.
The currency is the U.S. dollar (USD). Canadian currency, traveller’s cheques in Canadian dollars, and personal cheques drawn on Canadian banks are not widely accepted or easily negotiable in the U.S. All major credit cards are accepted throughout the U.S.
There are banking machines that will accept Canadian bank cards, but these may be limited depending on your account access. Despite these difficulties, do not carry large amounts of cash. Non-U.S. residents generally cannot negotiate monetary bank instruments (international bank drafts, money orders, etc.) without having a U.S. bank account.
There is no limit to the amount of money that you may legally take into or out of the U.S.. However, if you carry more than US$10,000 in monetary instruments (such as U.S. or foreign coin, currency, traveller’s cheques, money orders, stocks or bonds) into or out of the U.S., or if you receive more than that amount while in the U.S., you must file a report (Customs Form 4790) with U.S. Customs. Failure to comply can result in civil and criminal penalties, including seizure of the currency or monetary instruments.
Natural Disasters & Climate
The hurricane season extends from June to the end of November, in the southeastern states. Consult the website of the National Hurricane Center for additional information on weather conditions, stay informed of regional weather forecasts, and follow the advice and instructions of local authorities.
Volcanoes, tornadoes and earthquakes
Some volcanoes in the U.S. are active and seismic activity also occurs. For up-to-date information on volcanic activity, consult the Alaska Volcano Observatory’s website. Additional information on volcanic and seismic activity in the U.S., as well as on possible tsunami threats to Pacific states, is available from the U.S. Geological Survey. Consult the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Weather Service for information on tornadoes. You should know the address and telephone number of the nearest embassy or consulate general of Canada in the event of an emergency.
Hot, dry weather conditions and strong winds often lead to wildfires during the summer. Remain alert to local developments through the media and modify your travel arrangements accordingly. In the event of a wildfire, follow the advice of local authorities. If you suffer from respiratory ailments, take into account that the air quality in areas near active fires may deteriorate due to heavy smoke.
Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota.
New York - Consulate General of Canada
1251 Avenue of the Americas, Concourse Level, New York, New York, U.S.A., 10020-1175
Emailcngny@international.gc.caInternetnewyork.gc.caServicesMay provide limited passport assistance
Bermuda, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York State and Pennsylvania.
San Francisco - Consulate General of Canada
580 California Street, 14th Floor, San Francisco, California, U.S.A., 94104
Emailsfran@international.gc.caInternetsanfrancisco.gc.caServicesMay provide limited passport assistance
Nevada (except Clark County and Las Vegas), northern California, Hawaii.
For emergency assistance after hours, call the closest Canadian embassy or consulate and follow the instructions. You may also call the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa toll-free at 1-888-949-9993.