Before You Go
CROSSING THE CANADA-U.S. BORDER
All U.S. citizens aged 16 and older, entering Canada by air (including in-transit passengers who are transferring planes in the U.S.), land or water, must present one of the following documents: a passport or passport card; an Enhanced Driver’s License; or a Trusted Traveler Program Card (SENTRI, NEXUS or FAST Card). Travellers aged 15 and under require a birth certificate for land or sea travel and a passport for air travel. For current requirements visit their website.
If you are traveling with your own children under the age of 16 and your spouse, bring their birth certificates. If you are traveling with a child other than your own or without your spouse, have the child’s birth certificate along with a letter of permission, including name and contact information for that child’s parents/guardians or your spouse. This is needed in case Customs officers decide to verify you have permission to bring the child into Canada.
Visitors from all other countries require a valid passport and, in some cases, a visitor’s visa. Starting March 15, 2016, visa-exempt foreign nationals who fly to or transit through Canada will need an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA). Exceptions include U.S. citizens and travellers with a valid visa. For more information:
Canada Border Services Agency:
- Canada Border Services Agency website here
- Within Canada: 1-800-461-9999
- TTY Within Canada: 1-866-335-3237
- Outside of Canada: 204-983-3500
U.S. Customs and Border Protection:
- U.S. Customs & Border Protection or Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative
- Within the U.S.: 1-877-CBP-5511
- TTY Within the U.S.: 1-866-6582
- Outside of the U.S.: (202) 325-8000
- Grand Portage, MN Port of Entry: (218) 475-2244
Frequently Asked Questions:
IMPORTANT NOTICE FOR U.S. RESIDENTS
If you or anyone in your party has a felony or misdemeanor conviction, you may not be allowed into Canada. This includes such offences as a DUI. Your admissibility to Canada depends on the nature of the offence, how many offences you have, as well as how long ago it occurred. If this applies to you or someone traveling with you, it is imperative you contact Immigration Canada well in advance of your arrival. You will likely have to complete some paperwork and Immigration Canada authorities will then advise you of the likelihood of being allowed into Canada. Final determination of your admissibility into Canada is only made when you cross the border.
Contact Citizenship and Immigration Canada or the Canadian Consulate in New York, NY regarding any forms you may be required to fill out. You may also wish to call an Immigration Officer at the Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario Port of Entry to discuss your situation at 1-800-461-9999 or 1-204-983-3500 (calls outside of Canada). Frequently asked questions for Americans traveling outside of the U.S. are available on these two websites:
WHAT CAN & CAN’T COME INTO CANADA
Residents of the United States who visit Canada are allowed to bring in a “reasonable” amount of personal goods duty free. The amount you bring should align with your length of stay. Limits for some of the regulated items:
- Alcohol: If you are 19 years of age or older and crossing the border into Ontario, you can bring, free of duty and taxes, either 1.5 litres (50 oz.) of wine, 1.14 litres (40 oz.) of liquor, or 24 X 355 millilitres (12 oz.) of beer or ale. If you bring in more than the amount listed here, you will be required to pay the duty at the Border on excess amounts. Make sure you fully declare all alcohol in your possession.
- Tobacco: If you are 19 years of age or older and crossing the border into Ontario, you are allowed to bring, free of duty, up to 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars, 200 grams (7 oz.) of manufactured tobacco and 200 tobacco sticks. You may bring additional quantities but you will be required to pay duties and taxes on the excess amounts.
- Food Products: What is and what is not allowed changes frequently, visit www.inspection.gc.ca for current information prior to your departure.
- Pets: Dogs and cats accompanying their owners from the U.S. must have current (within 36 months) rabies vaccination certificates. Owners from other countries who wish to bring their pets with them should contact 1-800-442-2342 / 1-613-225-2342 / TTY 1- 800-465-7735 or visit the Canadian Food Inspection Agency website here.
RESIDENTS RETURNING TO THE UNITED STATES
Provided you were in Canada for a minimum of 48 hours, you are allowed to bring back duty free:
- $400 U.S. worth of merchandise per person every 30 days. Families may combine their $400 exemptions.
- $200 U.S. per person if you have stayed less than 48 hours.
- Refer to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website for more information.
VEHICLES AND INSURANCE
Any necessary permits are issued at the port of entry. If you’ve rented a vehicle or trailer, make sure you bring along a copy of the rental contract, which stipulates that you have permission to use it in Canada. U.S. motorists planning to travel in Canada are advised to obtain a Canadian Non-Resident Interprovincial Motor Vehicle Liability Insurance Card available only in the U.S. Contact your local insurance agency. For more information contact Canadian Border Services at (204) 983-3500, or (506) 636-5064, or visit the website here.
Ontario Law requires that adults and children over 40lbs/18kg in weight wear seat belts. Infants from birth to 20lbs/9kg in weight must travel in a rear-facing child restraint system. Toddlers weighting 20-40lbs /9-18kg must travel in a front-facing child restraint seat.
HOSPITALS AND HEALTH INSURANCE
Most communities have hospitals and/or resident doctors. Wise travelers will check with their medical service plans to ensure they will be covered while in Canada, as health insurance plan may not extend coverage outside your country of residence. If you are taking prescription drugs, make sure that they are in the original packaging, bring an adequate supply, and bring a copy of the prescription in case you need a refill during your stay in Ontario. If this is not possible, carry a copy of the prescription or a letter from your doctor. For more information and insurance details, contact your travel agent, insurance broker, or your employer’s insurance provider.
CREDIT CARDS, FINANCIAL SERVICES AND U.S. FUNDS
Chartered banks are located in virtually all cities and towns. These full-service institutions are the best locations for exchanging currency. There is also a government sanctioned Canada / U.S. currency exchange service at the Ontario Travel Information Centre in Sault Ste. Marie and at the Duty Free Store & Kiosk. Credit cards such as Visa, MasterCard and AMEX, are generally honoured in all communities. Be sure to check with individual businesses before or when booking accommodations to ensure they accept your type of card.
In Ontario, a Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) of 13% applies to most purchases. For more information, contact:
- 1-800-565-9353 (inside Canada);
- 1-902-432-5604 (outside Canada); or
- Canada Revenue Agency
In Ontario, it’s important to plan ahead for the following holidays and booking ahead for accommodations during these holidays is recommended:
- New Year’s Day – January 1
- Family Day – Third Monday in February
- Good Friday – Friday before Easter Sunday
- Easter Sunday – Retail stores not open
- Easter Monday – Governmental Only
- Victoria Day – Monday Before May 25
- Canada Day – July 1
- Civic Holiday – First Monday in August (not statutory)
- Labour Day – First Monday in September
- Thanksgiving Day – Second Monday in October
- Christmas Day – December 25
- Boxing Day – December 26
LIQUOR OUTLETS AND THE LAW
You must be 19 or over to buy or consume liquor, wine and beer in Ontario. It is an offence to consume alcohol anywhere other than in a licensed establishment, your residence or within a reasonable distance of your residence. Ontario laws prohibit having open bottles of liquor in a location accessible to the driver of a vehicle. Please don’t drink and drive! Liquor including wine and beer, is available through stores run by the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) or in smaller centers, by their authorized representative. Beer may also be purchased through “The Beer Store” or directly from brewery outlets. Beer, wine and cider is now available at select grocery stores in the province of Ontario.
Drinking hours in licensed establishments are from 11 a.m. until 2 a.m. In Ontario, it is an offence to consume alcohol anywhere other than in a residence or on licensed premises. Please note that driving motorized vehicles, including cars, trucks, All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs), snowmobiles, and boats, while impaired is illegal. You can immediately lose your license for 90 days for refusing to take a breathalyzer reading greater than 80 mg (0.08%) of alcohol per 100 mL of blood. Charges may be laid under the criminal code of Canada.
ONTARIO PROVINCIAL POLICE (OPP)
For police services anywhere in Ontario, call the 24-hour toll-free line 1-888-310-1122 or 1-888- 310-1133 (TTY).
BOATERS – HOW TO REPORT YOUR ENTRY
Pleasure crafts may enter Canada by trailer or under their own power. All boats powered by motors 10 HP or over must be licensed. Boat licenses from outside Ontario are accepted. Operator Competency Requirements for Pleasure Craft – Regulation requires that all operators of motorized pleasure crafts have proof of competency and proof of age on board at all times. An operator card or equivalent, issued to a non-resident by their state or country, will be considered as proof of competency. For information visit the Safe Boater website.
Planning to “land” your vessel on Canadian soil or did you leave Canadian waters and land on U.S. soil? All private boaters who intend to land on Canadian soil, or who have departed Canadian waters and landed on U.S. soil, are required to report to a CBSA designated marine reporting site. Upon arrival at this designated site, call the Telephone Reporting Centre at 1-888-226-7277 from the phone provided to obtain clearance. Not planning to “land” your vessel or did you leave Canadian waters but did not land on U.S. soil? You still need to report to the CBSA. Certain private boaters may contact the CBSA by calling the TRC at 1-888-226-7277. For more detailed information, visit ‘Reporting Requirements for Private Boaters‘.
- Licenses: All non-residents of Canada who want to fish in Ontario require a current non- resident sports fishing license and a non-resident Outdoors Card. Non-residents under the age of 18 may fish without a license if accompanied by a licensed family member. Any fish caught are part of the limit of the person with the license. Canadian residents require a resident fishing license and a current resident Outdoors Card.
- Bait: You cannot bring live minnows, smelts, leeches or any other bait fish into Ontario from the United States. Night crawlers are allowed but they must be brought in containers with artificial bedding only.
- Limits and Regulations: With countless lakes and streams, it is important that anglers are aware of the general regulations and of any exceptions to the general regulations (e.g. specific slots or catch and possession limits) that may apply to the lake you will be fishing. Ontario’s Fishing Regulations can be downloaded here.
Non-residents must have one of the following to obtain a hunting license:
- An Ontario non-resident hunting license issued to you after January 1, 1968.
- A hunting license issued to you after January 1, 1968 by a competent authority in a jurisdiction where you were a resident of that jurisdiction.
- An Ontario hunting license verification certificate showing your license to hunt in Ontario or that you passed the hunting license examination.
Visit the website here or call the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources at 1-800-667-1940 for further information.
Residents of the U.S. over the age of 18 may bring a hunting rifle or shotgun into Ontario for hunting purposes. You are also allowed to bring up to 200 rounds of ammunition duty free, or up to 1,500 rounds for use at a recognized competition. Firearms are subject to a registration fee. It is suggested that you contact the Canada Firearms Centre For information before you attempt to import a firearm.
Residents of the U.S. are encouraged to pre-register their firearms prior arriving. Handguns, fully automatic weapons, modified weapons, stun guns, mace and other weapons are not allowed in Canada. Proper storage of the firearm is important so make sure you are aware of the regulations. Of special note, firearms of any kind are forbidden in many of Canada’s National and Provincial Parks and adjacent areas.
For more information on importing your firearm into Canada and to receive a registration form, please contact the Canadian Firearms Centre at 800-731-4000 or 506-624-5380.
Disclaimer: We make every effort to ensure accuracy of the information published but cannot be held responsible for the information provided herein. The information contained in this book is offered to you as a matter of interest and is believed to be correct and accurate at the time of printing. The producers of this publication accept no liability for errors or omissions.